Sage Recollections

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Sage Recollections

Your article on the Sage car in the September issue is interesting, as you mention A. Graham Forsyth as Chief Designer. In 1957 I joined Fairey Aviation / Marine as Naval Architect and my first assignment was to design a fast motor boat around a new marine gearbox and drive system designed and built at the Hayes factory by A. G. Forsyth. He was first introduced to me as Captain Forsyth, as he was a pilot in the RFC during the first world war. He was then recently retired, but retained by Faireys as a gear consultant. I am not exactly sure, but he must have joined Faireys around 1930 to design the “Prince” 1-124 engine with contra-rotating controllable-pitch propellers, as Sir Richard wanted his own aircraft engine. Prototypes were designed and built and one actually Bras in a “Fairey Battle”, but unfortunately the engine was not adopted by the Air Ministry, as they wished to rationalise with one engine manufacturer, the P12/24 being a competitive engine to the Rolls Merlin. This engine was exhibited in the entrance hall at Fairey Aviation, Hayes, until the forced sale of the Company to Westlands. Apparently the Directors were so incensed over the sale that the Exhibition Manager was told to “get rid of it”. The engine would have been mine, but was too big for my living room! From Hayes it was moved out to White Waltham and from there to the Yeovilton Fleet Air Arm Museum, where it now rests for all to see.

A. G. Forsyth was also involved with the Fairey “Rotodyne” helicopter and I believe some of the related patents were in his name. He taught me a great deal about spiral bevel gears and I spent literally hundreds of hours type-testing his gearboxes in open fast motor boats up and down Southampton Water, usually in freezing winter weather conditions with one’s ears dropping off with the cold!! The advertisement of the Frank Costin Protos Formula 2 GP car is interesting. We built the two wood monocoque chassis: bmiies at Hamble using the same laminated wood construction that we had perfected for moulding the Firefly, Albacore, Atalanta and other well-known boats from the Fairey factory. Southampton ALAN V. BURNARD