As regular readers know, 1264 has French cockades on the wings and fuselage, and the story of why a British aircraft is in French colours is one that continues to fascinate people.
Ron Saunders, researcher for the shortly-to-be-released film of 1264, has uncovered a couple of interesting snippets which add to the information.
Wikipedia says that the French adopted national markings as early as 1912 – something I was unaware of. They also explain the origin of the German Eisernes Kreuz (iron cross) – I had no idea that it was connected with Germany’s earlier incarnation as the Holy Roman Empire!
But apparently Ian Baker in a recent Britain at War article has spurred correspondence on the Great War Forum giving details of more dates. The RNAS adopted the Union Flag on 26 October 1914, followed by a new instruction in December 1914 for a red ring with a white centre, more or less at the same time as the RFC adopted the standard red-white-blue roundel.
The adoption of the French cockade, with a blue spot in the middle, was a later version, capable of being adapted from the earlier two-colour version, and more like the RFC roundel. It also meant that Nieuports being bought from the French could be put into service without further repainting.
1264 is still safely hibernating in her carcoon, but along with the snowdrops, things are stirring in the woods.
Last week we had notification from the people checking the tacho that they are on with it, and that while they can’t alter the internal configuration to make it read correctly they can fit a little in-line gearbox in the tacho cable to sort the problem out.
This means that the drive to the tacho will go through a 1:1.8 increase in speed between the crankcase and the oil pump; a 3.6:1 reduction between the oil pump and the front end of the taco cable; and a 1:2 increase in the middle of the cable! Go figure.
Of equal significance is the news that the engineers relining the cylinders are nearly done, and they should be back at the Shuttleworth in a week. Everything else is ready – new pistons, new rings – and so it’s only a question of reassembly once Phil’s finished on the Mew Gull engine (which was spitting iron filings at the end of the season). And then we can bring the airframe over and reunite the two. We are hopeful that with all the work that’s done, we may see an increase in performance. What we had before was perfectly acceptable, but wouldn’t it be nice if we could confirm the performance figures generated 100 year ago?
And the third piece of winter work that’s coming to fruition is Stephen Saunders’ film. He has booked the Prince of Wales cinema in Leicester Square at lunchtime on 11 April for the premiere, and we are getting ourselves psyched up for the red carpet (stained with castor oil, of course)!
Things are definitely picking up…
It’s been a satisfying week. The list of little jobs completed on the airframe is longer than I though it might be. To cap it all, we took 1264 to Henstridge to switch our replacement engine back into its proper home – the Sopwith Pup that’s being worked on there.
And in order to eliminate the risk of any problems with damp, we left her back inside the Carcoon which we used for a year or so during the build.
Thanks to Jason and Clive and Annabel for all their help!
It’s been a good week so far. We’ve made out a list of about a dozen jobs that need doing on the airframe and remarkably, it looks as if we might get them pretty much completed in the week.
Yesterday our good friend Ricardo turned up on his day off from piloting A319s for TAP, the Portuguese airline. He was in time to help move the wings into the workshop so that we could work on them.
The lower port wing catches the worst of the oil and exhaust from the engine and needed a great deal of cleaning, mostly using thinners. We also added another coat of thinned dope in the cleaned areas to compensate for what we’d taken off in the cleaning process.
Having to do this inside the workshop is heady stuff, and whether Ricardo had sobered up in time for his return flight is open to doubt!
Today I’ve had the instrument panel off to fit anchor nuts on the back, so that the instruments can be removed without having to take the panel out. I also did a number of other small jobs, including fitting the Transport Trust badge, which we wear very proudly after having won the ‘Preservationist of the Year’ trophy last year.
We’ve also replaced – again – the bungee suspension on one side. They were both replaced in late August, having been sliced into many short lengths by the aluminium strips called for in the drawing. The bungee is laid up in three rows of four turns each, and the aluminium does a good job of separating the three layers, allowing them to slip over each other. Unfortunately if they aren’t aligned precisely, the ends catch on the bungee and cut them up. We’d replaced them in August with some trepidation, but having checked them now we’ve rewound them without the strips.
It seems likely they were discarded in service, but the information didn’t get back to the drawing office!
One thing for the modellers among you; if you want to replicate the exact look of clear-doped linen fabric after a while in service, check these pictures out.
Ah, nostalgia! I’m spending a week with Theo working on 1264’s airframe. This morning we managed to manoeuvre the trailer into Theo’s drive and rolled the fuselage into the workshop just as the rain started to come down. The first thing we’ve noted is that there is a significant amount of dampness in the trailer, so this is an ideal opportunity to get things checked out and dried out.
The main job of the week is to try and some more dope onto the fuselage fabric. We have enough fabric to recover the fuselage, but the existing stuff has gone a rather attractive creamy colour in between the oil stains, and putting new fabric on would look very odd indeed, so we’ve decided to stick with the existing stuff, which more accurately represents 1264 as she would have been 100 years ago, but to try and get a finish that is easier to keep in its current state. You can get an idea of the change in colour of the fabric in the picture below. Where’s it’s been peeled back the inside is more or less the original colour.
That’s all done and should be good for the foreseeable future. We also want to unravel the main suspension to see how that is looking; you may remember that the bungees had been divided neatly into about 12 pieces by the aluminium inserts which were intended to help them slide over one another. If it looks like it might happen again, we will try removing them.
It’s been great to have her back in the workshop again. Both Theo and I commented on the warm feeling we had to have her back at her birthplace.
Just to keep your appetite whetted, here’s a short video of this year’s most unique and personally moving flight.
You’ll be able to see loads more in the soon-to-be-released full-length film by acclaimed director Stephen Saunders.
You can reserve your copy here.