Tag Archives: Sunbeam-Coatalen Aircraft Engines

16 November 1920

Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)
Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., first airplane, an Avro 504K, G-AUBG. (Qantas)

16 November 1920: Queensland and Northern Territories Aerial Services, Ltd., today known as Qantas, is one of the oldest airlines in the world. It was founded at Winton, Queensland, Australia, on 16 November 1920 as Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Limited by Paul Joseph McGinness, D.F.C., D.C.M., and Wilmot Hudson Fysh, D.F.C., both World War I fighter aces; Fergus McMaster, a local businessman; and Wilfred Arthur Baird, an aircraft mechanic who had served in Egypt with McGinness and Fysh.

Initially the airline operated air mail services which were subsidized by the Australian government, linking railheads in western Queensland. It flew its first commercial passenger, Alexander Kennedy, on 2 November 1922.

The airline’s first airplane was a two-place, single-engine A. V. Roe & Co., Ltd., Avro 504, c/n D1, G-AUBG. D1 was one of nine Avro 504-series airplanes which were assembled by the Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company, A. V. Roe’s licensee at Sydney, New South Wales. A replica of the airplane is on display at the Kingsford Smith Memorial, Mascot, New South Wales.

Qantas took delivery of D1 on 30 January 1921. It was assigned a registration mark of G-AUBG, 28 June 1921. The airplane was involved in a serious accident at Ingham, North Queensland, 2 August 1921. It was repaired and returned to service three months later.

Qantas operated it until 6 November 1926, when it was sold to H.J. Taylor, of Hawthorn, Victoria. The airplane was later owned by Matthews Aviation, and finally, by Newcastle Air Service, as Newcastle’s Own. The Avro’s registration was changed to VH-UBG, 28 March 1929. The registration was cancelled 14 April 1932.

Between 1913 and 1932, nearly 9,000 Avro 504-series airplanes were built by more than twenty manufacturers. The Avro 504K was 29 feet, 5 inches (8.996 meters) long with a wingspan of 36 feet (10.973 meters) and height of 10 feet, 5 inches (3.175 meters). Its empty weight was 1,231 pounds (558 kilograms) and the maximum takeoff weight was 1,829 pounds (830 kilograms).

The Avro 504 had been designed to accept installation of several different engines. D1 had been assembled using a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 8.822 liter (538.351 cubic inches) Sunbeam-Coatalen Aircraft Engines Dyak single overhead camshaft (SOHC) inline 6-cylinder engine. (Sunbeam named its aircraft engines after ethnic groups. The Dyak are an indigenous people of Borneo.) The Sunbeam Dyak was a left-hand tractor, direct-drive engine with two valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 5:1. It used two Claudel-Hobson B.Z.S. 38 updraft carburetors, two magnetos, and was rated at 100 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. The Dyak weighed 399 pounds (190 kilograms).

In 1931, the Avro was re-engined with a right-hand tractor, water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 9.005 liter (549.519 cubic inches) A.D.C. (Aircraft Disposal Company, or “Airdisco”) overhead valve (OHV) V-8 engine. The A.D.C. V-8 had a compression ratio of 4.6:1 and was rated at rated at 120 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m. It had 2:1 propeller gear reduction.

Queensland & Northern Terrory Aerial Services’ Avro 504, G-AUBG, at Isisford, Queensland, Australia, circa 1921. (Museums Victoria Collections MM 952)

The 504K had a cruise speed of 75 miles per hour (121 kilometers per hour), maximum speed of 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour), service ceiling of 16,000 feet (4,877 meters) and range of 250 miles (402 kilometers).

As of October 2017, Qantas had 29,596 employees. After-tax profit for 2016 was A$1,029,000,000. Qantas currently operates a fleet of 118 aircraft, which includes 28 Airbus A330s and 12 A380s, 10 Boeing 747-400s, 67 B737-800s and 1 787-9. The airline has 45 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners on order, with confirmed delivery dates for the first 15.

Qantas’ first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, VH-ZNA, arrived at Sydney Kingsford Smith Airport (SYD), 20 October 2017. (James Morgan/Qantas, via Australian Aviation)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

2–6 July 1919

The Royal Air Force rigid airship HMA R34 landing at Mineola, Long Island, New York, 6 July 1919.

2–6 July 1919: Two weeks after Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic airplane flight, the Royal Air Force rigid airship R 34 landed at Mineola, Long Island, New York, completing the first east-to-west Atlantic crossing by air. The airship was under the command of Major George Herbert Scott, A.F.C., R.A.F. The total complement, including passengers, was 30 persons.

The 108 hour, 12 minute flight started from East Fortune Airship Station near Edinburgh, Scotland at 2:38 a.m., British Summer Time (1:38 a.m., Greenwich mean time) on Wednesday, 2 July. R 34 arrived at Mineola at 9:54 a.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time (1:54 p.m. G.M.T.) on Sunday, 6 July. According to records of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the distance flown by R 34 was 5,797 kilometers (3,602 miles). On arrival, the airship had only 40 minutes of fuel remaining.

This chart of R34's flight was published in the Times, 7 July 1919.
This chart of R34’s flight was published in The Times, 7 July 1919.

R 34 was based on extensive study of the captured German Zeppelin, L-33. It was built for the Royal Naval Air Service ¹ by William Beardmore and Company, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland. 643 feet long (196 meters), with a maximum diameter of 78 feet, 9 inches (24 meters), the dirigible had a total volume of 1,950,000 cubic feet (55,218 cubic meters). The airship had a light weight metal structure covered with doped fabric. Buoyancy was provided by 55,185 cubic meters (1,948,840 cubic feet) of gaseous hydrogen contained in 19 gas bags inside the airship’s envelope. R 34 had a gross lift capacity of 59 tons. Useful lift was 58,240 pounds (26,417 kilograms).

Crewmen working in the forward control car of R34 during the Atlantic crossing, July 1918. (National Museums Scotland)
Crewmen working in the forward control car of R 34 during the Atlantic crossing, July 1918. (National Museums Scotland)

The airship was powered by five water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 15.395-liter (989.483-cubic-inch-displacement) Sunbeam Maori Mk.IV dual overhead cam (DOHC) 60° V-12 engines with four valves per cylinder. The Mk.IV’s cylinder bore had been increased from 100 millimeters to 110 millimeters (3.94 to 4.33 inches), resulting in a larger displacement than previous Maori variants. The Maori Mk.IV was a direct-drive engine which produced 275 horsepower at 2,000 r.p.m. Each engine turned a two-bladed, 17 foot diameter (5.182 meter) propeller through a remote gearbox with a 0.257:1 reduction. The two wing engines were equipped with reversible gearboxes. With the engines turning 1,800 r.p.m., the R 34 had a cruising speed of 47 knots (54 miles per hour/87 kilometers per hour) and consumed 65 gallons (246 liters) of fuel per hour.

R 34 made the return flight to England, 10–13 July 1919, in 75 hours, 3 minutes.

Major Scott was appointed Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.


St. James’s Palace, S.W. 1,

23rd August 1919.

     The KING has been graciously pleased to give orders for the following appointment to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, in recognition of distinguished services to Aviation. :—

To be a Commander of the Military Division of the Said Most Excellent Order :—

Major George Herbert Scott, A.F.C., Royal Air Force, Commander of H.M. Airship R/34 on the outward voyage to the United States of America and and also on the homeward journey.

R 34 at Long Island, New York. (Evening Times)

Colonel (A./Brig.-Genl.) Edwards Maitland Maitland, C.M.G., D.S.O., Capt. (A./Major) Gilbert George Herbert Cooke, D.S.C., Lieutenant Guy Harris and 2nd Lieutenant John Durham Shotter were each awarded the Air Force Cross.

The Air Force Medal was awarded to Flight-Sergeant William Rose Gent, Sergt.-Maj. II. Walter Robert Mayes, D.S.M., Flight-Sergeant Walter James Robinson, Flight-Sergeant Reginald William Ripley, Flight-Sergeant Norman Albert Scull, and Sergeant Herbert Murray Watson, D.S.M.

¹ On 1 April 1918, the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were combined to form the Royal Air Force.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes