Newsletter 18
Autumn 2007
Updated on 5Nov2007
Association Ties
Book Reviews
Burmese Sea Fury Incidents
Committee News
EDO To Project Office Part 2
F-35 Lightning II News
Flight Testing Early Jets
Harrier News
Hawk News
Joint Force Harrier Operations
Neville Duke Appreciation
RAF Harrier Story
RAF Museum Visit

Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved Hawker Association
Bobby Marsh wrote this article, from the Brooklands Museum archive, about his pioneering work at the A&AEE, Boscombe Down...
    The function of the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment is to flight test military aircraft and their armament systems in order to approve them for use by the Services after the contractor has carried out his own development testing. The flight tests at the A&AEE include the functioning of the complete weapon system and the measurement of the aircraft's performance in its various configurations.
    Prior to World War II, when based at RAF Martlesham Heath on the east coast and before they moved to Boscombe Down on Salisbury Plain, the unit was particularly involved in the comparative assessment of prototype aircraft submitted by contractors in response to Government specifications.
Flight Testing Early Jets

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    Production orders were greatly influenced by the results of these trials hence a lot was at stake for the contractors. For example, if contractor A's aircraft was a few knots faster than contractor B's as measured by the A&AEE this could have a profound influence on who won the contract.
    The performance flight tests were inevitably carried out in varying atmospheric conditions which had a marked effect on the observed results. Accordingly there was an agreed method of reducing the flight results to those achievable in an internationally recognised standard atmosphere. This universally accepted reduction method was based on laws peculiar to the internal combustion piston engine and was not appropriate to the turbo-jet engine. Consequently the advent of the prototype De Havilland Vampire and Gloster Meteor for evaluation at Boscombe called for the development of new methods of performance reduction and  test techniques. This work was initiated by the small, select Research Section at Boscombe under Dr Cameron, in consultation with the 'boffins' at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.
    To support some of the theory, flight measurements were required involving more parameters than those normally displayed to the pilot. In those days the flight instrument readings were recorded by the pilots and/or flight test observers by hand on a knee pad or a clip board. There was a need to carry a flight observer to obtain the required data so it was decided to modify the Meteor 1 prototype, EE212, at Boscombe using the space behind the cockpit designated for the ammunition for the four 20 mm cannon. This space was provided with an illuminated instrument panel, featuring mainly engine parameters, and a seat for the observer.
    Having been involved with the flight test evaluation of the first jets at Boscombe, and being small in stature, I was elected to make the first flight in the observer's compartment. I recollect that entry was through the ammunition hatch in the fuselage centre section. The compartment was cramped and dark with only the light from the panel of instruments. The flight took place on August 9th 1945. The pilot was Squadron Leader KJ Sewell AFC DFM, known by us as Pop Sewell. (Pop Sewell played a leading role as an instructor in the early days of the Empire Teat Pilots' School at Boscombe and sadly lost his life flying a Pembroke aircraft at the School). Pop seemed to relish giving the 'civvy boffins' a robust ride on occasions, and this was no exception. The flight lasted half an hour and involved some fairly enthusiastic aerobatics. I recall blacking out under 'g' and for the first time in my four years flight testing at Boscombe I felt very air sick. I was extricated after the flight and I think Pop was a but surprised to learn that the compartment was still 'clean'!
    Having been involved in the flight testing of the first jets to arrive at Boscombe, I was privileged to be the 'boffin' on tropical trials which took place in November 1945 (probably as a treat after my flight in the Meteor!). We travelled out in the Boscombe converted Liberator bomber stopping off at Tripoli and Cairo. The accommodation in the Liberator was pretty 'Spartan', with flight durations of up to nine hours on a flask of coffee and the odd sandwich. On the return we had stocked up with loads of dates and tangerines picked off the trees which, combined with the North African chemical beer, completely overwhelmed the 'Elsan' by the rear access door. The HM Customs officer summoned to clear us at Boscombe thought better about inspecting the contents of our aircraft before we disembarked, so we unloaded our various 'souvenirs', including my live desert lizards, unhindered. It was a fitting end to an enjoyable and successful exercise with technical significance.