Laying Eggs in someone else's Basket

Discussion in 'World War I' started by nuuumannn, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Hi,

    At the moment I'm incarcerated in bed unable to walk due to a damaged sciatic nerve, so with nothing better to do but heckle forum users (!), I thought I might post this article on torpedoplanes in WW1 I've been working on for some time now. It has not been published as a whole, but is comprised of bits that have been published in different sources, such as Cross and Cockade magazine. It's a bit long. I welcome any comments, criticisms etc:

    Laying eggs in someone else’s basket – Evolving Sopwith’s Torpedoplane

    The Whitehead locomotive torpedo was once described as a David to a naval battle-fleet’s Goliath; this menacing little weapon was to have a profound effect on naval warfare unforeseen by its British inventor when first produced in 1866. In theory, the addition of the submarine and torpedo boat to any naval fleet could provide a means to narrow down any numerical advantage an opposing battle fleet might have against ones own. It was this plan of strategy that was proposed under Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz’s Doctrine of Risk in 1897, the impetus behind the naval arms race between Britain and Germany prior to the start of the Great War in 1914.

    Within the first few months of the war, Tirpitz’s proposed theories were becoming an uncomfortable reality for the Royal Navy. On September 5 1914 the first surface vessel lost to a submarine fired locomotive torpedo, the destroyer HMS Pathfinder was sunk by U 21 off May Island in the Firth of Forth. Seventeen days later Leutnant Otto Weddigen commanding U 9 quickly dispatched the cruisers Cressy, Aboukir and Hogue to the bottom of the North Sea off the Dutch coast. Over 1,650 seamen lost their lives from the four ships sunk that month. After these attacks and a further loss of a fourth cruiser to Weddigen’s torpedoes, HMS Hawke on October 15, a rash of “periscope-itis” (panic sightings of periscopes often where there were none) broke out amongst the surface fleet of the Royal Navy.

    The concept of an aeroplane carrying the locomotive torpedo was not lost on aircraft designers prior to the start of hostilities. According to the official document AP1344 "History of the Development of Torpedo Aircraft", compiled by the Aircraft Armament Torpedo Section of the RAF in March 1919, discussions were held concerning the use of torpedo aeroplanes in early 1911. Commander N. F. Usborne, Captain M. F. Sueter and Lieutenants D. H. Hyde Thompson and C. J. L’Estrange Malone of the Royal Navy proposed the use of airships and aeroplanes to carry torpedoes at a time when heavier-than-aircraft were barely capable of lifting a greater weight than that of their pilots.

    From their mutual interest in the potential of torpedo carrying aircraft, Capt Sueter and Lt Hyde Thomson drew up the secret Specification No. 6938 "A Torpedo Carrying Seaplane" dated March 19 1914, stating:

    “The invention relates to seaplanes (i.e. aeroplanes designed to rise from and alight apon water) which carry and launch automobile torpedoes. According to the invention the torpedo is directly suspended from the fusilage (sic.) of the seaplane and as close thereto as is conveniently possible, and to enable this to be done the supporting and bracing members of the main floats of the seaplane are so arranged as to leave a clear space between the floats to accommodate the torpedo and enable it to be dropped between the floats into the water.”

    A profile line drawing of a large, heavily braced two-seat twin float machine was submitted with the specification, there were also scrap views of the methods for carrying the torpedo between the floats.

    It is generally accepted that the first release of a torpedo from an aircraft in flight took place in 1914 off the Italian city of Venice. Two years earlier prominent Italian lawyer Pateras Pescara advised the Regia Marina (Royal Italian Navy) on the use of a torpedo carrying aeroplane, as Capitano Alessandro Guidoni claims in his book "Aviazione-Idroaviazione", published in 1927. The Italian Navy High Command showed interest in Pescara’s concept, detailing Guidoni to conduct preliminary ballistics trials. Using Guidoni’s “faithful old Farman” biplane, experiments in weight dropping were carried out using lead weights up to 176 lb (80 kg), but the Farman was found to be unsuitable for lifting heavier weights.

    From the Pescara-Guidoni PP, an indigenous twin-engined monoplane fitted with hydrofoil floats built to Pescara and Guidoni’s design, an 827 lb (375 kg) mock-up missile was dropped in the waters off Venice on February 26 1914. Despite the fact that the object dropped from the Pescara-Guidoni PP was not an offensive weapon, history records that this was the first air dropping of a torpedo from an aeroplane. Although Guidoni’s experiments were promising, further progression with these early experiments was not continued with immediately afterwards by the Regia Marina.

    In the United Kingdom however, trials were held between aeroplanes built by Sopwith and Short Brothers in the spring of 1914 at Calshot, on the recommendation of Sueter and Hyde Thomson, with support from the First Lord of the Admiralty, Wintson Churchill. A milestone was reached when the commander of the Calshot Naval Air Station, Squadron Commander Arthur Longmore (later Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur Murray Longmore G.C.B., D.S.O. RAF) flying a Short Folder (called as such due to their folding wings for stowage aboard ship, a first in naval aviation) carried out a successful air dropping of a torpedo on July 28 1914. Hyde Thompson had constructed a bracket to carry the 14-inch torpedo between the float undercarriage of the Short Folder No.121.

    Despite the experiments in torpedo dropping in northern Italy in February 1914, to the Royal Naval Air Service goes credit for introducing the air dropped torpedo into service first. During the disastrous Dardanelles campaign of 1915 the torpedo-carrying aeroplane first proved its worth in action. Whilst embarked aboard the seaplane carrier Ben-My-Chree, Flight Commander C.K. Edmonds flying Short S.184 No. 842 sank a Turkish steamer previously damaged after attack by the British submarine E.14, on August 12 1915.

    Flt Cdr Edmonds scored a second kill with his torpedo-armed seaplane when five days later on August 17 he sank a Turkish supply vessel. These successes were added to on the same day when Flt Lt G. B. Dacre, also in a Short 184 torpedoed a Turkish tug. Whilst on patrol with Edmonds, Dacre’s Short suffered an engine failure and he landed on the sea. Whilst undertaking repairs to the engine, he sighted the Turkish vessel, which he promptly torpedoed from the surface of the water!

    The Royal Navy’s successes with the Short 184 proved that aircraft could provide a third dimension to the use of the torpedo in warfare, although the machines in use were cumbersome seaplanes of limited flexibility. Wooden floats shattered with heavy landings and flying operations were called off in anything more than a moderate sea state. Furthermore, the 14-inch torpedo these aeroplanes carried was not considered sufficiently powerful enough to penetrate the waterline armour plating of modern capital warships.

    The ships that carried the torpedo-armed seaplanes were converted merchantmen of poor turn of speed, which precluded their use in fleet actions. These ‘seaplane tenders’ as they were termed also had to come to a full stop in order to launch and retrieve their aeroplanes, thereby increasing their vulnerability to submarine attack.

    The shortcomings of the Short seaplanes and possible remedial solutions to the question of launching torpedoes from aeroplanes were brought up at a conference held at the Board of Admiralty on April 3 1915. In attendance were senior RNAS personnel including Harris Booth of the Admiralty Air Department and Capt Sueter as Director of the Admiralty Air Department. Chairing the meeting was Churchill, who, on hearing of the inadequacies of the Short 184 was quick to ask why such an aeroplane could not be fitted with wheels instead of floats to be flown off a flat-topped barge? Concluding logically, he stated that after all, the weight saving with the removal of the floats could be utilised to carry a useful load.

    By that time much innovation had been carried out in the field of launching aeroplanes from ships, but no purpose built vessels for the operation of landplanes existed. In spite of Booth stating that creating a landplane by simply removing the floats of a seaplane was not possible in counter to Churchill’s query (although the Short Bomber was essentially a S.184 seaplane with a lengthened empennage and wheeled undercarriage); those assembled saw the sense in Churchill’s statement.

    The First Lord ended the discussion with his statement that torpedo carrying aircraft “must be pressed on with, so that if possible a decisive blow may be aimed at some of the enemy’s capital ships with this weapon, either in a fleet action or in his harbours.” It is likely that this is the first official mention of the use of torpedo armed aircraft for this purpose.

    More later...

    :)
     
  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,083
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Sorry to hear about the "psychotic" nerve acting up! :lol:

    Hope you are up and about soon, looking forward to more!
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Man, hope you get better! Article is good too!
     
  4. Aaron Brooks Wolters

    Aaron Brooks Wolters Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    15,723
    Likes Received:
    339
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Auto Restoration
    Location:
    Abingdon, VA.
    Hope your nerve gets better, they are a real pain in the lower back. I know, mine bothers me from time to time. And thank you for posting the article on the torpedo planes. Very interesting! :thumbright:
     
  5. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Hi Guys,

    Thanks for the sympathetic comments; "psychotic" nerve indeed :D

    The genesis of the first true aircraft carrier based torpedo-dropping aeroplane originates from a letter penned by Murray Sueter, by then a Commodore, marked “Most Secret” to Thomas Sopwith and hand delivered by courier on October 9 1916. Sueter requested Sopwith investigate “…with as little delay as possible” two potential torpedo-carrying aeroplane specifications. The first, designated T.1 was a single-seater carrying 1 x 1,000 lb torpedo and four hours fuel, the second (T.2) was to carry two 1,000 lb torpedoes.

    The document suggested that the proposed machines would be catapult launched, “…giving the machine an acceleration of 90 ft/sec in 60 feet”. An appendix attached gave a break down of performance of a 225 Short seaplane taking off from a wheeled trolley on the deck of the seaplane tender HMS Campania for comparison. (Two-Two-Five was a frequently used name for the ubiquitous Short 184, derived from the power output of its Sunbeam-Coatalen Mohawk Vee-twelve engine.)

    Sueter followed up his letter to Sopwith with a memorandum to the Admiralty titled Policy to be followed as regards development and use of torpedo carrying seaplanes, on December 20 1916. In this paper he outlined the possible offensive use of torpedo seaplanes, stating that “the two most obvious objectives are the High Seas Fleet at Wilhelmshaven and the Austrian Fleet in the Adriatic harbours…”

    In old naval parlance the term for this kind of first strike operation was to “Copenhagen” the enemy battle fleet, after Admiral Horatio Nelson’s renowned action against the Danish fleet over a century earlier in 1801. In the paper, Sueter added, “with the aid of Mr Sopwith I have secretly got out a torpedo-carrying aeroplane and one is being built. The machine should be able to get off any 200 ft. deck, and as she will be without floats she will be lightly loaded.”

    This wasn’t the first proposal to attack German warships in their ports by torpedo armed aeroplanes put forward to the Admiralty, however. Squadron Commander W. P. de Courcy Ireland, commander of the Royal Naval Air Station at Great Yarmouth, sent a letter to the Admiralty asking questions about using seaplanes for launching torpedoes against the High Seas Fleet, which was submitted to a conference held on January 4 1916 by Royal Naval Air Service personnel.

    The conference was held to consider the best type of aircraft to carry an 18-inch torpedo after examination of Sqn Cdr Ireland’s paper. In attendance were Harris Booth and Flt Cdr Hyde Thompson, among others. Points for discussion included the probable use for a torpedo seaplane, which could be classed under two headings:

    1 “Raids on enemy harbours carried out by single-engined seaplanes, taken within a certain distance of their objective by seaplane carrier cruisers.”

    2 “Operations in the North Sea in accordance with reputed movements of enemy vessels at a distance not exceeding two hundred miles from seaplane base. The torpedo probably carried would be the 1,400 lb long range 18-inch torpedo.”

    Regarding Sqn Cdr Ireland’s proposal, those at the meeting agreed that, “the probability of using large seaplanes for raids from our East Coast Stations as proposed by Sqn Cdr Ireland in his recent paper… was not admitted in view of the size of the seaplane and the difficulty of handling the machines in crowded defended harbours.”

    In mid 1917 Flt Cdr F. J. Rutland (commonly known as Rutland of Jutland because of his aerial reconnaissance of the German fleet during that engagement) and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond produced a paper titled “Considerations of an attack by torpedo planes on the High Seas Fleet”. This paper was similar in many ways to those that had been issued before, but like Sueter’s paper dated December 20 1916, mentioning a new purpose built torpedo plane then undergoing development.

    It was stipulated in the paper that in order to carry out such an attack, the torpedo plane requirement was “…as many machines as possible, and not less than 121, to be carried in specially fitted carrier ships to within not more than one hour’s fly (sic.) from Wilhelmshaven.” In addition to torpedo planes, the paper also recommended that Curtiss H-12 Large America flying boats should also take part in the attack, using 230 lb (140 kg) bombs.

    In order to transport the large number of aircraft, under the heading of “Carriers”, it was suggested that, “…ordinary merchant ships could be fitted to carry torpedo planes and launch them from the deck, by building flying decks to them.” An idea fulfilled during the Second World War in the form of Merchant Aircraft Carriers. Eight of these ships suitably converted were to carry a minimum of 17 aircraft each, with “…two fighting planes to destroy the Zeppelin Scouting vessels” on each carrier. Richmond and Rutland drew their paper to the attention of the Commander of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Sir David Beatty (later Baron Beatty of the North Sea and of Brooksby PC, GCB, OM, GCVO, DSO, DCL, LLD).

    As Admiral of the Grand Fleet, Beatty’s motive for promoting the proposal was simple; the complete eradication of the High Seas Fleet. Although languishing at anchor in the Shillig Roads on the River Jade since the Battle of Jutland on May 31 1916, the German ships’ mere existence was considered by Beatty as a fleet-in-being, a constant threat that kept the Grand Fleet at a state of short term readiness at all times.

    The removal of this stalemate situation would be entirely favourable to the Royal Navy; Beatty was enthusiastic about the proposal. A quote from Richmond and Rutland’s paper expressed Beatty’s thoughts on the matter. ”It is therefore of the highest importance to immobilize the High Seas Fleet, or, if that be not completely effected, to drive it to the East and block its return, so to prevent it from operating against an inshore squadron of the type we desire to maintain...”

    On August 24 1917 Beatty held a meeting in the boardroom of his flagship, the Dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth, with the First Sea Lord Earl Jellicoe attending among others from the Admiralty. To the assembled he presented Richmond and Rutland’s proposal, earnestly stating that an attack at dawn by torpedo planes on a large scale against the High Seas Fleet in their harbours “…would be most difficult to repel.” Few of those present shared Beatty’s enthusiasm however.

    Both Jellicoe and Admiral Sir George Hope openly expressed disdain for the idea, giving every obstacle that had to be overcome in order to achieve the aim of the proposal as a reason why it should not be carried out. There weren’t sufficient ships to carry the aeroplanes, and the likelihood of them being spotted on route by Zeppelins or submarines was high, thus alerting the German Naval High Command to their objective. And if the aircraft were launched, the likelihood of success was slim; the machines would be picked off by enemy air defences before they got near the fleet anchorage. That was of course, if enough torpedo aeroplanes could be manufactured to make up the numbers required by mid 1918.

    Admiral Beatty brought Rutland and Richmond’s recommendations to the Board of Admiralty’s attention less than a month later on September 11 1917. Beatty’s covering letter stipulated that time was of great importance. “Every endeavour should be made to be ready for operations by the Spring of 1918.” Despite the reaction of senior personnel to it aboard Beatty’s flagship less than a month earlier, when officially published the proposal was not automatically disregarded, no doubt to Beatty’s surprise, but nor was there any great enthusiasm shown toward it by the Board.

    Lack of interest in the proposal by the Admiralty has been subsequently criticised by historians as evidence of the Board's disinterest in naval aviation. Nothing could be further from the truth; the ground breaking Tondern raid of 18/19 July 1918 distinctly demonstrates a positive attitude toward the aeroplane as an offensive weapon by Admiralty personnel in both the targets selected: airship sheds and the weapon used to disable them: ship launched Sopwith 'Ship's Camels'. The Royal Navy's attack on the Tondern airship sheds by aeroplanes launched from HMS Furious was the very first successful aircraft carrier launched air strike in history.

    The Board's reluctance to allocate resources to the scheme is almost certainly because the members' over riding opinion was that efforts should be devoted to producing merchant shipping to counter losses suffered as a result of Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare policy, and not the conversion of these precious hulls into ‘aircraft carriers’. The middle of 1919 was estimated as a more attainable date for when the resources might be available to the Royal Navy to launch Beatty’s offensive.

    More soon...
     
  6. A4K

    A4K Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2007
    Messages:
    12,162
    Likes Received:
    123
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    The back of beyond
    Mate, just on quick so will read the article later on, but hope your back on feet again soon!!!
     
  7. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    41,780
    Likes Received:
    519
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Doctor
    Location:
    Portsmouth / Royal Deeside, UK
    Home Page:
    Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

    Hope you get better soon.
     
  8. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    More from the Admiralty Files...

    At the time of Jutland the existing Royal Navy torpedo seaplanes largely came from the Rochester based Short Brothers, as few other British aircraft manufacturers had delved into this hitherto unexplored territory. Sueter had great faith in Sopwith and knew he could deliver a suitable design, but when Sopwith received Sueter’s October 1916 letter, he was initially adamant as he had already produced a torpedo-carrying machine that was not a success; the Sopwith Special Seaplane. It was no accident that this large twin float single-engine machine resembled Sueter and Hyde Thomson’s March 19 1914 specification; it was the first British aircraft specifically designed for the purpose of carrying a torpedo. Despite this accolade, it was not capable of alighting from the water whilst carrying its weapon, however.

    The most prolific draughtsman in the Sopwith firm was Herbert Smith, responsible for drawing up Fred Sigrist’s light plane design, commonly referred to as Sigrist’s Bus, into the Sopwith LCT, the ground breaking1 ½ Strutter. This aeroplane became a benchmark for the practical designs that lent themselves to mass production that Sopwith’s were famous for. Smith’s torpedo carrying machine that emerged was of conventional configuration and construction, although by comparison to contemporary Sopwith aeroplanes his torpedo machine was of considerable size.

    The line of thought between Sopwith and Sueter’s proposals was that the specification was best met by a relatively large, unarmed, (apart from the offensive element) single-seat aeroplane, which relied on speed and manoeuvrability to evade potential threats. This was contrary to Richmond and Rutland’s proposal submitted to the Admiralty by Admiral Beatty, which stated that the aircraft should be “…capable of carrying a gun in addition to the torpedo if light weight pilots fly them.” Production Cuckoos were not fitted with a gun, however, nor was one fitted to their replacement in Fleet Air Arm service, the Blackburn Dart. Was this possibly because naval aviators of the period were not light-weight pilots?

    Sopwith’s designers set to work in late 1916 to contract number B.R.156 on what was for the time a demanding set of criteria, and early on it was decided on fitting a wheeled undercarriage. Dimensions of the aeroplane on completion were: an overall length of 28 ft 6 in (8 m 69 cm) and a wingspan of 46 ft 9 in (14 m 25 cm). The wings were three-bay equal span, with ailerons on upper and lower planes for greater manoeuvrability. From the innermost of the three bays just outboard of the wing struts, the wings could be folded backward with their trailing edges flush against the fuselage to facilitate storage in the confined spaces below decks of a warship.

    A single geared 200 hp Hispano Suiza 8Ba Vee-eight engine powered the T.1 Torpedo Plane as Smith’s new machine was called. A suitable name for the aircraft, which would identify it as one of the Sopwith Zoo would not be given until after the Armistice. It s cockpit was located at the trailing edge of the wing centre section, which promoted ease of access but was not ideal for ship borne operations; the nose of the aeroplane obscuring the pilot's visibility ahead on the ground. Floatation bags were inserted in the fuselage behind the cockpit for operations over water; these were inflated by compressed air. On rollout its only markings were a single ‘T’ on both sides of the rear fuselage under the leading edge of the tail plane, although it was later issued the serial N74.

    It has been suggested that the name Cuckoo was given because that bird has the propensity to lay its eggs in another’s nest. AP1344 suggests that the name “…is conveniently appropriate, due to the fact that Sopwith’s design was placed with Blackburn’s firm to produce. Sopwith’s cuckoo (sic.) design was hatched in Blackburn’s nest.” The name also fit with TDI538 (later AP547) Standard Nomenclature of Aircraft, prepared in July 1918, which specified that single-seat aircraft for use on land or from ship’s decks would bear zoological names; either reptiles (except snakes) or land birds (except birds of prey). During the Great War the existence of the T.1 was not made public for reasons of secrecy, hence the fact that it wasn’t named until after the Armistice.

    Sueter’s posting to Italy to command the seaplane base at Otranto at the beginning of 1917 took his enthusiasm for torpedo-dropping aeroplanes, envisaged in the then still incomplete T.1 away from Admiralty attention where it was most required. At this time work on the T.1 was suspended as Sopwith’s fulfilled orders for Herbert Smith’s potent little scout designs, the Pup and Camel fighters, which did so much to assert Allied air superiority over the raging battlefields in mainland Europe. The incomplete torpedo plane was suspended off the workshop floor, tied up to the beams in the factory ceiling at Canbury Park Road, Kingston-upon-Thames, presumably to make room for production.

    Whilst on an official visit to the Kingston factory in February 1917, Wg Cdr Longmore spied the T.1 in the rafters of the workshop and enquired as to the reason why it was in its present condition. Longmore was a technical advisor of the specific requirements of naval aviation to the Admiralty Air Board at the time, and due also to his earlier experience air dropping torpedoes paid considerable interest in the incomplete machine. Longmore’s visit prompted Sopwith to complete the forlorn T.1 and its development was given a higher priority. Completion occurred four months later and the T.1 was cleared for trials by the Experimental Department at Kingston on June 6 1917.

    Although incorporating novelties required for its ship based torpedo carrying role, the completed torpedo plane was very much a product of its time, offering nothing in advance technologically over aircraft designs that had appeared before. Its most intriguing feature was its split axle wheel arrangement, which enabled the torpedo to be carried against the underbelly of the aircraft.

    Each wheel was attached to two sets of steel struts inboard and outboard; the outermost was aligned vertically with the innermost wing bracing struts. The outboard leading strut was vertically mounted from the front spar of the lower mainplane centre section, and the rear strut was at an angle from the axle to the rear wing spar. The inner mounted Vee struts were angled inward to the lower mainplane wing root, allowing the torpedo to fit between each assembly. Each steel strut was streamlined by wooden fairings covered in doped fabric.

    After the aircraft’s first flight at Brooklands, official trials were conducted on the Isle of Grain a month later on July 17. Successful conclusion of these trials led to contract A.S.27863/17 for a production order of 100 aircraft being placed with the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Co., Ltd. at Govan on the Clyde on August 16.

    Fairfield was one of the firms inexperienced in aircraft manufacture selected for production of new types. This measure was to ensure that aircraft production within principal companies factories was not disrupted; this in itself emphasized the low priority placed on the requirement for the torpedo aeroplanes. Of the original batch of 100 to be built by Fairfield, only fifty were actually completed, serials N7000 to N7049, the first being finished on August 6 1918. The rate of production at Fairfield was slow to begin with, and at the time of the Armistice only twenty Fairfield built Cuckoos had been distributed to the fleet airfields.

    A second production order was issued to Pegler and Co. Ltd. brass workshops in Doncaster in late 1917 under contract A.S.35976/17, to produce fifty T.1s, serials N6900 to N6929. Due to the lack of aircraft building knowledge in their workforce and changing design requirements instigated by Sopwith however, their first aircraft were not promised until 1919. As a measure of expediency, the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co. Ltd. took over the Pegler order; N6900, the first aircraft was produced at their Olympia Works at Roundhay Road, Leeds in October 1918 after their own order for Sopwith Torpedo Planes was fulfilled. As a result of these delays in production, valuable time was lost in introducing the Cuckoo into operational service.

    On September 23 1917, piloted by Flt Lt Day, the prototype T.1 was flown to the Royal Naval Air Station at East Fortune in East Lothian from the Isle of Grain. On landing the machine was quickly pushed into one of the hangars away from curious onlookers, who hadn’t seen the new design before. The T.1 left for Donibristle across the Firth of Forth the next day.
     
  9. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    By the middle of October the torpedo plane had arrived at Rosyth for deck handling trials aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Furious, then classed as a Large Light Cruiser with a flying off platform forward and single 18.1 inch (46 cm) gun at the stern. The aircraft was loaded aboard the forward deck but was not flown from the ship. It was discovered that with its wings unfolded the 46 ft 9 in (14 m 25 cm) wingspan provided little clearance either side of Furious’ flying off platform. Following this three-month tour of naval facilities in Scotland, presumably to display the new machine to Fleet aviators, the T.1 returned to Grain in December for initial armament trials.

    The weapon specified for the Cuckoo was the especially lightened 1,086lb (453 kg) Mark IX 18-inch (45.7 cm) torpedo, the first to be specifically designed for air release from an aeroplane. Derived from the standard ship launched weapon, the air launched Mark IX was lighter and the warhead was smaller. It detonated by contact pistol on impact. The Royal Naval Torpedo Factory at Greenock, North West of Glasgow on the Clyde developed the weapon and the first carrying trials were carried out at Grain on January 19 1918 with the prototype T.1.

    Supply of the Hispano Suiza engine powering the prototype was not meeting demand however. The decision was made to replace the T.1’s ‘Hisso’ with a different engine. The 200 hp Sunbeam Arab I then under development was chosen, although it had not been thoroughly tested at the time. The T.1 was then flown to Tadcaster in York on 6 February 1918 and transported by road to Leeds for the fitting of the Sunbeam engine. Sopwith Torpedo Planes undergoing production were also modified with the new powerplant.

    With the Arab I aboard the Sopwith, the thrust line was lowered by six inches and the aircraft was found to be nose heavy due to the greater weight of the Sunbeam over the Hispano engine. A large semi-circular radiator was fitted directly in front of the engine, which had the effect of raising the forward decking from the cockpit rim to the extreme nose, which further hindered the pilot’s visibility ahead. The wooden tailskid was also lengthened to provide greater clearance for the torpedo’s lower fin; this raised the base of the tail to nearly two feet off the ground.

    The selection of the Sunbeam Arab for service before it had been fully tested had a detrimental effect on the subsequent fortunes of the Cuckoo. It had a tendency to over-heat and suffered from severe vibration. These continuing problems caused excessive delays in delivery of Cuckoos to frontline units, and engine failures were a regular occurrence when in service. The most common cause being the shearing off of the propeller shaft. The Arab was sensibly replaced with the 200 hp Wolesley Viper in the Cuckoo Mk. II in 1919.

    Despite the problems encountered with fitting the Arab engine to the type, in a minute dated May 29 1918, the Director Air Department (DAD), Captain Scarlett wrote that the Air Ministry expressed the opinion that these troubles would eventually be overcome and that the Torpedoplanes emerging from the factories "...should be sufficiently good for training and it is hoped that when the training is completed the improved type should be ready."

    Whilst at Grain after repair from a forced landing during the return flight from Leeds caused by structural defects, the T.1 undertook simulated deck handling trials over a two-day period, using an area of the airfield marked out with cross lines on the grass, indicating a foot of existing deck space. Initially it had been intended that take-off ballistics trials would take place on wooden decking laid out on the airstrip, but this was cluttered by arresting wires in use by Sopwith 1½ Strutters and Pups undergoing arresting experiments. It was also felt that the decking was “...hardly big enough for this machine when heavily loaded.”

    The object of the trials was to examine how much deck space a T.1 loaded with weights simulating torpedoes would use on take off. The use of actual torpedoes was thought to be too risky, possibly also because they were in short supply at the time. Instead, “the test was made with a coffin shaped box in place of the torpedo, this being gradually filled up with lead”, to simulate different weights.

    The method of testing was conducted using an ingenious mechanical device that would record the speed the aircraft was travelling over a given distance. It was described in Secret technical information, 1918, No.8 – Sopwith Torpedo Plane – Deck taking off trials on, as thus:

    “A string was attached to the tail skid of the machine. This string was unwound from a light wooden wheel, the revolutions of which were marked electrically on a chronograph. As the beats of a metronome were recorded at the same time, a distance time curve could be drawn and a velocity time curve could be derived.”

    But trials were abruptly suspended when the propeller shaft sheared after take-off and a second forced landing by the prototype was made into a nearby field. The conclusion offered was that the results could only be used to give a rough estimate of the distances required, and that further tests should be carried out on a smooth surface, rather than on uneven ground.

    On June 1 1918 the first production T.1, N6950 was delivered by air to the Grain Test Depot. It was the first aircraft of the Blackburn firm’s initial order for 50 Torpedo Planes. The first production T.1 did not get off to a good start however, on arrival at Grain for acceptance trials, fractures were found in the starboard undercarriage tubing. After repair N6950 arrived at East Fortune at the end of July as the first delivery of a production machine to begin training of service personnel. After a somewhat brief service career, N6950 had been deleted by the end of September.

    Aside from the Pegler contracts Blackburn took over, the firm was to receive two more contracts to build Cuckoos; a second batch of 50, serials N7150 to N7199, with first delivery to No.9 Aircraft Acceptance Park, Newcastle in December 1918. The third order was for a batch of 100 aircraft, serials N7980 to N8079, first delivery taking place in June 1919. Although initially ordered, serials N8012 to N8129 were cancelled prior to production in January 1919. Blackburn built Cuckoos were fitted with the control column type as fitted to the Sopwith Baby single-seat seaplane constructed under licence by Blackburn.

    The first production T.1 did not get off to a good start however, on arrival at Grain for acceptance trials, fractures were found in the starboard undercarriage tubing. After repair N6950 arrived at East Fortune at the end of July as the first delivery of a production machine to begin training of service personnel. After a somewhat brief service career, N6950 had been deleted by the end of September.

    Situated six miles from the mouth of the Firth of Forth, East Fortune was ideally located for training aircrew in the precise art of launching torpedoes from aircraft. The natural sheltered inlets that ring the Forth provided suitable stretches of water for aerial releasing of torpedoes. East Fortune’s proximity to the naval base at Rosyth was also instrumental in the establishment of aviation training facilities there.

    With the formation of the Royal Air Force on April 1 1918, East Fortune came under the new service’s jurisdiction, but the aircraft were still the property of the Admiralty. The Royal Navy did not regain full control of the RAF Fleet Air Arm, formed on April 1 1924, until just before the outbreak of war in 1939.

    With the first production aircraft entering service in July 1918, a series of changes to the basic design were introduced, including enlarging the rudder by 2 sq. feet to counter a tendency to swing to starboard at full power. Later aircraft incorporated an offset fin. The first ten aircraft rolled out of the factories did not receive modifications and were eventually altered at service level, but subsequent examples received them on the production line.

    After repair from its forced landing at Grain, the T.1 prototype returned to East Fortune on June 7 1918 for evaluation and fleet trials. Two other torpedo-carrying types also arrived in the following months. The first of these was Short Shirl N111, which was flown up from the Isle of Grain by Short’s test pilot John Lankester Parker on July 8. The all silver painted Blackburn Blackburd N114 flown by R. W. Kenworthy, Blackburn’s chief test pilot, arrived in mid August.

    The 385hp Rolls Royce Eagle VIII engine powered both the Blackburd and the Shirl as they were built to the same specification; N.1B Torpedo-Carrying Ship Aeroplane issued in late 1917 to carry the 1,423 lb Mark VIII 18-in (46 cm) torpedo. This weapon had a more powerful 320 lb warhead than the Mark IX of the Sopwith machine; the Admiralty concluded that the 170 lbs (77 kg) of torpex of the Mark IX would not be sufficient to penetrate the waterline armour belt of the biggest German battleships.

    :)
     
  10. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,083
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Things have gotten worse since my last post; after a violent and bloody :shock: reaction to my medication, I've been back to the doctors, but I'm slowly progressing. I can walk down the stairs without my crutches, now. :)

    Thus, in February 1918 a contract was placed for an aircraft to carry the Mark VIII torpedo with Blackburn and Short Brothers at Rochester on the Medway, for three aeroplanes each. The Royal Naval Torpedo Factory was instructed to increase the Mark IX’s warhead by 80 lbs. The two aircraft built to specification N.1B, renamed Type XXII with the formation of the Royal Air Force on April 1 1918, were conceptually very similar, both simple to maintain and manufacture with built-in practicalities.

    Designed by Harris Booth of the Admiralty, who had much practical experience with torpedo aeroplanes, the Blackburn machine was by far the most ungainly in appearance, the fuselage being of equal width from the rudder to the firewall, giving the aeroplane the appearance of a flying coffin. Unusually, the Blackburd’s cockpit was located roughly half way between the main wing trailing edge and the fin. Not surprisingly, visibility over the nose on the ground was non-existent.

    Named by company chairman Robert Blackburn by simply changing the last letter of his surname, he strongly hoped that the Blackburd would gain a production order as he was keen for his firm to become a key supplier of marine aircraft to the navy. Of the three of the less than handsome machines completed, serials N113 to N115, the first was initially delayed as the firm hurried to complete the first few Sopwith Torpedo Planes they were constructing under licence.

    The Shorts product was considerably more conventional in appearance compared to the Blackburd, but like that machine the Shirl’s wheels were jettisonable. On the Blackburd there was a single transverse axle between each wheel; the whole unit, wheels included were jettisoned before firing the torpedo, which was mounted on steel crutches under the wing centre section. Bereft of wheels, the aircraft would then land back on the aircraft carrier deck on skids; trials for which had been carried out previously using Sopwith 1 ½ Strutters and Pups on the artificial decking on the Isle of Grain. The Shirl however, had individual undercarriage legs in a similar fashion to the T.1, but with large skis and two wheels on each leg. It was not necessary to jettison these in order to release the torpedo however.

    After evaluation of each aeroplane it was found the Sopwith machine was the most satisfactory. Neither the Blackburd nor the Shirl were considered capable of sustaining evasive manoeuvres once their torpedoes had been fired, and both were slower than the Sopwith. Lieutenant Colonel Montague RAF, Officer Commanding of East Fortune stated on August 6, “As a result of trials at East Fortune with the Shirl Torpedo aeroplane, unanimous opinion of all pilots that it is unsuitable”. With regards to the T.1 Montague concluded that “…it can definitely be stated that the Sopwith is the type required at present and it is required that production of Sopwith machines may be arranged to supply Torpedo Squadron now forming.”

    When outlining each of the aircraft in the Technical Details of Torpedo Aircraft section, AP1344 records that, “The Sopwith Cuckoo Machine, which was designed in October, 1916, is still the best machine which has yet been produced for torpedo work.”

    Paradoxically, although the Blackburd was also deemed unsuitable, its constructors were the largest producers of the Cuckoo, building 132 examples of a total of 221 completed. Its secret torpedo carriage and release gear was designed by Blackburn and remained the same in the Cuckoo’s replacement, the Blackburn Dart. (This evolved from the almost identical Blackburn Swift, built to the reissued Type XXII specification, which had originally produced the Blackburd.)

    For torpedo launching trials commencing in July 1918, the prototype was flown the short distance from East Fortune to the beach at Belhaven Sands, near the seaside town of Dunbar on the third of that month. The surface was considered dense enough for the operation of the heavily laden machines. There, a Bessoneau hangar had been relocated for servicing aeroplanes, and small huts were erected to provide workshop space. The establishing of a temporary airstrip with rudimentary facilities had been ongoing throughout April and May.

    There was no permanent accommodation at Belhaven and servicemen were driven from East Fortune each day. Torpedoes were also delivered by road to the Sands, where their delicate instruments had to be recalibrated after the bumpy journey from East Fortune. The upkeep of equipment at the Sands was always a problem, as supplies had to be brought in by road.

    The Marine Section of the Royal Air Force provided motor drifters and small boats moored at Dunbar Harbour for torpedo recovery, these also aided in determining the release height of the torpedoes by the pilots in the aircraft. Once training pilots had begun, the drifters and torpedo-boat destroyers lent by the navy acted as targets for simulated torpedo runs, both at anchor and whilst underway.

    Aboard the little ships, measurements of speed of the aircraft, height of release and track of the torpedoes were taken, as well as photographic records of each run, compiled with the name of each pilot. Navy divers were also on hand to help recover torpedoes and eventually steps were taken to train some torpedo mechanics as RAF divers.

    The deliberately vaguely titled Development Squadron was formed at Gosport in Hampshire in August 1918, with six Cuckoos to determine the best height of release of the torpedoes. It was estimated that dropping a torpedo not higher than 20 feet and not less than ten feet, at an angle of 3° below the horizontal was optimal for a successful run. These measures were also recommended in order to avoid the splash made by the torpedo entering the water from striking the tail of the aeroplane.

    At too steep an angle above the horizontal on release and the torpedo would ricochet tail first off the water’s surface, causing damage to the rear section containing the motor. At too steep an angle below the horizontal and the torpedo would dive too deeply to be effective and travel underneath the target. Photographs in AP1344 show extensive damage to torpedoes that had been dropped imprecisely; the motor sections are covered in dents and scrapes and gaps are forced open between the rear and centre sections of the torpedo. In AP1344, conclusions of the torpedo trials carried out were drawn. Concerning mock runs against the craft in Belhaven Bay, it was recorded that, “These attacks have been most promising and on occasions of misty days, destroyers have admitted that they could not have stopped the attacks.”

    This document also records problems that needed to be solved before torpedoes could be deployed operationally from aeroplanes; these included heating the torpedoes during flight. An eventual solution was the ducting of exhaust gases near the weapon by extending the exhaust pipes below the lower wing and alongside the torpedo. An electrical transmitting thermometer was placed inside the water bottle in the torpedo, to which a gauge was located in the cockpit; the pilot could control the exhaust output to maintain sufficient warmth. A silencer was fitted to the upper part of the modified exhaust tubing, which was found to have reduced the aircraft’s performance only marginally, but a considerable reduction of engine noise was noted from a distance.

    On the matter of warming torpedoes, AP1344 also states, “It was realised that it would be also necessary to keep torpedoes warm while in place on the machines on Aerodromes or flying decks. This is being arranged for in Aircraft Carriers by steam heating troughs. On Aerodromes, Electrically heated mats are being used.” Although a caveat was issued at the end of this paragraph concerning the 220 volt power supply surging through the mats, “There is some danger in this latter method owing to possible electrical faults and the presence of petrol.” The first heating mats did not arrive at East Fortune until November 1918, nine were delivered on the 27th of that month.

    Problems also arose with the trajectory of the torpedoes on entry into the water; they had a tendency to nose dive on impact, then porpoise up and break the surface. This was attributed to the instability of the torpedoes themselves, and the shallow running settings of the depth keeping mechanisms reacting to the diving motion of the torpedo. This equipment provided reliable shallow running once established on course, however.

    Trials were carried out using detachable wooden drogues and anti-roll strakes mounted along the flanks and on the nose of the torpedoes, on recommendation by Commander T. J. Croker RN, Superintendent of Torpedo Experimental Work at the Royal Naval Torpedo Factory, Greenock. It was found that the drogues reduced the porpoising, but the anti-roll strakes were ineffectual. Extensions to the torpedoes tail fins were also fitted, but these were also found to be ineffective and often bent out of shape with the force of impact with the water. The National Physics Laboratory agreed with the recommendations by Greenock and added that a more pointed nose might aid in a smoother entry into the water. Conclusions were reached after some 270 practice drops, 230 of them in Belhaven Bay, the rest off Calshot.

    An endurance test was carried out from East Fortune in October 1918 by three Cuckoos, each carrying an 18-inch torpedo and loaded with 60 gallons of fuel. The aircraft flew in formation across a distance of 80 miles before dropping their torpedoes and returning; flight time was 2 ½ hours. It was calculated that the T.1 laden with a 1,100 lb torpedo could remain in the air for five hours at an average speed of 64 knots.
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Initially the newly formed Royal Air Force found themselves without trained personnel in torpedo techniques, this was compounded by the fact that the Navy could not lend officers as their number were insufficient to fulfil both services’ needs. Pilots received preliminary training at HMS Vernon in Portsmouth until sufficient facilities and personnel were available to the RAF at East Fortune.

    Designated 208 Training Depot Station (TDS) East Fortune, the Fleet and Torpedo Pilot Finishing School was formed in June 1918 but was renumbered as No.1 Torpedo Training Squadron on July 19, equipped with Bristol F.2bs, Sopwith T.1s and a single Short Shirl (N111). A further change of numerical designation followed on August 14 as No. 201 Training Squadron equipped solely with the Sopwith Torpedo Plane.

    This last change of numerical designation came about due to perceived security breaches by personnel at various depots carrying out work associated with the torpedo aeroplanes in RAF service. In a confidential letter to the Director of training dated July 29 1918, Lt Col Montague requested that an Air Ministry Confidential Order be issued in the following terms, "Number 1 Torpedo Training Squadron, East Fortune is to be referred to in all addresses and non-confidential correspondence as "No.1 T.T. Squadron, East Fortune". The word Torpedo is never to be used in any address, or telegram to this squadron." Montague then emphasised that the success of the raid against the enemy fleet depended on the element of surprise. "This secrecy is now being seriously compromised by telegrams and lettering being forwarded from RAF depots and RAF officers at aircraft factories, with the word Torpedo being written in full in the address."

    A positive response to Montague's request was issued by the Air Ministry, stating that "the trouble appears to be due to an unfortunate name given to the squadron. We see no reason for calling these squadrons Torpedo Training Squadrons and T.T. Squadrons is too distinctive also. Is there any objection to dropping the word Torpedo altogether and calling this squadron No.201 Training Squadron? No suspicion will then be aroused." A note was left at the top of the memo saying "May this be done please?"

    Log books surviving in the RAF Museum Archive suggest that the pilots selected for training were chosen to fly the Cuckoo because of their previous single-seat experience; almost all were single-seat scout pilots. Quite often, the biggest aircraft they had flown was the Bristol F.2b. Because the Cuckoo was a single-seater, the pilot’s first flight in the type was his first solo in it; there was no dual instruction version. Bristol Fighters were made available to the pilots undergoing training at East Fortune, to give them experience in handling a larger machine before their first flight in the generously proportioned Cuckoo.

    After receiving a short course of lectures and ground torpedo instruction, flying training commenced on the Sopwith with torpedo drops being made out over the bay using dummy weapons. After each pilot showed a certain level of proficiency, generally after three to four drops, an actual Mark IX torpedo with a wooden warhead was fitted to his aircraft. Simulated attacks were made against the drifters and torpedo-boat destroyers singularly and in formation, with each torpedoes’ depth setting mechanisms altered to enable them to run under the target vessels.

    It was not uncommon for pilots to misjudge their height and end up in the water; fortunately there were plenty of boats around for recovery. By March 1919, 16 such incidents had occurred but none of the pilots had been injured,”...the machine has behaved so well as to create the greatest confidence among the pilots. It is found possible to land the machine in the water without trouble.”

    In September 1918, HMS Argus, the world’s first aircraft carrier with an undulating flight deck free of obstruction joined the fleet. A month later on October 7, No.185 Squadron, the first aircraft carrier based torpedo unit was formed at East Fortune; its pilots and aircraft were declared ready for operations from Argus on the 19th of that month. Exactly how ready for carrier operations Cuckoo pilots were at this time is debateable, particularly since the first instance of a Cuckoo making a deck landing on board an aircraft carrier (HMS Argus) took place at least nine months later on June 10 1919.

    With the signing of the Armistice three weeks afterwards however, the unit’s state of operational readiness did not last. By mid November 1918 it was recorded in the official paper Summary of heavier than air machines on naval flying duties that a total of 77 Cuckoos had been completed, and that with 22 Group at East Fortune there were 22 Cuckoos available with another at Marske, but operationally the number actually available would most likely have been less, probably due to the inconsistent nature of the Cuckoo’s powerplant.

    This was an insufficient number to carry out the attack on the High Seas Fleet as initially planned; the rate of production of Cuckoos was not sufficiently high to guarantee that adequate numbers would be available by mid 1919 either, had the war continued. Furthermore, there were only two aircraft carriers capable of operating the Cuckoo available to the Navy. Beatty had hoped that by that time the number of ships would be greater, as spring 1918 was the date he had originally specified for carrying out the operation.

    Less than two weeks after the Armistice was signed, the pilots being trained to attack the High Seas Fleet in their Sopwith Torpedo Planes witnessed their prey sailing sullenly into the Firth of Forth on November 21 for their official surrender. In spite of their generally unkempt appearance the German ships presented an awesome sight entering the mouth of the firth; aeroplanes and airships from East Fortune buzzed overhead the grey ironclads neatly sailing line astern into the broad stretch of water. Over the next few days, one by one the ships departed and headed north for the isolated waters of Scapa Flow and seven months internment, before their crews unceremoniously scuttled them where they lay seven months later, in a desperate gesture of defiance.

    There is some indication that members of 185 Squadron, and supporters of the proposal lamented the loss of the opportunity for carrying out the attack they had been preparing for with the surrender of the High Seas Fleet on November 21 1918. An East Fortune Christmas card reflects this, showing a picture of a Cuckoo (Blackburn built example N6954) dropping its torpedo on one half and the German battle fleet steaming line astern in the Firth of Forth. The card reads “Would that we two had met. Our weapon. Our objective – But the Huns surrendered.”

    :)
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Last installment. In the words of Topper headon in The Clash's song 'The Magnificent Seven'; "F*****g" long, innit?"

    It wouldn’t be for another 22 years that the techniques first taught at East Fortune and Gosport in 1918 would be put into practise, during another World War in an aeroplane not too dissimilar to the Cuckoo. The attack by Fairey Swordfish against Italian capital ships at Taranto on the night of November 11 1940 was vindication of sorts of the ‘Copenhagen’ theories proposed during the Great War. Whether 185 Squadron would have been as effective in 1919 as HMS Illustrious’ torpedo squadrons were in 1940 has since come under question, however. In theory the operation was a daring venture; in practise it was fraught with danger for the aircrews, let alone for the aircraft carrier task force if it were spotted en route.

    The tactics the Cuckoo crews would have carried out specified a steady run in toward a ship at anchor at a speed of 70 to 90 mph. To spoil the enemy’s chances of drawing a bead on the approaching Cuckoos, a smoke screen would have been laid upwind from each vessel under attack. Depending on the ship’s proximity to port facilities, it would have been attacked either simultaneously or one after another, by three aircraft at a time flying different approach vectors to give a greater likelihood of a successful hit, and to reduce their chances of being shot down. Although Cuckoo pilots had carried out torpedo firing practise, it is interesting to note that operational training for the raid had not yet begun by the end of the war.

    It was thought that the Cuckoo’s manoeuvrability would have thrown the aim of anti-aircraft defences on the harbour-side and on the ships themselves, but against enemy fighters they wouldn’t have had much of a chance of survival, since they had no defensive armament. A night attack might have aided in foiling enemy defences and would have caught the ship’s crews unawares, but this could have been detrimental to the attackers themselves. The Cuckoo was a single-seat aeroplane, and its pilots would have had a considerably higher cockpit workload than their erstwhile Second World War descendents.

    The biggest hope the Cuckoos would have had against fighters would have been low and slow manoeuvring close to the water’s surface, in a hope of throwing the enemy’s aim. The Cuckoo pilot would have had to have exercised extreme caution as he could have ended up in the water himself if he were not careful. The entire operation would have been a severe test of the Cuckoo pilot’s abilities, but success in their intended objective would not have been completely unobtainable however.

    The sinking of just one German capital warship would have given the Admiralty something to celebrate. A successful sinking would have provided an enormous propaganda coup for the Royal Navy, and would have been extremely embarrassing for the German Naval High Command. The loss of just one ship would have prompted them to have sought a safer berth for their precious fleet further east into the Baltic, thereby reducing its strategic value even further.

    With the end of hostilities and the surrender of the German ships in the Firth of Forth, plans for the proposed attack on the High Seas Fleet were shelved. After a steady decline in activity since the end of the war, 185 Squadron was disbanded at East Fortune on April 14 1919 without ever having fired a torpedo in anger. The pilots were dispersed and the resident Cuckoos were sent to Gosport, where 186 (Development) Squadron had been formed on New Years Day, 1919, also equipped with the Cuckoo. On route, most were modified to the Mark II standard by the installation of the Wolesley Viper in place of the Sunbeam Arab. These aircraft eventually equipped 210 Squadron, formed on February 1 1920 at Gosport, from where they carried out mock attacks against units of the Grand Fleet off Portland during exercises until replaced by the Blackburn Dart in RAF service three years later.

    :D
     
  14. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,287
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Plymouth, England
    Never mind the eggs...how are you? Up and about?
    John
     
  15. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Hi John, getting there, been to physio and acupuncture, and I've ditched the chop sticks now, but I still have to take it easy. I'm going stir crazy being holed up at home, but I have you guys to keep me company! :lol:
     
  16. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
    Staff Member Administrator

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2004
    Messages:
    19,419
    Likes Received:
    137
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    Network Engineer/Photographer
    Location:
    Moorpark, CA
    Home Page:
    The forum is good for that. Good to hear you're on the mend, just take it slow for now.
     
  17. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Messages:
    4,287
    Likes Received:
    50
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Plymouth, England
    That's good news. I'm afraid I don't know your first name...
    I hope your recovery speeds up and you can get out the house.
    Cheers
    John
     
  18. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Hi Guys, Thanks very much for your words of support; it's very kind of you all. :oops:

    Grant
     
  19. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 12, 2008
    Messages:
    1,436
    Likes Received:
    48
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Tamago no Chie
    Location:
    Tamago no Chie, (B'ham, UK)
    Epic thread Grant, get well soon, and enjoy the forum :) as per usual 8)
     
  20. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,083
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I agree, this has been a great thread.
     
Loading...

Share This Page