Daily Archives: April 27, 2024

24–27 April 1929

Sqadron Leader A.G. Jones-Williams and Flight Lieutenant N.H. Jenkins at RAF Cranwell, June 1929. (Flight)
Squadron Leader A.G. Jones-Williams, M.C. and Bar, with Flight Lieutenant N.H. Jenkins, O.B.E., D.F.C., D.S.M., at R.A.F. Cranwell, June 1929. (Flight)

24–27 April 1929: At 0937 GMT on the 24th, Squadron Leader Arthur Gordon Jones-Williams, M.C. and Bar, and Flight Lieutenant Norman Hugh Jenkins, O.B.E., D.F.C., D.S.M., both of the Royal Air Force, departed R.A.F. Cranwell, Lincolnshire, England, aboard the Fairey Long Range Monoplane, J9479. Their destination was Bangalore, in the Kingdom of Mysore, British Indian Empire. They were attempting a long distance flight record.

Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, front view.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, front view.

Their departure had been delayed for several days while waiting for favorable conditions for takeoff. It was decided to limit the Monoplane’s takeoff weight to 16,000 pounds (7,257.5 kilograms) and wait for at least a 10 mile per hour (16 kilometers per hour) headwind before attempting to takeoff.

After 16½ hours in flight, Jones-Williams and Jenkins were overhead Istanbul, and reached Baghdad 10½ hours later. After another 22 hours airborne they were overhead Karachi, Sindh, in the Bombay Presidency (now, Pakistan). With an estimated 6 hours fuel remaining they were unable to reach Bangalore and elected to land at Karachi while it was still daylight.

The duration of their flight was 50 hours, 37 minutes. They had flown a distance of 4,130 miles (6,646.6 kilometers) on their non-stop flight.

Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, right side view.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, right side view.

Arthur Gordon Jones-Williams (1888–1929) was a second lieutenant in the Welsh Regiment during World War I. He was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a fighter pilot. He shot down 11 enemy airplanes and was awarded the Military Cross, followed by a Bar (a second award). Jones-Williams was promoted from Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader in the list of New Years Honors, 1 January 1928.

Flight Lieutenant Norman Hugh Jenkins, DFC, DSM, Royal Air Force, was appointed an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 3 June 1925.

Fairey Long Range Monoplane
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, right rear quarter

The Fairey Long Range Monoplane was an experimental airplane designed and built in 1928 by Fairey Aviation Company, Ltd., at Hayes, Middlesex, England, for the Royal Air Force to investigate methods of increasing the range of airplanes. The agreed price was £15,000.

It was flown by two pilots and had a bed for crew rest. It was a high-wing monoplane with a wing built of wood and covered by fabric. The Monoplane was 48 feet, 6 inches (14.783 meters) long with a wingspan of 82 feet (24.994 meters) and height of 12 feet (3.658 meters). The maximum takeoff weight was 17,500 pounds (7,937.9 kilograms).

J9479 was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 1,461.135-cubic-inch-displacement (23.944 liter) Napier Lion XIA (Special) dual-overhead-cam (DOHC) “Triple Four” or “broad arrow” (three banks of four cylinders with a common crankshaft), now generally referred to as a  W-12 engine. The cylinder banks were separated by 60° angles. The Lion XI had four valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 6:1. It produced 530 horsepower at 2,350 r.p.m., and a maximum of 570 horsepower at 2,585 r.p.m. It was a geared engine with a 1.885:1 gear reduction. The Lion XI was 5 feet, 1 inch (1.549 meters) long, 3 feet, 6 inches (1.067 meters) wide and 3 feet, 3 inches (0.991 meters) high. The engine weighed 995 pounds (451 kilograms). The XIA (Special) was specially-tuned for the Fairey Long Range Monoplane, and had a slightly higher compression ratio.

The cruise speed was 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour). The fuel tanks in the wings had a capacity of 1,043 Imperial gallons (1,252.6 U.S. gallons/4,741.6 liters).

Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, left front quarter.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, left front quarter.

Because of headwinds encountered, the April flight was short of the record. Another attempt was made, this time with a destination in South Africa. On 16 December 1929, however, J9479 crashed at Djibel Lit, south of Tunis, French Tunisia. The airplane was destroyed and both A.G. Jones-Williams and N.H. Jenkins were killed.

Fairey Long Range Monoplane. J9479, right front quarter.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane. J9479, right front quarter.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes


SPAD S.XIII C.1 at Air Service Production Center No. 2, Romorantin Aerodrome, France, 1918. (Rudy Arnold Photographic Collection, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, XRA-5380)

27 April 1921: Louis G. Meister, Chief Test Pilot, McCook Field, completes his report on the flight tests of the Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés SPAD S.XIII C.1, best known, simply, at the “Spad.”

The SPAD S.XIII C.1 was a single-seat, single-engine, two-bay biplane constructed of a wooden framework with a doped fabric covering. Sheet metal covered the engine and cockpit. Designed by Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés Technical Director Louis Béchéreau and manufactured by SPAD as well as eight other companies,² this was an improved and slightly larger version of the earlier SPAD S.VII C.1. It used a more powerful Hispano-Suiza 8Ba engine instead of the S.VII’s 8Aa, with an increase of 50 horsepower. (Later versions used 8Be engines.) Armament was increased from a single .303-caliber Vickers machine gun to two.

The S.XIII was first flown by René Pierre Marie Dorme, 4 April 1917.

First Lieutenant Edward V. Rickenbacker with his SPAD XIII C.1, 94th Aero Squadron, American Expeditionary Forces, France, 1918. (U.S. Air Force)

The McCook Field test aircraft, designated P-154, was built by Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés. Its manufacturer’s serial number was 17956, and it was designated A.S. 94101 by the U.S. Air Service. It was surveyed 14 January 1924.

The SPAD was faster than other airplanes of the time and it had a good rate of climb. Though a product of France, it was used by both the Royal Flying Corps and the U.S. Army Air Service. In France, the airplane type now considered a “fighter” was called a chasseur (“hunter”). The letter “C-” in the SPAD’s designation reflects this. The “-.1” at the ending indicates a single-place aircraft.


     This airplane taxies very easily even in high wind, and has no tendency to turn in either direction on the ground. It should be taxied with the control stick held forward to lessen the weight on the tail skid. The tail skid is too straight and has broken on two different occasions while taxying over rough ground.

      It is a difficult airplane to take-off because of a tendency to swing to the right immediately upon opening the throttle, and if given left rudder too fast will swing to the left. In order to make a good fast take-off it is necessary to push the control stick slightly forward to raise the tail from the ground. This feature is noticeable after having flown other pursuit plane of approximately the same power.

     In flight the airplane is very steady, but requires a good deal of left rudder, as the engine torque is very pronounced. It is tail heavy flying level, and also climbing with wide-open throttle, but this tail heaviness is not so pronounced above 15,000 feet.

     The cockpit is very roomy, although the rudder bar is too close to the pilot and tires the legs in a long flight. It is a very warm and comfortable airplane to fly at altitude or on cold days, but not on warm days or low flying with wide-open throttle, such as contact patrol.

     The airplane maneuvers easily and shows no tendency to spin in very tight banks. The visibility is good to either side and above the top wing, but is blind straight ahead and below.

     The constant noise of the geared engine is very annoying and at altitudes above 16,000 feet the engine operates badly. The engine is very susceptible to temperature changes in a glide and cools quickly, so the pilot must control his shutters constantly in changing altitude.

     The engine is not very accessible for maintenance, and the installation could be improved.

     This airplane lands easily, shows no tendency to turn on the ground, and stops short owing to the heavy tail. Even when landed tail high or on a rough field it does not show any tendency to nose over.

Louis G. Meister,

Test Pilot.

AIR SERVICE INFORMATION CIRCULAR, Vol. III, No. 286, October 1, 1921, Page 3

The S.XIII was 20 feet, 4 inches (6.198 meters) long.¹ The upper and lower wings had equal span and chord. The span was 26 feet, 3¾ inches (8.020 meters) and chord, 4 feet, 7-1/8 inches (1.400 meters). The vertical spacing between the wings was 3 feet, 10½ inches (1.181 meters), and the lower wing was staggered 1¼° behind the upper. Interplane struts and wire bracing were used to reinforce the wings. The wings had no sweep or dihedral. The angle of incidence of the upper wing was 1½° and, of the lower, 1°. Only the upper wing was equipped with ailerons. Their span was 7 feet, 3½ inches (2.222 meters), and their chord, 1 foot, 7½ inches (0.495 meters). The total wing area was 227 square feet (21.089 square meters).

Rear view of a SPAD S.XIII C.1 at Air Service Production Center No. 2, Romorantin Aerodrome, France, 1918. Note the airplane’s serial number, 5524, on the right elevator. (Air Service, United States Army)

The horizontal stabilizer had a span of 10 feet, 2 inches (3.099 meters) with a maximum chord of 1 foot, 8¾ inches (0.527 meters). The height of the vertical fin was 2 feet, 7/8-inch (0.876 meters) and it had a maximum length of 3 feet, 11¼ inches (1.200 meters). The rudder was 3 feet, 10-5/8 inches high (1.184 meters) with a maximum chord of 2 feet, 2 inches (0.660 meters).

The SPAD S.XIII C.1 had fixed landing gear with two pneumatic tires. Rubber cords (bungie cords) were used for shock absorption. The wheel track was 4 feet, 10¾ inches (1.492 meters). At the tail was a fixed skid.

The airplane had an empty weight of 1,464 pounds (664 kilograms), and gross weight 2,036 pounds (924 kilograms).

2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr., 27th Aero Squadron, with his SPAD XIII C.1, 19 September 1918. (Photograph by Lt. Harry S. Drucker, Signal Corps, United States Army)

Initial production SPAD XIIIs were powered by a water-cooled, 11.762 liter (717.769-cubic-inch displacement), La Société Hispano-Suiza 8Ba single overhead cam (SOHC) left-hand-tractor 90° V-8 engine. It was equipped with two Zenith down-draft carburetors and had a compression ratio of 5.3:1. The 8Ba was rated at 150 cheval vapeur (148 horsepower) at 1,700 r.p.m., and 200 cheval vapeur (197 horsepower) at 2,300 r.p.m. It drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch, wooden propeller with a diameter of 2.50 meters (8 feet, 2.43 inches) through a 0.585:1 gear reduction. (The 8Be engine had a 0.75:1 reduction gear ratio and used both 2.50 meter and 2.55 meter (8 feet, 4.40 inches) propellers.) The Hispano-Suiza 8Ba was 1.36 meters (4 feet, 5.5 inches) long, 0.86 meters (2 feet, 9.9 inches) wide and 0.90 meters (2 feet, 11.4 inches) high. It weighed 236 kilograms (520 pounds).

A Wright-Martin Model E, licensed version of the Hispano-Suiza SOHC V-8 aircraft engine, in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum. (NASM 2014-04437)

The airplane had a main fuel tank behind the engine, with a gravity tank located in the upper wing. The total fuel capacity was 183 pounds (83 kilograms), sufficient for 2 hours, 30 minutes endurance at full throttle at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), including climb. There was also a 4.5 gallon (17 liters) lubricating oil tank.

The SPAD S.XIII had a maximum speed of 131.5 miles per hour (213 kilometers per hour) at 6,500 feet (1,981 meters), with the engine turning 2,040 r.p.m., and a service ceiling of 18,400 feet (5,608 meters). The airplane could climb to 6,500 feet in 6.5 minutes, to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) in 23 minutes, and to the service ceiling in 42.5 minutes. Its absolute ceiling was 20,000 feet. The SPAD’s minimum speed at Sea Level was 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour), and landing speed was 59 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour).

The chasseur was armed with two fixed, water-cooled, .303-caliber (7.7 mm) Vickers Mk.I machine guns with 400 rounds of ammunition per gun, synchronized to fire forward through the propeller arc. Because of the cold temperatures at altitude, the guns’ water jackets were not filled, thereby saving considerable weight.

This SPAD S.XIII C.I, on display at Terminal 3, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), Phoenix, Arizona, is painted to represent a fighter flown by Frank Luke. It was assembled from components of several different airplanes and restored by GossHawk Unlimited, Casa Grande, Arizona. (Wikipedia)

Kellner et ses Fils serial number 4377 is the oldest SPAD S.XIII in existence, and the only one in flyable condition. It is at the Memorial-Flight Association at L’aérodrome de La Ferté-Alais (LFFQ).

SPAD S.XIII C.1 4377 (F-AZFP) in flight. (Laurent Quérité)

A NASA publication reported: “. . .the SPAD XIII had the most favorable power loading of any of the aircraft considered and a high (for its day) wing loading. These characteristics coupled with a relatively low zero-lift drag coefficient and low drag area gave the SPAD the highest speed of any of the aircraft listed in the table. As shown by the data in figure 2.18, the climb characteristics of the SPAD were bettered only by three of the Fokker aircraft.”

Quest for Performance: The Evolution of Modern Aircraft, by Laurence K. Loftin, NASA Scientific and Technical Information Branch, 1985, at Chapter 2, Page 32

SPAD S.XIII C.1 serial number 7689, Smith IV, after restoration at the Paul E. Garber Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)
SPAD S.XIII C.1, serial number 7689, Smith IV, which had just undergone restoration at the Paul E. Garber Center, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum. (Photo by Mark Avino, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution)

¹ Dimensions, weights, capacities and performance data cited above refer to SPAD S.XIII C.1 serial number 17956 (A.S. 94101), which was tested at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio (Project Number P-154), 1921.

² Including  Société Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés; Société des Avions Bernard; Kellner et ses Fils; The Blériot and SPAD Manufacturing Company, Ltd., at Addlestone, Surrey, England;     Mann Egerton & Company, Ltd., Norwich, England; and Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company’s Elmwood plant at  Buffalo, New York, U.S.A.

© 2022, Bryan R. Swopes

27 April 1911

Curtiss Type IV Model D, S.C. No. 2, 1911. (U.S. Air Force)
Curtiss Model D Type IV, S.C. No. 2, 1911. (U.S. Air Force)
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)
Glenn Hammond Curtiss (San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive)

27 April 1911: At Fort Sam Houston, Texas, the Aeronautical Division of the Signal Corps, United States Army, accepted its second airplane, a Curtiss Model D Type IV. The airplane was built by Glenn H. Curtiss’ Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company at Hammondsport, New York. It was known as a “Curtiss Pusher,” as it was propelled by a propeller behind the engine. The aircraft was a canard configuration with elevators mounted in front. It had tricycle landing gear.

The airframe was primarily spruce and ash, with flying surfaces covered with doped fabric. It was easily disassembled for transport on Army wagons.

The Wrights had patented their “wing-warping” system of flight controls and refused to allow Curtiss to use it. The Model D used ailerons instead, which was a superior system.

The Model D Type IV had a length of 29 feet, 3 inches (8.915 meters) with a wingspan of 38 feet, 3 inches (11.659 meters) and height of 7 feet, 10 inches (2.388 meters). Its empty weight was 700 pounds (317.5 kilograms) and loaded weight was 1,300 pounds (589.7 kilograms).

The engine was a “Curtiss Vee,” an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 268.336-cubic-inch displacement (4.397 liter) Curtiss Model B-8 90° V-8 engine, producing 40 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m. The Model B-8 was 29½ inches (0.75 meters) long, 19 inches (0.48 meters) high and 17 inches (0.43 meters) wide. It weighed approximately 150 pounds (68 kilograms). The engine drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch wooden propeller in pusher configuration.

The airplane’s top speed was 60 miles per hour (96.6 kilometers per hour). Endurance was 2½ hours.

The Signal Corps assigned serial number S.C. No. 2 to the Curtiss. Intended as a trainer, it was in service until 1914, when it was scrapped.

A reproduction of S.C. No. 2 is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

Reproduction of S.C. No. 2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (NMUSAF)
Reproduction of S.C. No. 2 at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (NMUSAF)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes