Home
Newsletter 20
Spring 2008
Updated on 22May2008
Contents
Editorial
AIAA Honours Dunsfold
Annual General Meeting
Book Review
Doctorate for John Farley
Dunsfold and Brookland Events
Eggheads
First Hunter
Flying Hawker Aircraft
Future of Naval Aviation
Hawk News
John Dale
Joint Strike Fighter News
Members
Museum for Dunsfold
Program
Remembering the P.1083
Sea Harrier News
V/Stol Award for Ralph Hooper

Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Copyright 2008. All rights reserved Hawker Association
 
   The Association was truly honoured to have as their speaker on 12 March Captain Eric 'Winkle' Brown CBE, DSC, AFC, MA, Hon FRAeS, RN. Bill Humble, Hawkers' Chief Test Pilot from 1941-1948 said, "In an era of outstanding test pilots 'Winkle' was simply the best." He flew 487 basic types (no Mks counted) and made 2407 fixed wing carrier landings, both world records. At the age of 89 'Winkle' is as spry and articulate as ever and made our meeting a very special occasion, talking mainly about flying Hawker aircraft.
    The Hawker connection might have been even stronger, said 'Winkle', because in 1947, when he was flying at the RAE, Sydney Camm asked him if he would like to follow Bill Humble as Hawkers' CTP. He replied that regrettably he was too busy, because he admired Camm for his consistency in producing good designs; there were not many duds. 'Winkle' said that he had flown 17 Hawker types and that in this talk he would pick out the intriguing ones and say a bit about the German aircraft he had flown. 
Flying Hawker Aircraft

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   In 1939 he had flown the Fury II biplane at the Edinburgh University Air Squadron as a reward for coming top of his course. Initially named Hornet and built to a 1927 RAF Specification it was preceded by Bristol Mercury engined designs which were not successful. The Fury, with its closely cowled 525 hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel, its staggered, unequal span wings differing in chord, incidence and dihedral was a high performance "aerobatic gem". The MkI was the RAF's first fighter to exceed 200 mph at 207 mph while the MkII, with 640 hp, reached 223 mph. The High Speed Fury used by Rolls-Royce for engine development flight tests topped 231 mph.
    For a comparison 'Winkle' mentioned the Fiat CR.32, a contemporary biplane fighter. Used in the Spanish Civil War, it was 10 mph faster than the Fury I and was nice to fly but the Fury with its raised cockpit and better top wing position gave the pilot a superior view, very important for a fighter. "Was the Fury a great fighter?" asked 'Winkle'. Yes, but it was outstripped by Glosters' later Gladiator, the RAF's last biplane fighter, which was faster with smoother controls.
    The Hurricane was another great aircraft without which there might now be no Great Britain because the Battle of Britain would have been lost. It had excellent harmony of controls with light ailerons and moderately light elevators and rudder.
    An important role was played by the 'Hurricat'. Supplies of food, fuel and arms, essential for our survival, came to Britain from the USA across the North Atlantic in convoys. The USA could protect the convoys for 1000 miles from her east coast, Britain could cover 1000 miles from her west coast but when in the middle 1000 miles the convoys were vulnerable to attacks by Focke-Wulf Kuriers and U-boats working together. The only defence against this dire threat were surface escorts; destroyers and corvettes equally vulnerable to U-boat attack.
    Based on a suggestion by Churchill, merchant ships were fitted with 70 ft catapult rails from which Hurricats could be launched from a rocket propelled trolley  when a Kurier was sighted. After the engagement the fighter pilot would bale out close to a ship because the Hurricane had poor ditching characteristics. 'Winkle' did the launch trials of this successful project. The threat of interception kept the Kuriers away and the Hurricanes stood up well to the harsh conditions on 'deck'.
    The Sea Hurricane had an arrester hook and operated from large carriers with 800 ft decks and also from 'escort' carriers with short decks, only 420 ft in the case of 'Audacity'. The large carriers had 8-18 arrester wires, escorts 6 but Audacity 3, the last of which was known as the 'For Christ's sake!' wire. During deck landing trials 'Winkle' found the Sea Hurricane to be very good except for the view and the bouncy undercarriage, both of which were fine for land based use but not up to the standards of aircraft designed specifically for naval shipborne use where deck landings are made without flare. Naval aircraft had undercarriages designed for an 18 ft per sec touchdown whereas the RAF landed fully stalled causing no bounce or float.
    The German opponent was the Messersmitt Me 109E, "a pretty horrid aeroplane." It was faster than the Hurricane and had a better rate of climb but it was not a happy place for the pilot. He felt claustrophobic in the small cockpit with a poor rearward view. It also had poor control harmony and at 420 mph the elevator went solid causing the aircraft to fly into the ground, or sea, when diving to escape. It was nasty to land with its very narrow track undercarriage. Its only advantage was that it could be bunted into a dive without the engine cutting; it had direct fuel injection rather than the carburettor of the Merlin, a problem solved later by a lady scientist at the RAE with a special orifice plate; Miss Shilling's orifice. The Luftwaffe Me109 pilots had an advantage at the start of the Battle of Britain because, unlike the RAF pilots, they had already been 'blooded' (in the Spanish Civil War). However, in their place 'Winkle' would rather have been flying the Hurricane.
    His favourite Camm aeroplane was the Tempest II which flew with Napier Sabre, Bristol Centaurus and Rolls-Royce Griffon engines. In production form it had the Centaurus. The Tempest V had the Sabre with its reliability problems but was used very successfully against the V1 flying bombs of which some 10,000 were launched against Britain. They flew at 400 mph at 1-2000 ft so were difficult to catch as no RAF fighter at the time could do 400 mph at low altitude. However, the use of high octane aromatic fuel was used to boost the speed for up to 5 min.
    Whilst flying performance levels in a Tempest V 'Winkle' suffered an engine seizure at 6000 ft over the Hog's Back near Guildford. As he descended through cloud he saw the engine cowl aglow and could smell burning rubber from his flying boots, so bailed out at 1200 ft. He landed in a duck pond, gathered his parachute and headed for the nearest shore to see a large black bull snorting and pawing on the bank. He turned 180 deg for the opposite bank...but the bull ran round the pond. So he was stuck and just had to wait for the emergency services, who on arrival hid behind a hedge! After 20 minutes he shouted, "Fetch the farmer!" who came and calmly took hold of the ring in the bull's nose and they walked quietly away together.
    The Tempest was a great aircraft with its thin wing; a delight. He considered the Tempest V to be one of the top three fighters of WW 2, after the Spitfire XIV and the Fw 190D which with its Jumo engine could achieve 454 mph against the Tempest's 445.
    Next to "the wonderful Sea Fury"; an absolute delight, powerful, fast and beautiful to handle, "top notch." It was as wonderful a ground attack aircraft as it was an air combat fighter. It was successful in the Korean War operating safely off carriers, using RATOG (rocket assisted take-off) from short decks, when there was poor wind-over-deck or when the catapults were unserviceable. 'Winkle's' Sea Fury squadron worked up the first Royal Navy aerobatic team with four aircraft doing very demanding line-astern manoeuvres. During a visit to Sweden the King, who had a stiff neck, requested a low level display so 'Winkle' led his team beneath the middle span of a bridge in front of the palace. The Admiral was not pleased but the King invited the team to visit him - a very jolly and happy occasion.
    The Sea Hawk was a beautiful aircraft; the Mk1 was not the best but later Mks were much improved. During development Bill Humble called 'Winkle' to report puzzling phenomena: vibration from the back end and snaking. Over at Farnborough they found solutions. An acorn fairing at the tailplane-fin junction fixed the vibration and new pen-nib shaped shields at the bifurcated  jet pipes overcame the effect of unbalanced thrusts from the two exhausts. Another peculiar characteristic was a nose-down pitch at, on the Mk1, 0.8M followed by nose-up at 0.82M and above. On later Mks the speeds were higher. Although short of performance as a fighter the Sea Hawk was "magnificent" for ground attack, beautiful to fly with harmonised controls. It was a gentlemanly aircraft for jet tyros and excellent for formation aerobatics including take-offs. All pilots enjoyed flying the Sea Hawk.
    'Winkle' touched only briefly on the well known Hunter which he said was "a joy in every way" as was the Hawk, a "nearly perfect" aircraft.
    The roots of Concorde, said 'Winkle' were in the Farren (WS Farren, Director RAE),  mission to Germany, as the war finished, to get hold of advanced aeronautical technology ahead of the USA and USSR. In January 1945, a fluent German speaker, 'Winkle's' task was to fly German jet and rocket aircraft back to Britain. The Mission was also tasked with bringing scientists back to Britain; five were 'obtained' including Prof A Busemann, famous for his pioneering work on sweepback, and aerodynamicists Dr Karl Doetsch, Dr Dietrich Kuchemann. In the Autumn of 1947, Morien Morgan, Deputy Director RAE, called a meeting to discuss 'Winkle's' handling experiences of tailless aircraft. Also present were Phillip Hufton, Head of the Aero Dept Flight Section, Doetsch and Kuchemann, both now members of the Aero Dept. Morgan was exploring shapes for supersonic transport aircraft of possibly tailless configuration. Kuchemann spoke persuasively in favour of the slender delta but with reservations about low speed handling qualities as wind tunnel work in Germany had all been high speed. Consequently the Handley Page HP.115 low speed research aircraft was sponsored by Morgan's Supersonic Transport Aircraft Committee (SSTAC) to investigate this area which it did most thoroughly at RAE Bedford. 'Winkle' was in no doubt that Kuchemann's words were the initial inspiration for Concorde, "that most remarkable aircraft."
    Next, to the contentious P.1154. 'Winkle' was anti the project believing that a VTOL aircraft would be out-performed by a conventional one, such as the Mach 2.5 F-4 Phantom. At a meeting with Hawkers John Fozard promoted the 1154 whilst Solly Zuckerman, Chairman of the Defence Research Policy Committee, and 'Winkle' opposed it, the latter asking how he could justify a top speed of Mach 1.6 to naval pilots when their Grannies could fly at Mach 2.0 on Concorde? "Good point, 'Winkle'", said Camm!
    'Winkle' mentioned that he had met Andy Green, the world land speed record holder at 763 mph/M1.016. Films show that at top speed a front wheel was 2 inches off the ground so that really was the maximum speed; any faster the car would have pitched up.
    During question time 'Winkle' was asked his opinion of the Hawker Typhoon. He had to be tactful - it was probably the best WW2 ground attack aircraft; but the worst fighter. Of naval fighters the Grumman Martlet (Wildcat) was the RN's first purpose designed naval monoplane fighter so was superior to the Sea Hurricane in having a sting type hook, wing fold, floatation bags and a strong undercarriage; but performance was no better. The Wildcat's successor, the Grumman Hellcat, had a 19:1 kill ratio, the highest in the war. The RN operated the Vought Corsair from ships before the USN did, a problem being torque on approach which could roll you into the sea if you came in too low and had to open the throttle.
    As to his nickname, it is a Fleet Air Arm tradition always to have a 'Winkle' serving, and he succeeded Lt Cdr Eugene 'Winkle' Esmond who was killed flying a Swordfish in the heroic attack on the German cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Prinz Eugen. He also was of small stature, an attribute which helped 'Winkle' Brown survive five out of his eleven life-threatening crashes.
    Barry Pegram gave the vote of thanks for this wonderful, wide ranging talk, particularly mentioning 'Winkle's' prodigious memory and his ability so thoroughly to answer many questions. This was an event to remember.
    Editor's note. 'Winkle' Brown has written many books on his test flying experiences as well as his biographical memoir 'Wings on my Sleeve', recently reprinted in a soft covered edition by Phoenix. This book cannot be too highly recommended.
    After the Meeting our Secretary received the following letter from Captain Brown:

"Dear Barry,
    Thank you for your kind letter of 16th inst. and let me just say how much I enjoyed my
afternoon with your Assoc. boys - there's something about Hawker products that makes them special.
    And what a nice surprise from your Committee to be offered Honorary Membership of your splendid Association; of course I shall be honoured to accept and hope you will convey my deep appreciation of their thoughtful gesture.
    I always think that for a lecturer the enjoyment of an occasion largely can be measured by the quality of the questions, and the Hawker boys are on the ball in that respect.
    With sincere thanks.
            Eric."