Francis Percy Hyde Beadle

(1889 - 1943)

Francis Percy Hyde Beadle was born in Muswell Hill, Middlesex, in 1889, son of Charles Hyde Beadle and Mary E Beadle. By 1899 the family had moved to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, then later to Southampton. Sometime whilst at Southampton, F.P.H. Beadle designed and built an aeroplane, probably a monoplane, of monocoque construction powered by a small three cylinder engine. By April 1911, Beadle had joined the staff of the Royal Aircraft Factory (then still known as the Army Balloon Factory). at Farnborough where, in 1912, he met E.W. Copeland Perry.

After leaving The Royal Aircraft Factory, Perry and Beadle joined together to build a small single seat biplane to Beadle’s design which apparently flew quite well. The two then formed Perry, Beadle & Company with works at Gould Road, Twickenham, in 1914. There, Beadle designed a biplane flying boat in which the lower wing provided buoyancy to stabilise the aircraft at rest. The design of the hull was in the hands of Sidney Porter of Saunders. In April 1914, use was made of Saunders' facilities at the Columbine yard for assembly of the Perry-Beadle flying boat. It was recorded by the visiting impressment officer as a potential machine for service use, at that time. The machine was taken to the Eastbourne Aviation Company in August 1914 and later by train to the Lakes Flying Company (subsequently the Northern Aircraft Company) premises on Lake Windermere for testing which was continued to July 1915, but without success. Proved to be impractical, the machine was discarded and broken up.

By July 1914 the partners had separated, the company continuing as the Perry Aviation Company until wound up later in the year following the death of Copland Perry. On the outbreak of war, Beadle joined White and Thompson on 10th of August 1914 as Chief Designer and assistant to Norman Thompson. His initial design for the company, the N.T.3 ‘Bognor Bloater’ was less than successful, but his next, the N.T.4 series of flying boats fared better. Following the unsuccessful official trials of the T.N.T. flying boat, Beadle left Norman Thompson on 31st December 1917 and joined the Gosport Aircraft Company as General Manager and Chief Designer.

After leaving Gosport when their ambitious plans for very large civil flying boats proved to be financially unrealistic, Percy Beadle went to S.E. Saunders Ltd. in November 1919, together with his chief draughtsman from his Norman Thompson days, H.W. Gravenell. Together they designed the Kittiwake twin-engined amphibian, to be entered for a Government-sponsored competition for civil aviation held in August 1920. Unfortunately the Kittiwake was not completed in time; many technical problems remained to be resolved among which were the difficulties with the unconventional ailerons, independent of the wings, which were ineffective at small angles and suffered from reversal effects resulting in loss of control and damage to the aircraft in a crash. The design was not developed and at the end of 1920 the Saunders aircraft design department closed, Beadle leaving the company.

Saunders reopened their design department in 1923 and in September 1925 Beadle engaged as a designer on a proposed seaplane entrant for the 1927 Schneider Trophy race. However, this was not proceeded with. In addition to his work on aircraft, he also became involved in the hull design of power boats. He worked on a 78 ft. long hydroplane, named Jack Stripes, for Miss Betty Carstairs for a planned record- breaking Atlantic crossing. The boat failed to match up to the requirements for such an attempt and was not accepted. As a consequence, on completion of the design work, Beadle was discharged in 1928.

In January 1929, at the request of Fairchild Aircraft of Hagerstown, Maryland, he left for the USA to take charge of their float design team. When Fairchild opened their plant at Longueuil, near Montreal, Quebec, Beadle went to them in February 1931 as Chief Engineer, his first job being to re-design the Fairchild 71 for Canadian civil use. Whilst there, he designed floats for de Havilland Canada as well as for Fairchild.

In 1937 he left Fairchild and went to the newly-formed Aircraft Division of the National Steel Car Company of Malton, Ontario, as Chief Engineer. In 1938 he was sent to Westland at Yeovil to look at Lysander production, for which N.S.C.C. subsequently obtained a licence. In 1941, he went to De Havilland Canada of Downsview, Ontario, as Chief Engineer and in 1942 transferred to Central Aircraft Ltd., London, Ontario, a subsidiary of de Havilland Canada, as Chief Engineer and General Manager.

Francis Percy Hyde Beadle F.R.Ae.S. died on 14th December 1943 in London, Ontario.

Biography References
  1. Aeroplane Monthly, January 2008
  2. The Norman Thompson File, Michael H. Goodall (Air Britain Historians, 1995)
  3. From Sea to Air - The Heritage of Sam Saunders, A.E.Tagg and R.L. Wheeler (Crossprint, 1989)
  4. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001)
  5. Ancestry.co.uk

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