Newsletter 28
Autumn 2010
Updated on 30Oct2010
Published by the Hawker Association
for the Members.
Contents Hawker Association

Book Reviews
DH Heritage Centre
Experimental Department
Hawker Formations
Hunter News
New Technologies
Programme For 2010
PWS 'George' Bulman
Sea Harrier News
Sir Sydney And I
Sopwith News
Two-Seat Fury
Wartime Memories

    Ron Williams remembers an exciting experience…
    In 1948 the Fury two-seat prototype, VX818, was experiencing aerodynamic problems and the Project Office, where I was working, was expected to solve them. One solution resulted in one of Sir Sydney Camm's rare sketches.
    The first problem was 'rudder lock'. The fin was stalling at low speed with the rudder hard over so the aircraft would remain yawed and the rudder would not self-centre when the rudder bar was released. The more disturbed wake, when compared to the single-seater, from the tandem hoods was blanking the lower portion of the fin and reducing its effect on directional stability. The second problem, perhaps related to the first, was that in high-g turns at altitude the aircraft would drop a wing and enter a spin. It fell to me to experience both.
Two-Seat Fury

     By now the Experimental Design Office, having moved back from Claremont House, Esher, had amalgamated with the Production Design team at Canbury Park Road . The new Project Office occupied the space vacated by the Production DO drawing stores, where I started my career in 1943. This office was to the left of the stairs and just along from Roy Chaplin's and Sir Sydney's offices which were on the right.
     Vivian Stanbury was Project Office head, Alan Lipfriend, who had shared the duty, having left to pursue a career as a barrister. So, when the pilots' office at Langley, our aerodrome and factory near Slough, suggested that someone from the Project Office should be exposed to these problems and act as rear seat ballast, Vivian volunteered me.
    At short notice I caught the mid-day postal coach from Kingston and was soon ready for the test flight. I was told that the previous 'ballast', Reg Price, a five foot tall Charge Hand, had hit his head on the canopy during a spin. Over the lunch break a foot long triangular section wooden wedge had been taped, apex leading, to the inner inboard starboard wing leading edge to balance the oil cooler air intake on the port side. It was thought that this aerodynamic asymmetry might have been causing the wing drop departures in the turns.
    Squadron Leader Trevor 'Wimpey' Wade, now Chief Test Pilot, gave me my briefing. The intercom was not working (I suppose normal inert ballast would not have needed it) so if there was an emergency he would draw his hand across his throat and I was to jump out. I did have a parachute, though the instructions seemed rushed, but no 'g' suit, and I had to sign a 'blood chit'.
    Having strapped in I just had time to find out how to lock the rear canopy before we were off. The tremendous torque from the Centaurus engine and five blade propeller made the aircraft crab across the bumpy grass runway. In the climb Wimpey demonstrated the rudder lock. At 20,000 ft he started a steep dive to 500 mph to test that the emergency signal Verey light pistol could be pushed through its hatch in the cockpit wall against the outside air pressure. Climbing back to 15,000 ft he began a series of increasingly high g turns in each direction. The first one was so sudden that I was caught with my head forward, chin to chest. There were no incipient spins until the last one when we flipped onto our back and the ground and sky appeared in funny places as the Sea Fury pitched and rolled rapidly in its descent. Back at the airfield there was the obligatory barrel roll on the down-wind leg.
    At the apron I exited the aircraft full of admiration for what test pilots put their bodies through. However, it seemed that the wedge of wood had not helped as it did not appear on the production Sea Fury T.20 two-seat trainer.
    When Wimpey visited the Project Office a few days later he was shown my drawing of the profile of the flight with all the manoeuvres labelled. Vivian Stanbury asked if he would sign it but he refused because I had put 'bumpy take-off'.
    The Project Office told Sir Sydney that to cure the rudder lock the fin area would have to be increased, preferably out of the hood wake towards the tip. He then made a sketch showing a fin leading edge chord addition increasing from nothing at the root to moderate at the tip with a small bump above the top of the rudder. We smoothed it out with more tip chord and no bump; this was adopted and gave satisfactory directional stability and rudder behaviour. The only other Sir Sydney sketch I saw was the cross section of a rear fuselage, possibly of the Hunter, with a saddle fuel tank above the jet pipe.