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.