P.Lewis The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Among the firms engaged in sub-contract work which were tempted to strike out and build original designs of their own was that of Robey of Lincoln. Previously busy producing the Sopwith Gunbus for the Admiralty, in 1915 J. A. Peters evolved two contrasting single-seat biplane scouts in the company’s drawing-offices; one was a pusher, powered by either the 80 h.p. Gnome or the 90 h.p. Salmson M.7, and the other was a tractor for which the engine scheduled is thought to have been the 80 h.p. Clerget. The Robey pusher was of single-bay, unequal-span wing form and the pilot was seated high up in a nacelle upon which rested the upper wings. The general appearance was commendably clean and, with the Salmson engine, estimated top speed was 93 m.p.h.
The Robey tractor, which followed the general trend of small single-seat tractor scouts of its time, possessed a very simple airframe.
The two Robey single-seaters are among the least-known of the early British scouts and little has survived concerning either machine. The pusher is reported to have come to grief during its initial flight and it is not known if the tractor flew at all.
F.Mason The British Fighter since 1912 (Putnam)
Robey Peters Tractor Scout
Very little is known about the designs of J A Peters, produced while he was working with Robey & Co Ltd of Lincoln, a company which had undertaken sub-contract manufacture of Sopwith Gun Bus aircraft early in 1915. Three such designs came to be built, of which two were single-seat scouts, one a tractor and the other a pusher biplane. The latter is said to have suffered an accident during its first flight.
Nor is it known whether the little tractor scout was even completed, although the accompanying photograph shows it awaiting installation of its engine - said to have been an 80hp Clerget - and covering of the airframe. Construction appears to have been of wood throughout, and one assumes it would have been fabric covered overall. There is slight stagger on the wings, and ailerons are fitted to upper and lower flying surfaces. A balanced rudder, without fin, is apparent, and all bracing is of twisted-strand cabling.
The position of the pilot’s cockpit is interesting in that it is located directly below mid-chord of the upper wing, so that the trailing edge cut-out would have been of little value in extending the pilot’s field of vision, while the cabane struts and bracing wires, close on either side, would appear to constitute an almost impenetrable maze to negotiate for entry and exit from the cockpit.
There is no evidence in the photograph as to whether any gun armament was intended to be mounted, as the pilot is situated too far forward to operate a gun oh the upper wing, unless it was proposed to mount an upward-firing Lewis gun projecting through the wing centre section. It is not even known whether the cowling shown in the photograph represented the ultimate shape and position of the engine cowling; if so, it would seem that the c.g. limits would have been exceptionally constricted, for it is not known what position was intended for the fuel tank.
From the general design configuration, outlined above, it seems likely that Peters would have been engaged in the design of this aircraft early in 1915, and that the accompanying photograph was taken during the summer of that year.