M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
LEE RICHARDS annular monoplane No.l (Cedric Lee and George Tilghman Richards)
The association with Kitchen (q.v.), having ended in 1912, wind tunnel tests were earned out at the East London College and at the NPL to establish aerodynamic data for a new design of monoplane. After a false start with Blackburns, the detail design and construction was undertaken by James Radley and E.C. Gordon England, his works manager and test pilot at Shoreham. After problems created by Radley, the machine was completed and ready to be flown by Gordon England on 23 November 1913. After a minimum of taxiing, he flew successfully for the first time, although noting tail heaviness, until the engine cut out through lack of fuel, on the approach to land. In the resulting, crash Gordon England was injured and out of action for some months. The engine and other mechanical parts were salvaged for use in a new machine.
The monoplane wing was a complex structure, which required considerable ingenuity by Gordon England in its construction, involving as it did, a variety of sections at different positions in the wing. This was built in two halves around two steel tube, semicircular spars, spaced by steel tube compression struts at intervals. On to this basic structure were placed numerous wooden ribs, positioned radially, and connected by inner and outer edge members and stringers. At the rear edge, each wing was cut straight across to form flaps, serving as both elevators and ailerons, their trailing edges continuing the outline of the wing.
The fuselage was a tapering wooden girder of four longerons and struts braced by wires, with the addition of a curved top decking. The propeller was mounted on a long extension shaft on the Gnome engine, which was mounted on a bulkhead, to which the rear spars were also attached. Behind this were fuel and oil tanks, with the passenger seat and pilot behind. An inverted Y-pylon, in front of the passenger's cockpit, provided an anchorage for the numerous bracing wires. A long dorsal fin and semicircular rudder were fitted. The undercarriage consisted of two wheels on swing axles pivoted on the vee-shaped pylon below the fuselage, which also served as the anchorage for the lift wires. A pair of nose wheels was mounted on the central member protruding forward of the pylon. The tail was also protected by a skid.
Power: 80hp Gnome Monosoupape seven-cylinder air-cooled rotary
Dihedral 5 deg
Length 23ft 6in
Area 280 sq ft
Weight allup 1,680 lb (2 crew) 1,500 lb (as flown)
Speed 83-85 mph
Climb 300ft per min
LEE RICHARDS annular monoplane No.2
The second aircraft was completed and flown by England in February or March 1914, but after a number of flights totaling some 25 hours, a tendency to spin was not resolved and he resigned. Following this N.S. Percival flew once, followed by Gordon Bell from early April until 25 April 1914, when the machine was wrecked, the pilot having lost elevator control. This monoplane was almost identical in appearance to No.l except for an additional elevator above the rudders, and the parallel chord elevators behind the wings, which were moved outwards during the course of development. The wing dihedral was reduced from 5 to 3 degrees. A speed range of 30 to 70 mph was reported.
At the end of February, Lee made two entries of machines with Austro-Daimler engines for the Gordon Bennett Race of September 1914, which was abandoned when war broke out. These machines would have been based on No.2, or its successor, would have a wingspan of fifteen feet and were reported to be partly built.
LEE RICHARDS annular monoplane No.3
The third machine incorporated changes to improve control and reduce lateral stability, by a reduction of dihedral to 1 1/2 degrees, and changes of wing section. The improvised biplane tail of No.2 was replaced with enlarged elevons, positioned well out to the side, and faired into the wing outline. A large ventral fin was added with a parallel chord rudder of greater area.
The date of completion is not recorded, but the machine was being flown by Gordon Bell up to the outbreak of war. Cedric Lee, who was an inexperienced pilot, then attempted to fly No.3 in August 1914 and crashed into the River Adur, wrecking the machine, but only suffering minor injuries himself.
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane
Undeterred by the failure of their first attempt at the design of a powered annular-wing aeroplane, Cedric Lee and G. Tilghman Richards continued their experiments with gliders and with wind-tunnel research at East London College. Negotiations with the Blackburn Aeroplane Co., of Leeds, for the construction of a full-size monoplane fell through, but James Radley undertook the work at Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, assisted by E. C. Gordon England as works manager and test pilot. Wind-tunnel tests at the National Physical Laboratory had given very good results, indicating that the annular wing was without a "burble" point and could be expected to lift at angles of incidence of up to 30°. The stall was gentle, and the span of the wings could be half of that of the conventional type. The machine was built with a normal tractor fuselage, incorporating an enclosed 80 h.p. Gnome engine, with the annular wings braced from a pylon before the front cockpit. The second cockpit was set towards the tail, which incorporated conventional rudder and elevators. The monoplane was flown for the first time on 23rd November, 1913, by Gordon England, who found, after a very fast take-off, that it was tail heavy. It stalled and fell some 150 feet into telegraph wires, but without injury to the pilot, who suffered only from shock.
After rebuilding, the machine was flown by C. Gordon Bell and N. S. Percival, but was crashed and reconstructed once again. Modifications were made to the design, and the excessive stability found in the early tests was eradicated in the final version, which proved to be a successful flyer. It its final form, additional strut-braced elevators were added at the top of the rudder post, forming a biplane tail. Some 1,000 miles distance was covered by the three versions, with about 128 hours flying time being reached. The design was found to be easy to fly and control, with a good view for the pilot, and would leave the ground at about 30 m.p.h. with a full load.
Two new annular monoplanes were being built during April, 1914, for the Gordon Bennett race, and the original machine was flown continually until September, 1914. After the 1914-18 War, Tilghman Richards attempted to arouse Air Ministry interest in the design, but was unsuccessful. Span, 22 ft. Length, 23 ft. 3 ins. Wing area, 280 sq. ft. Weight loaded as two-seater, 1,680 lb. Weight loaded as single-seater, 1,500 lb. Maximum speed, 85 m.p.h. Landing speed, 45 m.p.h. Climb, 400 ft. min. Endurance, 3-5 hrs.
Flight, May 2, 1914.
THE CEDRIC LEE MONOPLANE.
As in the early days of the Dunne machine, considerable mystery enshrouds the Cedric Lee monoplane, practical experiments with which have been carried out at the Shoreham aerodrome for some months past. Not the least point of interest in connection with the Cedric Lee monoplane is that it is more or less at variance with certain aerodynamical theories as accepted to-day. Unfortunately, detailed particulars of this interesting machine cannot at present be placed before our readers, as the Cedric Lee Co. do not yet wish these to be made public. Since, however, several successful flights have been made in public, and as entries have been made for the coming Gordon-Bennett race, the following brief particulars, together with the accompanying illustrations, should be of special interest. The most important feature of this machine is that it flies "pterygoid," that is, like a dart, or its length is greater than its span. The latter, in fact, is only some 20 ft. The planes are annular in plan form, being centrally divided fore and aft by the fuselage. The whole of the plane section in side elevation forms one large camber, but the front portion of the plane is also cambered. The covered-in fuselage is rectangular in section, tapering to a vertical knife-edge at the rear. In the middle of the fuselage, in the "hole" of the plane, are the passenger's and pilot's seats, the former occupying the front one, where an excellent view below can be obtained. The engine, a 50 h.p. Gnome, which drives a tractor screw, is placed inside the fuselage in front of the passenger's seat, air scoops being fitted in the sides of the fuselage for cooling. Hinged to the rear extremity of the plane are two elevators, whilst two others are mounted above them, one on each side of the vertical rudder, which is hinged to the rear end of the fuselage and to a vertical fin mounted on to top of the latter. A strong three-wheeled chassis is fitted, one wheel being right in front to protect the propeller. It is claimed that this particular model has a speed range of from 45 m.p.h. to well over 70 m.p.h. Strong construction is another of its features; on one occasion a landing was made on one of the "wing tips," but the machine only rolled a little way on the outer edge of the plane and then settled down on its chassis again without any ill effects. Mr. Gordon England has made several flights on this machine, and just recently Gordon Bell has joined the Cedric Lee Co., and has also made several flights. Unfortunately he met last weekend with one of those accidents that must always j be associated with valuable experimental work, so that activities will be delayed for the present, but we understand that the two machines for the Gordon-Bennett are well in hand at the works.