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4 Feb 1916. Imbros

02/02/2016

29 Jan.

Escorting M.F. over Helles. Strong N.E. wind but not nearly so bumpy as I thought it would be. Bumps off Helles as on Jan 24th again rather bad. Landing quite fair. I was feeling rather unwell yesterday, and today I was evidently not as well as I thought I was as I did not enjoy myself much, though I was flying quite well.

I don’t know what height he was at over Helles, but a northeasterly wind would have been coming straight down the peninsula, and at low level this would have caused a good deal of turbulence. But Bunnie says that his height was 8000ft, and I would expect that he would have been maintaining this sort of height within range of the Archie, so the turbulence would have been from some other cause. He carried out a similar sortie on 3 Feb.

4 Feb.

Accompanied two Nieuports to bomb Galata aerodrome. Carried 4 sixteen pound bombs. Made for Suvla, then went up S of Saros (the Gulf of Saros) where I picked up the Nieuports and cut across Peninsula. I thought aerodrome was on Galata Burnu so kept rather to the left of Nieuports. When I got to Galata Burnu I turned down coast and then saw the aerodrome. I went inland a bit and approached the aerodrome from the west. Before arriving I saw Hun machine just leaving ground, but could not make out what it was. Had great difficulty aiming machine as I had to fly with left hand, looking down through hole in bottom of fuselage. Dropped bombs too soon and too far to left. However I think they were close enough to be a bit of a trouble. Beautifully calm day. When the engine was started up for a run in the afternoon it refused to go and two obturator rings were found to be broken. Some luck! My first go at bomb dropping. I have never even practiced it before. Climbed 8000 ft in 16 min.

Having now fitted the bombs to the bottom of 1264, I can say with some authority that they are a very tight fit under the forward fuselage, and must have had a significant effect on her performance, particularly when she only had the underpowered Gnome engine. This was Bunnie’s ninth flight in a Scout, and – as he said in his logbook – he’d never flown with bombs before!

His route looks something like this.

2016-02-04 Gallipoli Map

 

I’ve been unable to find the precise location of the aerodrome but it was presumably near the town of Galata, and Bunnie attacked it from the land side.

I’ve been intrigued by his description of having to fly the machine with his left hand in order to release the bombs, which raises a number of  interesting questions of detail.

The factory drawings show the Gnome engine controls to be on the starboard side of the cockpit, with the throttle mounted on the top longeron. In most aeroplanes – even at this time – the engine controls were on the port side, to suit right-handed pilots. So how did right-handed pilots fly the Scout? Clearly, they normally had the stick in their right hand, or Bunnie wouldn’t have mentioned switching hands to bomb. When we were trying to decide on the engine controls, I sat in the cockpit and experimented with operating the throttle in the position shown, and it was acutely uncomfortable with my right hand – my elbow contacted the back of the cockpit surround.

In the end, using this scrap of information, I came to the conclusion that the throttle was operated with the left hand reaching across one’s body, and indeed it was relatively comfortable once one had got used to the unusual configuration. (For 1264, we decided to place the engine controls conventionally, low down on the port side. The linkage shown on the drawing simply wouldn’t have worked with the bloc-tube carburettor on the le Rhone engine, and we felt justified in using the standard Tampier controls which would have been in plentiful supply at that time).

The bomb release was a piece of wire (presumably on the starboard side of the cockpit) which one pulled to release the bombs sequentially. Anyone who’s tried dropping flour bombs at local flying club competitions will understand how very, very difficult it must have been trying to squint through a hole in the floor while continuing to fly the aeroplane and get the bombs anywhere near the target, particularly if he was keeping sufficiently high to be out of range of rifle fire.

Another interesting fact is that his total time in the air was 1hr 10 min, though the distance he travelled, as far as I can judge, was about 90 miles. Allowing 10 minutes for the takeoff and landing, that’s an average speed of 90mph, based on his statement that it was a ‘beautifully calm day’. Currently our maximum speed is around 75kt (86mph); and yet our le Rhone engine is supposed to be about 40% more powerful.

He also says it took 16 minutes to get to 8000ft, which is a reasonable match for the official data which says 11 minutes to 6500ft. It’s an average of 400 feet per minute, compared with out maximum of 400 feet per minute at ground level.

I wish we could get that extra horespower!

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