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Part 21

Part 21 of Wonders of World Aviation was published on Tuesday 26th July 1938, price 7d.

This part was the first in volume 2. It included a colour plate (acting as the frontispiece to volume 2) showing a Hawker Hind diving. This had previously appeared as the cover to Part 20.

The Cover

This week’s cover shows one of the six Shark aeroplanes built by The Blackburn Aircraft Ltd, at Brough, Yorkshire, for the Portugues Navy. The Blackburn Shark bomber-reconnaissance seaplane is a staggered folding biplane, with a metal monocoque fuselage. The span is 46 feet, the length 35 ft 2 in, and the height 12 ft 1 in. The aircraft is powered by a 670- 700 horse-power Armstrong Siddeley fourteen-cylinder radial air-cooled engine. The maximum speed is 152 miles an hour at 5,500 feet and the alighting speed is 62 miles an hour.

One of the six Shark aeroplanes built by The Blackburn Aircraft Ltd for the Portugues Navy

Contents of Part 21

A Hawker Hind Diving (colour plate)

Aircraft Armament

Showman Who Turned Aviator

Aerodrome Construction

British Airships

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford, VC

Air Taxis (Part 1)

Showman Who Turned Aviator

The flying of man-carrying kits was a prelude to “Colonel” Cody’s achievements with aeroplanes. One of the most romantic and picturesque of the aviation pioneers was Samuel Franklin Cody. Unlike so many makers of air history, he had had no engineering or scientific training, and his mechanical knowledge was comparatively negligible when he first became interested in aeronautics. In this chapter H G Castle tells the story of “Colonel” Cody.

This is the tenth article in the series on Makers of Air History.

(Pages 567-570)

Aerodrome Construction

The building of a modern aerodrome involves the cooperation of many widely different industries. Millions of pounds are being spent throughout the world on building new and improving existing aerodromes. The aerodrome constructor has to cope with a constant increase in the size, weight, power and numbers of aircraft, as well as providing equipment for aids to navigation. In Great Britain the number of licensed municipal aerodromes increased in the four years 1935-38 from sixteen to thirty-five. In 1938 another ten were being built and about fifty private aerodromes were in use. In addition, big developments wee planned fro the airports owned by the Air Ministry and new aerodromes were being built for the Royal Air Force. This chapter is written by Howard Warriner.

(Pages 571-575)

The De Havilland Dragonfly

A USEFUL MACHINE for air charter is the De Havilland Dragonfly, which can carry four passengers and which has a cruising speed in excess of 120 miles an hour. The Dragonfly in this illustration is one of the fleet of Birkett Air Service Ltd, a company which was founded in 1932 by Flight Lieutenant G. Birkett. Other aircraft in the fleet are Miles Merlin, Leopard Moth and Puss Moth aeroplanes.

(Page 583)

The Handley Page Heyford Mark II

THE THICKENED CENTRE SECTION of the lower plane accommodates the bombs of the Handley Page Heyford Mark II long-range night bomber. Each bomb and rack is in a separate cell closed by spring doors. The bombs are fused and fired electrically. Three machine guns are carried, one in the nose and two aft of the wings - one above and one below the fuselage. The lower rear gun is carried in a retractable turret.

(Page 561)

British Airships

The story of British airships is of great fascination to all who are interested in lighter-than-air craft. A tentative start was made in great Britain in 1902, when Colonel S. E. B. Templar, then the head of the Army Ballooning Department, persuaded the authorities to begin the building of an airship. Five years later Great Britain's first complete military airship, the Nulli Secondus, was built. When war was declared in 1914, Great Britain had seven airships and two airship stations.

During the war the Sea Scout type of airships, popularly known as the “Blimps”, did invaluable work in the British anti-submarine patrol. When the Armistice was signed, Great Britain had 103 airships, chiefly of the non-rigid type. In 1919 the British rigid airship R4 made the first double crossing of the North Atlantic. Eleven years later the R100 flew to Canada and back.

I have never believed that British public opinion is so much opposed to airships as some people would have us believe. My correspondence has strengthened my belief that not only is there a great interest in airships but there is also a large public that believes in them. It may be retorted that what the public believes in is one thing and what the authorities decide is another, but in the long run it is public opinion that generally decides; the authorities merely reflect that opinion.

Captain J. A. Sinclair contributes this chapter on British airships. The chapter traces the evolution of the airship in Great Britain from early experiments and the building of the first airship in 1907 until the tragedy of the R101 at Beauvais, France, in 1931. It is not my policy in this work to enter into any controversy; neither do I wish to revive any of the fierce discussions that took place when the Government decided to abandon the building of airships. But my letters show me that there are many people who consider that decision to have been a hasty one. Several of my correspondents make the point that, if aeroplanes had been abandoned in the early days because of fatal accidents, aviation would have made no progress at all. That is common not only of aeroplanes, but also of almost all human endeavour.

Perhaps the most significant sign is that the men who built the airships and the men who flew in them have never lost their faith in them. I remember a visit I paid to Cardington, in Bedfordshire, a year or two after the R101 had crashed, and I found that almost everyone there who had been connected with that or any other airship was dismayed not by that crash or by any other crash, but by the Government’s decision to stop building any more airships.

Captain Sinclair’s chapter shows that there has been a great deal of ill-informed criticism of British airships, that the belief is wrongly held in some quarters that British airships have been associated with too many crashes. On the contrary, only three airships met with serious accidents in twenty-four years of airship building and experiment.

(Pages 576-581)

You can read more on Types of Airship in part 4; on the Mooring of Airships in part 11, and on How Airships are Flown in part 18.

The R101

THE FIRST TRIAL FLIGHTS of the R101 were made in 1929. This airship had a capacity of 5,000,000 cubic feet and was originally intended to carry 100 passengers; she was built by the Air Ministry. After a number of alterations the R101 set out for her maiden voyage, which was to have been to India. Disaster overtook the airship, however, at Beauvais, France, a few hours after the start of the flight on October 5, 1930.

(Page 577)

Flight Sub-Lieutenant Warneford, VC

Flight Sub-Lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford, of the Royal Naval Air Service, brought down an airship over enemy territoryA biography of Sub-Lieutenant Reginald Warneford VC, who was the first pilot to bring down a German airship. This chapter is by Clarence Winchester and is the third article in the series on Epics of Service Flying.

(Page 582)

AWARDED THE VICTORIA CROSS and the Cross of the Legion of Honour, Flight Sub-Lieutenant R. A. J. Warneford, of the Royal Naval Air Service, brought down an airship over enemy territory. After he had bombed the airship he had to land and repair his engine before he could return and make his report.

A Hawker Hind Diving

THE SYNCHRONIZED GUNS fire through the propeller of the Hawker Hind, a light day bomber used in the Royal Air Force. These guns are accommodated in slots in the nose cowling of the aircraft. A third gun with flexible mounting is provided for the back cockpit to protect the machine from behind. Bomb racks are fitted on both sides of the fuselage below the bottom wings. Two 250-lb bombs can be carried, or a larger number of smaller ones. The pilot aims his two guns by pointing the aeroplane in the direction in which he wishes to fire. The Hawker Hind has a 640 horse-power Rolls-Royce Kestrel V water-cooled engine which gives the aeroplane a maximum speed of 187 miles an hour. The engine radiator is of the retractable type and is slung beneath the fuselage in front of the undercarriage.  

(Facing page 561)

Aircraft Armament

How the fighting powers of modern machines are continually being increased. The past few years have seen several important armament improvements. Today there are a variety and an ingenuity in the armament arrangements of most first-line aeroplanes that these aeroplanes did not have a few years ago. This chapter, written by Major Oliver Stewart, deals with the armament of modern aircraft. Many authorities have maintained that progress in the development of the military aeroplane would be checked so that greater progress could be made with aeroplane armament. There has however been been no such concentration on aeroplane armament, but the beginnings of such a concentration are in sight. While it is essential for aircraft to advance rapidly to a greater degree of efficiency, concentration of armament must be a secondary consideration. This does not mean that there has been no progress on armament. In the past few years there have been many important changes and improvements.

(Pages 561-566)

Aircraft “Cannon”

LARGE-CALIBRE MACHINE-GUNS or “cannon” are the latest addition to aircraft armaments, although experiments with such guns have been made for a long time. This photograph illustrates the gun which was tried in 1933 on a Blackburn Perth flying boat. The gun fired 1½ lb 37-mm shells at the rate of 100 a minute. A modern aircraft cannon may fire as many as 400 rounds a minute. Modern shells are of 20 mm or 37 mm, but the weight may be only about

1 lb.


(Page 565)

A Section of Croydon Airport

A SECTION OF CROYDON AIRPORT being levelled by hand. The modern method with new aerodromes, where considerable levelling has to be carried out, is to use special tractor-drawn implements. The number of men required is thus greatly reduced and much time is saved. The aircraft in this illustration is a Handley Page HP 42 type of air liner.

(Page 571)

Air Taxis (Part 1)

“By air to anywhere at any moment”. Such is the service rendered by the British charter companies which operate air taxis. Night and day, often at only a few minutes’ notice, an air taxi takes off for a flight of perhaps a hundred miles or for a flight of perhaps several thousand miles. This service fills a necessity, as it has placed air transport at the disposal of any individual and has brought the aeroplane to his door to fly him to any destination. Resource and skill are needed by the charter pilot in the performance of his varied commission. In this chapter by Sidney Howard, the work of the air taxi is fully described. The article is concluded in part 22.

(Pages 583-584)

Samuel Franklin Cody

PILOT AND AIRCRAFT BUILDER. Samuel Franklin Cody, seated in one of his biplanes. An American who became a naturalized British subject, Cody accomplished many outstanding performances. He won several competitions and earned thousands of pounds. He was killed in a flying accident on August 7, 1913, while testing a new aircraft he had built for a seaplane flight round Britain.

(Page 567)

British Airships

AN ADVANCED TYPE OF SEA SCOUT AIRSHIP produced in 1918. It was known as the Sea Scout Twin because two 75 horse-power Rolls-Royce Hawk engines were fitted. The object of fitting two engines was to reduce the risk of loss due to engine failure. The Sea Scout Twin had a capacity of 100,000 cubic feet and carried a crew of five.

THE FIRST DOUBLE CROSSING of the Atlantic was achieved in 1919 by the R34, a sister ship to the R33. These airships were being built at the end of the war of 1914-18. Their design was based on that of the German Zeppelin L33 which was brought down in Essex in 1916 in such a condition that it was possible to adapt the design.


(Page 576)

A Hawker Hind DivingHandley Page Heyford Mark IILARGE-CALIBRE MACHINE-GUNS or “cannon” are the latest addition to aircraft armamentsPILOT AND AIRCRAFT BUILDER. Samuel Franklin Cody, seated in one of his biplanesA SECTION OF CROYDON AIRPORT being levelled by handTHE FIRST TRIAL FLIGHTS of the R101 were made in 1929British airshipsA USEFUL MACHINE for air charter is the De Havilland Dragonfly