Flight, March 6, 1919.
PEACE TIME AEROPLANES
OWING to the restrictions imposed by the order relating to aeroplane designs, which prohibited the getting out of anything except general arrangement drawings of a new design, the British Aircraft Industry has been greatly hampered in its change-over from war work to peace machines. These difficulties are now, it is true, partly overcome by the cancelling of the order which decreed that no firm was allowed to get out original designs except after obtaining an official permit. But great damage had already been done, not by the order itself, which was probably a necessary evil during the War, but by the fact that, even after it was quite certain that the Armistice would be signed, the Air Ministry refused to let constructors turn over some part of their works and drawing offices to post-War production problems. Had this been permitted there can be little doubt that British constructors would not now have been labouring under a great disadvantage compared with firms of other countries in the competition for after-the-War trade. The consequence has been that while our manufacturers are endeavouring to obtain permission to export machines and engines, and are being held up by vague and indefinite replies from the authorities, foreign firms are losing no time in establishing themselves abroad, and in getting their hands on any foreign orders that may be available.
In spite of such handicaps, however, it is gratifying to know that British firms are quite alive to the possibilities of both home and foreign trade, and are getting out designs for post-War machines as rapidly as conditions will allow. Among the first firms to announce their post-War types of aeroplanes is the Central Aircraft Co., of 179, High Road, Kilbum, who have already settled on at least three types which will be produced in quantities, and of which the first is already ready. The Central Aircrat Co. has attained a splendid reputation for excellence of workmanship, the credit for which is due to Mr. Arthur J. Cattle, the Chief of the Company, for who is the best is hardly good enough. Under his energetic guidance the business is expanding rapidly and bids fair in the near future to assume very large proportions. The first of the trio is a two-seater school machine, fitted with a French 70 h.p. Renault, but so designed as to be adapted to take any engine of similar type, such as the Wolseley and R.A.F. engines. The first of these machines was finished recently, which is a highly creditable performance, considering the short time that has elapsed since the cancelling of the restrictions on private designs. The machine was tested by the firm's chief pilot, Mr. Herbert Sykes, O.B.E., at the aerodrome a couple of weeks ago, and at once showed that it was quite up to the expectations of its designer, Mr. "Tony" Fletcher, who is in charge of the design department of the Central Aircraft Co.
The machine is a tandem two-seater, fitted with dual controls. The lines of the machine are quite pleasing, in spite of the difficulty of providing a neat nose where a Renault or similar engine is fitted. The designer has kept in mind ease and cheapness of manufacture, and this is obtained, not by any scamping in workmanship, which as a matter of course is excellent, but by designing for interchangeability wherever possible. Thus, for instance, all the inter-plane struts are identical, the one type of strut fitting anywhere in the wing cellule. In a similar manner the elevator flaps and the rudder are identical and interchangeable. As the machine is intended for school work - the Central Aircraft Co. are shortly starting a school with Mr. Sykes as chief instructor - the wing section has been designed with a view to giving a low landing speed, while at the same time reaching reasonably high maximum speed (the speed range is from 28 to 70 m.p.h.). The wing section is fairly deeply cambered, but the rather large travel of the centre of pressure usually associated with a wing section of this type is counteracted by giving a slight reflex curvature to the trailing edge. There is therefore no reason to suppose that the machine will not be quite easy to pull out of a nose dive, and although the elevator flaps are large, giving ample control, the large fixed tail plane should effectively prevent a pupil from too sudden flattening out after a dive. The machine should prove popular, not only at the Central Aircraft Co.'s School itself, but also among other firms who wish to obtain a good reliable type of school machine.
In addition to the school machine, which is a fait accompli, the Central Aircraft Co. is marketing two more types. One of these is a touring model in which the pilot and passenger sit side by side. This machine will be fitted with a 100 h.p. Anzani engine, and the wings will be arranged to fold in the manner of most modern seaplanes, so that the question of storage becomes much simplified, the machine occupying quite a small space when the wings are folded. This machine is expected to have a performance of 30 to 80 m.p.h., and is very well suited to touring or sporting purposes.
The third model to which reference has been made is a twin-engine machine, designed as a passenger carrier seating eight passengers. This machine is of very pleasing appearance, and the engine power being comparatively low, two Beardmore engines of 160 h.p. each, should not prove excessively expensive to run. The cabin will have non-splintering windows of Triplex glass, and will be electrically heated, thus providing for the comfort of the passengers. If desired, the machine can be used for carrying half a ton of goods or mails instead of the passengers. With three hours' fuel on board the speed range is expected to be 40 to 90 m.p.h. This machine is now in course of construction.
The Central Aircraft Co. will be pleased to give further information relating to delivery and prices of their various types upon application to their offices at 179, High Road, Kilburn. We might add that there is one more type coming through, of which we are not, however, permitted to give any particulars at present, but it is hoped to prove the last word in performance. This machine may be expected to go through its trials in the coming spring.