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Wonders of World Aviation

Part 8


Part 8 of Wonders of World Aviation was published on Tuesday 26th April 1938, price 7d.


This part included a colour plate showing ranks, badges and flags of RAF officers. This formed part of the article on Training RAF Pilots.





The Cover


Our cover photograph this week shows the nose of one of the Swissair liners. It is an American Douglas machine. Powerful lights are fixed in the nose of the machine to assist the pilot when he is making landings at night.


This illustration later appeared as the colour plate with Part 23.

a Westland Lysander two-seater Army cooperation monoplane


Contents of Part 8


The Designer of the Avro (Part 2)

Percival Aircraft Types

Dramas of Air Rescues

Across the Pacific

Training RAF Pilots

Ranks, Badges and Flags of RAF Officers (colour plate)

Flight of the “Eagle” (Part 1)







Dramas of Air Rescues


Aid by aeroplane for stranded travellers, isolated communities and patients requiring medical treatment. Many lives have been saved and much suffering has been alleviated by the use of air transport. Success in emergency rescue work demands great skill, initiative and resource on the part of the pilots concerned. This chapter is contributed by Sidney Howard.

(Pages 211-216)


Across the Pacific


The famous “Clipper” flying boat service from California, USA, to the Philippine Islands. Advance in aeronautics at times is rapid, and now we have Pan American Airways running a regular service of flying boats from the west coast of the United States to Manila, capital of the Philippine Islands, a distance of over eight thousand miles; from Manila to Hong Kong the journey may be continued in one of the Sikorsky machines. This development of transpacific travel is one of extraordinary interest, as you will find in this detailed chapter by Sidney Howard concerning the service.


Transoceanic flying calls for special organization. It also raises the now almost age-old dispute between the large-aeroplane enthusiasts and the apostles of the airship. Which is the better type of craft for long-distance flying? It is not your Editor’s intention to engage in such controversy, except to say that if he personally had the choice of crossing, say, from England to America m an aeroplane or an airship he should select the latter, fares and other circumstances being more or less equal.


The airship would take a little longer, but I should have more comfort. Commercial lines will always have to consider comfort for fare-paying passengers. Weather, too, has less effect on airships than it has on aeroplanes, as is known to anyone who has had the experience of making comparisons. Until misfortune overtook the Hindenberg, the Zeppelin Company had enjoyed a remarkable record (apart from 1914-1918 episodes), and everyone interested in aeronautics will watch with more than ordinary concern the performances of the new aircraft under construction.

(Pages 217-221)


Click on the icon to see a video clip on the China Clipper inaugural flight which took place in 1936.






The China Clipper Flying Over San Francisco

THE CHINA CLIPPER FLYING OVER SAN FRANCISCO, California, at the start of a flight to Manila, capital of the Philippine Islands. The distance flown on this journey is over 8,000 miles, about a third of the distance round the world at the Equator. During the voyage the International Date Line is crossed, and passengers travelling westwards lose a day. On the eastward flight a day is gained. The actual time for the crossing from San Francisco to Manila is five days.

(Page 217)


An Instructor Explaining Engine Details


AN INSTRUCTOR EXPLAINING ENGINE DETAILS to a group of pupils at the Service flying training school at Sealand Aerodrome, Chester. An RAF pilot must have a considerable knowledge of engines and air-frames, so that he will thoroughly understand his machine. The aircraft in this picture is a Hawker Hart, a two-seater machine used extensively for the training of RAF personnel.


(Page 222)


Ranks, Badges and Flags of the RAF (Officers)


Key to the colour plate below:


1. Marshal of the RAF; 2. Air Chief Marshal; 3. Air Marshal; 4. Air Vice-Marshal; 5. Air Commodore; 6. Group Captain; 7. Wing Commander; 8. Squadron leader; 9. Flight Lieutenant; 10. Flying Officer; 11. Pilot Officer; 12. Flight Lieutenant Full Dress (other officer ranks similar for full dress); 13. Officers of Air Rank; 14. Group Captain; 15. All other officers (for walking out and ceremonial); 16. Forage or Field Service Cap; 17. Officers of Air rank; 18. Officers below Air Rank; 19. Full Dress Tropical Hat (worn by Air Officers Commanding - serving abroad); 20. Full Dress Hat (all ranks); 21. Chaplain’s Cap badge; 22. Pilot’s Badge; 23. Fleet Air Arm badge (worn on sleeve above ranking stripes); 24. Medical Officer’s Collar Badge; 25. RAF Ensign; 26. Marshal of the RAF; 27. Air Chief Marshal; 29. Air Vice-Marshal; 30. Air Commodore; 31. Group captain; 32. Wing Commander; 33. Squadron Leader.

Note - Although the Fleet Air Arm has been taken over by the Admiralty flying personnel will continue to be drawn from the Royal Air Force for a time, and this badge is still being worn.

(Facing page 226)


Training RAF Pilots


The tuition of pupils from the time of joining the service until they reach their squadrons. One year is about the time it takes to train an RAF pilot to the standard at which he is ready to join a squadron. During this time he will carry out between 150 and 200 hours’ flying, nearly 100 hours of which will be solo flying.


This chapter has been written in consultation with the Air Ministry by Arthur Clark, who is responsible for our series on Learning to Fly. The Royal Air Force continues to expand and, as will be seen, the methods of training pilots are second to none. This important Service came into being just twenty years ago, 1918, having been preceded by the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps. There was a good deal of amusement aroused by the choice of the date for the establishment of the RAF - April 1 - especially among opponents of the amalgamation of the two services. There was, in fact, considerable feeling about such an amalgamation.

(Pages 222-228)


The Designer of the Avro (Part 2)


The story of Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe, whose biplane of 1908 was followed by many famous designs. Of all names associated with the development of aeronautics that of Alliott Verdon-Roe ranks with the highest. He is an essential part of the progress of flight and a founder of British aviation. This chapter is by H G Castle, and is concluded from part 7. It is the fourth article in the series on Makers of Air History.

(Pages 205-207)


The Search for the Explorer Ellsworth

THE SEARCH FOR ELLSWORTH, the explorer, was assisted by this Moth seaplane, when he was missing in 1935. Ellsworth, with Hollick-Kenyon, set off in November 1935, to fly 2,000 miles across the Antarctic. After the first day, no news of him was received. Several weeks later, the Moth seaplane took off from the Bay of Whales and sighted Ellsworth and his machine. Not long afterwards the two explorers were safe on board the research ship Discovery II.

(Page 213)


Flight of the “Eagle” (Part 1)


The first serious attempt to fly to the North Pole, by Salomon Andrée. His name cannot be omitted from those pioneers of Polar exploration by air. Andrée’s flight was not a success; tragedy overtook him before its completion. But the attempt was of particular interest because, although the attempt took place in the ninties, the story was destined not to be completed until 1930. This chapter is by L H Thomas, and is concluded in part 9.

(Pages 229-232)


Andrée’s Balloon


ANDRÉE’S BALLOON WAS TO BE STEERED with draglines and sails. The idea was that the draglines would reduce the speed of the balloon to less than that of the wind. Then, by suitably setting the sails, it should be possible to force the balloon along at an angle to the direction of the wind. Unfortunately, the balloon was allowed to rise into the air without the draglines.


(Page 229)


Percival Aircraft Types


Machines produced by a designer who has had considerable racing experience. Few aeroplanes have had so marked an influence upon the type of machine generally adopted and flown by private owners as the Percival Gull. This and other designs by Captain Percival are described in this chapter by Major Oliver Stewart.

(Pages 208-210)

One of the Earliest Floatplanes


One of the Earliest Floatplanes

ONE OF THE EARLIEST FLOATPLANES TO FLY OVER BRITISH WATERS. This was the biplane that preceded the famous Avro 504. In it original form it was a landplane. It had a 35 horse-power water-cooled Green engine, and was bought by Commander Schwann, now Air Vice-Marshal Sir Oliver Swann, KCB CBE. Successful seaplane flights were made by S V Sippe in this aircraft at Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire, in 1911 and 1912.

(Page 207)

A V Roe


A. V. Roe


THE AVRO TRIPLANE which was taken to the flying meeting at Blackpool, Lancashire, in 1909. Although A V Roe - shown in the pilot’s seat - discarded triplanes in favour of biplanes shortly afterwards, other designers did not give up the triplane method of construction for several years. A number of triplane fighters were used in the war of 1914-18.






DURING THE WAR of 1914-18 and for several years afterwards, the Avro 504 was used by the RAF as a training machine. Although different engines were fitted, and slight modifications were made during this period, the design remained unaltered in all its essential aerodynamic features and main dimensions. The machine in this picture was known as a 504K.


(Page 206)

Percival aircraft types


Percival Aircraft


A SINGLE-SEATER RACING MONOPLANE, the Percival Mew Gull, seen in the top picture, has set up speed records when flown by the designer, Captain Percival, in the King’s Cup Air Race. The Mew Gull is a development of the Gull, another Percival design, and has a completely enclosed cabin which is streamlined off to fit in with the contours of the fuselage.






THE VEGA GULL, shown in the lower picture, is a four-seater cabin machine. The Gull closely resembles the Vega Gull. Both these models are available with tow types of engines giving different performances. With a Gipsy Six, Series II engines, the Vega Gull is claimed to have a top speed of 175 miles an hour.


(Page 208)

The Search for the Explorer EllsworthThe China Clipper Flying Over San FranciscoThe Route Across the Pacific


The Route Across the Pacific

THE ROUTE ACROSS THE PACIFIC has four stopping places. They are Honolulu, Midway Island, Wake Island and Guam, a stronghold of the US Navy. The station at Wake Island was created on a previously uninhabited coral island. Two small towns had to be built on Wake Island and Midway Island, all the materials for which were transported to these islands by the steamship North Haven.

(Page 220)

Formation Flying at Cranwell


Formation Flying at Cranwell

FORMATION FLYING AT CRANWELL, Lincolnshire, where cadets who are accepted for permanent commissions receive their training. Instruction in formation flying is first carried out with dual control. Later an instructor leads pupils flying solo. Finally, the pupil himself leads a formation. In all formation flying during instruction the machines are farther apart than they would be in regular squadron formations. Formation flying calls for considerable skill in piloting and for close concentration.

(Page 223)

An Instructor Explaining Engine DetailsRanks badges and flags of the RAFAndree's balloonAndree's balloon


Andrée’s Balloon


READY TO START FOR THE NORTH POLE on July 11, 1897. This photograph shows the scene before the balloon was cut loose, when Andrée and his two companions, Strindberg and Fraenkel, were standing in the car of the balloon. Strindberg was taking photographs up to the last minute. As the balloon rose into the air it was christened Ornen, which means Eagle.




TESTING FOR LEAKS IN THE BALLOON. This was done by means of strips of linen dipped in lead acetate. These strips were held against the seams in the balloon’s fabric, and the presence of a leak was shown by a black discoloration on the linen. The net over the upper part of the envelope was of strong Italian hemp, and ended in forty-eight carrying lines attached to a ring below the envelope. The wicker car was suspended from this ring.


(Page 222)