AN AIR-COOLED STATIONARY ENGINE WAS FITTED to the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.3 two-seater. The engine was a 90 horse power RAF 1a type with eight cylinders in V formation. The speed of the aircraft, which had a four-bladed propeller, was eighty-one miles an hour at 8,000 feet. It could remain in flight for three hours.
Secondly, there were the advanced training types which were almost always those in use on active service at the particular period of the war. At first the Service types had no dual controls; even as late as 1917 pupils made their first solo on the Service type without ever having experienced the touch of the controls. On two-seaters they were generally taken for a short flight in the observer’s seat.
By 1918, however, most of the two-seater Service types were fitted with dual controls and some of the single-seaters were converted to two-seaters for the purpose of instruction. When this was done, small-size fuel tanks compensated for the added load, but not always for the changed centre of gravity. So with some of the single-seaters the conversion was not always a complete success in giving the pupil the exact feel of the controls. But it was better than nothing. The conversion of these advanced training types was often carried out in the aeroplane repair shop attached to the training aerodrome, and not in an aircraft factory.
The aeroplane repair shop, commonly known by its initials as ARS, was generally officered and manned by war-time temporary personnel. Members of the WRAF (Women’s Royal Air Force) worked in the ARS. The excellent way in which the work was carried out greatly assisted the flying training schools in their work. The same can be said of the engine repair shops (ERS), where engines were speedily overhauled and kept in sound condition.
In this chapter will be described the training aeroplanes belonging to the first of the two classes mentioned above. The Maurice Farman Longhorn and Shorthorn are dealt with in the first chapter of this series (pages 503-506). The principal dimensions of the Longhorn were: span (upper) 50 ft 11 in, span (lower) 37 ft 9 in, chord 6 ft 7 in, incidence 3½ degrees, gap 6 ft 6¾ in, stagger nil, dihedral nil, length 37 ft 9½ in, height 11 ft 5¾ in, span of tailplane 15 ft 6 in, chord of tailplane 4 ft 9¾ in, distance between tail booms 10 ft 4 in.
A FORWARD ELEVATOR mounted on outriggers in front of the main planes distinguished the Maurice Farman Longhorn from the Shorthorn. This forward elevator operated in conjunction with the elevator mounted behind the tailplanes. Farman aircraft were flown by almost all the early RAF pilots, and were not superseded until 1917. The pupil occupied the front seat.
TWO SKIDS PROJECTED IN FRONT of the wings of the Farman Shorthorn although there was not forward elevator. These two skids formed part of the main frame of the undercarriage. Both types of the Farman were fitted with 70 horse-power Renault engines. The speed at ground level was 66 miles and hour; the flight duration was three and three-quarter hours.
The Shorthorn had the following dimensions: span (upper) 51 ft 9 in, span (lower) 38 ft 7 in, chord 6 ft 7 in, incidence 4 degrees 20 minutes, gap 6 ft 3 in, stagger nil, dihedral nil, length 30 ft 6 in, height 10 ft 4 in, span of tailplane 18 feet, chord of tailplane 4 ft 11 in, distance between tail booms 11 ft 2 in.
The Curtiss JN-4A (1915-17) two-seater was fitted with the Curtiss 100 horse-power OX.5 eight-cylinder, water-cooled, V, stationary engine. It was a double-bay tractor biplane, with considerable extensions on the upper wings. It was useful as a preliminary trainer for pupils passing to water-cooled engined Service types. It was the principal training aeroplane in Canada. Speed was 70 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, and flight duration was 4 hours. The dimensions were: span (upper) 43 ft 7⅜ in, span (lower) 34 ft 8½ in, chord 4 ft 11½ in, gap 5 ft 1¼ in, stagger 16 in, incidence 2 degrees, dihedral 4 degrees, length 27 ft 3½ in, height 10 ft 6 in, wheel track 5 ft 3¾ in.
It was a symmetrical double-bay tractor biplane. Speed was 81 miles an hour at 8,000 feet, and flight duration was 3 hours. The dimensions were: span 40 ft 0⅝ in, chord 5 ft 8¼ in, stagger (at centre section) 23⅝ in, incidence 1 degree 40 minutes, dihedral of upper main planes 3½ degrees, dihedral of lower main planes 2½ degrees, overall length 29 feet, height 11 ft 10¾ in.
The Avro 504 (1914-18) was the most famous of all British training types and was fitted with a variety of engines. The 504, 504a, 504b, 504c and 504d were fitted with the 80 horse-power Gnome air-cooled rotary engine. The 504e was fitted with the 100 horse-power Monosoupape air-cooled rotary engine. The 504f had the 75 horse-power Rolls-Royce, the 504g and 504h the 80 horsepower Gnome, and the 504j the 100 horse-power Monosoupape. The 504k, the last of the -war-time series, was variously fitted with the 100 horse-power Monosoupape, the 110 horse-power Le Rhone, and the 130 horse-power Clerget.
The changes of designation involved changes of engine or minor improvements. The basic design remained unaltered throughout. The 504c and 504d were both single-seaters. All the others were two-seaters. The 504k, fitted with the 100 horse-power Monosoupape engine, was used in 1917 and 1918. Its speed was 82 miles an hour at 6,500 feet, and its flight duration 3 hours.
The dimensions were: span 36 feet, chord 4 ft 9¾ in, gap 5 ft 6 in, stagger 24 in, incidence 4 degrees, dihedral 2½ degrees, length 29 ft 5 in, height 10 ft 6½ in, span of tail plane 10 feet.
The De Havilland 6 (1917-18) was known officially as the DH.6 and was unofficially nicknamed “The Clutching Hand”. The appellation arose from the appearance of the aeroplane in flight with its square-cut members and heavily cambered wings.
The DH.6 was used for anti-submarine coastal patrols as well as for training. It was fitted with the 90 horse-power RAF 1a engine, and was a two-seater tractor biplane. Speed was 66 miles an hour at 6,500 feet. The dimensions were: span 35 ft 11 in, chord 6 ft 4 in, gap 5 ft 8½ in, stagger nil, incidence 4 degrees, dihedral 2 degrees, length 27 ft 3½ in, height 10 ft 9½ in.
In the earliest period of the war, flying tuition was of an elementary character. Some of the instructors had seen service in France; all were competent in the light of contemporary knowledge. By 1915 a preliminary ground instructional school called the School of Military Aeronautics was established at Reading, Berkshire. The establishment of a similar school at Oxford followed. Pupils had to attend and graduate from these schools before passing on to practical flying instruction.
By 1916 numerous preliminary and advanced flying training schools existed throughout the country. Specially adept pupils were selected during advanced training to fly single-seater scouts.
Still there was no proper system of instruction. The training aeroplanes were fitted with dual controls in the passenger’s seat, but rarely with dual instruments. Conversation between instructor and pupil was conducted by shouting after shutting off the engine. During instruction the pupil usually occupied the passenger seat until he had to make his first solo flight.
Then came the Gosport School of Special Flying, which revolutionized training. Its founder was Lieut.-Colonel R. R. Smith-Barry. He issued special instructions to flight Commanders of No. 1 Reserve Squadron, Gosport, which he commanded in January 1917. Every pupil was to go through the Avro Flight first, and the instructor was to occupy the passenger seat. The elements of the famous Gosport system of training were thus laid down in principle.
By September 1917 a regular syllabus for an instructor’s course had been drawn up by Major Parker. The system proved a complete success. Gosport then became the Mecca for all instructors, and the Gosport certificate became the hall-mark in training.
HEAVILY CAMBERED WINGS and square-cut members were features of the De Havilland DH.6. Because of these features the machine was unofficially nicknamed “The Clutching Hand”. This aircraft was used for anti-submarine coastal patrols as well as for training. It was fitted with the 90 horse-power RAF 1a engine, which gave it a speed of sixty-six miles an hour at 6,500 feet.