Roe, Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 26 April 1877 Manchester, England
d. 4 January 1958 London, England
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English designer of one of the most successful biplanes of all time, the Avro 504.
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A.V.Roe served an apprenticeship at a railway works, studied marine engineering at Kings College London, served at sea as an engineer, and then took a job in the motor-car industry. His hobby was flying: after studying bird-flight, he built several flying models and in 1907 one of these won a prize offered by the Daily Mail. With the prize money he built a full-size aeroplane loosely based on the Flyer of the Wright brothers, with whom he had corresponded. In September, Roe took his biplane to the motorracing circuit at Brooklands, in Surrey, but it made only a few hops and his activities were not welcomed. Roe then moved to Essex, where he assembled his new aeroplane under the arch of a railway bridge. This was a triplane design with the engine at the front (a "tractor"), and during 1909 it made several flights (this triplane is preserved by the Science Museum in London).
In 1910 Roe and his brother Humphrey founded A.V.Roe \& Co. in Manchester, they described it the "Aviator's Storehouse". During the next three years Roe designed and built aeroplanes in Manchester, then transported them to Brooklands to fly (the authorities now made him more welcome). One of the most significant of these was his Type D tractor biplane of 1911, which led to the Avro 504 two-seater trainer of 1913. This was one of the most successful trainers of all time, as around 10,000 were built. In November 1914 a flight of Avro 504s carried out the first-ever bombing raid when they attacked German airship sheds as Friedrichshafen. A.V.Roe produced the first aeroplanes with enclosed cabins during 1912: the Type F monoplane and Type G biplane. After the war, his Avian was used for several record-breaking flights. In 1928 he sold his interest in the company bearing his name and joined forces with Saunders Ltd of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, to found Saunders-Roe Ltd. "Saro" produced a series of flying boats, from the four-seat Cutty Sark of 1929 to the large, and ill-fated, Princess of 1952.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Knighted 1929 (in 1933 he incorporated his mother's name to become Sir Alliott VerdonRoe). Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society 1948.
Bibliography
1939, The World of Wings and Things, London.
Further Reading
L.J.Ludovic, 1956, the Challenging Sky.
A.J.Jackson, 1908, Avro Aircraft since 1908, London (a detailed account).
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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