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20 Jan 1914. Tuesday.


Today saw a simply enormous output; the production of the sketches for the aluminium coverings for the front of the aircraft including the engine cowl and back to the rear of the cockpit; one of the most distinctive parts of any aircraft, and distinctly unusual on the prototype Scout.

In fact, given that the whole thing was drawn up in a day, one is driven to the conclusion that Frank hadn’t given much consideration to this area and was forced to produce a design with minimum thought.

The main purpose of the cowl on a rotary engine was to try and limit the spray of unburned castor oil going all over the airframe and pilot, while ensuring that sufficient air got to the cylinders to keep them cool. At this stage, the idea of trying to reduce drag was probably not very high on the list of priorities.

566 Engine Cowl Side Elevation 20-1-14 567 Engine Cowl Front Elevation 20-1-14 568 Engine Cowl Rear Elevation 20 1 14 569 Engine Cowl - Bottom Plan 19-1-14 570 Front Engine Plate Former 571 Formers for Aluminium Covering Forward 20-1-14 572 Formers for Aluminium Covering 20-1-14 573 Cowl Anchorage Fittings 20-1-14 574 Position of Formers for Aluminium Covering Forward 20-1-14 575 Extent of Aluminium Covering Forward 20-1-14

There was still a good deal of experimentation going on with the cowl, and the Sopwith Tabloid that had flown in the November was an example of a fairly radical approach to the business. Frank’s approach, with a completely flat front with no opening, but cut off completely at the bottom level with the lower longerons, seems pretty contrary. Unlike the Tabloid, it would have created huge amounts of drag, and would have been relatively weak and floppy – not ideal in the howling gale coming from the propeller.

Visually, it gives the whole aircraft a peculiar, unbalanced look, and it’s no surprise that by March, with the initial flight testing done and immediately after the Olympia exhibition, he drew up three different alternatives for wind tunnel testing.

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