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Opssys
15th Dec 2008, 10:26
I wanted to put a short Aircraft History under a scan (not very good due Age of the original) of a picture I had taken at the Croydon Airshow Show of 1980. that will be posted on one of my Web Sites. However I have got extremely involved as even outside its time with Alex Henshaw the Aircraft has led a fascinating life.

Question 1: Ernie Crabtree (corrected from Eric Grabtree) Force Landed G-AEXF at RAF Cetterick on the 6 Aug 1965 - He is always shown as owner, yet John Appleyard is still shown as registered owner until the 1st August and then registered to Northern Air Taxis on the 10th August 1965. So was Eric the owner?

Question 2: North Air Taxis were registered owners of the Aircraft from August 65
until 11 October 1968when they notified the CAA that the Aircraft was PWfU.
But when did they sell/give to a Museum?

Question 3 - Which Museum?
I know it was at Squires Gate in 1970 when vandalised

Question 4 - John Batt Registered the Aircraft in 1970 - Was this a rescue attempt that didn't get off the ground?

Question 5 and Last - Before buying G-AEXF John Penrose did a trial flight with the Aircraft and had the bad luck to break it on landing (all sources agree it wasn't his fault), but none state the date. Any ideas?

I think I have got most of the rest of the history straight (including its time in France during the War, although if anyone knows how M. Victor Vermoral was killed it would satisfy my morbid curiosity).
Whilst discovering the 'facts' has been an interesting journey, it has shown the limitation of many Interent Sources as there are too many contraditions between them.
Oh and here is a 640x480 Pix of the Scan:
http://www.douglas-ian-holland.co.uk/shared_pix/1980050502_mgull01.jpg

treadigraph
15th Dec 2008, 13:19
Q5 - from memory the accident at Redhill was early 1986 which would tie in with the aircraft being registered to Desmond Penrose later that year. It was also damaged by an Auster running amok at Redhill a year or so previously.

Aeroplane Monthly published a two part account of the restoration by Tom Storey and Martin Barraclough several years ago - included a potted history I'll see if I can locate tonight.

PS, think it was Ernie Crabtree...

Karl Bamforth
15th Dec 2008, 13:41
You may have seen this site before. If not lots of links for AEXF.

Browse Flight's archive of Historic Aviation (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/search.aspx?ArchiveSearchForm%3Asearch=G-AEXF&ArchiveSearchForm%3AfromYear=&ArchiveSearchForm%3AtoYear=&x=33&y=9)

Sorry I don't have time to read through them all myself. Let me know if it any help.

Opssys
15th Dec 2008, 16:36
Treadigraph and Ken.
Thank you for your replies
The Accidents at Rehill:
The Auster was in 1983 and after that Tom Storey became the sole registered owner.
The 1986 Incident - Desmond Penrose - More formally John Desmond Penrose. He owned the Aircraft as of May 1986, so I am currently guessing his accident was April.
But if I guess and publish, then someone somewhere is going to pick me up on it.
As for the Aeroplane Article I would appreciate any information:. What I have written so far on this part of the History is as concise as anything I do, but is a rough Draft:

In early 1972 two members of the Tiger Club (http://www.tigerclub.co.uk/)Tom Storey and Martin Barraclough acquired G-AEXF from Mr Batt and became joint registered owners on the 11 April that year.
The Aircraft Transported to Redhill Aerodrome (http://www.redhillaerodrome.com/)and there then followed a total rebuild, in many cases requiring major re-manufacturing of parts to bring the Aircraft back to near the original factory configuration. A ground up rebuild restoration was going to take years and also technical knowledge of the Aircraft, re-enter Jack Cross formerly of Essex Aero, who collaborated on the restoration and the specialist skills of Speedwell Sailplanes of Marple who rebuilt the Wings.
In early April 1978 the rebuild was complete and the lives of Alex Henshaw and G-AEXF once more began to converge.

Between 1954 and the early 1970's Alex Henshaw had been running his business and looking after wife and son Alexander Junior. As the rebirth of G-AEXF approached, so the newly retired Alex Henshaw was starting his first book: 'Sigh for a Merlin'.

On 24th June 1978 Alex was reunited with G-AEXF and Jack Cross at Old Warden home of the Shuttleworth Collection (http://www.shuttleworth.org/). Alex presented Tom Storey and Martin Barraclough with his Capetown Journey Logbook.

In 1979 with G-AEXF operating from Redhill, Alex Henshaw's 'Sigh for a Merlin' was published and work on a second book 'The Flight of the Mew Gull' about his adventures with G-AEXF was underway. This was published in 1980. Surely this was the last time there would be a direct link between Alex Henshaw and the Mew Gull?
Note the Date John Batt Ceased to be registered owner and Martin and Tom became owners is 3 Months apart but that appears to be explained in the Registration Notes.
The Story Continues (in Draft - So its rough):

As for G-AEXF, she continued operating from Redhill and even an accident in 1983 when an Auster collided with with her only resulted in a short repair interlude. In the same year Tom Storey became the sole registered owner.

On 21st January 1984 the creator of the Mew Gull and the other Percival Gull Aircraft types, Edgar Wikner Percival passed away aged 88.
As for G-AEXF, by early 1986 Tom Storey had been involved with the Mew Gull for 14 Years and put G-AEXF up for sale
Ernie Crabtree - You are correct - totally my 'bad'. He who posts to PPRuNe should check his own writing before guessing any name! Note I have NOW edited my original post to correct this!


You may have seen this site before. If not lots of links for AEXF.
Browse Flight's archive of Historic Aviation (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/search.aspx?ArchiveSearchForm%3Asearch=G-AEXF&ArchiveSearchForm%3AfromYear=&ArchiveSearchForm%3AtoYear=&x=33&y=9)
Sorry I don't have time to read through them all myself. Let me know if it any help.
I think I have been through most of them. Just when I was starting to get a Life too!
But on a general note, the Flight Archive is an invaluable resource and repays the time spent searching, Just be aware it does take time and if you spot Articles that interest you, but are not related to the search, then hours and hours will pass!

treadigraph
15th Dec 2008, 21:05
I've run both copies of Aeroplane to ground - blimey! May and June 2003...

No mention of the ditch accident at Redhill BUT in Michael Jones's book "Tiger Club - the Redhill Saga" it is mentioned as having occurred in the spring of 1985. Presumably the delay in purchase of the wreck by Penrose was pending legal/insurance wrangles?

Regarding Q1, according to the Aeroplane article (by Martin Barraclough) implies is that Crabtree owned it and following the forced landing, he donated it to the Historic Aircraft Preservation Society (HAPS) at Booker, and resold to a "museum" at Blackpool (was this Reflectair?) who cut through the main spar in 1970...

British Civil Aircraft Volume 3 says that the aircraft was re-engined with a Gipsy Queen 2 in 1962 by Appleyard at Yeadon and flown by Ernie Crabtree... Crabtree was Northern Air Taxis wasn't he?

Finally, after acquiring the Mew in '72, Storey and Barraclough recovered the vandalised airframe from Blackpool, but also sundry parts from Bob Batt presumably from Southend and also Roger Steele a BEA engineer.

Plate of spaghetti.... Do you want a PDF of any of this?

Cheers

Treadders


PS, probably sacrilege to say this, but I prefer the Storey restoration - it's a far more elegant aircraft to look at than Henshaw's modified aircraft, though I know the mods were necessary to make it the record breaker it became! I can still remember visiting the Tiger Club hangar in early July 1978 and beholding a beautiful shape lurking inside...!

Captain Airclues
15th Dec 2008, 21:15
There is a replica of the aircraft at the RAF Museum

Percival Mew Gull airplane pictures & aircraft photos - RAF Museums (http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/collections/aircraft/percival-mew-gull.cfm)

Dave

Brian Abraham
15th Dec 2008, 22:08
a far more elegant aircraft to look at than Henshaw's modified aircraft, though I know the mods were necessary to make it the record breaker it became
treadigraph, would you like to fill the aficionados in with the differences? Many thanks.

treadigraph
16th Dec 2008, 07:41
http://www.pilotfriend.com/aircraft%20performance/Percival/gull.jpg

This pic (on the pilotfriend website) shows the aircraft as she looks today, rebuilt after a second accident with Des Penrose (engine failure and a forced landing in standing crop near Old Warden), which shows the visual differences between the Percival design in Opssys's pic and the mods for Henshaw by Jack Cross. How was she rebuilt after the Redhill accident, I can't recall?

if you want to know the nuts and bolts differences, I do recommend you read Alex Henshaw's "Flight of the Mew Gull" - an excellent book! :ok:

Opssys
16th Dec 2008, 08:28
Gentlemen.
Thanks in order.
Treadigraph Wow! The confusion is now lifting. If Ernie Crabtree and Northern Air Taxis were linked then that explains why the CAA never had him as registered owner. Also I have noted Registration Dates and actual Ownership change don't always match
(not just researching this. but other Aircraft)
The Museum Info you provided is a great help.
British Civil Aircraft Volume 3 has been a Great help as it covered the Proctor Undercarriage and most of the Canopy Mods as well as the Queen 2 Change.
As for the Penrose Crash being in 1985 a Insurance/Legal delay makes sense.
The Parts recovery also useful.
As for a PDF hmm I think I'll be OK with your Post Information
D*mn it Treadigraph you should be writing the history not me!
Note to self: Why did I get rid of all those Aeroplane/Flypast and Flight Mags!

Capt Airclues: The Replica was entirely Funded by Alex Henshaw and was built by the same people who did the Penrose/Henshaw funded work on the 'real thing' Its not many Aircraft that have their own Doppelganger.

Brian.
On the Specification front some Guys in South Africa put this together:
Kings Cup Specification: (http://users.iafrica.com/l/le/leehall/noframes/aircraft_2.htm#KingsCup)

Cape Record Specification (http://users.iafrica.com/l/le/leehall/noframes/aircraft_2.htm#CapeRecords)

Treaders, once again many thanks

treadigraph
16th Dec 2008, 12:12
Pleasure Opssys. No problem to PDF anything you might want.

Presumably Northern Air Taxis became Northair Aviation in due course? Have they folded or been absorbed? I remember them as a major Cessna dealer...

DeepestSouth
21st Dec 2008, 12:21
Sorry, I only saw this thread rather late in the day. If it is of interest, Lesley Hunt's book 'Veteran and Vintage Aircraft - Enlarged Edition' of about 1968 (I think - no publication date is shown) records XF at Wycombe Air Park (sic) as follows, in a list including a Monospar, 2 x Rapides, 2 x MS 230, Stampe, Fokker E3 replica, Antoinette replica, Piper Cub, Proctor and Nipper (Dixon):

"Douglas Bianchi's Personal Plane Services offer: ........Mew Gull G-AEXF ex ZS-ASM, winner 1938 and 1955 King's Cup races and holder UK-Cape and back solo records 1939 - now HAPS machine....)" There is also a small photo of XF airborne but with no attribution or further details.

Kenneth Munson's book 'British Aircraft' (Ian Allan) of 1963 lists XF as owned by JEG Appleyard. No photos or other info.

Flying Lawyer
22nd Dec 2008, 00:34
As for the Penrose Crash being in 1985 a Insurance/Legal delay makes sense.

I can't now remember if there was insurance involved but there was no legal wrangle between Desmond Penrose and Tom Storey re the ditch incident.
General consensus was that the drainage ditch was inadequately warned and inadequately marked but Desmond was pilot in command when the accident occurred - during a trial flight with a view to purchasing. The Mew Gull was badly damaged and needed major restoration. He had to decide whether to repair or buy. He bought.

I discussed the matter with Desmond, but only informally - everything being settled amicably between them. If I'd acted in a professional capacity, I'd have a record somewhere and be able to give a precise date. Sorry not to be able to help.

If I recall correctly - this was more than 20 years ago:
Desmond's initial intention was to restore it back to its standard Percival mode, not to the Cape configuration because of the extra expense involved. However, after discussion with Alex Henshaw - the only person then still living who had knowledge of the modifications for the Cape configuration - they reached an agreement whereby Desmond would fund the rebuild up to the amount it would cost to restore to the standard Percival spec and Alex would meet the costs beyond that. Alex agreed to oversee the project and guarantee the accuracy of the completed aircraft.
I assume, but don't know for certain, it was then restored to Cape configuration under that arrangement.

Desmond's first post-restoration flight from Old Warden was satisfactory apart from a few minor problems. However, during a subsequent test flight he had an engine failure and had no option but to force land in the best of a choice of fields all with standing crops.

Alex's view was that if you had an engine failure in the Mew Gull you shouldn't expect to survive. However, Desmond was an exceptionally able and experienced former test pilot and landed safely. Unfortunately, the crops clogged the spats and the aircraft flipped over.

The Mew Gull was rebuilt yet again, but this time not in Cape configuration.


FL

Tiger_mate
22nd Dec 2008, 08:36
Let the CAA give you all the answers you want here: GINFO Registration History | Aircraft Register | Safety Regulation (http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=60&pagetype=65&appid=1&mode=reg&fullregmark=AEXF)

Open the .pdf files and discover some excellent info regarding the history of this aeroplane.
http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3201/3127958780_40f92beceb_o.jpg
I took the liberty of levelling your photo.

Opssys
22nd Dec 2008, 10:51
I will cover the most recent posts in response to my questions, but perversely in reverse order.:
Tiger_Mate: G-INFO proved useful when building a 'skeleton' of the History and for most of the life of G-AEXF was accurate (by cross checking) for pinning down changes of ownership, but for a period during the 60's, like Car Registration Documents of the same period was accurate, but only for a relative value of accuracy!

As for straightening the picture, that has presented a interesting conundrum as for the what is becoming in internet terms a 1980 Croydon Air Show Feature (Amateur Video courtesy of .Steve Burdon, Eight Pictures from myself, plus a Scan of the Progamme for the show) keeping the pictures n their raw state has as a certain merit. However if the History of G-AEXF becomes as comprehensive at it appears likely, then a PDF Version would be logical, in which case cleaning up my Pictures and obtaining permission to publish other pictures covering the life of XF would be a necessity.

Flying Lawyer
Thank you for removing possible legal wrangles from the equation, whilst all sources I have able to find follow the same pattern: The accident wasn't Desmond Penrose fault,and it happened in the spring, the Year is never stated an therefore it could be 1985, or 1986 (Change of ownership was delayed but by how much).

Aside: When Desmond Penrose approached Alex Henshaw. It must be remembered that Jack Cross had died in early October 1981 (Whilst involved with the restoration of G-ACSS), Although not party to the Essex Aero Modifications, Edgar Percival had died in Januarry 1984 and Arthur Bage (main designer of the E.2/E.2H) was in the last year of his life. So Alex Henshaw was indeed the 'last man standing' as regards an intimate knowledge of the Pre-War period of XF.

Back of FL's Post: The agreement between Penrose and Henshaw agrees with all other sources. The date of the Accident at Old Warden I have yet to discover.

DeepestSouth:
If the publication date was 1988 then probably HAPS had the Aircraft in 1987, or my current guess March 1986.
I now know the wings were sawn off to permit transport from Booker to Squires Gate and from 1970-1972 was in open storage with little or no protection (sigh)!

Douglas Bianchi's Personal Plane Services offer: ........Mew Gull G-AEXF ex ZS-ASM, winner 1938 and 1955 King's Cup races and holder UK-Cape and back solo records 1939 - now HAPS machine.Now that is interesting. I would be grateful if you could tell me where that appeared and a date?

Kenneth Munson's book 'British Aircraft' (Ian Allan) of 1963 lists XF as owned by JEG Appleyard. No photos or other info.They were quick off the mark as James Appleyard only acquired XF from Fred Dunkerley in October 1962.

Opssys
22nd Dec 2008, 11:26
This updates what I think I now know since the questions waere originally poseted:

Question 1: Ernie Crabtree Force Landed G-AEXF at RAF Cetterick on the 6 Aug 1965 - He is always shown as owner, yet John Appleyard is still shown as registered owner until the 1st August and then registered to Northern Air Taxis on the 10th August 1965. So was Ernie the owner?
J.E.G Appleyard stopped advertising XF in April 1965. I suspect title of the
passed to Ernie Crabtree immediately after, but no one bothered to register the change, until after the accident at Catterick on the 9th August 65. Thanks to Treadigraph I now know that Ernie Crabtree and Northern Air Taxis are effectively one and the same.

Question 2: North Air Taxis were registered owners of the Aircraft from August 65
until 11 October 1968when they notified the CAA that the Aircraft was PWfU.
But when did they sell/give to a Museum?
Ernie Crabtree advertised XF in Flight in February 1966. I suspect he donated to HAPS shortly after, but this is still unclear as the Aircraft was not advised as Permanently Withdrawn from Use until Oct 68.

Question 3 - Which Museum?
I know it was at Squires Gate in 1970 when vandalised
Historic Aircraft Preservation Society (HAPS) at Booker and thence to Reflectaire Ltd first at Booker, then Squires Gate. Wings Sawn off at Booker, further vandalised at Squires Gate

Question 4 - John Batt Registered the Aircraft in 1970 - Was this a rescue attempt that didn't get off the ground?
The short Answer is YES. John Robert (Bob) Batt did acquire XF as a restoration, but it appears discovered attempting it was beyond him and passed the Airframe to Barraclough and Storey, plus sundry items he had transferred to Sothend. Obviously a Percival fan, Bob Batt owned a Proctor and a Prentice.

Question 5 and Last - Before buying G-AEXF John Penrose did a trial flight with the Aircraft and had the bad luck to break it on landing (all sources agree it wasn't his fault), but none state the date. Any ideas?
Currently either Spring 85, or 86.
Add to that the crash at old Warden Date

Finally for this post:
Up until the transfer of XF to HAPS I am as 'happy' as I am ever going to be, that I have traced the History of XF. Although the circumstances of the killing of Victor Vermoral are still a mystery. One trivial item passed to me in another place was that Hugh Scrope whilst in France recovering XF was told by a Clairvoyant that anyone who owned XF would suffer ill fortune!

Flying Lawyer
22nd Dec 2008, 16:46
The date of the Accident at Old Warden I have yet to discover.
I think the company that built the replica Alex commissioned shortly before his death and which is now in the RAF Museum is the same company which restored the actual aircraft after Desmond Penrose's forced landing.
If that is correct, they should know the date of the forced landing.
The company is called either AJD Engineering or Hawker Restorations - sister companies - and based in or near Ipswich.


You refer in your most recent post to 'John Penrose'.
I don't doubt John is one of his Christian names but he has always been known in the industry as Desmond Penrose.


Another snippet -
Forward visibility with the Cape config cockpit was very poor when the aircraft was on the ground. Henshaw taxiied it by walking beside the aircraft with his hand on the throttle!

DeepestSouth
29th Dec 2008, 11:53
Douglas Bianchi's Personal Plane Services offer: ........Mew Gull G-AEXF ex ZS-ASM, winner 1938 and 1955 King's Cup races and holder UK-Cape and back solo records 1939 - now HAPS machine. Now that is interesting. I would be grateful if you could tell me where that appeared and a date?

It is in "Veteran and Vintage Aircraft (Enlarged Edition)" published by Leslie Hunt of 90, Woodside, Leigh on Sea, Essex and printed by the Essex Chronicle Series Ltd, Westway, Chelmsford, Essex. This is the 2nd Edition - the first, and much smaller, was almost entirely military aircraft and has no mention of XF. There is no publication date but the Foreword mentions planned publication in Autumn 1967, and 'now' as November 1967. This ties in with my memory of buying the book, new, before I left school, which was in 1969. My best guess is that it was finally published in early 1968 but the information was from a point in 1967 at the latest.The photo shows XF from the port side, airborne over the sea with what looks like a stretch of coastline in the background. I'm happy to scan the text and photo to you if that would help either on to this site or via a PM.

Leslie Hunt published both editions to raise money for Truelove's School and his books were 'bible's' for the fledgling aircraft preservation movement in the 1960s - he really was an important figure. I don't know if Leslie is still with us, but perhaps his papers might shed further light.

My sincere respect to you for taking on this task!:D

Opssys
29th Dec 2008, 14:31
I reached a point just before Christmas when researching XF was interfering with every other project and indeed preparations for the Christmas Break - So decided to stop work on it for a Week.

One thing is now clear that a PDF Version will be essential, and I shall be restarting work on the G-AEXF History in the next few days! However as I planned the period between XMAS and New Year as the time to update and expand the Gatwick-Heathrow Air Links into a corrected 2nd Edition and I am a little peeved I didn't realise how much I would become involved with the Mew Gull :)

Moving on to the latest posts:
Flying Lawyer:
Later this week I will contact Skyport Engineering who were involved in the first Penrose/Henshaw Restoration and then Hawker Restorations/AJD Engineering
for the second Penrose Restoration and the Henshaw Replica.
Also Thanks very much for the snippet on :Forward visibility with the Cape config cockpit was very poor when the aircraft was on the ground. Henshaw taxiied it by walking beside the aircraft with his hand on the throttle!

Deepsouth:
Thanks for the updated information on the Advertisement and the narrowing of relevant dates. I agree that HAPS must have had the Mew Gull in 1967 so 1966 is still possible. It is interesting that Personal Plane Services were the sales agents.
I guess I'll try Tony Bianchi's company to see if their PPS Archive has the advertisement date.
Also a thank you for the 'Heads Up' on Leslie Hunt.

As for:
My sincere respect to you for taking on this task!Respect, or lack of it, will only be earned when the Gurus of PPRuNe have seen the finished article and decided on its merits (or otherwise). I am never happy with any project, Airline/Airport Computer System Design, or Training Manual, I have ever produced and I have no doubt I will feel the same about this, but having such a knowledgeable group waiting to review it, well obviously I'm under no pressure at all to ensure I do a good job .:cool:

atb1943
4th Jan 2009, 14:11
Opssys - it seems that Victor Vermorel (vs Vermoral) was killed at the battle of Vercors on 23 July 1944, not flying, but wielding a machine gun. Wikipedia will tell you in general about Vercors without mentioning M. Vermorel, other sites do, and I found most by entering 'Victor Vermorel Aviateur' in Google.

A detailed account of the battle of Vercors (in French) is here: www.beaucoudray.free.fr/vercors2.htm

There is also a plaque erected in his memory illustrated at
www.pagesperso-orange.fr/espacesaerienslyon/drome.pdf

Mention is made of him too at www.geo.anse.com/geo/aero115.htm

He was obviously a very well-known industrialist, viticulturist, inventor (spray can, etc), an accomplished pilot, but also deeply involved in the French Resistance.

At one time he owned, amongst others, Farman F.231 F-ALGY

I hope this helps.
Good Luck
Alan

Opssys
4th Jan 2009, 17:13
atb1943
Your Information is musch appreciated and I will add your input to the ever expanding text, as the mystery of Victor Vermorel (vs Vermoral) was really getting too me (when I really should have been concerned with current pressing real world issues :-).

Some of the links you provide lead to 'dead pages', but I have found through Google there is a memorial to him in the unfortunately named (at least in English) town of Die.

Once again thanks for the information.
Douglas

atb1943
4th Jan 2009, 18:14
Douglas,

When transcribing the urls, I added www. in error. The battle's description therefore is at: Le drame du Vercors (http://beaucoudray.free.fr/vercors2.htm)

and the plaque is at http://pagesperso-orange.fr/espacesaerienslyon/drome.pdf

The third one merely refers to his building a second hangar in 1938 for his personal aircraft: aroclub (http://geo-anse.com/geo/aero0115.htm) with apols for the dud links!

vbrgds
Alan

Opssys
5th Jan 2009, 01:28
atb1943
Thanks for the Links Update and now I will just go away and try to remember sufficient French to translate them (I was one of Count Spani's few failures in this regard back in the day). On Second thoughts I'll ask Google to do it on the fly!

Thanks again Alan.
Douglas.

FAStoat
5th Jan 2009, 09:08
You ought to get in touch with Tony Bianchi at Personal Plane Services High Wycombe.His Father Doug Bianchi had it in his Hangar at White Waltham after the war.I believe it had been in France ,but was chopped in half over there to stop it being flown.Bianchi brought it back to England in bits with ,I think, Peter Cliffords help.Tony has a excellent Oil Painting of it on trestles in his Fathers hangar,at White Waltham in the late 40s.It sits on the wall in his office.By the way,when it was rebuilt again in the early 80s,Brian Smith brought it to Old Warden,and He and I (flying Hawk Speed 6 GADGP) flew in formation at Shuttleworth at the Air Show there,which was the first time they had flown together since before the War.Des then flew the Speed 6 several times before he purchased the Mew Gull.

treadigraph
5th Jan 2009, 12:37
Bianchi brought it back to England in bits with ,I think, Peter Cliffords help

FAStoat, luckily it wasn't chopped in half (but the wings were sawn off later in its career as detailed in earlier posts above!).

I've just been reading a truly delightful article by Doug Bianchi in a 1977 copy of Pilot about how he got the decidedly battered and neglected Mew flying again in France, then Hugh Scrope flew it back to Blackbushe!

atb1943
6th Jan 2009, 09:26
Hi Tredders!

Does the article also explain how the Mew Gull actually changed hands, either before or after the war?

I am intrigued as to how they got to know each other (Alex and VV) - is it mentioned anywhere?

brgds
Alan

treadigraph
7th Jan 2009, 06:53
Hi,

Don't think it mentions much about how it got to France, but certainly there is something about how Hugh Scrope came to acquire it!

I'll make it available this evening - even if adds nothing much to Opssys's knowledge, the article is wonderful to read.

I think Pilot or PPS should try and make the collective jottings of Doug Bianchi available in a book - like Brian Lecomber, he had a happy knack of weaving fact and humour together.

Incidentally, it includes the well known pic of three Mew Gulls parked together. I'd never noticed before that they were all bereft of their spinners. Anyone know why this might be?

treadigraph
12th Jan 2009, 07:23
Have created a PDF of the above article, but signally failed to find somewhere to post it on t'net! My Google account seems to require people to log in now...

Therefore anyone who'd like a copy can email me at tre[email protected] and I'll send a copy - it's about 700kb.

Cheers

Treadders

DeepestSouth
13th Jan 2009, 21:16
Final bit of information - I've just obtained a copy of Leslie Hunt's 'Veteran and Vintage Aircraft' - Fourth Edition (Revised) of 1974. It shows XF as registered to Norman Jones at Redhill as follows:

Percival Mew Gull G-AEXF c/n E22 ex Zs-AHM, winner of King's Cup 1938 and 1955, UK-Cape and back record etc:Restoration by M. Barraclough and Ptrs. Possibly at Hanwell, but will fly here when restored.

Hope that is of use.

Opssys
14th Jan 2009, 11:11
Gentlemen.
Thanks for the Updates since my last post.
My Plans have been disrupted by pressing issues and other projects which (quite rightly) people have been pressing me to deliver.
Once I am clear of these I will post a PDF with Part 1 of the History of XF from Construction to the end of the Appleyard ownership.
This will give all those following this thread a chance to see what I have done and provide suggestions, criticism, or corrections.
Opssys

Opssys
14th Jan 2009, 18:17
The article converted into a PDF by treadigraph is on now online:
Return of a Thoroughbred (http://www.douglas-ian-holland.co.uk/shared_pix/bianchi_mew.pdf)

Many thanks Tredders
Opssys

atb1943
14th Jan 2009, 20:06
Thanks again from me too Tredders!

Here's a photo I've had for almost 50 years. I assume it is one of Brian Stainer's, it's typical of his size of print.

Location unknown, but believe someone once thought it was Wolverhampton.

The two lines of text under the tailplane state:

EMPTY WEIGHT 1265 LBS
MAXIMUM WEIGHT 1850 LBS

cheers
Alan

www.english-for-flyaways.de/albums/userpics
/thumb_Mew_Gull_G_AEXF.jpg

Opssys
15th Jan 2009, 00:12
atb1943
I hope you don't mind but the full picture is here:
http://www.english-for-flyaways.de/albums/userpics/Mew_Gull_G_AEXF.jpg



Opssys

atb1943
15th Jan 2009, 06:11
Many thanks indeed!
Any idea what I did wrong? I put it on a website, noted the url, and shoved IMG front and back...:{
cheers
atb

p.s. isn't she lovely....!

Opssys
15th Jan 2009, 06:42
atb1943
Yes! A very pretty Aircraft (In fact other than the Cape Configuration she always managed to look good - the Cape Config gave her a a bit of mean b*tch air)
If this is when I think it is, then at the time of the picture she was owned by Nat (J.N).Summers with the Doug Bianchi Modified Canopy (and the same racing number as used by Hugh Scrop), so Wolverhampton is probably right.

As for your incident with the image, I'll PM You
Opssys

treadigraph
15th Jan 2009, 06:48
Hi Alan, your link is missing the "http://" prefix to the address.

That canopy was surely designed to accomodate a very tall person!

No probs about the article, and thanks to Opssys for hosting the original!

Cheers

Treadders

PS how come my posting time is showing yesterday (23:48) when it is most assuredly today (07:48) - have we suddenly gone on Pacific Coastal Time or something? :}

atb1943
15th Jan 2009, 07:16
It's called 'turning the clock back' which is what it is all about!:)

Thanks both, for the tips. Why we cannot download from HD I don't know.
If I had half-a-crown for every time I've seen a question about photos...(it wouldn't be worth much...!):{

alpha tango bravo

PontiusPilote
22nd Jan 2009, 13:41
That was canopy 5 of 8. Poor old 'XF.

Dev One
4th Apr 2010, 17:45
Treadigraph et al: I know that it's more than a year old this thread, but I can confirm a couple of things.
1. My bum was the next one to sit in EXF's seat after Hugh Scrope's when she arrived at Blackbushe in '48/49(?) I would have been about 11 yrs old!
Doug Bianchi, Hugh Scrope, my father & one other pushed her into Dougs hangar & I was told to sit in whilst this manoeuvre took place. One thing that still stands out to me was that the pitch control was a push/pull knob on the RHS under the instrument panel & labelled Coarse/Fine.
2. The various canopy mods were made to improve the pilots vision for short closed circuit racing - very necessary for the Kings Cup when coming up on slow Tigers & the like. Not very pretty, but practical - Same goes of course for my uncles Speed Six DGP.
3. I thought (& my memory is fading these days) that EXF ran into a ditch at Shoreham back in the 50's when arriving for one of the Daily Express South Coast Races, & that unfortunately the wings had to be sawn off to get her to Dougs new premises at White Waltham - the wings I believe were remade there - I seem to remember her on trestles under a canvas tent whilst undergoing this surgery. This may also explain the picture with the coast in the background.

Dev One
4th Apr 2010, 19:30
Further to my last on EXF, I think the lack of spinners was for all Gipsy Sixes with VP props in 1938/39 - they kept falling off. I have some photos taken at Brooklands for the 38 Kings cup which shows Vegas & the Heston Phoenix spinnerless.

fauteuil volant
6th Apr 2010, 20:29
It's always nice to have recollections such as these, Dev One. The mentioned photos would be even better!

Flying Lawyer
7th Apr 2010, 17:19
Opssys Flying Lawyer
Thank you for removing possible legal wrangles from the equation, whilst all sources I have able to find follow the same pattern: The accident wasn't Desmond Penrose fault,and it happened in the spring, the Year is never stated an therefore it could be 1985, or 1986 (Change of ownership was delayed but by how much).

I've made some enquiries and can now say with certainty that the accident was in 1985 and with almost 100% certainty that it was on Monday, May 6th. (May Bank Holiday that year.)


FL

Dev One
7th May 2010, 07:32
I would like to attach the Photos, but I do not seem to be able to!!! My aged brain probaly not understanding the process!
Keith

henry crun
7th May 2010, 08:48
Dev One: Have you read the sticky thread towards the top of the forum page titled Image Posting on PPRune - some tips for you ?

India Four Two
9th May 2010, 12:26
King's Cup Brooklands 1938

Vega Gull
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c309/india42/VegaGull.jpg


Phoenix
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c309/india42/Phoenix2.jpg


Phoenix
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c309/india42/Phoenix1.jpg


Dev One
In the Brooklands vein I also attach a couple of scans of the before & after of one of the DW1ís! The before shot shows Dudley Watt at left, & my father (3rd from left in flat cap & dark coloured shirt), do not know the others.Before
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c309/india42/SE5A29.jpg


After
http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c309/india42/SE5A30.jpg

Keith,
I know it's a bit of thread drift from XF, but I'm sure the regulars here would like to know more about the DW1 and your father's connection with it.

Dev One
9th May 2010, 14:23
Dear Heeeeennnnnry Crun,
Thanks have found the entry you suggested, but not much help to me as I have no website to up/download to/from, but as you can see India Four Two has provided that link - for which thanks!
As for my fathers involvement with -EBOG - I do not know much - I think he would have been about 19 at the time of the photo (1929) & the SE5A was modified for the Bournemouth air race in 1930 which Dudley Watt could have won easily but apparently he cut inside a pylon & was disqualified! I think the SE5As were also used for 'skywriting'.
My father was apprenticed to Vickers (although he said he was kicked out after 6 months) & then worked for Brooklands Aviation, but I am not sure if he worked for Dudley Watt between. From the photo I have to guess the latter as I have photos of him at other Brooklands Aviation sites.
Not much available on the internet except a couple of Flight Global entries, some on the DW2.
Keith

fauteuil volant
8th Sep 2012, 14:56
Opssys, on the subject of Victor Vermorel, there is a detailed biography - including the circumstances in which he was shot dead by the Germans - to be found at http://leg.hon.beaujolais.free.fr/doc/victor_vermorel.pdf. Depending on how well you read French, you should find it of considerable interest and it should go a long way to answering your initial question about him.

Opssys
8th Sep 2012, 15:42
fauteuil volant.
Many thanks. Sadly I would given enough time be able to read through it... Fortunately I know a Lady who can and with her help discover the story of a patriot and brave man,
Opssys

Helicopterdriverguy
13th Jan 2013, 02:40
Gentleman,

She's now based and flying at Breighton Airfield in Selby if you want to see her again.
The Real Aeroplane Company - Breighton Aerodrome (http://www.realaero.com/)

http://sphotos-b.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/429523_380779905265350_2018756726_n.jpg

GQ2
15th Sep 2013, 09:36
A rather belated observation here, but anyway.......
Earlier in the thread, Flying Lawyer made this comment;-
'Another snippet -
Forward visibility with the Cape config cockpit was very poor when the aircraft was on the ground. Henshaw taxiied it by walking beside the aircraft with his hand on the throttle!'

It's true to say that the 'XF's later cut-down fuselage restricted visibility. However, Alex's stunt of taxiing the Mew whilst walking alongside it was, I believe, restricted to when he first acquired the machine, long before the fuselage was cut down. I suspect that it only happened a few times early on. Viewing the surviving photos and film footage, Alex is always shown remaining seated whilst taxiing with the machine in it's cut-down configuration. If there is any evidence that he did this later I'd be interested to see it.

Today the Mew appears to some extent to be 'just' a nippy little light aircraft. In the 1930's, most pilots were still only experienced in slow, uncomplicated biplanes. This applied especially to the private pilot community. The Mew was generally viewed, unfairly, with some considerable awe and trepidation and came to Alex with that baggage. Given that he subsequently operated it day and night, heavily-loaded with an aft CofG and in a very fatigued state, we must presume that that initial trepidation had well and truly dissipated...!

Fournierf5
18th Sep 2013, 09:13
G-HEKL (http://www.aeroplanemonthly.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=603:mew-reproduction-emerges&catid=38:latest-news&Itemid=60) has now flown - see article in latest LAA Light Aviation magazine

treadigraph
18th Sep 2013, 10:49
Cor, G-HEKL looks an absolute beauty - hope she and I will coincide soemwhere soon...

GQ2
21st Sep 2013, 02:39
'XF is set to depart Breighton for pastures new. Rumour has it that it will be Old Warden. No news on the new owner - yet. My contact at TSC knows nothing, so Mr.H. is my best guess...:)