Rumblings, July 1942

An appeal

First of all an appeal. Complaints continue to come in relating to back issues not being received, current subscribers’ issues not being delivered, and money being sent to cover back issues for which no acknowledgment is received. In many instances such issues come back to us marked “Not known” by the postal authorities. Will readers, therefore, please ensure that the addresses they give are reasonably permanent and, when writing to enquire after issues which may have been lost in transit, will they, if writing from a changed address, please make this clear, quoting from whence the original order or enquiry came. Particularly, will subscribers please send a postcard to the City Road offices as soon as a change of address occurs? We do not like the nasty taste left by letters of complaint and it is hardly playing the game to bother the Editor with such matters. He has made it clear his association with Motor Sport is entirely literary, and his time, already so fully occupied with official war-time duties and in running this paper that his personal correspondence has had to suffer, now looks like being further curtailed by Home Guard duties, from which no release has been granted. So please address business letters to 21, City Road, E.C.1 , and, bearing in mind that at this address a greatly reduced staff is extra busy these days on Government contract printing, give a reasonably permanent address and full details of what has gone wrong. We will try to put matters right as expeditiously as we can. Thank you.

Model cars

From time to time we have referred to model car racing as they play it in America, where properly conducted contests for 70-m.p.h. petrol-driven models are staged regularly and have an increasingly large following. In this country no particular interest has so far been aroused, but we are very interested to learn that D.A. Russell, who has introduced so many folk to the hobby of model aeroplane construction, is contemplating the publication of plans for a very simple petrol-driven model car, which should be ready by next autumn. Mr. Russell is director of the Harborough Publishing Co., Ltd., of Newark Street, Leicester, publishers of those remarkably informative books on model aviation matters, such as “Flying Model Aircraft,” “An A.B.C. of Model Aircraft Construction,” “Scale Model Aircraft That Fly,” “Design of Wakefield Models,” “Solid Scale Model Aircraft,” and so on, to say nothing of uniquely comprehensive sets of plans, both of flying models and of real aeroplanes, to a one-seventy-second scale, from which scale models can be constructed. Mr. Russell is also managing editor of The Aero Modeller and has built a number of petrol-driven model aircraft. He is at present engaged on a one-fifth full-scale model Westland “Lysander,” which will have automatic slots and flaps and is to be powered by a two-stroke, flat-four engine with a capacity of nearly 40 c.c. We do not intend to boost model work unduly, because it is far removed from full-scale engineering, and the enthusiast who spends hundreds of hours working on his car does not necessarily have the same temperament as the man who spends his evenings model-making. In any case, we rather incline to the view that model-making should be ancillary to the real thing and not a cult on its own, albeit those who have no excuses for motoring “officially” might well turn to model aeroplane building now as their primary means of wartime relaxation, in which case they will find the aforementioned books of great value. Be that as it may, we shall be most interested to see what success Mr. Russell achieves with the popularising of model car construction, and racing, amongst British enthusiasts. The long winter evenings are certainly the best time to induce people to start construction and, if we have to face a basicless summer next year, racing completed models might well have quite a vogue. And if speeds of around 50 m.p.h. are encompassed we may expect some pretty problems of control, reliability and adhesion. Decent tyres and ball-bearing wheels would seem an essential part of a successful design, and we suspect that a stiff, properly suspended chassis is quite half the battle. To gain realism that an empty cockpit cannot give there seems scope for closed-cockpit cars, the little engine standing upright within, and the record-breaking Renault “45” and the enclosed Auto-Union come to mind as possible subjects. The bogy of tiny wire wheels may have been overcome, but, if not, it should be remembered that racing cars with disc wheels have been seen quite often, Parry Thomas’s Leyland-Thomas cars being classic examples. We confess that the thought of being able to race 10-20-c.c. model cars at really high speeds intrigues us, and we hope to be able to give details of Mr. Russell’s activities in this direction in due course.

Still they come!

“They” being war-time flying books. We have already reviewed as many, it seems, as there have been motor-racing classics since the last war. Now there have come to hand “Tally-Ho! Yankee in a Spitfire,” by Pilot Officer Arthur G. Donahue, R.A.F. (Macmillan, 7/6),and Vols. I and II of “Aircraft of the Fighting Powers,” by H.J. Cooper and O.G. Thetford (The Harborough Publishing Co., Ltd., 13/6 and 12/6). The first book is as interesting as any of the accounts of fighting with the R.A.F. that we have read, losing only very little by being written primarily for U.S.A. readers, with certain notable Americanese, and making up for that by the really excellent and vivid accounts of numerous dog-fights and patrols. The author flew a Supermarine “Spitfire,” and the amount of technical information and the insight into life in the R.A.F. which he packs into the 167 pages is really rather surprising. The present writer is in fairly close touch with R.A.F. matters, and about the only error he has detected concerns a certain confusion between rated and take-off horse-power for a given mark of engine; the few printing mistakes he would be one of the first to excuse. There are just enough “other than flying” references to strike an excellent balance and, even if you have read “Fighter Pilot” and “I Had a Row with a German,” you must endeavour to read Donahue’s book. He tells a grand story, particularly as he had no especially notable experiences, nor is, in fact, a more than average pilot. Incidentally, the seemingly rather irrelevant “Tally Ho!” part of the book’s title is based on that most dramatic of war cries – the one sung into the W/T. by an R.A.F. Squadron Leader when he spots the “bandits” and wants his boys to break formation and “go get ’em.” The other books are worthy possessions in quite a different way. Volume I of “Aircraft of the Fighting Powers” contains details of 87 modern military aeroplanes. These details comprise name of manufacturer, purpose, notes on origin and development, power plant, construction, dimensions, areas, weights, performance figures, loadings, armament, tankage, general remarks and colour notes –  these last to help the model-maker, of course, but of general interest nevertheless. In addition, one excellent photograph, on art paper, and a set of one-seventy second plans is given of each machine. Volume II of this fascinating work is much the same, covers over 80 additional aeroplanes and is up-to-date to the “Hurricane HC” and “Spitfire V.” There is a difference, in that a colour-key for the model-making fraternity now graces the front of the book, where the copious colour notes have found a place, but this has resulted in more information of a general character about each aeroplane being included. For anyone who requires a reference to modern military aeroplanes and cannot afford “Jane’s” these books fill a very great need. We feel a little bitter that aeroplane enthusiasts and aero-modellers get so much while car enthusiasts get so little.

The case for the open car

A contemporary has suggested that post-war cars, even those of sports type, may be universally closed, open-bodied cars being in the minority. It was emphasised that pilots of R.A.F. aircraft are so used to doing fantastic speeds beneath a “hood” that they will expect even fast cars to possess such protection. Certainly the advantages of streamlining on performance and economy are likely to considerably popularise closed coachwork for the class of car that at one time would inevitably have carried open bodywork. But this is not quite the same thing as saying that open cars will become virtually defunct. Considerable research will be needed to combine advantageous streamlining with decent appearance from the divers angles from which proud owners gaze at their cars. This will involve the manufacturer in a certain initial expenditure which will have its bearing on the price at which the car will ultimately be sold. Yet if the “lid” is not scientifically faired performance will suffer and it will, perforce, be better to save weight by dispensing with the “lid” altogether, bringing us back to the open form of body. Then, again, the sort of breeze you cannot face at 300 m.p.h. is very far removed from the breeze you can derive much enjoyment from at 70 m.p.h., and as I cannot see folding-streamline-heads for quite a while yet, it is surely logical to expect a decent demand for openair motor-cars to continue. Of course, our contemporary may have had in mind sliding back the streamline top when driver and passenger had mutually decided to have a breather, but if any maker contrives to arrange this for them and still keep them dry in a rain-storm, and faster than their fellows in square-top boxes of like h.p., and unbloody (if not unbowed) after getting out of their cars, well, I shall be mighty surprised and most respectful.


In the May issue we used a picture, and a very excellent picture at that, of Wimille cornering artistically in a Bugatti at Prescott. The copyright of this photograph is the property of J. Eason-Gibson, Onetime Riley, Ford and B.M.W. exponent, and now a Captain in the R.A.S.C. We apologise to this wellknown personality for omitting the usual acknowledgment.

Odd spots

“Jeeps” are causing a lot of comment amongst trials exponents – and anxiety, we suspect, amongst trials organisers. Supercharged Willys engines are sometimes used as an alternative to the Ford V8 units.

Motor-cycle dirt-track racing, on wood-alcohol fuel, is scheduled to happen at Hoddesdon, Herts, on Sunday afternoons, July 5th and 19th.

The J.C.C. Gazette is still cracking.

The 750 Club hopes to hold informal meetings, perhaps in London, to which any enthusiast will be welcome.