Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Capt. Charles Kingsford-Smith..His Flights
THE GREAT PACIFIC FLIGHT
Flight Magazine June 14, 1928
WITH the echoes of Bert Hinkler's flight to Australia early
this year still audible to its ears that vast dominion has now
risen with equal enthusiasm and pride to the great Pacific
flight of another of its sons, Capt. Kingsford-Smith. For the
first time in history the Pacific Ocean has been flown and
Australia linked with America by air, for the " Southern
Cross " monoplane completed the final sea stage from the
Fiji Islands to Brisbane on June 8-9. Australia has to share
the honours generously with America, because that country
supplied the money, the machine, the three engines, and a
valuable half of the crew. Australia can be well satisfied,
however, with the distinction of providing the leader and his
second-in-command, both of whom received part of their
flying experience in our Royal Air Force.
Technicallv, the flight was a triumph for wireless operating
and navigation as well as for the machine and engines.
Without the remarkable accuracy of the American navigator,
Lieut. H. W. Lyon, and the wireless communication maintained
by the American operator, Mr. J. Warner, the reliability
of the Wright " Whirlwind " engines would have been
of little avail in that boundless ocean, which, on all stages of
the flight, practically left no alternative but to reach the
successive destinations or drown.
In our last issue we gave in detail the first stages of the
flight and the arrival at the Fiji Islands. It will be remembered
that this Fokker machine left San Francisco on May 31
and covered 2,100 miles to Honolulu in approximately 27 hrs.,
a feat that was both successfully and disastrously attempted
by many American pilots last year. Wireless messages
were heard most of the time, an exception being during the
night when a battery was exhausted. Their position was
recovered through communication with the U.S. destroyer
Richmond, and the machine was sighted by s.s. Milaka at a
point 1,450 miles from the Californian coast. It was characteristic
of the messages that they were very optimistic, perky
and personal, and not at all suggesting a difficult and dangerous
journey. It has been stated that 110 American
naval vessels stood by during that stage. When the airmen
reached Honolulu an enthusiastic reception was accorded them.
Preparations were immediately begun for the longest
section of all, a distance of 3,200 miles to the Fiji Islands.
First a short hop of 100 miles was made to the island of
Kauai amongst the Hawaii group, in which Honolulu is on
Oahu. About 1,290 gallons were taken on board. The
actual take-off on June 3 at 5.20 a.m. from Barking Sands on
the island of Kauai was witnessed by a large crowd, and the
leader, Capt. Kingsford-Smith, who was piloting, planned to
steer towards Oahu and intercept the wireless beacon from
Wheeler Field, Honolulu, for 1,500 miles to the south.
Perfect weather prevailed at the start and the wireless
messages were again optimistic for some time, and there was
a remote possibility apparently of making a landing in an
emergency on Canton Island, one of the Phoenix Islands
about 1,700 miles away. When night came on them,
after flying all day it gave indications of bad weather and
they predicted a rough passage, which unfortunately matured.
A terrific storm battled with the machine. Signals became
very faint and there fell a long silence of 4 hours. But
towards dawn the messages were located again revealing
steady though labored progress and hopeful possibilities
of emerging through the ordeal.
At 2.21 p.m. the monoplane circled the landing field at
Suva, Fiji Islands, and landed amidst the excited natives.
It was the first aeroplane to land there, and only once before
had some of them possibly set eyes on a machine. That was
when a seaplane was taken there by boat some years ago and
did a few flights to discover the possibilities for an air mail
service. The airmen covered that second stage of 3,200
Miles in 34 \ hours. Further honors were paid them, but
they did not delay to rest upon them.
A suitable taking-off ground had first to be selected tor
the final trip to Australia. It was found at Naselai Beach,
Fiji, and on June 8 at 2.50 p.m. the last stage to Brisbane was
begun with anticipations of covering it in about 20 hours.
The takin°--off spot was a narrow strip of beach, and there
was a fairly strong cross wind blowing, but the load was
comparatively light this time : being 880 gallons of petrol
and 32 gallons of oil. Wireless communication was immediately
begun. Capt. Kingsford-Smith was piloting. Three
hours' later came word that a compass had continued to give
trouble since leaving, and one generator was defective, but
the message ended on an optimistic note. A little later they
reported bad weather ahead for the coming night and Ulm
was piloting to give Kingsford-Smith a rest. An hour later
only one generator was in use and the
batteries were being spared, then at 7.20 in the evening the
monoplane was climbing to 5,000 ft. owing to adverse weather,
and it was revealed that for two hours they had experienced
the worst conditions of the whole flight. Exceptionally
heavy rain fell, soaking Kingsford-Smith and Ulm, and they
were flying blindly. A message before midnight stated that
there were 700 miles yet to go, and another at 1 a.m. made it
600 miles. At 6 a.m. the estimated figure was 250 miles from
Brisbane and the speed 90 m.p.h. Wireless signals were
growing fainter with daylight. Finally at 10.10 a.m. the
destination was reached, and the Pacific ocean flown for the
first time in history.
Brisbane is Capt. Kingsford-Smith's birthplace and he and
his crew were rapturously received.
On June 10 the flight' was resumed towards Sydney and
a landing was made at 3.10 p.m. on the Mascot, aerodrome,
where Kingsford-Smith and Ulm completed their Round-
Australia flight last year. Machines escorted the " Southern
Cross " and the town resounded with whistles and sirens when
it appeared over the harbor. The leader greeted his aged
parents, whilst the Americans, Lyon and Warner modestly
tried to retire into the background, but the crowd asked for
them, and they were duly hauled on to a lorry with the other
pair to take part in the triumphal procession.
Swift reward came their way. The Commonwealth
Government decided to make them a grant of £5,000. Other
subscriptions brought the total to £16,000, and £50,000 has
been mentioned as the ultimate figure that will accrue to
them. As a token of friendship and tribute to the success,
their financial backer, Mr. Allen Hancock, of Los Angeles,
relieved them of all indebtedness to him.
Sir Samuel Hoare sent the following telegram to Mr. Bruce,
Prime Minister of Australia :—" Air Council tender hearty
congratulations on the successful completion of magnificent
Pacific flight by Captain Kingsford-Smith and Mr. Charles
Ulm." The Secretary of State telegraphed to the Air Attache
at the British Embassy in Washington :—" Please convey
the following message from Sir Samuel Hoarc to U.S. Government
: ' Air Council tender hearty congratulations on Lieutenant
Lyon's participation in Pacific flight successfully accomplished.'
" President Coolidge also sent his congratulations.
In statistics the performance of the " Southern Cross "
was approximately as follows :—
F'irst Stage.—San Francisco to Honolulu, 2,100 miles, in
27 hours, on May 31 to June 1. Petrol carried, 1,200 gallons.
Second Stage :—Honolulu to Suva, Fiji Islands, 3,200
miles, in 34 J hours, on June 3-4. Petrol carried, 1,290 gallons.
Third Stage :—Suva, Fiji Islands, to Brisbane, 1,550 miles,
in 20 hours on June 8-9. Petrol carried 880 gallons. Total
mileage flown (approx.)—7,000.
Machine :—Fokker monoplane. Engines : Three Wright
" Whirlwinds " 200 h.p. each.
It is the intention of Capt. Kingsford-Smith and Mr. C.
Ulm to continue on a flight round the world.
KINGSFORD-SMITH'S ATLANTIC FLIGHT
Including Some Notes on the Equipment of the "Southern Cross"
Flight Magazine July 4, 1930
MANY attempts at crossing the Atlantic by air have been
made during the last ten years : several have succeeded
and some have failed. The feat having been achieved,
we personally look with disfavor upon a continuance of
Atlantic flights, which cannot now serve any useful purpose,
and only entail a considerable amount of risk to the flyers
concerned, and much worry and anxiety to others.
In Sqdn.-Ldr. Kingsford-Smith's successful crossing (from
East to West (which we briefly recorded in our last issue)
there are, however, certain outstanding features which—
apart from it being a magnificent achievement in itself—
class it rather more than a mere stunt.
For one thing, the flight was very carefully organized
and thought out, while the machine, land 'plane though it
was and not, to our way of thinking, the type of 'bus to be-
Wireless played a very important part—in fact. but for the
wireless, as Kingsford-Smith himself admits, they would
not have succeeded. From start to finish they were in
constant touch with the world, and so to record the progress
of the flight we do not think we can do this better than to
give the wireless messages sent out, which will be found
below. We also follow these with some notes on the equipment,
etc., of the Southern Cross.
The Southern Cross, it will be remembered, left Portmanock
near Dublin, at 4.30 a.m. on June 24, the intention
being to fly direct to New York, but a landing was enforced,
owing to fog and compass trouble, at Harbor Grace at
11.57 a.m., June 25 ; they were thus in the air nearly 31 £ hr.
The journey to New York was completed June 26, when the
Southern Cross left Harbor Grace early in the morning.
Dense fog banks again hampered them, and progress was
slow, and they did not land until late in the evening. However,
they received a tremendous welcome, and each broadcast
a short speech before being escorted to their hotel
used on long trans-ocean flights, was very efficiently equipped,
reducing risk to a minimum. The petrol system, the various
instruments, the navigation arrangements, and the wireless
installation were all exceptionally well planned.
The Wireless Log
5:11 a.m.—Splendid take off . Flying fine now. We are up 2,000 ft. already.
Battling along 105 m.p.h. Will endeavour to be on this wave-length
all flight, except when occasionally going over 600 m. in order to get
direction from ships.
6.15 a.m.—Now leaving Irish coast. - .
6.31 a.m.—All O.K., but strong
6.35 a.m.—Passed over Costello
Island, off Galway.
6.40 a.m.—Headwinds very strong,
out conditions good.
655 a.m.—Just passed over a
number of trawlers. Very cheerful to
see other people out in this waste.
Everything O.K. = Air speed, 100
lm-P-h. Revolutions 1,730 per minute
AJtitude, 500 ft. Air temperature,
™ • Estimated ground speed, 75
7:21 A-m.—Just been having a look
The chart with Paddv. Seems as Plenty
Of ships on the course from which
To confirm our position by the direction finder.
7:25 am Hope to be working with steamship
Atlantic, Minnedoa around midday. Getting
Hungary, Guess I take a nibble.
8 A.M. Headwind of fair strength.
10:15 A.M. Shooting sun and things. Icy cold outside.
Bet Van and Smity are felling it.
We are all wrapped up like polar explorers, But
It is still pretty nippy.
11 A.M. 53.15N 16.7 W about 500 miles west of Irish Coast.
Average ground speed since leaving coast 82 statued MPH.
This is satisfactory. All aboard OK an Cheerful. Airspeed 100MPH
1:15 P.M. Slightly overcast. Ocean like a mill pond.
Travelling 100 mph. If conditions like this most flying
Would be easy.
3:03 P.M. Atmosphere bad. Wind south, fog. Going up.
Pining for a smoke.
3:04 P.M. Fading badly. Air speed 105 mph.
3:15- 3:25 P.M. Flying blind in fog.
4 p.m.—Latitude 51-9; longitude 29 N.N.W. 990 miles of
4.5 p.m.—Direction finding; still in fog.
4.13 p.m.—Still in fog ; bumping
4.20 p.m.—Fog all gone.
6 p.m.—Latitude 50.40 N., longitude
34.30 W. (about 750 miles from
Cape Race). Speed 80 m.p.h. Everything
going fine. Wish we could get
out of this beastly fog. Feels as
though we are closed in.
7.15 p.m.—Latitude 50.30 N., and
longitude 36.00 W. (about 680 miles
from Cape Race).
8.30 p.m.—Strong west-south-west
headwinds, probably reducing speed
considerably. Everything else in
order. The revolutions were 1,610 ;
air speed 100 m.p.h. ; altitude 250 ft.
9.20 p.m.—Wind west, easing. Still I0ggy- Expect to be over Cape Race
at 1 a.m. tomorrow (Wednesday).
10.30 p.m.—Latitude 49.50 N.,
longitude 39-10 W., or nearly threequarters
of the way across the
Atlantic. Speed, 85 m.p.h.
10.45 p.m.—Head winds have decreased
to 10 m.p.h. Everything O.K.
11.30 p.m.—Making excellent progress.
Latitude 49.14 N.t longitude
40.40 W. (about 450 miles E.N.E. of
11.32 p.m.—The whole World is a
peculiar blue, and the sun laughing
red gases in the great bowl of fog.
Almost made the water during fog.
June 25 : 12.8 a.m.—Fog, now
getting quite dark inside cabin. Cheerful
glow of radio valve makes cabin
look cosy. To complete the effect I
think I will wrap myself around another
12.20 a.m.—All O.K. Eating sandwich,
12.42 a.m.— Will listen for V.C.E.
(Cape Race call sign). Signals very
strong and now getting data. Outboard
motors shrouded in blue haze,
and each exhaust port has faint pink
flame proceeding from it. Very uncanny.
Lettering on starboard wing
is embossed in gold as the last rays
of sun touch
2.6 a.m.—Position : Latitude 48.12 N. ; longitude 45.5 W. Distance to
Cape Race 250 miles. Everybody happy : all O.K
3.15 a.m.—Can't get into touch with Cape Race wireless station
4 a.m.—We are within 100 miles of Cape Race and the big stiff still does
4.5 a.m.—Does not look as if we shall get a bearing just when we want it.
We should be over Cape Race in another hour.
4.30 a.m.—Still trying to get bearings. Trying to wake up those guys at
5.5 a.m.—Sorry, old boy. Been messing about trying to get a bearing.
Very dark. Flying blind. Motors ringed with flame. Still 160 miles from
Cape Race. Dickens of a struggle to keep awake now. Drone makes me
tired. Faint streak of approaching dawn.
5.18 a.m.—Still trying to get bearings. Very dark flying. Operator
having dickens of a struggle to keep awake.
6 a.m.—All well. Weather misty with us.
6.15 a.m.—Passed Cape Race." Course being set ^ J : : . : - '
westwards towards Nova Scotia
9 a.m.—Planning to land at Quidividi Field, near
St. John's, or Harbour Grace, Newfoundland.
9.21 a.m. Position 47.47 N., 49.06 W. (about 751
miles east of Cape Race).
9.30 a.m. Turning back. Hope to reach Harbour
10.43 a.m. Hurray! See land at last.
10.45 a.m.—Oh boy, It looks good to see our position
on the chart again. 90 miles to go to Harbour Grace.
11.30 a.m.—Perhaps you can do something to guide
us. Please tell the aerodrome to send a machine up
The History of the " Southern Cross "
and its Equipment
The Southern Cross is a three-engined
Fokker aeroplane of the type F.VIlB-3m,
equipped with Wright Whirlwind J5 engines,
of 225 h.p. each. Strictly speaking, the
machine consists of two Fokkers, namely,
a Fokker F.VIIA and a F.VIlB-3m. The
wing originally belonged to the first three engined
Fokker, to be fitted with the so called
large wing of 728 sq. ft. (67-6 m.2),
which was supplied to Sir George Wilkins,
the Arctic explorer, in 1925, as also was the
F.VIIA, equipped with a 400-h.p. Liberty
engine, to which the fuselage of the Southern
Cross belonged. Both of the explorer's
machines were damaged in Alaska, and part
of one was used to repair the other.
In 1927 the three-engined aeroplane, which already had many flying hours to its credit va
by Sir George to 'Kingsford-Smith. The three
Whirlwind J5 engines (fitted with Scintilla magneto 1
which are now in the machine, were then installed
Three attempts were first made to improve on th
duration record. Each attempt meant about sn
flying-hours. In 1928 Kingsford-Smith, accompanied
by George Pont, succeeded in remaining in the a
for 50 hours and 4 minutes. Although this was th
first time a three-engined aeroplane had flown /
long at a stretch without being refuelled, this feat
was not officially regarded as a record, seeing no
distinction is made in regard to duration records
between single or multiple-engined machines. When
taking off for this attempt the machine, which was
built for a total weight of 9.0001b. (4,100 kg )
no less than 15,807 1b. (7,176 kg.), or, in other words
the machine was overloaded to the extent of 75 pej
On May 31, 1928, the Southern Cross took off from
Oakland Field near San Francisco, for the world famous
flight across the Pacific, a flight never
accomplished by anyone else before or since. The
crossing was made in three stages, viz. : San Francisco-
Honolulu, 2,408 miles (3,875 km.) in 27 hr. 27 min. ;
Honolulu-Suva (Fiji Islands), 3,144 miles (5,060 km.)
in 34 hr. 33 min. ; and Suva-Brisbane, 1,795 miles
(2,888 km.) in 21 hr. 35 min. The total distance of
9,263 miles (11,823 km.) was accordingly covered in
83 hr. 35 min., which means an average speed of 88j
miles (142 km.) per hour. Considering the fact that
it was impossible to steer a direct course owing to
the bad weather, and the total distance was consequently
10-15 per cent, more, the average speed
may be regarded as most favourable. The crew for
the Transpacific flight consisted of C. E. Kingsford-
Smith, first pilot ; C. T. P. Ulm, second pilot;
H. Lyon, jun., navigator, and J. Warner, wireless
Operator. After this flight, Kingsford-Smith and Ulm, this
time accompanied by Litchfield as navigator, and
McWilliams as wireless operator, left Melbourne on
August 11 and flew non-stop to Perth, a distance
of 2,000 miles (3,220 km.), which was covered in
23 hr. 24 min. The return journey to Sydney, 2,500 miles
(4,000 km.) was likewise flown non-stop.
Later, with the same crew, the Southern Cross flew over the
Tasman Sea from Australia to New Zealand, a distance of
1,425 miles (2,290 km.). This was the first aeroplane to fly
across this unbroken stretch of water. With the wind in
their favour the airmen accomplished the flight in 14 hr.,
i.e., with an average speed of 102 miles (164 km.). The return
journey was completed in 22 hr.
On March 30, 1929, the Southern Cross left Sydney with the
same crew in an attempt to improve on the record of 15 days
for the flight from Australia-England set up by Bert Hinkler
After having covered about 2,240 miles
3 600 km.}, the airmen were forced owing
to lack of fuel, to make a landing in the
bush. It was not until they had spent 12
days of untold privation that they were
discovered and rescued. Five days later
they returned in stages to Sydney.
On June 25 they again took off from
Sydney and arrived in London on July 10.
They had flown from Australia (coast) to
England in 12 days 23 hours, thereby
setting up a new record. |
On July 19, 1929, the Southern Cross
was flown over to the Fokker works at
Amsterdam, where it was thoroughly overhauled,
and prepared for the Trans-Atlantic
flight. Titanine dope was used on the
machine for this flight.
As soon as the aeroplane was ready,
Kingsford- Smith, who, with Ulm, had
meanwhile founded the Australian National
Airways, came to Amsterdam. In the
meantime the engines, which had already
run for about 600 hours each, were overhauled
by " Doc " Maidment, an expert
from the Wright works, so that it was
possible to commence the series of test flights
shortly after Kingsford-Smith's arrival.
Nothing ,now remained for Kingsford-
Smith to do but select a crew and wait for
a favourable moment to undertake the
"hop" across the Atlantic. For second
pilot he chose Van Dyk, a K.L.M. pilot ;
for navigator, Capt. Saul ; and for wireless
operator Mr. Stannage, a New Zealander
The following are the specifications of the
Southern Cross as it was when it last left the
Fokker works :—Span. 7 ft. 2 in. (21 • 71 m ) •
Length, 47 ft. 10 in. (14-60 m.) ; height'
!2 ft. 9 in. (3-90 m.) ; wing area, 728 sq. ft.
(67-6 sq. m.) ; wheel track, 14 ft. 1 in.
(4-30 m.) ; weight empty, including complete
equipment, 6,281 lb." (2,850 kg.) ; crew
(4), 661 lb. (300 kg.) ; fuel, 7,855 lb
(3,564 kg.) ; oil, 551 1b. (250 kg.) Total
15,348 1b. (6,964 kg.).
The wing loading is, therefore, 21 Ib./sq. ft.
(103 kg./sq. m.) and the power loading
23 1b./h.p. (10-3 kg./h.p.). The fuel is contained in 4 tanks, in the wing, one tank under
the pilots' cockpit, and one tank in the fuselage. The four
wing tanks and the tank under the cockpit each have a
capacity of 83-3 Imp. gallons, but with a pump only 81 Imp.
gallons can be drawn from the last-mentioned.
The main tank, in the fuselage, has a capacity of 666 Imperial
gallons. The total available quantity is, therefore,
1,080 Imp. gallons. With an average fuel consumption of
about 29 Imp. gallons per hour, this quantity accordingly
represents a maximum of 37 flying hours.
At a cruising speed of 100 m.p.h. (160 km,/hr.), which has
been measured over four courses of 3J miles (6 km.) each,
the range of action in a calm amounts to 3,679 miles (5,920
km). Against a head wind with an average speed of 12£ miles
(20 km.) per hour the range of action is, therefore, practicallv
3,230 miles (5,200 km.).
The distance from Dublin to New York, measured on the
Great Circle (the shortest line from one given point on the
globe to another) is 3,175 miles (5,108 km.). If an allowance
of 10 per cent, is made for deviation from the true course,
the range of action of the Southern Cross was just sufficient
to fly from Dublin to New York.
The fuel tank in the fuselage is fitted with a special dump
valve, designed by Mr. Fokker. By means of the valve,
which is operated by the second pilot, and which has an
opening of 8 in. diameter, the main tank can be emptied in
5J seconds. If, when taking off, the first pilot deems the
machine too heavy under the circumstances (unfavourable
weather or the bad condition of the aerodrome) to carry itself
into the air, he can signal to the second pilot to dump what
fuel is necessary to reduce the total weight to a suitable
figure, so that the machine can be lightened at instant notice.
This safety dump valve may also be used in the event of one
of the engines failing when the machine is still too heavily laden to continue flying on two
engines. In such a case fuel is dumped until the desired weight
is arrived at, and then the airmen either return to the starting point
or fly on to their goal, whichever happens to be easier. If the
worst comes to the worst, and the machine is forced to alight on
water for some reason or other, the airmen can entirely empty
their tank and close the valve. The buoyancy of the machine is
then increased by 3,000 litres or three metric tons. Owing to the
buoyancy of the wing on top. Of this, it would be possible for the
machine to remain afloat for some considerable time. Should the sea
be rough, the possibility is, of course, reduced, but the airmen
will always stand a chance provided the seas are not too high.
The oil (Vacuum) is carried in three tanks to the rear of the
engines. These tanks have a capacity of 17-6 Imp. gallons
each. The engines are gravity fed from the wing tanks, but the fuel
in the main tank and in the reservoir under the cockpit must
first be pumped into the wing tanks before it can be used. For
this purpose a hand pump is used, the handle, which is installed between the two seats
in the cockpit, being operated by the second pilot.
The Instrument Board in the Cockpit
The following instruments (see first illustration on p. 758,
from top to bottom) are installed in the cockpit for the use of
the pilots. A bank and turn indicator before the second
pilot (top right hand). This instrument is specially intended
for blind flying, and comprises a speedometer, a gyroscopic
bank and turn indicator and a transversal inclinometer.
Below this, in the centre, is an aperiodic compass. Then
follow, side by side, the revolution indicators for the three
engines, and an altimeter ; whilst the next row is made up
of a clock, a voltameter for the earth inductor compass—
in order to steer the course set by the navigator, the pilot
must see that the needle is exactly central—a speedometer,
and a small signalling lamp with press button as a means
of communication between the cockpit and the observers'
Further, there is a gyroscopic bank and turn indicator for
the first pilot, and also an oil gauge.
On the left-hand side of the instrument board there is a
longitudinal inclinometer (the oblong instrument), and next
to this a rate of climb indicator, and a fuel gauge for the
reservoir under the cockpit.
Lower down there are three knobs for the priming leads of
the engines. The instrument at the bottom of the photo
is an oil thermometer. The oil thermometers and gauges
for the outboard engines are installed in their respective
power eggs. Then follow the handles for gas and altitude
gas, and below these the switches for the lighting installation.
The separate bank and turn indicator is actuated by a
Venturi tube, the combined flight controller and the speedometers
by means of a pitot tube, which is fitted with an
electric element connected with the electric mains, and this
element is placed under current when the tube becomes affected
by snow or ice.
To the rear of the pilots is the fuel distributing system
(see second illustration, on p. 7*58). The gauge glasses for
indicating the level of the fuel are mounted on the wing spar.
The fairly large sized tube seen in the photo is connected
with the main fuel tank, and is intended to let air into this
reservoir quickly when the safety dump valve is used. The
crank handle immediately under the spar is for adjusting the
stabiliser during flight. The arrow " High-Low" shows
which direction it must be turned.
On the left-hand side of the photo will be seen a triangular
hole through which the top of the main tank is visible.
Through this hole the pilots communicate with the other
two members of the crew, in the navigators' compartment,
by means of a stick with a clip at the end. Written messages
are placed in the clip and passed from one compartment to
The Navigator's Compartment
A general view of the navigator's compartment is shown
above. In the forward part is the main tank, on which
is mounted a speedometer, a volt ameter for the earth inductor
compass to show the navigator whether the pilot is keeping
strictly to the course set, and an altimeter. At the corners
are small lamps for illuminating the instrument board, in
the centre a switch ; and, lower down, on the left, a signalling
Under this instrument board is a collapsible chart table,
on which are to be seen a sextant, parallel rulers, and a drift
indicator. In the roof of the compartment is a trap-door,,
which may be slid open when the navigator wishes to make
observations with his sextant. He measures the drift of the
machine by affixing the drift indicator to a bracket, made
for the purpose, on the outside of the fuselage. At the top
right-hand side, attached to one of the tubes in the wall of
the fuselage, is the course-setting indicator of the earth
inductor compass, with which the navigator sets the course
which the pilot is to follow.
On the left is installed the complete wireless set. This
may, however, be seen to better advantage in the illustration
on p. 759. It will be observed that all the wireless instruments
are suspended in shock absorber cord. At the top is
the Marconi transmitter for wave lengths of 600-800 m.
This outfit, which has an energy of 80 watts, is intended for
communicating with ships that work on such wave lengths.
The installation underneath is the receiving set for all wavelengths
ranging from 20- 2,400 m.
The lower box contains a Heinz and Kaufman short-wave
transmitter for wave-lengths of 33-1-33-5 m., and has an
energy of 50 watts. The box with the spare parts for the
wireless installation is on the floor, and next to it will be seen
the reel with the short-wave transmitting aerial. The
aerial for long wave transmission and reception is on the starboard
side, on the floor, opposite the short-wave aerial, but
is not visible in the photo. Mounted on the supports of
the wireless installation are the aerial switches ; the orje top
left being for long waves, the one on the right for short
On the right, under the receiving set, will be seen the
manipulating key, and immediately under this a transformer.
The batteries for the receiving set are at the bottom. In
the foreground of the photo will be seen the master compass.
At the top right-hand side are several switches and a press
button for the signalling lamp.
About half way between the cabin and the tail skid hangs
the generator of the earth inductor compass, which is driven
by a small wind-mill located on the top of the fuselage.
Monday, May 10, 2010
THE DH-88 COMET ONE OF MY FAVORITE OF ALL AIRCRAFT.. BELOW ARE A FEW STORIES ABOUT THE COMET AND HOW TO FLY IT.
A. E. CLOUSTON
NAVIGATING the D.H. Comet across the world is a step outside the normal run of flying. Yet, provided you stick to three or four hard-and-fast rules it is no superman's job.
I would not consider taking it on without the set of instruments we took to New Zealand and back. I must have two big, plain-faced P.4 compasses aboard, well swung
and tested. The cardinal secret of Comet navigating is never to deviate by a degree from your
compass course.I always keep my Sperry directional gyro set at o. When you get tired
after hours of blind flying the markings in degrees on the gyro become a bit blurred and impossible to keep a course on. The big, round o requires
much less concentration. The particular Sperry we had in Australian Anniversary was the best one I've ever flown on On the New Zealand trip it sometimes went two hours without resetting. Besides the directional we carried two lateral Sperrys, all three being
driven off the port engine vacuum pump. For safety, in addition, we had a Reid and Sigrist turn-and-bank indicator driven off an external venturi. There is safety in numbers. In the Comet, in really blind conditions, iced-up instruments mean jumping out. I fly with two good watches on my wrists and an aircraft clock in the dash. One watch and the clock are set to G.M.T., and all navigation is timed on them. The other watch is set to local time, wherever I am. The general scale of our maps was 16 miles to the inch, sometimes 63 miles to the inch, and across Australia and over the Tasman Sea my map and charts were scaled down to about 150 miles to the inch. Now for nagivation itself. Working out the course from A to B, I take the direct bearing and mean variation, and set that course off on the compass. I have never yet allowed for wind drift in the Comet, not even when I have known there to be a strong cross-wind blowing. It has been my experience that meteorological reports of weather for
2,000-mile stretches at 7,000ft.—the Comet's operating height—cannot be trusted. The upper winds have always turned out to be different from the way they should have been. It was in the Johannesburg Race, 1936, that I discovered drift can be ignored in machines that cruise at
around the 200 m.p.h. mark over several thousand miles. In twelve hours' flying cross-winds will practically always cancel themselves out. When Ricketts and I started away on our first unfortunate crack at the New Zealand trip in February we found ourselves at one point over Europe 40 miles north of our course. We just kept to our compass course, and three hours later, after blind flying, we were 30 miles south of it. I never correct such flying for drift—I wait for the correcting wind to turn up a little farther on. Whenever possible, I check up my position on definite landmarks like rivers, mountains and islands, and keep marking my position on my maps. At night, unless there is a strong moon, there is scarcely anything to be seen.
Over 2,000 miles probably half of the course is under cloud. And, in any case, crossing a country like India by night brings up very little indeed to check your position on. Through the
dark hours I just sit on my compass course, speed, height and time. I try whenever possible to schedule my refuelling stop for daylight. It is madness to go off for ten hours' flying
and then expect to find an aerodrome in the middle of a strange country like Australia, Africa or India in the dark. One should be able to owe accuracy in navigating to one's own confidence in course-keeping. Sometimes I have wanted to think my compass was out 20 or 30 degrees when mountains, or snow peaks, or islands sticking out of the sea have given me a cross-bearing a bit different from that which I had expected. But in every case I have stuck to my original course, and the good old P.4 has turned out_ to be right. I would trust a properly swung and adjusted
compass for a month. When I get a definite check by landmark (confirmed by a second check) I work out ground speed and keep on working it out. I keep applying the result of my little arithmetical sums to the distance still to go. Flying up to 1,61.0 miles across open sea, as we did to New Zealand, we found that wind direction as shown by sea spray was frequently entirely different at our 7,000ft. We always kept to that height, no matter what storms lay in front. I only fly round cloud patches over land, and when I am fairly certain of where I am. If you begin to make five-mile detours over the sea your landfall after 1,000 miles may be very different from the one neatly drawn on your map. We had one or two tastes of ice formation, the worst over the 1,000-mile desert stretch between Cairo and Basra. In just over three minutes one thick, heavy bunch of cumulus clouds over this stretch ruined the aerodynamical qualities of the Comet, loading us with two to three inches of ice on the wings and tail. The pitot head was frozen up, and the only instruments that continued to function were the Sperrys. When thus flying blind and
iced-up, it calls for considerable concentration to keep level with no air-speed indicator to help.
In severe tropical storms and bumps at 200 m.p.h. blind flying instruments in the Comet are only just readable. Crossing the Timor Sea we were compelled, Sutton--harnessed as we were, to shield our heads from the roof with air cushions. Then at Charleville, Central Australia, two of the Qantas pilots told us they liked the Timor because there were no
bumps to worry them there! Fortunate mortals, they fly with radio, and can, and do,
detour twenty miles to get round a bumpy area, while poor record-breakers, if they
would make their proper landfall, must plough straight ahead and take whatever's
coming to them. Landing the Comet is a matter to be dealt with in sequence. I like to arrive over my aerodrome and make four or five circuits before I land. It is not an easy aeroplane to see out of, and I like to have everything under control and observation.
First the engines are cut down to about one-third throttle, dropping speed down from 200 to about 130 m.p.h. Then the undercarriage is wound down. It takes 141 turns of the hand wheel to get the undercart extended, and the wheel can only be turned about a tenth of a revolution with each movement. It takes four or five minutes to do the job calmly and efficiently. Next the airscrews are put into fine pitch, speed cut down again to n o m.p.h. and the flaps brought on. They are intensely stiff, and take just about all your strength to bring down. Then round to land in a very wide approach turn with throttle is half open. I take her.
Both pilots wore Irvin seat - pack - type parachutes. There is a small luggage space behind the rear seat. The main fuel tanks (128 and no gallons; are in front of the pilot, and there is a 20 gallon tank aft. round to have at least a mile in which to fly in to land at hot, sandy aerodromes. It is my opinion that one should on no account try to put the Comet down in a pretty three-point landing. It is the only aeroplane I know that must NOT be landed that way. It must always be a slightly " wheel " landing. If a three-pointer is tried, the Comet won't sit down on three points; she will just balloon off into space again.
Landing is not easy, but taking-off fully laden from tropical aerodromes is a major problem. The machine is excessively tail heavy and very prone to swing. If it develops a good swing you catch it early with the motors and, if need be, the brakes as well. The fact that you can see nothing ahead adds to the difficulties. The engines are opened to half-throttle to allow them to start turning evenly and get the machine rolling nicely, and then increased to wide open. Partial swings can be corrected, if you catch them in time, by juggling the throttles only. The brake lever is left a quarter on. The brakes themselves are not working in this position unless the rudder bar is brought into play, when they work as another check on swing. The tail will show no sign of coming up for two or three
hundred yards, as full-load acceleration is so slow. But once the tail is lifted the Comet, as clean as a knife, has An unorthodox snapshot of Clouston and Ricketts, amusingly suggestive of the famous painting, "The Death of Nelson." They are watching the Comet being prepared in the works of Essex Aero Ltd., at Gravesend. acceleration of a positively amazing order if it is held in flying position.
In spite of the apparent speed, it has to be held down the full length of the runway. If you try to lift it off before it is ready it will simply sit back again on its tail and slither—
on into the hedge. There is no normal sensation that you are about to fly as the Comet approaches the boundary. You must allow it to run and run until just before the hedge, when the stick is eased back. Then it will have attained about 90-95 m.p.h., and will fly off soggily! After the first upward climb it must be eased down slightly, and the airscrews put into coarse pitch after the undercarriage has passed the
half-up position during retraction. And so up to 7,000 feet in a long, gentle climb at 140 m.p.h. on the clock. Probably our most moving take-off was from Charleville, homeward bound. We had tanked up to 200 gallons for the hop across 1,700 miles of featureless Australian desert to Darwin, when closer inspection by car of the 830-yard runway caused me to order 40 gallons to be pumped out
again. ] Normally I must have 1,000 yards for safety, and in tropical heat something like 1,700 yards. With the 40 gallons removed • we just cleared the hedge, after one second's suspense when the machine sank a few feet after being pulled off in the last five yards of available space.
" It was in the Johannesburg Race, 1936, that I discovered drift can be ignored in machines that cruise at around the 200 m.p.h. mark over several thousand miles.'' " One should be able to owe accuracy in
navigating to one's own confidence in coursekeeping. . . . I would trust a properly
swung and adjusted compass for a month," " It is my opinion that one should on no account try to put the Comet down in a pretty three-point landing. It is the only aeroplane I know that must not be landed
that way. ' " We had one or two tastes of ice formation . . . In just over three minutes one thick,
heavy bunch of cumulus clouds . . . ruined the aerodynamical qualities of the Comet, loading us with two or three inches of ice on wings and tail. "
IF, as they say, long-distance record-breaking is dead, the
D.H. Comet's latest effort seems to prove that it won't
lie down. Messrs. Clouston and Ricketls, indeed, have
made it sit bolt upright.
In the process of travelling from England to New Zealand
and back, 26,500 miles, in three hours less than eleven days
(a steamer would take 80), they have established ten " records."
official and/or unofficial. Their flight :
Is the first direct round air trip to N.Z. and back.
Beats Miss Batten's (Gull) England-N.Z. time of n
days, 1 hr. 25 min. (October, 1937).
Beats Miss Batten's 5 days, 13 hr. 15 min. homeward
time from Port Darwin to England (October, 1937).
Breaks the record set up in the Comet in 1934 by
C. W. A. Scott and the late T. Campbell Black for the
return trip from Australia, though net their outward figure
(2 days, 4 hr. ^^ min., London-Melbourne), in the Mac-
Cuts three days off the Australia-and-back time of 13!
days by Cathcart Jones and Ken Waller (Comet) in 1934.
Break:. The records England-Sydney, Port Darwin-
Sydney, and Sydney-New Zealand
It is, of course, hardly fair to make comparisons with Miss
Batten's records, achieved solo in a single-engined machine.
Actually, four of the new figures will, it is hoped, be recognizable
by the F.A.I, as coming in the capital-to-capital category:
London-Sydney, 80 hr. 56 min.
London-Blenheim (N.Z.), 104 hr. 20 min.
Blenheim-London, 140 hr. 27 min.
Sydney-London, n o hr. 22 min.
It is thought likely that the F.A.I, will be prepared to recognize
any aerodrome in New Zealand as a capital for such purposes.
Blenheim—where F/O. Closton's family resides—is
at the northern end of the South Island.
Out and Home
The story of the outward journey was told last week. After
an abortive attempt a few weeks earlier, which ended in
Turkey with a damaged undercarriage, F/O. A. E. Clouston,
with Mr. Victor Ricketts as co-pilot, took the four-year-old
Comet off from Gravesend at 8.17 p.m. on Tuesday, March 15.
He put it down at Blenheim 4.57 a.m. on Sunday, March 20.
At 10.2 a.m. G.M.T. the next day the machine was in the
air again on its return trip. Sydney was reached at 4 p.m.
(another Tasman record). At 3^39 a.m. on the Tuesday they
left for Darwin reaching there at 2.-59 pm. They took off
for Surabaya (Java) at 1.32 p.m. and left Singapore at 5.47
p.m. next day, Wednesday. Karachi was reached, via Calcutta
and Allahabad, at 1.42 a.m. on Friday. They left at
2.58 a.m. for Basra, which was attained that ‘afternoon, while
the opening ceremony at the new airport was in progress
They were off again at 10 p.m. on their final and hardest
stretch—3,200 miles in 19 hours, with only very brief refueling
stops at Cairo and Marseilles, and no food or sleep. Croydon
was thankfully reached at 5.40 p.m. 011 Saturday. Set down thus in bare figures, that it may be kept on record, the story of the
flight sounds, perhaps, prosaic. But against this background may be pictured
the actual sensations of» the two men who made it; the ten-hour 2,000-mIle
stretches, sometimes protracted to 12 hours by head winds ; the incessant roar,
scream and bumping in the cramped tandem cockpit; the desire for sleep ; the
anxieties of taking-off from small aeiodromes in "thin" tropical air v.ith
nearly a ton of petrol; fog, cloud and thunderstorms, all of which were encountered.
These things considered, one may marvel at the enthusiasm of people
who will do them—and it so happens that quite " un commercial " enthusiasm has
played a large share in the present flight.
The D.H. Comet, before rebuilding by Essex Aero, Ltd., for the Damascus
Race had Gipsy Six R. engines; it now has Gipsy Six Series II
engines with D.H. v.p. airscrews. The machine is mainly of
"wooden stressed-skin" construction, with metal fairings.
The equipment for the flight included : Instruments by .Sperry, Smiths. Short and Mason, Reid and Sigrist.and Record Electrical Company. Instrument panel by Essex Aero. Ltd.
Controls by M.H.C.. Ltd. Switches, lighting, etc., by Eotax. Harley
lauding light. Accumulator by Dagenite.
Aircraft Components' undercarriage. Tyres and wheels hy Dimlop.
Brakes by Bcndix. Steel tubing by Accles and Pollock. Timber by the
I/oudon Plywood and Timber Co. Aluminium by the British Aluminium
Co. Elektron by ¥. A. Hughes and Co. Kxhaust manifold material hy
Henry Wiggin and Co. Finish by Cellon. Safety glass by Triplex and
Splintex. Rhodoid roofing. Irvin parachutes. Sloseley air bags.
Gipsy-Six Series II engine with D.H. v.p. airscrews. Superfiexit oil
piping. Sparkina plugs by K.L.G. Claudel-llobson earburation. Wellworthy
piston rings. Magnetos by Euston Ignition Co. Oil organisation
by Wakefieid. Fuel organisation by Anglo-American Oil Co. and their
associated companies abroad. Preparation of machine by Essex Aero,
Ltd. Flight sponsored by Sydney Daily Telegraph
FOLLOWING so magnificent a flight as that achieved by F/O A. E. Clouston and Mrs. Kirby-Green in the De Havilland Comet it is difficult to know which
To praise first, the skill and endurance of the pilots Or the faultless behavior of t h e aero plane and engines. Though recognizing that the figures should not be
"officially" compared, it is interesting to observe that the out-and-home journey to the Cape, taking 5 days 17 hours 28 minutes from Croydon to Croydon, did not merely clip a matter of hours off the existing record set up by Mr. H. L.
Brook, but no less than 3 days 16 hours 2 minutes. On the outward trip, as reported fully in Flight last week, the Comet, now called The Burberry, set up a new record of 45 hours 2 minutes, this being 1 day 9 hours 24 minutes better than
Miss Amy Johnson's time. Then, on the return journey, a
record time of 57 hours 23 minutes was achieved, 1 day 14 hours 57 minutes better than Mr. H. L. Brook's figure. Large sections of the flight were made by night, and praise is due for the very great navigating skill displayed. Landings
were made using only the large Harley light in the Comet's nose, aided in some cases by the moon. On the return journey the pilots were showing signs of
fatigue, although they experienced better weather. Some of the high-altitude aerodromes in Central and South Africa had made take-off with big loads of fuel more difficult, and at Cairo the Comet was put down only on the third attempt,
owing, it is understood, to dazzle from the instrument panel lights.
The arrival at Croydon at 3.23 on the afternoon of Saturday, November 20, was triumphal if not so rowdy as on previous occasions. A large force of police and a long wait in the cold had thinned the crowd to a safe number of friends and
A short history of the Comet's previous successes appeared in Flight last week. Since the Istres-Paris-Damascus race in August the very full wireless equipment (including generator and converter) has been removed, giving a weight saving of
In its original form the Comet had two Gipsy Six R engines, but for these were recently substituted two Standard Gipsy Six Series II engines with 1,000-size D.H. v.p. airscrews. The use of v.p. airscrews is almost essential on a machine combining
speed and range. The all-up weight in this case is increased by about 1,000 lb., which means an added 1,300 miles in range, while the cruising speed is improved by 12per cent,roughly the difference between 190 and 210 m.p.h.
THERE and BACK
The Fine Croydon-Cape-Croydon Flight of FO. Clouston and Mrs. Kirby-Green
in the D.H. Comet : 14,700 Miles at 189 m.p.h. Average
The fuel capacity is a little more than in the original form—
123 + 108 + 25 gallons, with an additional 8 making 264—sufficient
for 13 hours or 2,800 miles.
When the Series I engines were fitted, under the direction of
?ir. R. J. Cross, of Essex Aero, Ltd., a modification of the
cowlings was necessary to suit the spinners of the 1,000 hp
v.p. airscrews. Other modifications include an additional
Vickers' fuel tank vent in the cockpit where i t could not ice up
as in the Damascus race, and strengthened shock-absorber
units to stand up to the increased loading. The extra vent
proved essential on certain sections of the trip when ice formed
very quickly and the engines showed signs of getting starved.
Six thermos flasks for beef tea, brandy and milk, etc., and
Moseley " non-surging " cushions added comfort to the trip,
and a little room in the nose for a change of clothes, food,
spares and papers was greatly appreciated.
During the whole flight there were only two slight mishaps.
On the outward journey a delay of 7 hours occurred, due to
trouble in getting permission to take off, and on the return
a delay of 8 | hours occurred at Broken Hill while small adjustments
were made and further "permissions" were obtained.
Flying Officer Clouston specially praised the Wakefield
Organization, which gave valuable aid on the flight. Among
the detailed items of, equipment which played their part in
securing the success were:—
The D.H. Comet: Smith's air-speed indicator, altimeter and oil pressure.
temperature, boost and petrol pump gauges, rev. counters and tach ; Reid and
Sigrist turn and bank indicator; Sperry artificial horizon and directional gyro;
Kollsman sensitive altimeter; Weston intake thermo-couples and oil temperature
gauges ; Short and Mason and Husun compasses ; Harlev landing lights ; lelcta
M.K.C. controls; Dagenite batteries (Peto and Radford); Super Bexit oil pipinn:
Petroflex petrol piping ; Vickers petrol cock ; Dunlop tyres; Berulix brakes;
Cellon finish ; British Aluminium tanks and cowlings; RenokU and Aeries and
Pollock steel tubing ; Rumbold upholstery ; small parts by Brown Bros. (Aircraft)
Air Materials and Mosers ; Skef ko ball races for undercarriage ; Hoffman ball races
for controls. ..
The D.H. Gipsy Six Engine* : D.H. v.p. airscrews; High Duty Alloys and Sterlme
Metals piston forgings ; Motor Components valves ; Sterling Metals bieKtron
castings for rocker boxes and crankcases ; Mills alloy cylinder heads; Sailers
valve springs ; English Steel Corporation crankshaft; Hoy't white metal bearings.
Eyre Smelting Company's steel-backed bearings; High Duty Alloys connecting
rods; B.T.H. magnetos, K.L.G. bottom-seating plugs; Hobson carburetor,.
Auto lean filter; Rotx starter; British Insulated Cables and B.T.H. camps.
Coopers and Hall and Hall gaskets; Wellworthy piston rings; Rotax vacuran
pump ; Amal flame trap and fuel pump ; Pinchiu Johnson paint; Simms con,
lings ; Esso fuel ; Wakefield Castrol oil.