ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

18 August 2001

NOSTALGIC NIGHT FOR WOKING ACA

The Hawk Speed Six flew past
against a glorious evening sky
Hawk Speed Six
Watched by an appreciative Woking ACA
Watching the flying

In perfect flying weather, former aircrew members of the Woking Branch of the Aircrew Association, meeting at the Flight Centre at Fairoaks Airport, were treated before the meeting to a demonstration flight by its present owner, retired Concorde Captain Roger Mills, of the Miles Speed Hawk Six racing aircraft built in 1935, which was the subject of Ron Paine's talk the previous month. This clean, low-wing monoplane, which has now been beautifully restored to pristine factory-new condition and is kept at Fairoaks Airport, showed off to perfection its turn of speed which enabled Ron Paine to win the post-war Kings Cup Air Race six times in a row, and to keep the SBAC Trophy in perpetuity.

Captain Eric Brown, CBE, OBE, DSC, AFC, RN
Capt Eric Brown
Then, after the usual Club Business, members enjoyed an outstanding talk by Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown , CBE, OBE, DSC, AFC, RN on Flight Testing at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough . During 31 years in the Navy, including operational tours on aircraft carriers, and clocking up a world record number of successful carrier landings, he was seconded to the Flight Testing Centre at RAE, at a time when they were concerned with proving the catapults which launched Hurricanes and Spitfires off merchant ships in the middle of the Atlantic to protect convoys from being shadowed by long range Luftwaffe Condors, which could report their positions to waiting packs of U-boats. After a somewhat hairy demonstration of a Spitfire launch to Sir Winston Churchill (whose brainchild this idea was), they got down to the serious business of investigating the onset of compressibility which aircraft of the time were beginning to experience at high speeds at high altitudes. This made them uncontrollable as they approached the sound barrier, which at that time was not understood.

During his career, Captain Brown flew no less than 487 different aircraft types. Because of the build-up of this unrivalled experience, and his fluency in German, he was appointed to follow up the Allied advance into Germany, and take charge of flight testing all the captured German aircraft. In this role he found astonishing evidence of just how advanced German aircraft design had been.

Heinkel 178
He 178
Heinkel 219
He 219

The Germans had produced the first jet aircraft in 1939, long before Frank Whittle's experiments, and had built their first twin engined jet fighter, fitted with ejector seats, in 1946. Their Heinkel 219 Night Fighter was fitted with two 30 mm cannon firing 60-degrees upwards and on its first operational sortie the prototype shot down six Lancasters. And their Me 262 designed with 28-degree swept back wings, and fitted with four 30 mm cannon in the nose, was undoubtedly the most formidable aircraft in World War II, being at least 100 mph faster than any other aircraft in the sky at that time. Fortunately for us, it only became operational in late autumn of 1944, but for a short time it had a very high kill rate.

Zero

Zero
Hellcat
Hellcat

Between 1940 and 1943, the Japanese had the best fighter in the world - the Zero - which had a kill rate of 12 to 1. Only when the Hellcat entered service with the US forces, and earned the highest kill rate in the world of 19 to 1, was the Zero outclassed at last.

Me 163
Me 163
Arado 234

Arado 234
Captain Brown, who had spoken entirely without notes, was thanked for an outstanding presentation, full of anecdotes and fascinating sidelines on the aviation history of the time, and laced with an encyclopaedic memory of performance figures for an astonishing range of World War II aircraft, which had the audience, many of whose memories are beginning to fade, gasping with admiration.

Tempest V
Tempest V
Prone Meteor




Prone Meteor


B&W pictures © Capt E Brown RN
show just a few of the many types he has flown

Colour pictures © David Jackson 2001

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