Tag Archives: London and North Eastern Railway

15 June 1928

Captain Gordon Percy Olley, M.M., with Imperial Airways’ Handley Page W.8b G-EBBI, R.M.A. Prince Henry, circa 1926. (Unattributed)

15 June 1928: Imperial Airways’ Captain Gordon P. Olley flew an Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy Mk.I, G-EBLF, City of Glasgow, with 18 passengers aboard, from Croydon to Edinburgh Turnhouse in a race with the London and North Eastern Railways’ famed Class A-1 Flying Scotsman. The apple green steam-powered 4–6–2 Pacific-type locomotive pulled the world’s fastest passenger train in express service from London, England, to Glasgow, Scotland.

Imperial Airways’ Armstrong Whitworth Argosy Mk.I G-EBLF, City of Glasgow. (Unattributed)

Flight reported:

Train v. Aeroplane

     A novel “stunt” was carried out on June 15 when a simultaneous journey was made from London to Edinburgh by train and aeroplane—the “Flying Scotsman” and the Imperial Airways Armstrong-Whitworth air liner “City of Glasgow” respectively. After breakfast at the Savoy Hotel, the two parties of travellers proceeded to their respective points of departure—King’s Cross and Croydon. Train and aeroplane both departed at the same time, 10 a.m., the “City of Glasgow” being piloted by Capt. G. P. Olley, who was accompanied by Mr. J. Birkett, aged 79, a retired L.N.E.R. engine driver, Air Vice-Marshal Sir Vyell Vyvyan and Maj. Brackley. Capt. G. P. Jones, Imperial Airways pilot, was a passenger on the train! The “City of Glasgow” flew via the East Coast, and made stops at Bircham, Newton, and Cramlington; it arrived at Turnhouse Aerodrome, Edinburgh, 15 minutes before the “Flying Scotsman” reached Waverley Station.

FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 1017. (No. 25 Vol. XX.), 21 June 1928, at Page 464, Column 2

Gordon Olley’s pilot license, issued 16 September 1919. (Air Ministry)

Gordon Percy Olley had been an aircraft mechanic during World War I, then became an observer. He was next trained as a fighter pilot flying Nieuport 17 and 27 fighters and is credited with 10 aerial victories between 1 June and 14 October 1917. He was awarded the Military Medal for bravery, and commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps. After the War he became a civil aviator. Olley was the first pilot to have logged more than 1,000,000 air miles (1,609,344 kilometers).

Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy Mk.I G-EBLF, City of Glasgow. (Unattributed)
Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy Mk.I G-EBLF, City of Glasgow. (Unattributed)

City of Glasgow was the first of three Argosy Mk.I airliners built by Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Limited for Imperial Airways. It made its first flight 16 May 1925. A three-engine, three-bay biplane, it was 65 feet (19.812 meters) long and had a wingspan of 90 feet, 7½ inches (27.623 meters). The total wing area was 1,886 square feet (175.2 square meters). Its maximum takeoff weight was 19,200 pounds (8,709 kilograms). The Argosy was described as an “exceptionally comfortable airplane to fly in. . .”

The Argosy Mk.I was powered by three air-cooled, Normally-aspirated 1,511.89-cubic-inch-displacement (24.775 liter) Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar Series IIIA two-row 14-cylinder radial engines, rated at 385 horsepower at 1,700 r.p.m., and 425 horsepower at 1,900 r.p.m. The direct-drive engines turned two-bladed propellers.

The Argosy had a cruising speed of 90–95 miles per hour (145–153 kilometers per hour) and maximum speed of 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour). Its maximum range was 400 miles (644 kilometers).

Three-view drawing of Armstrong Whitworth Argosy Mk.I (NACA)

During the airliner-vs.-passenger train race, the Argosy made three refueling stops which required a total of 1 hour, 24 minutes. Captain Olley and his airliner completed the 390-mile (627.6 kilometer) journey approximately 15 minutes faster than the train.

City of Glasgow was later upgraded to the Argosy Mk.II standard, which used the Jaguar Mk.IVA gear-reduction engines, rated at 420 horsepower. G-EBLF was withdrawn from use at Croydon, December 1934.

mperial Airways’ Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy Mk.1, G-EBLF, City of Glasgow
Imperial Airways’ Armstrong Whitworth A.W.154 Argosy Mk.1, G-EBLF, City of Glasgow. (Unattributed)

The Flying Scotsman is a Standard Gauge 4-6-2 Pacific steam-powered railway locomotive produced by the Doncaster Works, Great Northern Railway’s “Plant” at Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England. It was built in 1923 as a Class A-1 locomotive for the London and North Eastern Railway. In January 1947, it was rebuilt to the Class A-3 configuration. It was later renumbered 502, 103 and 60103. Flying Scotsman set two world records for steam locomotives, for speed and distance.

The locomotive with its tender is 70 feet, 5-1/8 inches (21.463 meters) long, 13 feet, 1 inch (3.988 meters) high and weighs 156 tons, 12 centals (350,640 pounds, or 159,048 kilograms). The six driving wheels each have a diameter of 6 feet, 8 inches (2.032 meters). At 85% of maximum boiler pressure (225 p.s.i., 15.17 Bar), the locomotive produces 32,909 pounds of tractive effort. Flying Scotsman was the first locomotive officially certified to have a speed of 100 miles per hour (161 kilometers per hour).

LNER rebuilt Gresley 4-6-2 'A3' class loco no 4472 FLYING SCOTSMAN at Swayfield Lodge on the Down Slow line with the 09:30 London Kings Cross to York charter which it will work between Peterborough and York. Sunday 27/02/1983. (David Ingham)
London and North Eastern Railway’s rebuilt Class A-3 Gresley 4-6-2 Pacific locomotive No. 4472, Flying Scotsman, at Swayfield Lodge on the Down Slow line with the 09:30 London Kings Cross-to-York charter, Sunday, 27 February 1983. (David Ingham)

The locomotive was originally assigned Great Northern Railway number 1472, before being taken over by LNER prior to completion. In 1924, it was given number 4472 and named Flying Scotsman. It was one of five Pacific-type express passenger locomotives designed by Sir Nigel Gresley that were used to pull the London-to-Edinburgh Flying Scotsman passenger train, beginning in 1928. The journey by rail was 392 miles (631 kilometers) and the train was able to complete this non-stop by carrying 9 tons (8.2 metric tons) of coal in a tender and replenishing the water supply with a system of troughs located between the rails.

Flying Scotsman was retired in 1963 after driving 2,076,000 miles (3,340,998 kilometers). The locomotive has been restored and is owned by the National Railway Museum. It was overhauled and began testing in January 2016.

L.N.E.R. 4-6-2 Three Cylinder Express Passenger Locomotive, the Flying Scotsman. at the National Railway Museum.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

13 June 1944

LNER's Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944.
LNER’s Grove Road railway bridge after the V-1 attack, 13 June 1944. (The National Archives)
A LNER Class B-12/3 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)
LNER Class B-12/3 standard gauge 4-6-0 locomotive, 7488, pulls a passenger train across the rebuilt Grove Street railway bridge, 9:27 p.m., 14 June 1944. (Great Eastern Railway Society)

13 June 1944: At approximately 4:30 a.m., the first V-1 flying bomb struck London. The “buzz bomb” detonated on a London and North Eastern Railway bridge crossing over Grove Street, between Devonshire Street and Osborne Road in Bethnal Green. Six persons were killed by the explosion, and twenty-six others were injured.

Twelve homes were demolished and at least fifty others badly damaged.

The bridge was along an important railway route. It was heavily damaged and the LNER decided to replace it rather than undertake any repairs. The new bridge was in service by 7:45 p.m., that evening.

“Detail from a Bomb Census map. The Grove Road V1 bomb is the lower of the two shown here. Catalogue reference: HO 193/50, map sheet 56/20 SE (A).” (The National Archives)

A Mr. Dowe witnessed the attack from the Bethnal Green Town Hall. He said, “When warning went I saw my wife and family into the shelter and then stood at the entrance to watch events. I heard a plane in the distance, then gunfire and then the sound of the plane as if diving. There was an orange flash, followed by a terrific explosion. There were no sounds of bombs falling as in the blitz, only only that of the plane zooming.”

Three other “P.A.C.s” (Pilotless Aircraft) ¹ fell in Kent and Sussex with little effect.

V1 vor dem Start Aus guter Deckung wird "V1" an die Abschußstelle gerollt. Der Start erfolgt durch eine Pressluftanlage. Mit Hilfe eines Fernlenkverfahrens trifft die "V1" das befohlene Ziel. Die gleichbleibend hohe Geschwindigkeit, die von keinem Feindjäger erreicht wird, erhält "V1" von einem Raketenantrieb. Diese erste deutsche Vergeltungswaffe ist eine hervorragende Schöpfung unserer Luftrüstung. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress
A V-1 flying bomb is brought out of a protective bunker for launching. Foto: PK-Lysiak/Transocean-Europapress

The Fieseler Fi 103 (better known as the Vergeltungswaffe 1 (“retaliation weapon”), or simply, the V-1, was what would today be considered a cruise missile. It was designed and built by the Gerhard Fieseler Werke GmbH. Construction of the missiles was very simple and it was mass produced at a rate of about 8,000 per month.

The V-1 is an unmanned mid-wing monoplane, constructed of a welded steel fuselage with straight wings which were covered by sheet steel. A pulse jet engine was mounted above the fuselage. The “flying bomb” was 8.325 meters (27 feet, 3¾ inches) long with a wingspan of 5.370 meters (17 feet, 7½ inches). The wing used a symmetrical airfoil with no sweep, dihedral or twist. There are no ailerons. Steel barrage balloon cable cutters were installed in the wings’ leading edges. The aircraft had a total weight of 2,160 kilograms (4,762 pounds).

Powered by an Argus Motoren Werke GmbH As 014 pulse jet engine which produced a maximum thrust of 3,530 newtons (794 pounds of thrust) at 750 kilometers per hour (460 miles per hour) at Sea Level. The pulse jet engine had no moving parts and fired 45–50 times per second. It burned low-octane gasoline with compressed air.

The V-1 was controlled in flight through pneumatic servos connected to a gyroscopic automatic pilot built by Askania Werke AG. A magnetic compass in the nose could be set to direct the V-1 in a particular direction. Air driven vanes at the nose drove an air log, which kept track of the distance flown by means of a turn counter. At a preselected count, the device shut down the pulse jet engine and the flying bomb entered a steep dive and crashed into the ground and the warhead detonated. The V-1 was only accurate enough to land in a general geographic area.

The aircraft had a maximum speed of 600 kilometers per hour (373 miles per hour) at 2,500 meters (8,200 feet). The maximum range was 235 kilometers (146 miles).

The warhead contained 830 kilograms (1,830 pounds) of Amatol 3 gm (a mixture of the high explosive TNT with ammonium nitrate). The warhead could be detonated by any one of three fuses: an electrical impact fuse, a mechanical impact fuse, or a mechanical delayed action fuse.

This illustration from an official report is dated 16 June 1944, just three days after the first V-1 attack on London. © IWM (C 4431)

The V-1 was usually launched from an inclined ramp by catapult, though it could also be air launched from a carrier airplane.

Between 13 June 1944 and 29 March 1945, approximately 10,500 V-1s were launched against England. In the area around London, 6,184 people were killed and 17,981 others seriously injured. The V-1 was also targeted against cities on the European continent, especially Antwerp. 8,696 V-1s were launched against that city, and 3,141 fired at Liège. These attacks killed 4,683 persons and wounded 10,075.

¹ “Flying bomb” replaced Pilotless Aircraft as the preferred term in a Cabinet meeting, 19 June 1944.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes