We left Freddie Raynham, after his transatlantic flight fiasco, returning to England from America and in 1920 raising the British ASR to 161.434 mph in the red racing Martinsyde Semiquaver at Martlesham Heath timed over one kilometre. (The absolute record at the time, according to “Guinness”, was 176.15 mph, by Casale’s Bleriot). He should have flown this exciting little aeroplane in the 1920 Aerial Derby but was prevented from doing so because he had crashed a Martinsyde F4 at Brooklands and damaged a shoulder. So Frank Courtenay deputised for him, winning at 153.45 mph but contriving to overturn after landing.
The financial plight of many aviation companies at this time made publicity important, so Martinsyde entered the Semiquaver for the French Gordon Bennett race, to which the resourceful Raynham and his mechanic towed it all the way from the coast. It started the speed-run very well but did not return for some 24 minutes. The Hispano-Suiza engine had overheated and spewed oil all over the machine. At this difficult time, although Martin and Handasyde had merged, to form Handasyde Aircraft Ltd with new premises in Woking to augment those they had at Brooklands, prospects were bleak and no doubt Raynham was glad to be commissioned by Temple Press Ltd to fly The Motor‘s photographer out to the 1922 French Grand Prix motor race at Strasbourg in July, in a Martinsyde F6 and then rush the report and pictures back to London afterwards; which is where this article opened. After many adventures and bad weather both men arrived safely, and on schedule. Raynham also took The Light Car & Cyclecar‘s photographer up over the starting-line of the ICC 200 Mile Race at Brooklands in August 1922. They obtained a fine picture of the cars lined up at the Fork awaiting the start, smoke blowing about from Kaye Don’s AC, after which another picture was taken, it was said five seconds later, showing the fine acceleration of the cars as they left the line, with Kensington-Moir’s Aston-Martin in the lead, followed by Stead’s Aston-Martin “Bunny”, and the Bugattis. In fact, judging by some rough calculations I have made, this subsequent photograph must surely have been taken rather more than the claimed five seconds after the first one, or otherwise the acceleration needed would have been impossible even for racing cars. For this assignment Raynham used the Martinsyde F6 biplane. Aeroplanes were banned from taking off or landing during long-distance races at Brooklands at that time, in case they distracted the drivers. But even if it took Raynham and the TP cameraman 30 seconds to get both pictures, they could have landed on the aerodrome well in advance of the cars coming round at the end of the first lap.
Prior to all this, Fred Raynham had brought out the Sopwith Antelope G-EASS with 200 hp Viper engine for the Croydon races, winning the Surrey Open Handicap of 16 miles from seven other competitors, and he had come home third in the 1922 Aerial Derby in the yellow-hued Martinsyde F6. In the same machine Raynham then finished a very close second to Capt Barnard’s DH 4A in the first King’s Cup race that September. Raynham’s versatility was demonstrated further when he piloted George Handasyde’s glider at the 1922 Lympne British Gliding Competition, a 56-foot-span monoplane designed by none other than Sydney Camm. Bungee-launched, in the end it was a battle lasting into the dusk, as Raynham sought to defend his duration record of 114 minutes against the French pilot Maneyrel flying the tandem-wing Peyret monoplane-glider; it finished with the latter taking the £1000 Daily Mail prize for having stayed aloft for 3hr 2Imin 7sec, with Raynham awarded £50. When this event was turned into a contest for what were called “motorgliders” in 1923 using engines of up to 750 cc, Raynham found himself assigned No 13, with the 65 mph Handasyde monoplane, powered with a flat-twin Douglas motorcycle engine and built at the Addlestone factory where the Bleriot-Whippet cyclecars were made. Although painted in the Handasyde racing colours of yellow and grey, there was but 15 hp available and the engine proved unreliable, causing Frederick Raynham to force-land, dead-stick, from 3000 feet while engaged in the Altitude Contest.
There was a better result when Fred entered a Clerget-engined Avro 504 for the 400-mile Grosvenor Cup race, for machines of less than 150 hp. He came in second, behind Longton’s Sopwith Gnu. But it was a sad occasion, the popular Major Foot having been killed when his three-cylinder Bristol M ID monoplane crashed near Chertsey, after a landing-wire had broken. Raynham joined Hawker’s as a test pilot in 1923, and got the job of taking the Duiker up and pronouncing it unsatisfactory. He found fault, too, with the Woodcock and its designer left under a cloud, to use an apt expression! It was Raynham who then persuaded Hawker’s to take on Sydney Camm, who had been spare-time mechanic for Fred’s personal Martinsyde F6. And Camm was, of course, to give us the Hurricane and other great aeroplanes . . .
In his new capacity, Raynham had the Anzani-powered Hawker Cygnet II biplane for the 1924 Lympne Light Aeroplane Trials. He did not shine in the major catagories but got the £100 prize in the slow flying take-off, and landing competition, with a speed of 34.4 mph, a take-off of 250 yards, and a landing run of 72-1/2 yards. In the course of this event for these tiny but fascinating 1100cc aeroplanes he flew 457-1/2 miles and was up for 10 hr 29 minutes. In the speed contest Fred had to retire twice, once with engine trouble, putting down in a convenient field, then by running out of petrol, when the £2000 prize was almost in his pocket. He maintained his freelance status, taking on the prototype HP21 fighter for Handley-Page. It proved a very near thing, because the control column broke at the root and Raynham had to land blind, ducked down so that he could pull on the socket. He was probably relieved when Col Ogilvie took over the subsequent testing. . . Earlier in 1924 it had been Raynham’s task to test the revised Hawker Woodcock. There were “moments” when the Jupiter engine iced-up, until given cylinder “helmets”, which Fred tried out also on the first Hawker Hedgehog. After which this versatile pilot gave up test-flying to put in his lot with Ron Kemp and Col Ryder, who were doing surveying in N Borneo with their Aerial Survey Company of which Fred became a co-director. He also did much flying in India. He died in 1954. W B