|FIGHTER||Virtual Aircraft Museum / United Kingdom / Beardmore|
The W.B.IV single-seat shipboard fighter was the first entirely original fighter to be developed by William Beardmore & Company and embodied several interesting features. To provide the best possible view for the pilot, the 200hp Hispano-Suiza eight-cylinder watercooled engine was mounted aft of the cockpit and drove the propeller via an extension shaft which passed between the pilot's legs. The cockpit was water-tight, a large flotation chamber was provided in the forward fuselage, wingtip floats were incorporated to stabilise the aircraft in the event of it alighting on the water in an emergency, and the undercarriage was jettisonable. The mainplanes could be folded, and armament comprised a single synchronised 7.7mm Vickers gun and a Lewis gun of similar calibre mounted on a tripod ahead of the cockpit. Three prototypes of the W.B.IV were ordered, the first of these flying on 12 December 1917. Performance proved creditable, but the other prototypes were not completed.