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“And like no other sculpture in the history of art, the dead engine and dead airframe come to life at the touch of a human hand, and join their life with the pilot's own.”

343. Digitised

I’m a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) in the USA, and I’ve discovered that they are offering a year’s licence for a student version of Solidworks, the industry standard 3D CAD program.

I’ve always been fascinated by 3D CAD, and so for the past couple of months I’ve been starting to rebuild the Scout digitally, using our original drawings.

It’s a long – indeed a very long – learning process, but I’m slowly getting there and I thought you might be interested to see some of the results.

Here’s the tailplane and elevator, for example, with every part individually modelled.XD775Test2.jpg

And an example of the sort of drawings I’ll have at the end.

XD753-050 - Sheet1.jpg

It’s very, very time consuming, but I do find it rewarding, and I’m aiming to reproduce the entire aircraft. Eventually!



342. Fake News

The search for truth never ends.

We are of course interested to see if 1264 matches up to the original performance figures. But what are the original figures? Here are the figures from various sources, including the numbers from the US quoted below, which we only came across last night.

Performance figures, Bristol Scout Type C with 80hp le Rhône engine


Source Date Max speed, sea level, mph Time to 1,000ft, min Time to 10,000ft, min
Book of Bristol Aircraft 1948 95   21.3
Bristol Aircraft, by C Barnes 1964 93 60sec  
Windsock Datafile, J M Bruce 1994 92.7 55sec 21.3
The British Technical Department AP 1916 89 (@6,500ft)   21.3
US Division of Military Aeronautics Technical Order no. 1. 1918 88.3   23.45

The 1948 Book of Bristol Aircraft quotes 95mph for types 1, 2 and 3, increasing to 104mph for the Type 4 and 110mph for the Type 5. How these type numbers relate to the normal Types A to D isn’t clear – and doesn’t identify which engine is fitted in each case.

US Division of Military Aeronautics Technical Order no. 1 uses data obtained from serial number B763 which was sent across to the US for evaluation as a possible trainer, and was a slightly tired Type D.

So how does 1264 compare?

Well, the fastest I’ve managed to achieve is around 75kt, or 86mph. This is not very scientific, since I’m only reading the ASI and guessing what is straight and level, but it won’t be too far off. The engine is continuing to bed in and may deliver more power during the year. It would be interesting to try with some more accurate instrumentation at some point, and in colder weather, which will make a significant difference.

The maximum rate of climb I’ve achieved is around 800fpm, but climb performance in any light aircraft is affected to a very large extent by turbulence, temperature, humidity and so on. I suspect on a cold day we could get considerably more, though possibly not as much as 1,000fpm. It will be interesting to see if we can get more data during 2018.

All told, they are still slightly disappointing, though probably as good as one can expect in the circumstances.

341. Shuttleworth Engineering Wweekend

If you haven’t been before, this is a really great event to put in your diary. It’s the ultimate chance to get up close an personal with some truly amazing machinery, and talk to the people who actually look after it and make sure it runs.

It’s usually on the last Friday and Saturday of the year, and what’s in the workshop depends on what’s being worked on at the time.

We were invited this weekend, and found ourselves in some very distinguished company. the 1909 Bleriot XI, the oldest flying aircraft in the world was up at the far end, together with the Avro504K, the Bristol M1C Monoplane, and the Mark V Spitfire.

It was great to see a section of the shop dedicated to the Bristol Scout,

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and as usual the four of us spent two days on our feet without interruption, talking to people who loved to hear the story or who knew it and wanted to keep in touch.

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Fred, a young man who asked some very intelligent questions.

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The Air Cadets were introduced to 1264, but the Spitfire nearby was an even greater draw!

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This is Hannah Harper, a young volunteer with the Shuttleworth Collection

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At the end of the first day, we were all allowed to sit in the cockpit of the Spitfire

Both Theo and I found ourselves immediately at home the Spitfire cockpit.

Altogether, a simply wonderful weekend, as usual.




340. HMS Queen Elizabeth

There has been discussion on FaceBook about the practicability of operating the Bristol Scout from the deck of our newest, largest warship, HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Alizabeth new.jpg

In fact, this was the suggestion made by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Alcock at the BMFA Awards evening, and you would think there would be a good deal of nautical mileage in PR terms on both sides.

In fact, the most sensible thing would be to arrange for the existing Royal Navy Historic Flight (Swordfishes, Sea Furies and the Sea Vixen) to be paraded on the flight deck together with the associate aircraft (Westland Wasp, Westland Wessex, Gazelle etc. as well as the Bristol Scout). All the above aircraft were operated from ships, and it would make a truly excellent PR opportunity.

How would we get them there? Well, the most problematic would be the Sea Fury and sea Vixen, and they’d have to be dismantled, road hauled to Portsmouth, and craned on board. theoretically the rotary wing machines would be flown aboard, and the Scout could be trailered.

Could we operate 1264 from the deck?

Well, take off would be very straightforward indeed. Probably best done in calm conditions with light winds, and HMS QE stationary. wind direction would be almost irrelevant, since we could get off with a reasonable margin of safety taking off across the flight deck which is 73m wide, and there would be sufficient variety of launching points to avoid the turbulence from the islands and the ski jump.

Landing could present one or two more problems, but none would be insuperable. The first issue is the lack of directional stability. landing on grass, we rely on getting the tailskid down as soon as possible after the mainwheels so that the drag will slow her down and keep her straight. Hard surfaces are anathema to us, and even adding a temporary tailwheel would be little help since the skid isn’t steerable. No, John Bulmer’s suggestion of a block attached to the skid designed to provide drag on the QE’s surface would be perfect. She stops in around 30m so once again there’s plenty of room in any direction.

We’d prefer to replicate the arrangements made for Commander Dunning on his first successful ship landing aboard HMS Furious in 1917 and have rope handles attached at a number of points with crew standing by to hold her fast as she lands, but that should be sufficient.

Dunning landing.jpg

And what are the historical connections? Well, the Bristol Scout was the first wheeled aircraft to take off from a moving ship. It would be huge fun to replicate that, even if it meant putting to sea to do so. And 1264 was at Gallipoli at the same time as an earlier HMS Queen Elizabeth. HMS Queen Elizabeth had left by the time Grandad got there, but it’s another tentative link at least.

HMS Queen elizabeth.jpg


339. Back Home

Today, Thursday, Chill and I met up at the Shuttleworth Collection to get 1264 put back together and on display in no. 1 hangar with all her WWI contemporaries.


All went smoothly, and I was able to get a couple of bits done on the trailer while I was there.

Meanwhile there was great excitement in the blister hangar as the Collection’s Spitfire was being weighed; one of the last stages before being allowed back in the air again, after a restoration that’s lasted more than a decade. Can’t wait!

On my way home, I drove past the remains of the Airlander, which has been parked outside the famous Cardington sheds for a couple of years during development.


2-20170605_090049.jpgApparently she was flown on Saturday, but broke loose from the mooring mast shortly afterwards, triggering an automatic deflation system which prevented it from floating away across the countryside.

But, gosh, she does look a mess…


338. Modelling

We had been asked a while ago to be guests of honour (yes, really!) at the British Model Flying Association‘s annual dinner and prize-giving.

It meant that I had to give a talk for my dinner, and Sue would have to give away about 60 prizes for hers.

It had troubled me for a while, since my contribution to aeromodelling is basically nil, though I do have a radio control model I throw around occasionally.

But I decided to talk about Grandad and the Scout and pretend that it was a scale model at 1:1 scale!

In the event, it was a thoroughly enjoyable occasion, I didn’t fall over my words or witter on too long (or at least, not much!), and we met all sorts of wonderful people. it transpired that the chairman, Ian Pallister, had been at Southampton University with me, and Sue spent a long time discussing knees with Lady Pauline Alcock, wife of the President, Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Alcock.

Everyone was most complimentary about 1264, and after re-presenting me with the FAI Phoenix Award Sir Michael came up with a truly spectacular suggestion for a PR event involving 1264 which would undoubtedly top the Nine o Clock news if it came off. I’d better not say any more, since nothing may come of it, but it’s surely got my appetite whetted…

All photos courtesy the excellent Martin at  Here and Now Photography.


There were about 170 people at the Jurys Inn, Hinckley. 


Sir Michael Alcock re-presented our FAI Phoenix Award, since we couldn’t get to Bali for the FAI Conference!


Sue and I poshed up well…


… and Sue survived handing out more than 60 trophies with a smile for everyone. She made me promise I wouldn’t tell you what he’s whispering in her ear!


337. Christmas is Over

By the Sunday evening we were absolutely knackered, but what a wonderful weekend it had been! In addition to all the new friends we’d made, we’d seen plenty of old ones – Lawrence and Judy, Lesley and Hayden, Stephen and Claire and Claire’s family.

We had been hoping to start dismantling 1264 after the show finished on the Sunday night, but nothing could be done until the display cabinets were removed, and it was going to take most of Friday evening to clear them of there very valuable contents. So – slightly relieved – we’d had a pleasant meal on the Sunday, and arrived at 7:30am on the Monday all ready to go.

The reason for the panic was that I was booked on the 1930 Eurostar to Brussels in the evening, and had to leave the trailer at the Shuttleworth Collection and my car at Ruislip tube station so that I could get the tube into Euston. Overnight I’d realised that getting from Shuttleworth to Ruislip meant going round the M25 in the rush hour, so I looked up trains from Biggleswade, to discover that they went direct to Kings Cross. ideal, and the car journey home on my return wouldn’t be so much longer from Biggleswade than from Ruislip.

This eased the pressure somewhat, but we were still concerned to get going as quickly as possible.

In the event, everything slotted into place astonishingly well, and we were barely held up at all. We were also able to take the fuselage down the ramp this time – altogether safer than the fork lift truck!

We were away by 1230, and everything else went according to plan. Chill gave Sue a lift to Chesterfield, from where she could get the train back to Ludlow where we’d left her car on Friday morning.

Mark left, to deal with another email from the owner of the house claiming that we’d marked her kitchen worktop by cutting stuff up and not using the chopping boards. She didn’t clarify whether this was the cereals or the sliced loaf that was to blame.

If you’re thinking of taking a 5 bedroom house in Baslow through AirBnB, think twice!

I left the trailer at the Shuttleworth. I had hoped perhaps to get her erected and back in no. 1 hangar while I was there, but that wasn’t possible, and I had at least an hour to spare by the time I got to St Pancras. Whew!