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50. Information


I had the latest issue of Cross and Cockade International last week and it’s set all sorts of things in motion.

The issue is wall-to wall Bristol Scouts. First is one by Paschalis Palavouzis, who I introduced to you in chapter 45.

Paschalis’ article is about Philip Fowler, who was in the Aegean in the December after Grandad left. Indeed, he flew a couple of machines (3037 & 3040) which Grandad had flown six months before, and they even included photos of them! Then there was the completion of editor Mick Davis’ compilation of the details of every RFC Scout, followed by his article on one particular machine and its many different colour schemes and then yet another by Trevor Henshaw. Even the back cover was filled with colour representations of the Scout, and by now it won’t surprise you to know that the front cover was of Bristol Scouts over the Aegean. Heaven!

As a result of this I contacted editor Mick Davis with some suggestions for an article about the various design changes for the Bristol Scout during its life. Mick immediately contacted me to say that he had nearly finished an article – about design changes to the Bristol Scout…

He sent me his draft, and I made some comments, but I asked him if he had any photos of 1264 (Grandad’s favourite machine and the one we’re rebuilding) and other machines that would have been out there at the same time. Well, Mick came up trumps, and after a couple of days in which I showed him my drawings and he showed me his photos, we’ve come up with a substantial rethink of what 1264 looked like.

We had always assumed that this picture showed 1264,

Bristol Scout at Thasos

Bristol Scout at Thasos

because it had long ailerons, but Mick was sure the short ailerons were only introduced in the very last ones. So the only way of positively identifying 1264 was the dihedral (the slope of the wings from middle to tips), so I did some measurements, and comparing it with the distance between the wings I was convinced this was a later machine. it had been tentatively identified as 3037, but the pictures in Paschalis’ article included some of 3037, and it clearly wasn’t that.


Well, we did have one photograph that’s definitely 1264, because it says so on the side of the upended fuselage where Grandad crashed it.

But while it showed the view of the top of the aircraft very clearly, it left a number of important questions unanswered.

1264 after Grandad crashed it. He'd just written off 1259 a couple of days earlier, and this was its first flight after fitting a le Rhone engine, so he was very annoyed with himself! In fact, they managed to get it back in the air within three days, and it continued to be his favourite mount.

1264 after Grandad crashed it. He’d just written off 1259 a couple of days earlier, and this was its first flight after fitting a le Rhone engine, so he was very annoyed with himself! In fact, they managed to get it back in the air within three days, and it continued to be his favourite mount.

I had been unsettled by the question of the oil tank. Mick’s draft article stated that all the early machines, including 1264, would have had the oil tank behind the pilot, whereas I had always assumed that virtually none were made like this, since it was identified from very early on that it could cause oil starvation, and that the space left by the oil tank behind the pilot was taken up by a little cupboard. It makes a big difference to the outline of the rear fuselage, so it was clearly important to get it right.

Well, I looked again at a drawing detailing the covering of the aircraft, and while it showed the rear oil tank, it had a later note which showed that immediately after the tank was moved forward, the fabric simply covered up the gap behind the pilot, and that the cupboard was an improvement only adopted on later models.

So we still didn’t know whether 1264 had the oil tank forward or not, and Mick kindly sent me pictures of other Scouts made at or about the same time, in order to try and pin it down. But in the end he came up with an absolute blinder – he had a couple more photographs of the accident taken from a slightly different angle, which clearly showed that 1264 had the forward tank with no cupboard. Later on, Mick checked his archive, and it would appear that it was probably one of the first to be built with the oil tank in front. It’s a huge relief, because we have all the detailed drawings for the front tank and all the associated pipework, so we won’t be having to build the machine using guesswork.

The photos he’s sent me are wonderful, but they are copyright, so I’d better not  put them on here. But Mick’s been a huge help and I’m enormously grateful to him. And I’m sorry to say I’m continuing to pester him with more questions.

Meanwhile, we’ve started another week of building work, but you’ll have to wait to hear about that until I get down to some more writing!


From → Research

  1. Very interesting and absorbing! I am bothered by the tail empenage fouling as you will probably need full down elevator at the start of the T/O run.I know exactly what you mean about small bits being time consuming. Often seems like there will be no end to it. Anyway congratulations on having made such good progress Dave T.

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