Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Henry Romaine Watson BSc AFRAeS 1900-1995

Henry Romaine Watson was born in Birmingham on 11 October 1900 and became interested in aeronautical matters at a very early age. Between 1918 and 1920 Watson was able to spend time at the Birmingham Technical College helping to repair aero-engines. Watson entered Birmingham University in 1920 and graduated with a BSc in mechanical engineering in 1924. Watson was able to join Armstrong Whitworth straight from university, holding a post in the stress calculation office. Watson progressed through the ranks at Armstrong Whitworth becoming Chief Stressman and then Chief Technician in 1939.When Armstrong Whitworth’s Chief Designer (Aircraft), John Lloyd, was promoted in 1948, Watson was chosen to succeed him with effect from 1 October of that year. The first project that Watson worked on as Chief Designer was the first iteration of night-fighter Meteor, the NF.11. Although the NF.11 resembled the T.7 training version of the Meteor, the extension to the nose to house the airborne interception radar, fitting of new engines and modifications to cope with changed aerodynamics and weight-distribution required much work and calculation. The amount of work involved is indicated by the fact that it was Armstrong-Whitworth’s Chief Designer who was entrusted with the work. After completing work on the Meteor night-fighter Watson was involved with the design and development of Armstrong-Whitworth’s transonic and supersonic aircraft projects. As part of this research Watson, still holding the post of Chief Designer (Aircraft), took part in Armstrong-Whitworth’s rocket engine testing programme, carried out at the Woomera weapons range, Australia, in early 1955. He also undertook a tour of the United States to keep abreast of rocket engine developments occurring there. Soon after his return to the UK, Watson was promoted onto the Armstrong-Whitworth board as Technical Director.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Godfrey Lee 1913-1998

Godfrey Lee was born in August 1913 at Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire. After spending his school years in Essex he went on to study physics and aeronautics at the Royal College of Science in 1931, graduating with a BSc in 1933. Lee subsequently undertook a period of postgraduate studies at Imperial College.
Godfrey Lee’s professional life started with a post in the Instruments Section of the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough before quickly moving to the Saunders Roe aircraft Company on the Isle of White. Lee’s long association with Handley Page began in 1937 as a stressman. With the outbreak of the Second World War he was put in charge of the research section due to the interment of the department’s head, Dr Gustav Lachmann, on the Isle of Man. During this period the main project on which Lee worked was the Handley Page H.P.75 Tailless Research Aircraft, nicknamed the Manx, undoubtedly due to the loss felt at Dr Lachmann’s enforced departure.
Involvement with the Manx project led to Godfrey Lee sitting on the Swept Wings Advisory Committee of the Aeronautical Research Council (ARC). With end of the war the ARC invited Lee to go to Germany to investigate German research into this area. A period of enforced period of sick leave followed this and Lee occupied himself with a proposal for a jet engined bomber with swept wings capable of carrying a 10,000lb bomb 5000 miles.
At a similar point Sir Fredrick Handley Page had learnt of English Electric’s projected new bomber, the Canberra, and invited his staff to submit proposals for a replacement for the RAF’s Avro Lincolns. The RAF too was going through a similar process realising a new bomber would be required. With Godfrey Lee’s design study at the centre of Handley page submission the stage was set for the creation of the H.P.80. Promotion followed in 1949 as Chief Aerodynamicist and Assistant Chief Designer in 1952, only to be promoted again a year later as Deputy Chief Designer a year later. During the whole of this period it was the Victor, as the H.P.80 was now christened that was to occupy a large proportion of Godfrey Lee’s time. With the successful introduction of the Victor Lee moved on to other projects including the H.P.115 delta research aircraft and the Jetsteam regional airliner before the company’s collapse. After this a number of years were spent working with British Airways, Airship Industries and lecturing in universities.
While Godfrey Lee never claimed to be the man behind the Victor, was never in charge of the overall project and always himself credited it as a team effort, his peers have always and still maintain that without Godfrey Lee there wouldn’t have been a Handley Page Victor.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Gustav Victor Lachmann 1896 - 1966

Gustav Victor Lachmann was a German aeronautical engineer who spent most of his professional life working for the Handley Page.
Lachmann was born in Dresden in 1896. He served as a lieutenant in the German Army during WW1, and was trained as a pilot. He was severely injured in the crash of his plane in 1917. In 1918, he invented leading edge slats (Lachmann Flaps) to improve the resistance to spinning and reduce the stalling speed of an aircraft. The invention was initially rejected by the German Patent Office but eventually granted in 1922.
After the war he studied engineering. After periods of work in Germany and Japan, in 1929 he took a job with the Handley Page company in the UK, becoming director of scientific research there. He was regarded with suspicion as a possible spy, and on the outbreak of WW2 he was interned on the Isle of Man as an enemy alien, but after pressure from his employers was eventually permitted by the authorities to continue his work at Handley-Page.
He stayed with Handley-Page for the remainder of his career. He died in in 1966.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Harrison Storms 1916-1992

Harrison Storms designs and leadership played a key role in developing B-25 bombers and P-51 Mustang fighters in World War II and in Project Apollo's billion-dollar race for the moon in the 1960's.
He joined North American Aviation in 1941, just after he received a graduate degree in aeronautical engineering from the California Institute of Technology. He continued with the company when it became Rockwell International. When he retired almost 30 years later, he had worked on a total of 48 aircraft and space vehicles.
These included the F-86 fighter of the Korean War and the F-100 Super Sabre. He also had a hand in designing the X-15 rocket plane, a space research craft.
Mr. Storms's contributions to American aerospace programs were honored with the International von Karman Wings Award for Lifetime Achievement, given by the Aerospace Historical Committee of the California Museum of Science and Industry. His earlier citations included the Air Force Meritorious Civilian Service Award.

Stanley Hiller 1924-2006

Stanley Hiller was a true aviation pioneer in rotary wing flight, and was recognized as a "boy genius" when during his high school days in the late '30's he developed a miniature racing car manufacturing business. During WWII, his firm became a major producer of die castings for the aircraft industry. In 1942, at the age of 18, Hiller left Hiller Industries to devote his entire effort to helicopter development and founded United Helicopters, which subsequently became Hiller Aircraft.
Two-and-one-half years later, he completed the Model XH-44 Coaxial Helicopter. For this accomplishment, Stanley Hiller received the "Fawcett Award" for his "major contribution to the advancement of aviation." At 24, Hiller built a single rotor UH-5, the forerunner of the Hiller 360 which received its Civil Aeronautics Administration Type Certification in October, 1948.
In 1950, at the outset of the Korean Conflict, Hiller personally directed the sales efforts that resulted in his firm producing its first military helicopter, the H-23A. Used primarily for medical evacuation and popularized later in the TV series, "MASH", some 1,200 of his H-23 Models were delivered to the Army in a 12-year period.
Continuing his quest for design simplicity and reduced cost, Hiller then directed his company's R&D efforts into the field of tip propulsion, his YH-32 Hornet being powered by two 11-lb. ramjet engines mounted at the tips of its two-blade main rotor. In the process, the Hiller 8RJ2B ramjet engine received Type Certification in 1954, the first jet engine to be CAA-certified. In 1956, a quantity of YH-32s were delivered to the Army for evaluation.
In other Army-Navy related efforts, Hiller pursued the experimental XROE-1 one-man helicopter and the VZ-1E Flying Platform, both break-through projects. His X-18 VTOL aircraft sustained Tri-Service user interest in a large, four-engine tilt-wing VTOL transport aircraft.

Pierre Satre 1909-1980

Designer of Caravelle and Concorde amongst many other types

Henry 'Jerry' Shaw 1892-1977

Henry 'Jerry' Shaw flew in the RFC and RAF during the First World War, and in June 1919 joined Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd, one of the pioneer commercial operators, as chief pilot and aerodrome manager.
On July 15, 1919, he piloted the first international commercial flight in a D.H.9C from Hendon to Le Bourget. His long connection with Shell-Mex and Shell began in October 1921 and lasted until he joined the de Havilland sales organization in 1952, from where he retired 10 years later.

Charles Timothy Wilkins O.B.E., F.R.Ae.S 1913-1979

C. T. Wilkins joined deHavilland at Stag Lane' in 1928 after four years at Weybridge with Vickers, where he had started his career' in aviation after leaving Brighton College. He became a member of the design team, then no more than 30 strong and including R. E. Bishop, R.M. Clarkson, Hessel Tiltman and W.G. Carter under the leadership of Capt Geoffrey de Havilland, chief designer A. E. Hagg and C. C. Walker, the chief engineer.
That small team designed a great number of very successful and advanced aeroplanes in the decade that ended at the outbreak of the; Second World War. Apart from a period of two years in the depression of 1930-32, when he left Stag Lane to work with Cierva on the Auto giro, Tim Wilkins played a major part in the design of all the aircraft that: came from the de Havilland stable, including such notable types as the Puss Moth, Leopard Moth, Rapide, Comet Racer,
Albatross and Flamingo.
As assistant chief designer under R. E. Bishop he worked on the design and development of one of the outstanding aircraft of the Second World War, the Mosquito, followed by the Hornet. The post-war phase of his career was devoted to the Comet I and its later developments.
In 1954 he was appointed chief designer and, four years later, technical director, assuming
control of the team that designed the Trident and HS.125. He held this appointment until 1963, when, after transferring to Hawker Siddeley Dynamics, he became director and chief engineer space projects, remaining there until he retired in 1970. He was a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and was honoured with an OBE in 1953.

Barry P. Laight OBE 1920-

Barry Laight OBE, engineer and aircraft designer, who became Technical Director of Blackburn Aircraft, chief designer for the Blackburn Buccaneer, then for Hawker Siddeley. He helped design the HS.Hawk as well as the HS. P.1154 (which was cancelled). He was President of the Royal Aeronautical Society from 1974-5.