View Full Version : Mystery photo

19th Jul 2013, 00:48
Can anyone shed any light on this? The photo is noted as being a Tudor, but I can't find any references to suggest that a Tudor ever flew with RATOG equipment. It's clearly not a Lancastrian (the engine cowlings are obviously not Merlins) so it does rather look like a Tudor.

Anyone know if a Tudor was ever used on RATOG trials?


Lightning Mate
19th Jul 2013, 06:09
I think two Tudors were equipped with jet-assisted takes-off units but not rocket.

The two engines in your photograph look more like jet units and not rockets.

19th Jul 2013, 06:35
Difficult to tell if its Merlin or Griffon cowlings from this photo. I would go as far as to say its probably a Lancaster. Looking at the underside of the fuselage fore of the 'jets/rockets', and to the right hand side of the photo, is that not a part of the bomb bay doors i can see ? It seems, to me anyway, that where they have slung those pods, they may have placed extra rienforcing plating over the bomb bay doors as they obviously could not attach those pods directly to the doors.

If you bought this photo from somewhere and it said 'Tudor' , take it with a pinch of salt as I have found that half the time when buying a photo (from ebay anyways) that the information is guesswork and wrong.

Lightning Mate
19th Jul 2013, 06:45
You could well be right.

One Lancaster was modified using two "cold peroxide" units installed beneath the fuselage.

These could well be the units in the photograph - everything seems to fit.

19th Jul 2013, 13:41
I'm not sure what to think. The photo isn't off Ebay - I was asked to identify it by a private owner. She says there is "Tudor" pencilled on the back of the image and there's no reason to doubt this, but there doesn't seem to be any record of a Tudor carrying RATOG of any sort (even though it needed it!).

Certainly there was a Lancastrian that tested gear for the Comet programme, but looking at this photo, I don't think the engine cowling resembles a Merlin in any way. Tudor therefore seems the more likely aircraft, but then the lower fuselage looks pretty skinny for a Tudor (unless a section was modified for the RATOG gear).

Consequently, I'm inclined to think it is a Tudor, but I can't find any documentation that suggests that any Tudor carried gear like this. All very odd!

Lightning Mate
19th Jul 2013, 13:45
I'm sure it's a Lancaster.

Look at the plug-in bottle connected to one of the units.

That's a cold peroxide system.

19th Jul 2013, 13:47
That is definitely not a Tudor.

The Tudor was a low-wing aeroplane, and the wings of the one in the photo are not visible as they are much higher. In fact the Tudor is much more low-slung in general.

My vote is also for a Lancaster/Lancastrian.

Edit: I wonder if this image is any help?


Lightning Mate
19th Jul 2013, 13:48

19th Jul 2013, 13:56
Looking at both aircraft types, the lower fuselage seems to look more like a Lancastrian. But neither aircraft seems to have the exhaust (if that's what it is) visible on the above photo (I've highlighted the area below):-


So maybe it's neither type?

On the other hand, maybe the strange vent/exhaust on the photo isn't really there. I guess it could just be an optical illusion caused by a blurred "remove before flight" tag or something like that? If so, then it does seem to be more likely to be a Lancastrian.

Lightning Mate
19th Jul 2013, 13:59
I feel nacluv and I have found your answer.

19th Jul 2013, 14:01
Yes, I think I'm inclined to go with my original answer I gave the owner. I said it was VM703 but then I changed my mind because of that odd vent on the engine cowling. But seen as neither type has it, I have to suspect that it's not really there at all, and perhaps just a photo mark or something like that.

Thanks for the feedback guys:)

19th Jul 2013, 14:03
Bear in mind that VM703, as a test hack, would have been subject to all manner of weird and wonderful (not to mention temporary) modifications in it's short but hard life.

Brian Abraham
19th Jul 2013, 14:21
I believe the aircraft is Lancastrian VM703 which was powered with two Merlins, two Ghosts, and the two Walter HWK 109-500 rockets which are the subject of the OPs photo. The rockets were being considered as take off boost for the Comet.

19th Jul 2013, 15:24
I'm still inclinded to say its a Lancaster. Notice in the photo , the red outline and shading , clearly a bomb bay door. The blue area appears to be added over the bomb bay doors. On the Lancastrian, were the bomb bay doors still there, or was the area reskinned over ? nacluv's photo is a good possibility but those pods seem further back under the fuselage than the ones in the original photo. Lancaster or Lancastrian, yes, Tudor , definately not.

19th Jul 2013, 15:42
I'm sure we already have our 'smoking gun'.

The OP's photo is clearly a fairly long telephoto shot, which I think is confusing matters slightly. The main gear leg is some distance away in the background when you think of what is between it and the rocket pods in the middle ground. The guy far right is even closer to the camera - look how much ground is between him and the pods.

cyflyer - what you have shaded in red ARE the skins of the bomb bay doors. The pods are mounted behind their rear extremity, presumably because there's not much substance in the bb doors themselves for hoping to keep propulsion units attached for longer than a few brief moments.

Here's a link to a higher resolution shot (http://www.airteamimages.com/pics/66/66654_big.jpg) of the one I posted up earlier, if it clarifies anything?

19th Jul 2013, 17:01
The OP's photo is clearly a fairly long telephoto shot, which I think is confusing matters slightly.
I will agree with you here.

The pods are mounted behind their rear extremity
Probable, even though it does appear they more forward and directly over the bomb bay doors, which makes it look like they've placed skinning over the doors.
I will throw my chips in behind nacluv on this one I think, and go with the photo he posted.

So whats the policy with bomb bay doors on Lancastrians, yea or nea ? On the high res photo from nacluv there appear to be bomb doors, on the other one from WH there appear to be no doors.

19th Jul 2013, 17:19
Not sure if this helps, the link mentions Wellington & Lancastrian:

Rocketing Into the Future: The History and Technology of Rocket Planes - Michel Van Pelt - Google Books (http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=4M9i-FXVKckC&pg=PA169&lpg=PA169&dq=cold+peroxide+engines+aircraft&source=bl&ots=6xpg9MAB7E&sig=XvHvRM2Ll5r0O8CCK_04S1BpQag&hl=en&sa=X&ei=m3PpUfKiOc6z0QXt9oHQCg&sqi=2&ved=0CEwQ6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=cold%20peroxide%20engines%20aircraft&f=false)

19th Jul 2013, 17:53
As I understand it, the engine installed in the first Comet was the de Havilland Ghost 50. This engine was tested in the outer positions of Lancastrian VM703 and first flew with the Ghost engines July 24, 1947. As the original intention with the Comet was to use rockets to boost thrust on takeoff, VM703 was also used to test the only rocket then available, the captured German Walter 109-500, two of which were mounted under the fuselage.
Similar units seen here in actionj on an Arado Ar234

Brian Abraham
20th Jul 2013, 01:37
On the Lancastrian, what used to be the bomb bay, was given over to fuel tanks. It makes sense that the bomb doors remained to give access to those fuel tanks. The attached photo suggests their existance