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18 Feb 1914. Wednesday

18/02/2014

By now, the design was pretty much finalised, and the prototype was very nearly complete. This drawing was one of only two done by Clifford Tinson, the draughtsman who was located with Frank Barnwell at Fairlawn Avenue, and indicates that they weren’t happy with the strength of the rear fuselage decking. Frank had drawn this up originally on 12 Jan, and Clifford has added a couple of additional formers to stiffen things up a bit.

578. Rear Decking new fuselage formers

578. Rear Decking new fuselage formers

I must admit I’m curious about the timing of this. The first flight occurred only 5 days later, at Larkhill on Salisbury Plain, which is 50 miles from Bristol.

Does this mean that they’d applied the linen fabric covering to the fuselage before discovering that it bowed in too much, and had to remove it in order to fit the additional formers, or perhaps a senior manager came down to look at the aircraft when it was substantially complete, leaned on the rear fuselage and decided that it was too weak, sending Clifford scuttling back to make the necessary additions?

Perhaps they’d removed the aircraft to Larkhill and it had got damaged in transit?

At any rate, things must have happened VERY fast after that, since they would have had to apply the fabric covering, stitch all the seams and edges, cut the holes out for the control wires and fittings, stitch leather patches on the holes, fit it, lace it in place, and then shrink and dope it.

Maybe they’d made the covering and fitted it, and decided to add the additional formers before lacing and doping it. Even that would have been quite a task in such a short time.

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