Bristol 188: The Flaming Pencil

Despite its radical appearance, the Bristol 188 supersonic research aircraft never came close to fulfilling its primary objectives, as Tony Buttler reveals


The first Bristol 188 – XF923 – during ground testing at Filton shortly after being rolled out in early 1960 ALL BOB HERCOCK – ROLLS-ROYCE HERITAGE TRUST UNLESS STATED

It could be said that by the time the Bristol Aeroplane Company’s twin-engined Type 188 – dubbed the Flaming Pencil – took to the skies, the project had been left standing due to substantial delays. Nevertheless, it was unique and covered new ground in many ways. In particular, its designers opted for an all-stainless-steel airframe –a material never previously used to build a complete aircraft in the UK – and its trials were some of the first where in-flight data was recorded using real-time telemetry.

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