accepting a move to the stress office Mike expected a pay increase but
this was not to be, due to inter-company agreements that employees
under 21 would all be paid the same. His first job was on the Brabazon
fin and rudder for the design of which Folland were subcontractors, as
they were for the gantry needed for servicing it, and a wing trolley.
Mike then decided, against HP Folland’s advice, to move to Supermarine, for higher pay, at Hursley Park. He started as an aerodynamicist working on the Seagull amphibian with a single R-R Griffon mounted centrally on a high, variable incidence high-lift wing giving a speed range of 35 to 240 mph. Its CL max was 5 including the contribution from the upward component of engine thrust. Two prototypes were built and flown but there was no production order.At that time Supermarine fighters followed two lines of development: single and twin engined. The former had started with RJ Mitchell’s Spitfire which was now under the design leadership of Joe Smith, for whom Mike worked as an aerodynamicist, whose axiom was “make one change at a time”.
So a new wing, designed to National Physical Laboratory laminar flow wing section theory, was fitted to produce the Spiteful and the naval Seafang. However, laminar flow was not achieved (and so far hasn’t been) so the predicted performance improvement over the Spitfire did not materialize. No Spitefuls and only 16 Seafangs entered service.Joe Smith’s next single change was to put a jet engined fuselage, still with a tail wheel undercarriage, on the Spiteful wing to produce the Attacker, which served with the Royal Navy as their first jet fighter. Substituting a simple swept wing, fin and tailplane for the Attacker’s straight wing and empennage produced the Type 510 research aircraft. Amongst its achievements was the world’s first deck landing by a swept wing aircraft, in November 1950.
The 510 was developed into the tricycle undercarriage Type 535 and eventually the Type 541 Swift with provision for wing mounted guns. The resulting change in wing sweep needed to house the guns led to high altitude handling problems. The outbreak of the Korean war made the need for a new RAF fighter urgent and there was no time to design a new wing so the eventual service Swift suffered accordingly. However in its reconnaissance FRMk5 form it performed well at low altitude.Mike was deeply involved in the aerodynamic design of the Type 545 fighter, with a new wing which was designed according to the ‘3D’ theory developed by Dietrich Kuchemann, the German mathematician who was working at RAE Farnborough. This precursor of today’s computational aerodynamics was handled by Mike using a mechanical calculator. The 545 also had a waisted fuselage to maintain wing sweep effectiveness at the roots. Mike predicted that the aircraft would suffer from pitch-up but his boss would not report this to the chief engineer saying it would be better full scale. ‘Luckily’, although built, the 545 was cancelled before first flight, the almost completed airframe going to the Cranfield College of Aeronautics.
With swept wings and tail it became the Type 525, incorporating an innovation, blown flaps. Developed for the Royal Navy, the type entered service as the Scimitar. Mike did the deck take-off calculations and was invited to go on the carrier trials on Ark Royal. From Weymouth he was taken by launch to the heaving ship where he had to board her by a scrambling net! On the first deck take-off Mike noticed a black track behind the main wheels; at the deck end the aircraft sank out of sight below the bow but did recover and fly away. The test pilot, Mike Lithgow, had forgotten to release the handbrake and the aircraft’s acceleration prevented him from reaching forward to let it off during the deck run.Supermarine’s supersonic fighter to OR 329 was cancelled as a result of the 1957 no-more-manned-fighters White Paper but they were working on OR 339, TSR 2. When Hursley Park closed. Mike, now Chief Aerodynamicist at the age of 28, transferred to Vickers at Weybridge with the Supermarine TSR2 team.. There was also a team working on TSR2 at English Electric at Warton. The Government insisted that the two companies collaborate and produce one design. In the event the main contract was awarded to Vickers to work jointly with English Electric. The TSR2 was, after seven year’s work by Mike, cancelled, mainly on the grounds of cost. It was also overweight. The Government decreed that all the airframes be cut up and disposed of - out of sight, out of mind.
During Mike Hoskins’s lengthy illness Mike had to stand in for him. He noted that he was treated most kindly by the divisional directors in this new and unexpected role. A highlight of Mike’s time at Kingston was observing RAF Harriers operating in the field in Germany. Subsequently the decision to close Weybridge was made and Mike had to deal with the redundancy situation. When this had been achieved he took early retirement.In conclusion Mike said how much he had enjoyed his life in aircraft design and considered himself lucky to have experienced it. After questions the vote of thanks was given by Chairman, Ambrose Barber.