The Earl's Avro __ A Pre-War Cameo

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

The Earl’s Avro — A Pre-War Cameo

LAST MONTH, in the article “The Avro 504 — A Tribute”, we referred to how the Earl ot Cardigan was an enthusiastic user of one of these aeroplanes, at least until beyond the mid-1930s. We have since discovered that the Avro he flew

was a surplus RAF 504 N powered with an Armstrong Siddeley Lynx seven-cylinder radial engine and that the Earl kept it at his private landing-ground in Wiltshire, consisting of a fairly large sloping field with a had approach on one side and commonly infested with cows, which the low landing speed of the machine enabled him to dodge. A barn in an adjacent field had been converted into a makeshift hangar, with a few yards of tarmac in front of it and a breach in the hedge between the meadow it was in and the flying field.

Early impressions after the vendor had demonstrated the Avro by making one or two landings in the Earl’s field in about one-tenth of the available space were of the size and the large numbers of inter-‘plane struts and bracing-wires, which gave a comforting impression of strength and durability. Moreover, the front cockpit allowed for plenty of elbovv-room. which again gave a beginner a sense of confidence. The Earl of Cardigan expressed himself as impressed and a little awed — he quoted the saying that looking along the wings from the front cockpit, from which the Avro was flown. was “like looking down the aisles of some great cathedral”.

There were other advantages, as he noted. This aged aeroplane had a hand-snagneto, which obviated the need (0 swing the prop. Alter landing away from a conventional aerodrome. when ready to leave any yokel could be asked to wind the engine over for the purposes of “sucking-in”. with all switches “off”. With a 1930s light ‘plane it was necessary to get out, to swing the prop, unaided, in close proximity to the “live” airscrew and dangerously remote from the controls and switches. In the Ayr() 504, once one, helper was clear, winding the hand-magneto after switching on invariably started the Lynx. Another boon was the glass-tube pct.-level gauge adjoining each of the two fuel tanks — an immutable natural law decreeing that the level shown in the tubes must be exactly that in the tanks, i.e., direct, not circumstantial. evidence. . . . The 200-plus h.p. of the Lynx enabled the Avro to take off with almost any load fnter any surface, even with the undercarriage axle meeting stiff resistance from a crop of hay, although that called for a rather longer take-off run than the normal lift-off at 40 m.p.h., or less if a rut or ridge threw the Avro into the air. when it would start flying within a few yards. So in this hardy aeroplane the owner was able to take-off from a point 500 yards from Ins home and quite often land within 500 yards of his destination, flying at 1,500 r.p.m. or 80 m.p.h. for economy. although 90 mph. was possible at normal cruising revs., and the top speed was about 100 m.p.h. Landing was equally easy, the forward view, largely due to the steep gliding-angle, being good. Providing the novice pilot approached fairly high,

he could hardly fail to finish up somewhere near the middle of she intended field, and the Astro could only under-shoot, over-shooting irreparably being virtually impossible. The landing was made at a quiet, steady speed, yet with the machine quite safely controllable. Hence the ability to cow-dodge. . . . The supple undercarriage masked poor landings, to the extent of passengers congratulating the pilot on them, nor did he ever get praised for making good ones, because it was well .town that “those old machines practically land themselves”. However. the huge wingspread that so usefully shortened the landing-run could cause the Avro to be blown onto a wing-tip very easily. so it was as well to have wing-tip skids fitted. In a strong wind it was embarrassing to find the 504 bimled gently backwards down a smooth tarmac runway after the pilot had switched off and was therefore helpless! Stringer oleo-struts would probably have cured much of the danger of damaging a wing-tip when taxiing across wind. Another foible of the Avro 504 was aileron drag, necessitating using stick and rudder-bar sUnultancously when picking ttp a wing-tip in bumpy air.

The Earl of Cardigan’s Avro had been converted to carry two passengers in the back cockpit but even when stacked with suitcases beside a solitary passenger, performance and trim were scarcely affected. He used Ill gallons of petrol an hour, and quite a lot of oil, the bill for both of which totalled about (I per hour. Harald Penrose, OBE. reminds me that draughtsmen who worked on the. drawings for the prototype Avro 504 were R. J. Parrott, who supervised the work of Cliff Horrex and Roy Chadwick. the latter becoming Avro’s Chief Draughtsman, then in 1918 their Chief Designer. Penrose, that great test-pilot and aeronautical historian. had his first flight in 1919, as a passenger in a Berkshire Aviation Avro 504. An astonishing number of aer,lanes of various makes and types have been built since then but, studying Putnam’s Aeronautical Histories, I have been equally as-tonished at how many were crashed. Today about the only Aver 504 still flying in this country is G-ADEV. a Le Rhone-Avro of the Shuttleworth Trust, which

was re-converted to civilian specification by Avro apprentices and acquired by the Trust in 1958.

W.B.