Hawker Hurricane

The Prototype Hawker Hurricane K5083 made it’s debut flight 6 November 1935 in the hands of Hawker’s chief test pilot, Flight Lieutenant (later Group Captain) George Bulman. The Hawker Hurricane Was a British single-seat fighter aircraft that was designed and predominantly built by Hawker Aircraft Ltd for the Royal Air Force (RAF). Bulman was later assisted by two other pilots in subsequent flight testing .Philip Lucas flew some of the experimental test flights, while John Hindmarsh conducted the firm’s production flight trials.RAF trials of the aircraft at Martlesham Heath began in February 1936. Sammy Wroath, later to be the founding Commandant of the Empire Test Pilot School, was the RAF test pilot for the Hurricane: his report was favorable, stating “The aircraft is simple and easy to fly and has no apparent vices” and going on to praise its control response. The type name “Hurricane” proposed by Hawkers was approved by the Air Ministry on 26 June; an informal christening ceremony was carried out the next month when King George VI paid a visit to Martlesham Heath.

Although largely overshadowed by the Supermarine Spitfire, the aircraft became renowned during the Battle of Britain, accounting for 60% of the RAF’s air victories in the battle, and served in all the major theatres of the Second World War.The 1930s design evolved through several versions and adaptations, resulting in a series of aircraft which acted as interceptor-fighters, fighter-bombers (also called “Hurribombers”), and ground support aircraft. Further versions known as the Sea Hurricane had modifications which enabled operation from ships. Some were converted as catapult-launched convoy escorts, known as “Hurricats”. More than 14,000 Hurricanes were built by the end of 1944 (including at least 800 converted to Sea Hurricanes and some 1,400 built in Canada by Canadian Car and Foundry).The first 50 Hurricanes had reached squadrons by the middle of 1938.

At that time, production was slightly greater than the RAF’s capacity to introduce the new aircraft and the government gave Hawkers the clearance to sell the excess to nations likely to oppose German expansion. As a result, there were some modest sales to other countries. Production was then increased with a plan to create a reserve of aircraft as well as re-equip existing squadrons and newly formed ones such as those of the Auxiliary Air Force. Expansion scheme E included a target of 500 fighters of all types by the start of 1938. By the time of the Munich Crisis there were only two fully operational squadrons of the planned 12 with Hurricanes. By the time of the German invasion of Poland there were 18 operational Hurricane squadrons and three more converting.

Hawker Hurricane


October 24, marks the anniversary of the last fight of Concorde, the iconic retired turbojet-powered supersonic passenger airliner, which made its last commercial flight on 24 October 2003. Concorde was jointly developed and produced by Aérospatiale and theBritish Aircraft Corporation (BAC) under an Anglo-French treaty. First flown in 1969, Concorde entered service in 1976 and continued commercial flights for 27 years.Among other destinations, Concorde flew regular transatlantic flights fromLondon Heathrow and Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport to New York JFK andWashington Dulles and made the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time on 26 September 1973. It is one of only two Supersonic planes to have entered commercial service; the other being the Tupolev Tu-144. Concorde profitably flew these routes in less than half the time of other airliners. With only 20 aircraft built, the development of Concorde was a substantial economic loss; Air France and British Airways also received considerable government subsidies to purchase them.

Sadly Concorde was retired in 2003 due to a general downturn in the aviation industry after the type’s only crash in 2000, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and a decision by Airbus, the successor firm of Aérospatiale and BAC, to discontinue maintenance support. Concorde’s name reflects the development agreement between the United Kingdom and France. In the UK, any or all of the type—unusual for an aircraft—are known simply as “Concorde”, without an article. The aircraft is regarded by many people as an aviation icon and an engineering marvel.Scheduled flights began on 21 January 1976 on the London–Bahrain and Paris–Rio (viaDakar) routes, with BA flights using the “Speedbird Concorde” call sign to notify air traffic control of the aircraft’s unique abilities and restrictions, but the French using their normal callsigns. The Paris-Caracas route (via Azores) began on 10 April. The US Congress had just banned Concorde landings in the US, mainly due to citizen protest over sonic booms, preventing launch on the coveted North Atlantic routes. The US Secretary of Transportation,William Coleman, gave permission for Concorde service to Washington Dulles International Airport, and Air France and British Airways simultaneously began service to Dulles on 24 May 1976. When the US ban on JFK Concorde operations was lifted in February 1977, New York banned Concorde locally.

The ban came to an end on 17 October 1977 when the Supreme Court of the United States declined to overturn a lower court’s ruling rejecting efforts by the Port Authority and a grass-roots campaign led by Carol Berman to continue the ban. In spite of complaints about noise, the noise report noted that Air Force One, at the time a Boeing VC-137, was louder than Concorde at subsonic speeds and during takeoff and landing. By its 30th flight anniversary on 2 March 1999 Concorde had clocked up 920,000 flight hours, with more than 600,000 supersonic, much more than all of the other supersonic aircraft.On its way to the Museum of Flight in November 2003, G-BOAG set a New York City-to-Seattle speed record of 3 hours, 55 minutes, and 12 seconds. Unfortunately The British government had lost money operating Concorde every year, and moves were afoot by 1981, to cancel the service entirely. In 1983, BA’s managing director, Sir John King, convinced the government to sell the aircraft to British Airways for £16.5 million plus profits And British Airways then ran Concorde at a profit, unlike their French counterpart. Between 1984 and 1991, British Airways flew a Concorde service between London and Miami, stopping at Washington Dulles International Airport and, Air France and British Airways continued to operate the New York services until 2003 and Concorde routinely flew to Grantley Adams International Airport, Barbados and several UK and French tour operators operated charter flights to European destinations on a regular basis.

Sadly On 25 July 2000, Air France Flight 4590, registration F-BTSC, crashed in Gonesse, France after departing from Paris Charles de Gaulle en-route to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, killing all 100 passengers and nine crew members on board the flight, and four people on the ground. It was the only fatal accident involving Concorde. According to the official investigation conducted by the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la Sécurité de l’Aviation Civile (BEA), the crash was caused by a titanium strip that fell from a Continental Airlines DC-10 that had taken off minutes earlier. This metal fragment punctured a tyre on Concorde’s left main wheel bogie during takeoff. The tyre exploded, a piece of rubber hit the fuel tank, and while the fuel tank was not punctured, the impact caused a shock-wave which caused one of the fuel valves in the wing to burst open. This caused a major fuel leak from the tank, which then ignited due to sparking electrical landing gear wiring severed by another piece of the same tyre. The crew shut down engine number 2 in response to a fire warning, and with engine number 1 surging and producing little power, the aircraft was unable to gain height or speed. The aircraft entered a rapid pitch-up then a violent descent, rolling left and crashing tail-low into the Hôtelissimo Les Relais Bleus Hotel in Gonesse.

On 6 December 2010, Continental Airlines and John Taylor, one of their mechanics, were found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, but on 30 November 2012 a French court overturned the conviction, saying mistakes by Continental and Taylor did not make them criminally responsible. Prior to the accident, Concorde had been arguably the safest operational passenger airliner in the world in terms of passenger deaths-per-kilometres travelled with zero, but had a rate of tyre damage some 30 times higher than subsonic airliners from 1995 to 2000. Safety improvements were made in the wake of the crash, including more secure electrical controls, Kevlar lining on the fuel tanks and specially developed burst-resistant tyres, although interestingly no modifications were made to the DC-10. The first flight after the modifications departed from London Heathrow on 17 July 2001, piloted by BA Chief Concorde Pilot Mike Bannister. During the 3-hour 20-minute flight over the mid-Atlantic towards Iceland, Bannister attained Mach 2.02 and 60,000 ft (18,000 m) before returning to RAF Brize Norton. The test flight, intended to resemble the London–New York route, was declared a success and was watched on live TV, and by crowds on the ground at both locations.

BAC Concorde

The first flight with passengers after the accident took place on 11 September 2001, landing shortly before the World Trade Center attacks in the United States. This was not a revenue flight, as all the passengers were BA employees.Normal commercial operations resumed on 7 November 2001 by BA and AF (aircraft G-BOAE and F-BTSD), with service to New York JFK, where passengers were welcomed by then mayor Rudy Giuliani.. This aircraft flew for 22,296 hours between its first flight in 1976 and its final flight in 2000. On 10 April 2003, Air France and British Airways simultaneously announced that they would retire Concorde later that year and Concorde made its last commercial flight on 24 October 2003. Citing low passenger numbers following the 25 July 2000 crash, the slump in air travel following 11 September 2001, and rising maintenance costs. Although Concorde was technologically advanced when introduced in the 1970s, 30 years later its analogue cockpit was dated. There had been little commercial pressure to upgrade Concorde due to a lack of competing aircraft, unlike other airliners of the same era such as the Boeing 747. By its retirement, it was the last aircraft in British Airways’ fleet that had a flight engineer; other aircraft, such as the modernised 747-400, had eliminated the role. On 11 April 2003, Virgin Atlantic founder Sir Richard Branson announced that the company was interested in purchasing British Airways’ Concorde fleet for their nominal original price of £1 (US$1.57 in April 2003) each. British Airways dismissed the idea, prompting Virgin to increase their offer to £1 million each. Branson claimed that when BA was privatised, a clause in the agreement required them to allow another British airline to operate Concorde if BA ceased to do so, but the Government denied the existence of such a clause.In October 2003, Branson wrote in The Economist that his final offer was “over £5 million” and that he had intended to operate the fleet “for many years to come”.
The chances for keeping Concorde in service were stifled by Airbus’s lack of support for continued maintenance. It has also been suggested that Concorde was not withdrawn for the reasons usually given but that it became apparent during the grounding of Concorde that the airlines could make more profit carrying first class passengers subsonically it has been suggested that the Air France retirement of its Concorde fleet was the result of a conspiracy between Air France Chairman Jean-Cyril Spinetta and Airbus CEO Noel Forgeard, and stemmed as much from a fear of being found criminally liable under French law for future Concorde accidents as from simple economics. In addition A lack of commitment to Concorde from Director of Engineering Alan MacDonald was cited as having undermined BA’s resolve to continue operating Concorde.

Graf Zeppelin

The Graf Zeppelin airship made its first intercontinental trip, On 15 0ctober 1928 with a a 9,926 km (6,168 mi), 111 hour crossing from Friedrichshafen to Lakehurst with Dr. Eckener in command. Capt.Ernst Lehmann, who was tragically killed in the crash of the Hindenburg at Lakehurst eight and a half years later, served as First Officer on the flight and U.S. Navy LCDR Charles E. Rosendahl, commander of the ZR-3 USS Los Angeles (ex-LZ 126), made the westward journey. Despite encountering heavy headwinds and stormy weather, Eckener repeated the success of his first transatlantic crossing four years earlier when he delivered the LZ-126 to the U.S. Navy in October 1924 and was welcomed with a “ticker tape” parade in New York and an invitation to the White House. On the first transatlantic trip the airship suffered serious damage to its port tail fin when a large section of the linen covering was ripped loose With the engines stopped, the ship’s riggers did their best to repair the airship without falling into the raging Atlantic ocean below.The Graf crossed the U.S. coast at Cape Charles, Virginia, on October 15, passed over Washington, D.C., , Baltimore Philadelphia , New York City and landed at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station After the damaged tail was repaired, the Graf left Lakehurst for Germany at 1:24 am on October 29 and arrived back in Friedrichshafen on November 1.

In 1929 the airship made two trips over the Mediterranean. On the first trip it carried 25 passengers and 16,000 letters to make four mail drops at Jaffa, Athens, Budapest and Vienna.The airship flew over Palestine, Egypt and Athens before returning to Friedrichshafen after completing a journey of 5,000 miles (8,000 km) in 81 hours.The second Mediterranean cruise flew over France, Spain, Portugal and Tangier. The airship returned to Friedrichshafen after flying north over Cannes and Lyons .Although the Graf Zeppelin ultimately had a safe and highly successful active career lasting nearly nine years, it also came close to disaster while making its second trip to the United States in May 1929, when the airship lost power in two of its five engines while over the Mediterranean off the southwest coast of Spain forcing Eckener to abandon the trip and turn back toward Friedrichshafen. Flying against a stiff headwind up the Rhône Valley in France the next afternoon, two of the remaining three engines also failed resulting in a loss of headway and the Graf being pushed backwards toward the sea.With Eckener desperately looking for a suitable place to force-land the airship, the French Air Ministry reluctantly advised him that he would be permitted to land at the Naval Airship Base at Cuers-Pierrefeu There the Graf Zeppelin would be kept in the hangar, Eckener made an emergency night landing at Cuers.After temporary repairs, the Graf returned to Friedrichshafen on May 24 where the engines were completely overhauled. it wasn’t until August 1, 1929, when the airship made another attempt to cross the Atlantic for Lakehurst, arriving on August 4. Four days later, the Graf Zeppelin departed Lakehurst for a complete circumnavigation of the globe.

The Graf’s “Round-the-World” flight in August 1929 began and ended at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Wealthy newspaper magnate Randolph Hearst ‘s correspondent Lady Grace Drummond-Hay was on board making her the first woman to circumnavigate the globe by air. Also representing Hearst among the passenger complement were Karl von Wiegand and Australian Arctic explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins, and photographer/newsreel cameraman Robert Hartmann. The US Government was represented by Naval airshipmen LCDR Charles Rosendahl and LT Jack C. Richardson A semi-documentary film entitled”Farewell” was released in 2009 which featured much of the newsreel footage of Lady Drummond-Hay shot by Hartmann during the flight. The film was later aired on the BBC under the title “Around The World by Zeppelin”.The Graf Zeppelin flew back across the Atlantic to Friedrichshafen to refuel before continuing across Eastern Europe, Russia, and the vastness of Siberia to Kasumigaura Naval Air Station on a 101 hour, 49 minute nonstop leg covering 7,297 miles (11,743 km). In 1930 the “Graf” made a special two-day round trip flight from Friedrichshafen to Moscow on September 9–10, 1930 landing briefly to collect souvenir mail at Moscow’s “October Field”.

However Crossing the inadequately mapped Stanovoy Mountains in Siberia proved to be a precarious venture with the Graf eventually being forced to climb to 6,000 feet in order to clear the range through a high mountain canyon with barely 150 feet to spare. After five days in Tokyo, the Graf continued across the Pacific to California crossing the coast at San Francisco before landing at Mines Field in Los Angeles thus completing the first ever nonstop flight of any kind across the Pacific Ocean, covering 5,986 miles (9,634 km) in 79 hours and 54 minutes. The 2,996-mile (4,822 km), 51 hour 13 minute transcontinental flight across the United States took the Graf over 13 states and such cities as El Paso, Kansas City, Chicago, Cleveland, and Detroit before arriving back at Lakehurst from the west on the morning of August 29, three weeks after it had departed to the east on August 8. Flying time for the four Lakehurst to Lakehurst legs was 12 days, 12 hours and 13 minutes while the entire circumnavigation (including stops) took 21 days, 5 hours and 31 minutes and covered 33,234 km (20,651 mi). 3RM Weltflug coin (1930A)Germany issued a special commemorative silver 3RM coin in 1930 in recognition of the Graf Zeppelin’s historic flight and Dr. Eckener became just the tenth recipient (third aviator) in 42 years to be awarded the Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society which was presented to him at the Washington Auditorium in Washington, DC.

In May, 1930 the LZ 127 made its first visit to South America as part of a triangular flight between Spain, Brazil, and the United States. Providing passenger, express freight, and air mail service between Germany, Spain and South America was one function which was an early consideration in the design of LZ-127. It was intended in 1928 to offer passage between Friedrichshafen, Germany, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, The 1930 flight began at Friedrichshafen on May 18 and stopped first in Seville before leaving Europe. The Graf arrived in Brazil first at Recife (Pernambuco) docking at Campo do Jiquiá on May 22 before preceding on to Rio de Janeiro. The airship then flew back north to Lakehurst, NJ, before heading east over the Atlantic on June 2 to return to Germany with another stop in Seville. As with so many of its major journeys, the Europe-Pan American flight was largely funded by souvenir mails franked with special stamps issued by Spain, Brazil, and the United States .With the US already in the depths of the Great Depression, however, only about 7% of the very expensive stamps that had been produced had been distributed when the issue was withdrawn from sale on June 30. The Graf Zeppelin also visited Palestine in April 1929 and a second flight to the Middle East took place on April 9 1931 with a flight to Cairo, Egypt, where the airship landed less than two days later. After a brief stop, the Graf Zeppelin proceeded on to Palestine before returning to Friedrichshafen on April 23, just an hour over four days after departure. The trip took 97 hours, covered 9,000 km (5,600 mi) and crossed 14 countries on three continents.

The Graf Zeppelin made another groundbreaking flight in July 1931 with a research trip to the Arctic. The idea of using an airship to explore the Arctic was one reason used to justify both the building of Graf Zeppelin, and the restoration of Germany’s right to build airships for commercial purposes.A year earlier Dr. Eckener had piloted the Graf on a three-day trip to Norway and Spitsbergen in order to determine its performance in this region. This was followed by a three-day flight to Iceland. Both trips were completed successfully.Plans were made to rendezvous with a surface vessel to be funded by exchanging souvenir mails to the ship. Around fifty thousand cards and letters were collected from around the world The rendezvous vessel, the Russian icebreaker Malygin, on which the Italian airshipman and polar explorerUmberto Nobile was a guest, carried another 120 kg (265 lbs) of mails to exchange. The major costs of the expedition were met largely by sale of special postage stamps issued by both Germany (as overprints) and the Soviet Union to frank the mails carried on the flight. The rest of the funding came from Aeroarctic and the Ullstein-Verlag in exchange for exclusive reporting rights.

The polar flight took one week from July 24–31, 1931. The Graf Zeppelin traveled about 10,600 km (6,600 mi) with the longest leg without refueling being 8,600 km (5,345 mies).It was in its last five years of service that Graf Zeppelin proved that an intercontinental commercial airship service was possible. it operated regular scheduled services during the summer season between Germany and South America.The Graf Zeppelin was too small and slow for the North Atlantic service,yet because of the blau gas fuel, was just capable of carrying out the South Atlantic route. The onset of regular airline service also led to a drastic reduction in the number of flights being made by the airship which, having logged almost 200 flights in 1930-31, made fewer than 60. The two airships Graf Zeppeilin and Hindenburg were requested by the government to fly “in tandem” around Germany over the four-day period with a joint departure from Löwenthal on the morning of March 26. the Graf andHindenburg sailed over Germany for four days and three nights, dropping propaganda leaflets, blaring martial music and slogans from large loudspeakers, and broadcasting political speeches from a makeshift radio studio on board the Hindenburg while millions of Germans watched from below,

However The loss of the D-LZ 129 Hindenburg at Lakehurst on May 6, 1937 shattered public faith in the safety of hydrogen-filled airships making the continuation of their commercial passenger operations unsustainable unless the Graf Zeppelin and the still under construction LZ 130 Graf Zeppelin II could convert to non-flammable helium, the only alternative lifting gas for airships. Unlike the relatively inexpensive and universally available hydrogen, however, the vast majority of the world’s available supplies of the much more costly, less buoyant, and harder to produce helium Since 1925, the exportation of helium had also been tightly restricted by Congress although there is no record that the German Government had ever applied for an export license for helium to use in its airships prior to the Hindenburg’s crash and fire. Although much safer than hydrogen, the greatly added expense, lack of availability, and overall degradation in lifting performance that converting to helium would impose on the Graf Zeppelin made its continued operation no longer commercially viable. That being the case, one day after the “Hindenburg” crashed in Lakehurst the nine-year-old LZ 127 was promptly grounded and withdrawn from service upon its arrival in Friedrichshafen after a flight from Brazil in 1937. Six weeks later the airship was ferried to Frankfurt am Main on what would prove to be its 590th and final flight. Upon arrival at its massive hangar at the Frankfurt airport, the airship was deflated and opened to the public as a museum. While the Graf Zeppelin had already been decommissioned and retired,

Shortly after the Hindenburg disaster America agreed to export enough Helium to Germany to permit the Hindenburg Class LZ-130 Graf Zeppelin II (which unlike the LZ 127 was designed to use either hydrogen or helium) to resume commercial transatlantic passenger service by 1939. However, firm opposition from the National Munitions Control Board, (which consisted of the Secretaries of State, War,Navy, Treasury, Commerce, and Interior), to a German request to purchase up to 10,000,000 cubic feet (280,000 m3) of helium made that impossible. Dr. Eckener responded that “ this decision means the death sentence for commercial lighter-than-air craft.” Although the Graf Zeppelin II made 30 test, promotional, propaganda and military surveillance flights around Europe between the airship’s launch in mid-September 1938 and its last flight 11 months later on August 20, made just 10 days before the formal start of World War II in Europe with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939, and Sadly both the original Graf Zeppelin (LZ 127) and the Graf Zeppelin II (LZ 130) were both scrapped for salvage and their duralumin airframes and other structures to be melted down for reuse by the German military aircraft industry.

Hughes AH-64 Apache

Hughes AH-64 Apache

The Boeing/ Hughes AH-64 Apache helicopter first flew on 30 September 1975. The Boeing AH-64 Apache is a four-blade, twin-engine attack helicopter with a tailwheel-type landing gear arrangement, and a tandem cockpit for a two-man crew. Originally, the Apache started life as the Model 77 developed by Hughes Helicopters for the United States Army’s Advanced Attack Helicopter program to replace the AH-1 Cobra, and was first flown on 30 September 1975. The AH-64 was introduced to U.S. Army service in April 1986. The AH-64 Apache features a nose-mounted sensor suite for target acquisition and night vision systems. It is armed with a 30-millimeter (1.2 in) M230 Chain Gun carried between the main landing gear, under the aircraft’s forward fuselage. It has four hardpoints mounted on stub-wing pylons, typically carrying a mixture of AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and Hydra 70 rocket pods.

he AH-64 has a large amount of systems redundancy to improve combat survivability. The U.S. Army selected the YAH-64, by Hughes Helicopters, over the Bell YAH-63 in 1976, and later approved full production in 1982. McDonnell Douglascontinued production and development after purchasing Hughes Helicopters from Summa Corporation in 1984. The first production AH-64D Apache Longbow, an upgraded version of the original Apache, was delivered to the Army in March 1997. Production has been continued by Boeing Defense, Space & Security; over 1,000 AH-64s have been produced to date.

The U.S. Army is the primary operator of the AH-64; although it has also become the primary attack helicopter of multiple nations, including Greece, Japan, Israel, the Netherlands and Singapore; as well as being produced under license in theUnited Kingdom as the AgustaWestland Apache. U.S. AH-64s have served in conflicts in Panama, the Persian Gulf, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Israel used the Apache in its military conflicts in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip; both British and U.S. Apaches have seen deployments in Afghanistan and Iraq. I have also seen some impressive demonstrations of theApache’s awesome capabilities at Cosford Air Show.


The British TSR-2 aircraft XR219 made its maiden flight from Boscombe Down in Wiltshire 27 September 1964. The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike andreconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The TSR-2 was designed to penetrate a well-defended forward battle area at low altitudes and very high speeds, and then attack high-value targets in the rear with nuclear or conventional weapons. Another intended combat role was to provide high-altitude, high-speed photo reconnaissance. Some of the most advanced aviation technology of the period was incorporated in order to make it the highest-performing aircraft in the world in its projected missions. Only one airframe flew and test flights and weight rise during design indicated that the aircraft would be unable to meet its original stringent design specifications which had been reduced as the results of flight testing became available.


Prior to the TSR-2, Britain’s Royal Air Force had deployed the English Electric Canberra bomber, capable of flying at high altitudes and subsonic speeds. Like the de Havilland Mosquito before it, as originally conceived, the Canberra carried no defensive weapons and relied on its high performance to allow it to avoid defences. The introduction of the radar-guided surface-to-air missile (SAM) was a significant threat to this tactic. SAMs had speed and altitude performance much greater than any contemporary aircraft; the Canberra, and other high-altitude aircraft like the V bombers or United States’ B-52 Stratofortress, were extremely vulnerable to these weapons. The first aircraft to fall victim to the Soviet S-75 Dvina (NATO name “SA-2 Guideline”) SAM was a Taiwanese RB-57, a reconnaissance version of the Canberra, shot down in 1959.

The solution was to fly lower; since radar operates in line-of-sight, detection of an aircraft flying at low altitudes is significantly hindered, thereby reducing time for enemy counter measures. In practice, trees, hills, valleys and any other obstructions reduce this range even more, making a ground-based interception extremely difficult. The Canberra was designed for medium- to high-altitude flight and was not suitable for continuous terrain-hugging flight; this would require a completely different aircraft.Low-level strike aircraft, or “interdictors”, grew into a new class of their own during the late 1950s. They generally featured high wing loading to reduce the effects of turbulence and cross-wind, some form of high-performance navigational radar to allow very low flight at high speeds, and large fuel loads to offset the higher fuel use at low altitudes. So the Ministry of Supply started work with English Electric in 1955, to create A new light bomber to replace the Canberra. These early studies eventually settled on an aircraft with a 2,000 nmi (3,700 km) ferry range, Mach 1.5 speed “at altitude” and 600 nmi (1,100 km) low-level range. A crew of two was required, one being the operator of the advanced navigational and attack equipment. The bombload was to be four 1,000 lb (450 kg) bombs.

The envisioned “standard mission” for the TSR-2 was to carry a 2,000 lb (900 kg) weapon internally for a combat radius of 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km). Of that mission 100 nautical miles (190 km) was to be flown at higher altitudes at Mach 1.7 and the 200 nmi (370 km) into and out of the target area was to be flown as low as 200 ft (60 m) at a speed of Mach 0.95. The remainder of the mission was to be flown at Mach 0.92. If the entire mission were to be flown at the low 200 ft (61 m) altitude, the mission radius was reduced to 700 nmi (1,300 km). Heavier weapons loads could be carried with further reductions in range. Plans for increasing the TSR-2’s range included fitting external tanks: one 450 Imperial gallon (2,000 L) tank under each wing or one 1,000-Imperial gallon (4,500-L) tank carried centrally below the fuselage. If no internal weapons were carried, a further 570 Imperial gallons (2,600 L) could be carried in a tank in the weapons bay. Later variants would have been fitted with variable-geometry wings

Sadly The TSR-2 was the victim of ever rising costs and inter-service squabbling over Britain’s future defence needs, which led to the controversial decision to scrap the programme in 1965. With the election of a new government, the TSR-2 was cancelled due to rising costs, in favour of purchasing an adapted version of the General Dynamics F-111, a decision that itself was later rescinded as costs and development times again skyrocketed. A replacement for the TSR 2 was eventually found in the Blackburn Buccaneer and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, both types being previously considered and rejected early in the TSR-2 procurement process. Eventually, the smaller Swing-wing Panavia Tornado was also developed and was adopted by a European consortium to fulfill broadly similar requirements to the TSR-2. However the TSR-2 XR-220 is still on display at RAF Cosford.

Ll” for the TSR-2 was designed to carry a 2,000 lb (900 kg) weapon internally for a combat radius of 1,000 nautical miles (1,900 km). Of that mission 100 nautical miles (190 km) was to be flown at higher altitudes at Mach 1.7 and the 200 nmi (370 km) into and out of the target area was to be flown as low as 200 ft (60 m) at a speed of Mach 0.95. The remainder of the mission was to be flown at Mach 0.92. If the entire mission were to be flown at the low 200 ft (61 m) altitude, the mission radius was reduced to 700 nmi (1,300 km). Heavier weapons loads could be carried with further reductions in range. Plans for increasing the TSR-2’s range included fitting external tanks: one 450 Imperial gallon (2,000 L) tank under each wing or one 1,000-Imperial gallon (4,500-L) tank carried centrally below the fuselage. If no internal weapons were carried, a further 570 Imperial gallons (2,600 L) could be carried in a tank in the weapons bay. Later variants would have been fitted with variable-geometry wings

Sadly The TSR-2 was the victim of ever rising costs and inter-service squabbling over Britain’s future defence needs, which led to the controversial decision to scrap the programme in 1965. With the election of a new government, the TSR-2 was cancelled due to rising costs, in favour of purchasing an adapted version of the General Dynamics F-111, a decision that itself was later rescinded as costs and development times again skyrocketed. A replacement for the TSR 2 was eventually found in the Blackburn Buccaneer and McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II, both types being previously considered and rejected early in the TSR-2 procurement process. Eventually, the smaller Swing-wing Panavia Tornado was also developed and was adopted by a European consortium to fulfill broadly similar requirements to the TSR-2. However the TSR-2 XR-220 is still on display at RAF Cosford.


Bell X-2

On 28 September 1956 USAF Captain Milburn G. Apt becomes the first man to exceed Mach 3 while flying the Bell X-2. The Bell X-2 was a research aircraft built to investigate flight characteristics in the Mach 2–3 range. The X-2 was a rocket-powered, swept-wing research aircraft developed jointly in 1945 by Bell Aircraft Corporation, the U.S. Air Force and the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to explore aerodynamic problems of supersonic flight and to expand the speed and altitude regimes obtained with the earlier X-1 series of research aircraft.The Bell X-2 was developed to provide a vehicle for researching flight characteristics in excess of the limits of the Bell X-1 and D-558 II, while investigating aerodynamic heating problems in what was then called the “thermal thicket”.The Bell X-2 had a prolonged development period due to the advances needed in aerodynamic design, control systems, high-temperature resistant materials to be used, and other technologies that had to be developed.

Not only did the X-2 push the envelope of manned flight to speeds, altitudes and temperatures beyond any other aircraft at the time, it pioneered throttleable rocket motors in U.S. aircraft (previously demonstrated on the Me 163B during World War II) and digital flight simulation. The XLR25 rocket engine, built by Curtiss-Wright, was based on the smoothly variable-thrust JATO engine built by Robert Goddard in 1942 for the Navy. Providing adequate stability and control for aircraft flying at high supersonic speeds was only one of the major difficulties facing flight researchers as they approached Mach 3. For, at speeds in that region, they knew they would also begin to encounter a “thermal barrier”, severe heating effects caused by aerodynamic friction. Constructed of stainless steel and a copper-nickel alloy, K-Monel, and powered by a liquid propellant (alcohol and oxygen) two-chamber XLR25 2,500 to 15,000 lbf (11 to 67 kN) sea level thrust, continuouslythrottleable rocket engine, the swept-wing Bell X-2 was designed to probe the supersonic region.

Following a drop launch from a modified B-50 bomber, Bell test pilot Jean “Skip” Ziegler completed the first unpowered glide flight of an X-2 at Edwards Air Force Base on 27 June 1952. Ziegler and aircraft #2 (46-675) were subsequently lost on 12 May 1953, in an inflight explosion during a captive flight intended to check the aircraft’s liquid oxygen system. X-2, crew, and support equipmentLt. Col. Frank K. “Pete” Everest completed the first powered flight in the #1 airplane (46-674) on 18 November 1955. By the time of his ninth and final flight in late July 1956 the project was years behind schedule, but he had established a new speed record of Mach 2.87 (1,900 mph, 3050 km/h). About this time, the YF-104A was demonstrating speeds of M = 2.2 or 2.3 in a fighter configuration. The X-2 was living up to its promise, but not without difficulties. At high speeds, Everest reported its flight controls were only marginally effective. High speed center of pressure shifts along with fin aeroelasticity were major factors. Moreover, simulation and wind tunnel studies, combined with data from his flights, suggested the airplane would encounter very severe stability problems as it approached Mach 3

A pair of less experienced but excellent pilots, Captains Iven C. Kincheloe and Milburn G. “Mel” Apt, were assigned the job of further expanding the envelope and, on 7 September 1956, Kincheloe became the first pilot ever to climb above 100,000 ft (30,500 m) as he flew the X-2 to a peak altitude of 126,200 ft (38,466 m). Just 20 days later, on the morning of 27 September, Apt was launched from the B-50 for his first flight in a rocket airplane. He had been instructed to follow the “optimum maximum energy flight path” and to avoid any rapid control movements beyond Mach 2.7. With nozzle extenders and a longer than normal motor run, Apt flew an extraordinarily precise profile; he became the first man to exceed Mach 3, reaching Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph, 3,370 km/h) at 65,500 ft (19,960 m). The flight had been flawless to this point, but, for some reason, shortly after attaining top speed, Apt attempted a banking turn while the aircraft was still above Mach 3 (lagging instrumentation may have indicated he was flying at a slower speed or perhaps he feared he was straying too far from the safety of his landing site on Rogers Dry Lake). The X-2 tumbled violently out of control and he found himself struggling with the same problem of “inertia coupling” which had overtaken Chuck Yeager in the X-1A nearly three years before.

Yeager, although exposed to much higher vehicle inertial forces, as a result of extensive experience flying the X-1 was very familiar with its character, was able to recover. Apt attempted to recover from a spin, but could not, and fired the ejection capsule, which was itself only equipped with a relatively small drogue parachute. Apt was probably disabled by the severe release forces. As the capsule fell for several minutes to the desert floor, he did not emerge so that he could use his personal parachute. While the X-2 had delivered valuable research data on high-speed aerodynamic heat build-up and extreme high-altitude flight conditions, this tragic event terminated the program before the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics could commence detailed flight research with the aircraft. The search for answers to many of the riddles of high-Mach flight had to be postponed until the arrival three years later of the most advanced of all the experimental rocket aircraft, the North American X-15.

Leonard Cheshire VC OM DSO two bars DFC

Best known for his work for disabled people, Group Captain Geoffrey Leonard Cheshire, Baron Cheshire, VC, OM, DSO and Two Bars, DFC was Born 7 September 1917 In Chester, and was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, Stowe School and Merton College, Oxford. Whilst at Oxford he became friends with John Niel Randle. On one occasion at Oxford he was bet half a pint of beer that he could not walk to Paris with no more than a few pennies in his pocket; he won his bet. He stayed in Germany in 1936 with a family in Potsdam and whilst there, witnessed an Adolf Hitler rally. Cheshire caused great offence by pointedly refusing to give the Nazi salute. Cheshire graduated jurisprudence in 1939.

Having learnt basic piloting skills with the Oxford University Air Squadron he joined the RAF following the outbreak of the Second World War. He was initially posted in June 1940 to 102 Squadron, flying Armstrong Whitworth Whitley medium bombers, from RAF Driffield. In November 1940, Cheshire was awarded the DSO for flying his badly damaged bomber back to base. In January 1941, Cheshire completed his tour of operations, but then volunteered immediately for a second tour. He was posted to 35 Squadron with the brand new Handley Page Halifax and completed his second tour early in 1942, by then, a Squadron Leader. August 1942 saw a return to operations as CO of No. 76 Squadron RAF. The squadron had recently suffered high losses operating the Halifax, and Cheshire immediately tackled the low morale of the unit by ordering an improvement in the performance of the squadron aircraft by removing the mid-upper and nose gun turrets along with exhaust covers and other weighty non-essential equipment. This allowed the bombers to fly higher and faster. Losses soon fell and morale rose accordingly.

Many Halifax bombers did not return and there were reports the Halifax was unstable in a “corkscrew” which was the manoeuvre used by bomber pilots to escape night fighters. So The test pilot Capt. Eric Brown DSC, flying uncrewed except for an accompanying flight engineer, undertook risky tests to establish the cause. The fault was in the Halfax’s rudder design and Cheshire became enraged when Handley Page at first declined to make modifications. During his time as the Commanding Officer of 76 Squadron at RAF Linton, Cheshire took the trouble to recognise and learn the name of every single man on the base. He was determined to increase the efficiency of his squadron and improve the chances of survival of its crews, to this end he constantly lectured crews on the skills needed to achieve those aims. The crews knew he was devoted to their interests and when, on an operation to Nuremberg, they were told to cross the French Coast at 2,000 ft (the most dangerous height for light flak). Cheshire simply refused, stating they would fly at 200 ft or 20,000 ft. Typically, Cheshire inspired great loyalty and respect among 76 Squadron.

In 1943, Cheshire published an account of his first tour of operations in his book, Bomber Pilot which tells of his posting to RAF Driffield and the story of flying his badly damaged bomber (“N for Nuts”) back to base. In the book, Cheshire fails to mention being awarded theDSO for this, but does describe the bravery of a badly burnt member of his crew.Cheshire became Station Commander RAF Marston Moor in March 1943, as the youngest Group Captain in the RAF, although the job was never to his liking and he pushed for a return to an operational command. These efforts paid off with a posting as commander of the legendary 617 “Dambusters” Squadron in September 1943. While with 617, Cheshire helped pioneer a new method of marking enemy targets for Bomber Command’s 5 Group, flying in at a very low level in the face of strong defences, using first, the versatile de Havilland Mosquito, then a North American Mustang fighter.On the morning before a planned raid by 617 squadron to Siracourt, a crated Mustang turned up at Woodhall Spa, it was a gift for Cheshire from his admirers in the U.S. 8th Air Force. Cheshire had the aircraft assembled and the engine tested as he was determined to test the possibilities of the fighter as a marker aircraft. He took off, in what was his first flight in the aircraft, and caught up with 617′s Lancasters before they reached the target. Cheshire then proceeded to accurately mark the target (a V-1 storage depot) for the heavies which landed three Tallboys on it. He then flew back and landed the Mustang in the dark.

This development work in target marking was the subject of some severe intraservice politics; Cheshire was encouraged by his 5 Group Commander Air Vice-Marshal Ralph Cochrane, although the 8 Group Pathfinder AOC Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett saw this work as impinging on the responsibilities of his own command.Cheshire was nearing the end of his fourth tour of duty in July 1944, having completed a total of 102 missions, when he was awarded the Victoria Cross. He was the only one of the 32 VC airmen to win the medal for an extended period of sustained courage and outstanding effort, rather than a single act of valour. His citation noted:In four years of fighting against the bitterest opposition he maintained a standard of outstanding personal achievement, his successful operations being the result of careful planning, brilliant execution and supreme contempt for danger – for example, on one occasion he flew his Mustang in slow ‘figures of eight’ above a target obscured by low cloud, to act as a bomb-aiming mark for his squadron. Cheshire displayed the courage and determination of an exceptional leader. Itlso noted a raid in which he had marked a target, flying a Mosquito at low level against “withering fire”.

When Cheshire went to Buckingham Palace to receive his VC from King George VI, he was accompanied by Norman Jackson who was also due to receive his award on that day. Cheshire insisted that despite the difference in rank (Group Captain and Warrant Officer), they should approach the King together. Jackson remembers that Cheshire said to the King, “This chap stuck his neck out more than I did – he should get his VC first!” The King had to keep to protocol, but Jackson commented he would “never forget what Cheshire said.” Cheshire was, in his day, both the youngest Group Captain in the service and, following his VC, the most decorated. In his book, Bomber Command (2010), Sir Max Hastings states “Cheshire was a legend in Bomber Command, a remarkable man with an almost mystical air about him, as if he somehow inhabited a different planet from those about him, but without affectation or pretension”. Cheshire would always fly on the most dangerous operations, he never took the easy option of just flying on the less risky ops to France, a habit which caused some COs to be referred to derisively as “François” by their men. Cheshire had no crew but would fly as “Second Dickey”, with the new and nervous to give them confidence. Cheshire had strong feelings on any crew displaying LMF (Lack of Moral Fibre, a euphemism for cowardice) when subject to the combat stress of Bomber Command’s sorties (many of which had loss rates of 5% or more). Thus Cheshire transferred LMF cases out of his squadron almost instantaneously (like every other RAF squadron did at the time) This was also because he argued that a man who thought he was doomed would collapse or bail out when his aircraft was hit, whereas Cheshire thought if he could survive the initial shock of finding his aircraft damaged, he had more of a chance of survival. On his 103rd mission, Cheshire was the official British observer of the nuclear bombing of Nagasaki.His vantage point was in the support B-29 Big Stink. After serving as the British observer on theNagasaki nuclear attack he resigned from the Air Force. However During the Second World War he became a highly decorated British RAF pilot. Among the honours Cheshire received as a pilot is the Victoria Cross. He was the youngest Group Captain in the RAF and one of the most highly decorated pilots of the War, .

After the war, Cheshire lived with his wife Joan at the “VIP (for Vade in Pacem – Go in Peace) Colony” he established for veterans and war widows at Gumley Hall, Bedford Gardens – one of several new ventures he started after leaving the RAF in 1946. Joan followed him to Le Court, near Petersfield,Hampshire (a mansion which Cheshire had bought from his aunt) where, with three children of her own, Joan took charge of the nursery. Cheshire and Joan Botting subsequently investigated many religions, from Seventh Day Adventist to Methodist to “High Anglo-Catholic” – but none of them provided the answers they were looking for. Cheshire’s aim in establishing the VIP Colony was to provide an opportunity for ex-servicemen and women and their families to live together, each contributing to the community what they could, in order to help their transition back into civilian life. He hoped that training, prosperity and fulfillment would result from united effort and mutual support. He saw the community as one way of continuing to work towards world peace. The community, however, did not prosper and the project came to an end in 1947.Atthe beginning of 1948, Cheshire heard about the case of Arthur Dykes, who had been one of Cheshire’s original “VIP” community at Le Court, and was suffering from cancer. Dykes asked Cheshire to give him some land to park a caravan until he recovered, but Cheshire discovered that Dykes was terminally ill and that this diagnosis was concealed from him. He told Dykes the real position and invited him to stay at Le Court. Cheshire learned nursing skills and was soon approached to take in a second patient, the 94-year-old bedridden wife of a man who had just been taken off to hospital after suffering a stroke. She was followed by others, some coming to stay and others to help. Although Le Court had no financial support, and his situation was financially perilous most of the time, money somehow always seemed to arrive in the nick of time to stave off disaster.

Dykes died in August 1948. After completing the arrangements for his funeral, Cheshire idly picked up a book a friend had sent him. It was One Lord, One Faith by Vernon Johnson, a former High Anglican clergyman who, against every cherished instinct and prejudice, had converted to Roman Catholicism because, as he put it, “I could not resist the claim of the Catholic Church to be the one true Church founded by Our Lord Jesus Christ to guard and teach the truth. Joan Botting had converted to Jehovah’s Witnesses.On ChriCheshire converted into the Catholic Church in 1948. The next day, Joan Botting and her children, Mavis, Gary and Elizabeth, moved out of Le Court for good. At the beginning of 1949, eight patients were staying at Le Court.Six months later, there were 28. Cheshire dedicated the rest of his life to supporting disabled people, combining this with lecturing on conflict resolution.

In 1948, Cheshire founded the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability, which provides support to disabled people throughout the world. It is now one of the top 30 British charities. Other organisations set up by Leonard Cheshire are:The Ryder-Cheshire Foundation,set up by Leonard Cheshire and his wife Sue Ryder at the time of their marriage in 1959. this deals with the rehabilitation of disabled people, through ENRYCH and the prevention and treatment of tuberculosis, through Target Tuberculosis. In 1953, Cheshire founded the Raphael Pilgrimage in order to enable sick and disabled people to travel to Lourdes. The Leonard Cheshire Disability & Inclusive Development Centre is a joint project by Leonard Cheshire Disability and University College London. In 1991 he was created Baron Cheshire in recognition of his charitable work and Cheshire also founded the Memorial Fund for Disaster Relief, for whom the Roger Waters concert “The Wall – Live in Berlin” was held. Cheshire opened this concert by blowing a Second World War whistle. Cheshire was also concerned about future remembrance and was influential in the concept of the National Memorial Arboretum, founded by David Childs. Leonard Chesire sadly died 31 July 1992. He However his legacy lives on And The amphitheatre at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas is dedicated to the memory of Leonard Cheshire.