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Newsletter 2
Spring 2003

Updated on 27Feb2003



Programme Of Events

Inaugural Meeting

Book Review, Offer
Fall And Rise of WT555
Joint Strike Fighter
Readers Write
Association Web Site
Membership List

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Readers Write

From Dave Fowler - Stress Office - who remembers the origin of a Harrier feature.

During Harrier trials on the aft helicopter platform of HMS Blake the ship's stabilisers were used to induce the desired angle of roll. Whilst waiting for the angle to build up the pilot naturally released the nosewheel steering button.

What none of us had realised was that the brakes on the single main undercarriage did not stop the aircraft from yawing on a sloping rolling deck and that when the nose swung sideways the nosewheel was able to castor beyond the maximum steering angle of 45 degrees. Pushing the nosewheel steering button in this condition therefore had no effect so the aircraft nose swung helplessly from side to side until a brave sailor ran in with a chock and stopped it. Ever since then nosewheel steering is engaged continuously for Harrier deck operations.

On a lighter note, soon after one of our secretaries had achieved her ambition of becoming an airline stewardess, one lad in the office wondered whether she had slept with her first pilot yet, whereupon the office wit retorted that surely she would have to sleep with the second pilot first!

From George Woods - Head of Full Scale Layout - who remembers the introduction of new equipment and its consequences.

It all started on the P.1182. Roy Adolphus had foreseen the benefit of a 'Rout-a-Trace' machine. This was a line-following machine with the ability to offset half the cutter diameter.

Prior to its acquisition all templates to aid manufacture were 'lofted' on foil in pencil, printed on 16 gauge mild steel plate then cut, drilled and filed to shape by hand in the Tool Room.

What was needed for the 'Rout-a-Trace' machine was a perfect black line copy of the lofted part duly edited to the Production Process Sheet requirements: the profile and separate lines joining individual sized holes that needed to be drilled. To do this, Contract draughtsmen were brought in to work in a Subsection of the Loft where all templates were traced in ink to be reproduced on white foil in the Photo Loft. This method of producing templates saved thousands of hours of labour and time.

It was this Section that suggested a Christmas Party which was booked at the Bear in Esher where it was held for many years until transfer to the Marquis of Granby. Originally thirty attended but over the years this reduced to the now steady figure of twenty.

On 19th December 2002 the 30th Dinner Party was held. Many nostalgic stories were repeated and new ones told. All agreed that it had been a wonderful time to be at work, on such a good project, the Hawk.

The evening was deemed a great success, again well organised by Mike Whittaker.

From Ralph Hooper - Technical Director - who asks: "How do today's youngsters get equivalent experience?"

In July 1944 Ken Newby, Peter Wroe and Ralph Hooper (age 18), then Blackburn Aircraft Co. apprentices, were sent during the long vac. at the end of the first year at Hull University College, to work for the Fleet Air Arm at Donnibristle, E. Fife, a main maintenance base. The last named is no Samuel Pepys but the extracts below are taken from jottings in a 1944 diary which has recently come to light.

The last of the first year exams, Applied Maths, had been sat 9-12 am on Saturday 8th

July. On Monday 10th the rail journey via York, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Inverkeithing seems to have taken all day thus:-

10th Mon. Arrived Aberdour 11.0 pm.

11th Tues. Got up late. Met Blackburn Rep. (J Johnson). Taken to place of work, Assembly Four Hangar, Donnibristle.

12th Wed. Work at 7.30, nothing all day. Inspected Maryland, Swordfish, Barracuda and other aircraft.

13th Thur. No work till afternoon. Saw Seafire, Sea Gladiator, Sea Hurricane, Walrus, Sea Otter, Fulmar, Albacore, Oxford, DH86 Dragon Rapide and 4 engined version, DH Flamingo, Beechcraft (Staggerwing), Stinson Reliant, thing like a Crane (but not one), Grumman Avenger, Wildcat, Hellcat, Anson, Proctor."

(The above list covers the space available for the 14th and 15th so):

16th Sun. Slept late (9.30). Walked in morning. To beach and swam twice in afternoon. Walked and climbed cliffs in evening.

17th Mon. Worked on trailing edge of Barracuda (having done undercarriage). Walked to Silver Sands and swam in the evening. (We had marvelous weather during most of our time in Scotland. The digs provided only one bath per week, the work was often quite hard and grubby so the emphasis on swimming had a lot to do with keeping clean!)

(At this point our rather erratic scribe gave up. Pity, but what a super experience. One further relevant entry occurs.)

Fri 25th. Aug Flew Stinson. 20 - 25 mins, in control 5 or 6 mins, dives, banks, turns, climbs.

(The above flight, shared with Ken Newby, was first time airborne for the diarist - doesn't mention the low flying in which our pilot indulged - great fun.)

Sat 26th. BACK HOME ."

Ken Newby was AD Future Systems in St Giles Court at the time of the New Trainer competition. I don't think this did the 1182 any harm at all!