Major F. B. Halford.
liy THE EDITOR.
TO most of our readers Frank Bernard Halford is known as the brilliant young driver, who has earned the keen approval of Brooklands habituees at the wheel of a beautiful looking car known as the Halford Special. Beyond that very few people are aware of his other attainments, which as we discovered recently are very considerable.
With the absence of convention for which interviewers are said to be notorious, we burst in upon him the other day just as he was engaged in a job of work at the works of A.D.C. Aircraft Ltd., at Waddon, where his own office is situated, for Major Halford carries on a very large business as an independent consultant and designer of all types of engines for aircraft, motor cars and motor cycles. In fact, if you give him a piece of paper, some pencils, some slide rules and a few things of that kind, then leave him for a few minutes, he will produce a design for any kind of engine with any requisite number of horses that may be desired.
On the day we visited him he was just starting to register the power curves, during a week’s continuous test of the new Cirrus Mark II aero engine which he has designed for the company mentioned above, but we managed to induce him to leave the fascinating roar of his wonderful engine to tell us a few interesting details of his career to be duly handed on to our readers.
Personally, we would have preferred to linger in the test house and with a reluctance evidently shared by our victim, retired to a more quiet spot to proceed with the inquisition. Major Halford was educated at Felsted in Essex and was turned out with a first class public school education, with which he entered Nottingham University to take up engineering studies. With a half apologetical_smile
he confessed that no diplomas came his way and that later the membership of learned bodies made no appeal to his imagination, so Major Halford carries no string of letters after his name and as far as we can see they would be more or less useless appendages in his case, as he possesses such a vast knowledge of that particular phase of the profession he has adopted.
Early Technical Experiences.
On leaving Nottingham, Major Halford turned his thoughts towards aviation and in 1912 joined the Bristol School of Flying at Brooklands and on concluding his course became Assistant Instructor. His principal job was to teach flying and many who have since become well-known aviators passed under his tuition. Needless to say some of his pupils gave a certain amount of anxiety, but the star turn among his young hopefuls was an individual suffering from the distressing malady of delirium tremens, which we understand is not exactly one of the most desirable qualifications for a would-be aviator. The pupil did not show any symptoms of his sad affliction until he was occupying the pilot’s seat at a height of several thousand feet and Halford had no end of a time in trying to persuade him that the earth was a very fair place and far less draughty than the upper regions.
We do not know whether this incident had anything to do with it, but soon after Major Halford turned his attention to the purely technical side of aviation and went to Farnborough as one of the first engineers to be engaged in the work of the Aeronautical Inspection Department, which kept him busy until the outbreak of the War. He then joined up with the Flying Corps and went overseas in September 1914 as a pilot, but appreciating his technical value, his superior officers transferred him to a special service and for a long time Major Halford acted as a kind of technical liaison officer between the British and French air services.
Developing a Famous Aero Engine.
In the year 1916, Major Halford received orders to return to England, when together with Mr. T. C. Pullinger, the Managing Director of the Arrol-Johnson Company, he produced the famous Beardmore engine known as the B.H.P. (Beardmore, Halford, Pullinger). This engine was afterwards known as the SiddeleyPuma engine, of which 7,000 were built during the war.
Several other engines owed their design to Halford but few actually reached the production stage on the declaration of the Armistice.
After demobilisation, Major Half ord joined Messrs. Ricardo & Co., the famous firm of consulting engineers and for two years was their representative in America, where he negotiated the sale of Ricardo patents and designs. Returning to the London office in 1921, he resumed design work and assisted in the development of many engines for aircraft, cars and motor cycles. Our motor cycling readers will not need reminding that this brilliant young designer achieved fame on two wheels by gaining the 500 cc. hour record at Brooklands on a Ricardo-Triumph engine, for the design of which he was in part responsible.
On the Track.
Major Halford belongs to that rare class of men in whom great technical ability is combined with the highly developed nerve and skill necessary to achieve success
on the track. His first notable performance at Brooklands was on the Alvis racer, which he piloted to the fourth place in the j.C.C. Two Hundred Miles race of 1924. He then proved himself to be a driver of no ordinary attainment, though he never makes any attempts to ” play to the gallery.”
Shortly after the 1924 Two Hundred Miles Race, Major Half ord realised that there were considerable opportunities as an independent consulting engineer and leaving Ricardo, determined to branch out on his account. For obvious reasons one cannot indicate the actual firms for whom he acts as consultant, but we may assure our readers that Halford’s brains find expression in many of the best known aero engine designs of to-day. We are at liberty, however, to state that the” Cirrus” engine used in the de Haviland ” Moth ” was designed by Major Halford, as well as the 300 h.p. ” Nimbus “
water-cooled engine recently produced by A.D.C. Aircraft Ltd.
The Halford Special.
Details of the famous supercharged Halford Special, would alone serve as the subject of a special article and when opportunity permits, we are promised a full technical description of the machine. At present, however, we must confine our remarks in stating that when it first ran in last years Two Hundred it was capable of about 108 m.p.h. and ran into 5th place, since when certain improvements have been made by which it is capable of a maximum speed of over 121 m.p.h. The remarkable performance of the car and its driver in the R.A.C. Grand Prix is still fresh in the memory of our readers, when the unfortunate collapse of a rear
bevel wheel placed it hors de combat, just as it was giving the gravest anxiety to the victorious Delage drivers.
Without knowing anything of its designer and driver, the Halford Special must be looked upon as a wonder, but as soon as one is privileged to learn something about this truly remarkable young engineer, it ceases to be a matter of surprise, for if Halford cannot design a car, nobody can.
Those of us who know that one or two master minds are behind the designs of famous Continental racing engines will not be at all surprised if, in the very near future, firms wishing to develop engines on the lines of real efficiency, will be literally falling over themselves to secure the services and advice of this young man, whose achievements to date are likely to be eclipsed by those for which the future must certainly hold for him.