Lord Brabazon of Tara (1884-1964) Pioneer Aviator and holder of British Aviation Licence No 1
Saturday, 21 April 2007
Lord Brabazon of Tara (1884-1964) Pioneer Aviator and holder of British Aviation Licence No 1
He worked at the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough from 1912,where he was the lead designer on the S.E.5 during the First World War. He also designed the Ruston Proctor Aerial Target, an anti-Zeppelin pilotless aircraft to use A M Lows control systems.
He left the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1917, joining the Nieuport & General Aircraft company as chief designer designing the Nieuport Nighthawk, which was adopted as a standard fighter by the Royal Air Force but did not enter service owing to the failure of its engine.Nieuport & General ceased operations in 1920 and his services were taken up by the Gloster Aircraft Company, who had built Nighthawks under license during the First World War, joining them in 1921.He was the chief designer for Glosters for many years,and numbered among his successes the Bamel racer—winner of the aerial Derby in 1921, '22 and '23—and the Gloster I I I , IV and V Schneider Trophy racing seaplanes. Fighters bearing the Folland stamp were the Grebe, Gamecock, Gambet, Goldfinch, Gauntlet and Gladiator biplanes, and the F.5/34.
He leftthe company in 1937, following the takeover of Gloster by Hawker, feeling that Hawker designs would be favoured over his own. He brought the British Marine Aircraft Company at Hample, near Southampton, renaming it Folland Aircraft Limited.
Frederick Handley Page, born in 1885, grew up in a modest-size town in Gloucestershire, England. In 1902 he entered college in London and enrolled in a program in electrical engineering. Graduating in 1906, he swiftly secured a position as chief engineer with a small electrical manufacturer. He proved so capable that only a year later, he was offered a position with Westinghouse, a manufacturer of electrical equipment, in the United States.
By then, however, he had begun to learn about aviation. Seized with enthusiasm, he took to carrying out experiments at his place of employment that had nothing to do with the task at hand—which soon got him fired. He started working on his own in a shed, carving wooden propellers for aircraft and building an airplane that a fellow aviation enthusiast had designed. In June 1909, he turned his shed into the firm of Handley Page, Ltd. This was Great Britain's first publicly traded aircraft manufacturing corporation.
Handley-Page built a succession of biplanes and monoplanes. Then in August 1914, Britain entered World War I. He approached the Admiralty and offered to provide planes for the Navy. A senior official took him up on his offer and asked him to create "a bloody paralyzer of an airplane" to hurl back the Germans. This led to the development of the twin-engine 0/100 bomber, which first flew late in 1915.
The 0/100 started the company on its way. Built as a biplane, it led to two larger successors: the 0/400 and the V/1500. The 0/400 was selected for production in the United States. The V/1500 was one of the first four-engine aircraft. Weighing 15 tons when fully loaded, it was built to bomb Berlin. The first of them entered service late in 1918, but the war ended just before they began to carry out their raids.
There was little further demand for bombers after the war, but Handley Page found new opportunities in carrying passengers. London and Paris were two of Europe's largest cities and were only about 200 miles (322 kilometers) apart. But the journey required the inconvenience of a transfer from a train to a boat for the trip across the English Channel and then a transfer back to a train to get from the coast to London. Moreover, the war had severely damaged the railroads in northern France. However, the distance between these cities was well within the range of the aircraft of the day.
The 0/400 had a fuselage that was large enough for passengers. Several of them became airliners with minimal modification, while the new firm of Handley Page Transport, which opened in 1919, became one of the world's first airlines. The V/1500 was too large for commercial use, but it had attractive design elements. These went into a modified 0/400, the W.8, which became the company's standard. In 1924, Handley Page Transport merged with three other carriers and formed Imperial Airways, Britain's first national airline.
Handley Page also had a strong commitment to research. His company may well have been the first to install its own wind tunnel for in-house experiments. He was keenly interested in air safety, more so because he had lost close friends in crashes. A serious problem of the day lay in the tendency of airplanes to go into a spin and often crash, and he looked for ways to counter this.
He decided that a solution lay in running a slot down the length of the wing from the fuselage to the wing tip. This in effect divided it into two wings set closely together. Airflow through the slot would flow evenly over the rear wing to produce more lift for better control. A German inventor, Gustav Lachmann, had developed similar ideas on his own, and Handley Page brought him into the company. Handley-Page received a patent for the invention on October 24, 1919, and slotted wings became a key to the firm's fortunes, as sales of patent rights earned £750,000 (about $3.6 million at the time) in payments from other planebuilders. In turn, slotted wings led to the development of flaps for wings. These extended to give extra lift and also greater drag, permitting takeoff and landing at relatively low speed. The flaps then folded into the rear of the wing, for the reduced lift that was appropriate at high speed during cruising flight.
Handley-Page remained involved with airliners during the next decade. In 1931, Imperial Airways began flying the Handley Page Hannibal, a four-engine biplane. It was built for comfort, with wall-to-wall carpeting and a bar. Stewards served four-course hot lunches and seven-course dinners, while soundproofing diminished the roar of the motors. The Hannibal carried up to 40 passengers and remained in service through the 1930s.
Like the 1920s, the first years of the 1930s were lean years for the company, when few orders came in. That situation changed in 1935, for with the threat of war in Europe now looming again, the British government launched a military buildup. Handley Page contributed a twin-engine monoplane bomber, the Hampden. The fortunes of war soon would give this plane a key role in saving Britain from Nazi invasion.
This happened in 1940, during the Battle of Britain. Nazi air fleets hammered hard at airfields of the Royal Air Force, slowly weakening it. Had they continued, they might well have won air superiority, opening the way for a German conquest of England. However, on August 24 the RAF sent a force of medium bombers, including Hampdens, to attack Berlin.
The bombers did little damage, but this raid prompted the Nazis to seek revenge. German leaders ordered their own bombers to strike the city of London. They killed and injured a great many people—but they did not continue their attacks on the RAF itself. This gave the RAF time to recover. It went on to defeat the Germans in the air, forcing them to abandon their plans for invasion. That British raid on Berlin was small in its destruction but very large in its consequences. The Handley Page Hampden played a central role.
By then, the company was already producing the Halifax, a large four-engine bomber. It was one of three such aircraft designed and built by Britain, the others being the Avro Lancaster and the Short Stirling. More than 6,000 Halifaxes came off the assembly lines, with other planebuilding companies sharing in the production. At the height of Britain's bomber offensive, the Halifax comprised 40 percent of the strength of the RAF Bomber Command.
Frederick Handley Page was knighted in 1942, becoming Sir Frederick. After the war, he again had to seek new opportunities. For a time he continued to find them in military orders, for the Cold War with the Soviets soon began, and Britain upheld its centuries-old policy of maintaining its own offensive force. Sir Frederick contributed the Victor, a four-engine jet bomber.
Full of years and honors, he died in 1962.
Although never having seen an airplane in flight, Geoffrey de Havilland in 1909 constructed his first machine and through trial and error taught himself to fly. Since his early trials on the meadows at Seven Barrows, the name of de Havilland has been carried aloft by more than fifty aircraft. Notable among these were the classic DH-2 fighter of World War I, and the DH-4 light bomber which saw worldwide service and played a major role in the establishment of the U.S. Air Mail.
He established the new De Havilland Company at Stag Lane near London in 1920, beginning the long line of DH commercial and sport aircraft. The DH-18 was the first of his designs intended from conception to carry passengers. Then came the racers that established so many world records. Perhaps most significant were the beautiful Moths, born in 1925, which can rightfully claim to be the genesis for all light sport aircraft, and today after 47 years may still be found flying worldwide.
Flying was always the primary interest of Geoffrey de Havilland, even to his use of the private airplane as the normal mode of travel where others might use surface means. In his 70th year, he was still flying for sport. From the very first, he was the test pilot, always making the first flight of a new model. His was the ultimate relationship between design and test flying. He was the presiding genius and innovator who typically gave credit to the team.
The great De Havilland triumph in World War II was the magnificent Mosquito light bomber of novel design and the fastest aircraft of its time. In 1943, De Havilland entered the jet age with the Vampire fighter powered by a DH Goblin jet engine. De Havilland led the world in entering the era of jet passenger flight with its first turbine powered aircraft, the Comet in 1949. Sir Geoffrey de Havilland, the grand figure of British aviation, spent his life looking forward with a view toward service to mankind.
Sir Robert McLean, who with designer R. J. Mitchell was mainly responsible for the Spitfire fighter, and who vigorously fought Air Ministry opposition to the singleseat monoplane fighter during the 1930s. He was the man who named the aircraft.
He joined the board of Vickers-Armstrongs in 1929, on returning to Britain from the general managership of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and he became the first chairman and managing director of Vickers Aviation Limited. In this post he was responsible for the acquisition of the Supermarine Company wherein, of course, the Spitfire evolved. In 1938 he left Vickers-Armstrongs' board, though staying for a short period as an advisor, and it was later revealed that he had been dismissed —probably at Ministerial insistence.
Sir Robert described his tussles with the Air Ministry as a "bitter, brutal and hostile battle that was to become more hostile as time went on." Fortunately, it was one that Sir Robert McLean, despite his dismissal, was later seen to have won.
George Carter was the chief designer at Glosters from 1937, was awarded the C.B.E. in 1947 and was appointed Technical Director of Gloster Aircraft in 1948 remaining on the board of directors until 1954. He continued to serve Glosters for a number of years after his retirement in a consultancy role until 1958.
Carter joined the Gloucestershire (later Gloster) Aircraft Company in 1925 previously having worked for Sopwith, Shorts and for Hawker where he was responsible for the Heron and Hornbill fighter aircraft. At Gloster Aircraft, he was instrumental in the design of two of the most significant biplane fighters for the RAF, the Gauntlet and Galdiator. Carter also designed the Gloster F.9/37 a promising twin-engine fighter design that never entered production, before he turned to work on jet aircraft.
It was during a visit by Frank Whittle to Gloster that Carter became involved in the development of jet aircraft. At the time Gloster were working on a twin-boom fighter to be powered by a Napier Sabre piston engine which attracted the attention of Whittle who thought that the layout would be suitable for his new engine. Although the design Whittle saw would not progress beyond the project stage, within a few weeks, Carter was asked by the Air Ministry to submit plans for a brand new aircraft to use Whittle's engine. He agreed to the project before seeing the engine for himself. While not impressed with the engine itself, when he saw it running he was convinced that it could develop into a suitable powerplant given what they had managed to achieve in the somewhat primitive conditions at Lutterworth.
The Gloster E28/39 was designed primarily to prove the concept of turbojet powered flight, the Air Ministry however insisted that the design include provision for four guns and 2,000 rounds of ammunition even if these were not be be fitted in the prototype. The contract to build the E28/39 also known as the Pioneer was placed with Glosters on the 3 February 1940. The aircraft was built in secret at the Regents garage, Cheltenham and first flew on 8 April 1941 at Hucclecote, becoming the first British and Allied jet aircraft.
Even before the Pioneer flew, the Air Ministry encouraged Carter to design a practical jet fighter since the Pioneer was not suitable because it was unlikely that an engine of at least 2,000 lbs thrust would be available in the near future. Carter therefore decided that the design would require two engines. The result was designated the F/9-40 which first flew on 5 March 1943 and would find worldwide fame as the Gloster Meteor. His later designs included the E.1/44 and Gloster Javelin.
As Chief Engineer, he was responsible for the Freighter (1944), Brabazon (1949) and Britannia (1951). In 1959 he designed the Bristol Type 223 supersonic airliner. This aircraft was built by a consortium of French and British companies and named Concorde. Shortly after the maiden flight of Concorde in 1969, Russell retired as Chairman, Filton Division, British Aircraft Corporation. He was knighted in 1971 and died in 1995.
As a cadet Whittle had written a thesis arguing that planes would need to fly at high altitudes, where air resistance is much lower, in order to achieve long ranges and high speeds. Piston engines and propellers were unsuitable for this purpose, so he concluded that rocket propulsion or gas turbines driving propellers would be required: jet propulsion was not in his thinking at this stage. However, by October 1929, Whittle had considered using a fan enclosed in the fuselage to generate a fast flow of air to propel a plane at high altitude. A piston engine would use too much fuel, so he thought of using a gas turbine. After the Air Ministry turned him down, he patented his idea himself.
In 1935 Whittle secured financial backing and, with RAF approval, Power Jets Ltd was formed. They began constructing a test engine in July 1936, but it proved inconclusive. Whittle concluded that a complete rebuild was required, but lacked the necessary finances. Protracted negotiations with the Air Ministry followed and the project was secured in 1940. By April 1941 the engine was ready for tests. The first flight was made on 15 May 1941. By October the Americans had heard of the project and asked for the details and an engine. A Power Jets team and the engine were flown to Washington to enable General Electric to examine it and begin construction. The Americans worked quickly and their XP-59A Aircomet was airborne in October 1942, some time before the British Meteor, which became operational in 1944.
The jet engine proved to be a winner, particularly in America where the technology was enthusiastically embraced. Whittle retired from the RAF in 1948 with the rank of air commodore. He was knighted in 1976 and went to work in the USA shortly afterwards, becoming a research professor at the US Naval Academy at Annapolis. Whittle died on 9 August 1996.
Roy Chadwick C.B.E. (1893-1947) Considered by many to be Britain's greatest aircraft designer, he designed many of his aircraft in premises in what is now the offices of British Aerospace on Greengate in Chadderton, Oldham, including the Avro Lancaster.
Roy Chadwick was born on 30th April 1893 at Marsh Hall Farm, Farnworth, when man’s desire to fly was still a dream. By the time of the Wright Brothers’ epic flight in 1903, Roy was already building and flying models of his own design and it was a dream come true when he joined A.V. Roe & Company in 1911. Alliott Verdon Roe himself interviewed the youngster, and was so impressed that he employed him immediately at a salary of One Pound per week. Roy quickly became Personal Assistant to ‘A.V.’ before eventually being made Chief Designer in 1919 at the age of 26. He was considered by many to be one of the world’s great aircraft designers with a stable of aircraft types to his name: Avro 504, Baby. Avian, Tutor, Anson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Tudor, York, Shackleton and even the original design for the Avro 698 which became the Vulcan.
Roy Chadwick was always one step ahead with his thinking and planning of new designs, and early in the development of the jet engine he spoke of a turbo-prop version, then still a long way off. Chadwick’s early sketches of a delta wing design are now well known, and formed the basis of a shape which eventually became the Avro Vulcan.
Sadly, Roy Chadwick died on Saturday 23rd August 1947 in the Avro Tudor 2 in what should have been a normal flight over the Lake District. The aileron controls had been assembled incorrectly, causing the aircraft to bank sharply right. The aviation world had lost a wealth of irreplaceable experience with this crash, and Chadwick’s death at the age of 54 cut short a career, which could have produced even greater designs. He had been awarded the CBE in 1943 for his special modification to the Lancaster design for the famous Dams Raid, and many feel that had he lived, he would have been knighted
Albert G Elliot was born on November 3rd, 1889, and was educated at Northampton College and London University. He joined Napiers in 1909 and Rolls-Royce in 1912, and in his first year was attached to Mr. F. H. Royce's personal design staff. He was senior designer on the Rolls-Royce Eagle,Hawk, Falcon, Condor and Kestrel aero engines and in 1929 was appointed chief designer, being responsible for both aero and car engines. Under Sir Henry Royce he was personally responsible for the design of the Rolls-Royce R engine, which in a Vickers-Supermarine seaplane, was the means of winning the Schneider Trophy outright. Mr. Elliot was also in charge of the design of the Merlin.
In 1937 he was made chief engineer of the aero division, later becoming chief engineer of the company. He was made a director of Rolls-Royce, Ltd., in 1945 and became joint managing director in 1951.
His awards include the C.B.E. (1941) in recognition of his work on aero engines and the British Gold Medal for aeronautics (1954). Mr. Elliot was appointed executive vice-chairman in 1954.
He is a member of the Air Registration Board, a Governor of Loughborough College, a council member of the Royal Aeronautical Society and a member of technical board and technical
department for S.B.A.C.
David Keith-Lucas was one of the sons of Keith Lucas, who invented the first aeronautical compass.
He was an apprentice and engineer with C.A. Parsons and Co. from 1933 to 1940, then moved to the aerodynamics office of Short Brothers, Rochester, famous for their flying boats, becoming their chief aerodynamist in 1944.
From 1845 to 1965 he was with Short Brothers and Harland Ltd in Belfast, holding the posts of chief designer, technical director and research director. His work included research on swept-wings which culminated in the Short SB-5 research aircraft. Other projects included the Short Belfast heavy freighter, the Short Skyvan and the SD-330 and SD-360 freight-commuter series.
The Short SB-4 Sherpa (a shoulder-wing cantilever monoplane powered by two Blackburn Turbomeca Palas turbojet engines) was a single-seater twin-jet aircraft built in the early 1950s to prove the possibilities of Keith-Lucas's aero-isoclinic wing. In 1951, he designed the Short SB-6 Seamew as a lightweight anti-submarine platform.
George Edwards wag born on July 9, 1908 at Highams Park, England. On graduation from London University in Engineering, he joined the design section of Vickers-Armstrongs, Limited at Weybridge. In 1939, he was appointed Experimental Works Manager and in 1941 was seconded to the government to advise on expedited aircraft production. In September 1945, he was appointed Chief Designer of the team that produced the Viking, Valetta, Varsity, Viscount and Valiant.
While serving as Managing Director of Vickers-Armstrongs Aircraft, he was knighted in 1957. In this period, he was associated with development of the Vanguard, VC 10 and TSR 2. In May 1961, Sir George as Executive Director - Aircraft, British Aircraft Corporation, initiated the BAC One Eleven jet airliner. Then came a series of major international ventures for the British aircraft industry. These would include Concorde, Jaguar and the Panavia Tornado, Multi Role Combat Aircraft.
Sir George retired as Chairman, British Aircraft Corporation, Limited, in December 1975.
In large measure, the survival and ultimate successes of the British aviation industry in the post-World War II era are directly attributable to the technical skills, managerial acumen and foresight of Sir George Edwards. His initiative in advocating design innovation and pioneering multi-national projects such as Concorde, Jaguar and Tornado were responsible for the introduction of a multitude of advances in the aerospace sciences.
In February 1943, Wallis revealed his idea for air attacks on dams in Germany. He had developed a drum-shaped, rotating bomb that would bounce over the water, roll down the dam's wall and explode at its base. The bomb was codenamed 'Upkeep'. Impressed with the concept, the Chief of the Air Staff, ordered Wallis to prepare the bombs for an attack on the Möhne, Eder and Sorpe dams in the important German industrial region of the Ruhr.
Operation Chastise, the 'Dambusters Raid', was carried out on the night of 16/17 May 1943 by the specially created 617 Squadron of the RAF, led by Guy Gibson. Two of the dams - the Mohne and Eder - were breached, leading to serious flooding in the surrounding area, although industrial production was hardly affected, and 8 of the 19 bombers which took part were lost. The most significant result was the hugely positive effect on Allied morale.
When the decision was taken to concentrate on area bombing, Wallis began looking at the design of aircraft that could drop heavy bombs. The adapted Avro Lancaster was able to drop two bombs developed by Wallis, the 'Tallboy' designed in 1944 and the 'Grand Slam' from the following year. Both were used against heavily fortified German targets.
After the war, Wallis led aeronautical research and development at the British Aircraft Corporation until 1971. He became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1954 and was knighted in 1968. He died on 20 October 1979.
Reginald Joseph Mitchell, known as R. J. Mitchell, was born 20th May 1895 and grew up in Longton in Stoke-on-Trent. His father was a headmaster before he resigned to set up a printing firm. At an early age R.J. was making things with his hands and showing an interest in flying machines. At school his intelligence and talent for maths was noted. He left school at 16 in 1911 and began work for Kerr-Stewart (a locomotive engineering company in Stoke-on-Trent) where he quickly became a skilled mechanic. Although he didn’t like the company, he progressed from the shop floor to the drawing office whilst also attended evening classes in advanced mathematics and engineering drawing. In 1917 he applied for and got the post of personal assistant to Hubert Scott-Paine at Supermarine and moved to Southampton.His rise in the company was swift, moving from Assistant to the Works Manager to Chief Designer in 1919 and then Chief Engineer in 1920. It was then that he began to design innovative seaplanes and flying boats including the Walrus, a rescue plane that was of enormous importance during the Second World War in rescuing downed RAF pilots. His designs for the Schneider Trophy contest were to win the trophy outright for Britain and lead to the crucial design for the fighter aircraft the Spitfire. Sadly R.J. Mitchell died from cancer before he could see the tremendous sucess of the Spitfire during the War.
Joseph Smith was educated at Yardley secondary school and Birmingham Municipal Technical School, he served an apprenticeship with the Austin Motor Company and was then given a position of junior draughtsman in the aircraft department. In 1921 he moved to Vickers-Armstrongs as a senior draughtsman, becoming chief draughtsman five years later. Working under Mitchell, Smith was heavily involved with the early design of the Spitfire and was appointed Chief Designer after Mitchell's death in 1937. Smith continued development of the Spitfire and was later involved with designing the Supermarine Spiteful, Supermarine Seafang, Supermarine Attacker, and other Supermarine aircraft. Smith was appointed as a special director of Vickers-Armstrongs Ltd in 1948 and served as chairman of the board of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors from 1948 to 1951. In 1950 he was awarded the silver medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. He died at Chandler's Ford on 20 February 1956.
Teddy Petter was a descendant of the family that founded Westland, the company being a separation of the aircraft business from Petter engines.
He designed the Lysander,Whirlwind and Welkin for Westland. He left Westland after the war when they chose to concentrate on helicopters through a linkup with Sikorsky and went to English Electric who were then moving into aircraft design having been involved in building aircraft under contract during the war. While at EE he designed the Canberra and started the work on what would become the Lightning. He split with EE over the direction of aircraft design, he favouring the small over the large.
He joined Folland Aircraft Limited in Hamble as managing director in 1950. At Folland, he designed the Midge, which first flew 11th August 1954 and the Gnat which first flew 18th July 1955.