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Secret Spitfires...

Old 24th Aug 2021, 08:19
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Rather unkind

Originally Posted by longer ron View Post
I used to work for Hawker Squiddeley and one of the lighthearted sayings was ...

''Hawker Born Hawker Bred - Strong in the Arm,Weak in the Head''
Now Now L Ron When needed Hawkers have turned out the goods that actually worked :- Hurricanes (saved the day) Sea Fury ( Korea) Hunter (How long and how many Air Forces**) Harrier (Falklands and that amazing Atlantic race out of a 'coal yard'**) I know you are only joking but they have actually turned out some classics.
still going !!
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 12:56
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Just a bit of industrial Humour Pobjoy
Above the Rolls Royce Reps door in the Dunsfold Flight Shed could be seen a small old fashioned sign obviously purloined from somewhere - it read 'No Hawkers'
(would many people these days know the meaning of 'Hawkers' in its original context ? LOL

Above the Flight Shed Inspectors Office Door could be seen the sign ''If you can't do it - View it'' .

I spent many years working on Hunters,Hawks and Harriers of various marks - none of which of course had been designed/built with the view of making them easy to work on LOL
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Old 24th Aug 2021, 20:25
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Originally Posted by longer ron View Post
Like you Pobjoy - I used to drive past Chattis Hill regularly,it was one of my 3 alternative routes either between Old Sarum (Gliding) and home (w sussex) or B Down and home (W Sussex - in a later working life LOL),visited a few old airfields/locations over the years and checked many out from the air in my Libelle 201b which was based at O Sarum in the late 80's.
There's long been local folklore that states there are good things buried in the ground at Chattis Hill as they couldn't be bothered to clear the site and return/ send parts/ components all over the country.
A pair of Merlins in their greased packing cases for starters. Metal detectors continue to search to this day.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 03:15
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Hawker Born Hawker Bred - Strong in the Arm,Weak in the Head
We Ozzies could take offense at that.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 07:53
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Pretty sure the version I first heard was "Yorkshire born, Yorkshire bred..." but if I mention that I might get into trouble...
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 08:20
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"There's long been local folklore that states there are good things buried in the ground at Chattis Hill as they couldn't be bothered to clear the site and return/ send parts/ components all over the country.
A pair of Merlins in their greased packing cases for starters. Metal detectors continue to search to this day."


God - there must so many of these stories - if true we could have won the war in 1943 with all the kit that was supposed to be buried....

Modern equivalent of Pirate Treasure or the Holy Grail
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 08:56
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
God - there must so many of these stories - if true we could have won the war in 1943 with all the kit that was supposed to be buried....

Modern equivalent of Pirate Treasure or the Holy Grail
A long time ago, late '50s I would guess, a friend of mine was sent in to North Coates to help clear the buildings out prior to it becoming a Bloodhound SAM base.
There was a small padlocked hangar there and the SNCO i/c directed that the padlock be 'removed'. On opening, it was found to be stacked up with Beaufighter toolkits (that's the word he used 'toolkits') so as they weren't on inventory and couldn't be accounted for, the SNCO directed my friend and others to dig a hole and bury them!
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 12:43
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When a staff officer to the boss received a request from a Hong Kong organisation who were looking for a Griffon in their restoration of a Spitfire, asking around among the old crusty CPO's was told some had been disposed of in the rubbish tip on scrapping of the Firefly's. Far too deep down to generate any interest.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 14:11
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Shack to Firefly

Originally Posted by megan View Post
When a staff officer to the boss received a request from a Hong Kong organisation who were looking for a Griffon in their restoration of a Spitfire, asking around among the old crusty CPO's was told some had been disposed of in the rubbish tip on scrapping of the Firefly's. Far too deep down to generate any interest.
When the Nimrods replaced the Shacks at SM there would have been lots of stuff around that nobody had any further use for.
Some years later a Firefly project popped up at St Merryn, and the owner was offered a crated Griffon which had been 'found' at SM, and needed to be disposed of !!!
On a slightly different note I managed to obtain two crated Pobjoy engines from a back garden in South London (Streatham) (pre interenet and web sites) but only because the owner of said engines had some vegetables delivered wrapped in some pages of the then popular Exchange and Mart. He happened to unwrap the package thus exposing an advert in the Aviation section for Pobjoy Spares. Ten years later we finally concluded a deal !!!.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 14:37
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POBJOY....... Just as matter of interest are those two engines now flying/airworthy...??

Last edited by Planemike; 26th Aug 2021 at 07:59.
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Old 25th Aug 2021, 19:47
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Pobjoy potterings

Originally Posted by Planemike View Post
POBJOY....... Just as matter of interest are hose two engines now flying/airworthy...??
One (90HP Niagra ) still in airframe and giving makers oil pressure when laid up (now being ulaid). The secret with Pobjoys is to 'immediately' change the exhaust valves before they fail and ruin the guts. These are the weak links. The other item is the matter of the BTH mags running at nearly twice engine speed via the patent Pobjoy couplng. People get very pedantic and try to engineer any 'slop' out of the system which is totally the wrong measure.to take. The best way is to live with slop, lubricate freely, and time the mag allowing for the backlash. After I changed the valves, life (airshows) were pretty routine with just the odd mag spring issue, and a rather short display at Halfpenny Green when an inlet pipe popped off when the bolts decided to retire (threads stripped). This prompted a return to home mod utilising a bonding material and use of prop spec wire locking.
The other motor had been in the bottom crate and this had rotted allowing the cylinders to rest on the ground. Guts inhibited and ok but not needed yet, and has the very rare Rotax mags which run at half engine speed. No I engine ran fine on Australia attempt until rotor arms gave up over Gulf of Oman requiring a short 'holiday' in IRAN.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 08:44
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PJ......... Thank you for your comprehensive reply. Ten years to strike a deal....!!! You were both patient & persistent...!! Worth it in the end of course!!
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 13:09
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Referring to Asturias56 post August 22nd. I respond with great respect. If you have quoted Wikipedia verbatim I suggest in some respects the extract is correct but in others it is not. I will mention a couple of details where I hold a different perspective.

The Castle Bromwich factory that Lord Nuffield commenced for the government in 1938 did not make good progress and I think your description of that infamous phone call is accurate. The Beaverbrook V Nuffield telephone battle did happen but the first 10 Spitfires that came out of the CB factory some of us now accept they were Woolston built Mark l aircraft – NOT Mark ll and CB constructed.

Before September 1939 the government of the day allowed both Hawkers with the Hurricane and Supermarine with the Spitfire to accept contracts from a small number of UK friendly foreign governments for building under the designs under license and or for export sale. One Spitfire each was ordered by both Poland and France and Turkey ordered twelve. These were all completed and the Polish and French aircraft despatched. The French example was tested in France and there is a photo extant showing it partly disassembled in France when the airfield was over run by invading forces. The Polish one could not be unloaded from the ship and eventually it seems it probably came back to the UK. No one seems too certain!

The Turkish dozen were taken to Christchurch Dorset and export crated ready for sea dispatch when the Air Ministry stopped the shipment. They returned to Woolston or Eastleigh, for the Turkish changes to be reversed. The twelve Mark l Spitfires went to Castle Bromwich on the back of Supermarine's large flat back Thorneycroft lorry driven by one Mr. Ernie Grimes. We are fairly certain that two were disassembled and used as CB factory display patterns for the new CB staff to more quickly understand how the Spitfire was assembled from parts arriving from subcontractors across the Midlands and beyond.

There’s no documentary evidence for the twelve Spitfires. The information came to light verbally about 16 years ago when an old Supermarine employee and friend of mine bumped into Mr Grimes in Winchester and asked if he did indeed take the aircraft up to CB? He said yes, but was told never to mention it. Thus the published June 1940 CB production total of 10 (Mark l aircraft) entered into the statistics as the first Mark ll Spitfires.



Vickers-Armstrong's, (I’ll refer to them as V-A) you mention and bearing in mind that they purchased Supermarines in 1928, some say to acquire R.J. Mitchell! By 1937 the Brooklands V-A factory workers (aided and abetted by the Unions) were getting resentful of that minnow company in their company group ‘stealing’ their work, as they viewed it! V-A at Brooklands did produce a small single seat fighter prototype design prompted by the early outline specification F5/30. By 1936 after a series of developing specifications from the Air Ministry the Spitfire and Hurricane emerged. The Brooklands built Vickers Venom with a Bristol Aquila engine of 625 HP emerged as a result of that Air Ministry specification F.5/34. When tested the Venom did not reach design expectations and development ceased. V-A then concentrated on building the Wellington and the Wellesley for the RAF.

To placate the work force (and Unions) at Brooklands, V-A insisted that some of the Spitfire subcontract work should be placed with the Brooklands workshops. It included Spitfire undercarriage legs. The design was not difficult to produce but Brooklands had problem after problem with it and they were delivered too slowly and well outside the contract time. This was one of a number of contributory reasons that the Spitfire was late in going to the RAF. My father worked at Brooklands at that time and told me about this .

Lastly it is worth remembering that whilst Spitfires were built at CB in vast numbers, Woolston continued and there were satellite sites at Reading , at Salisbury (2700?) and other locations in southern England. Westland's produced Mark l and V's at Yeovil in quantity as well as Seafires.

To get an idea of the Supermarine’s management decisions and much more from 1926 a book, Never A Dull Moment, by Denis Le P Webb although it is slightly flawed in places. Published by JKH Publishing. Also two books written by C.R. Russell Spitfire Odyssey and Spitfire Postscript. Curil Russell worked as a ‘wheeler’ from March 1936 on the ‘shop floor’ at Woolston and moved around around the satellite factories in the south of England during WW2. This is a complex topic but Never A Dull Moment may help clear some the myriad of questions about this pre-war era.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 14:49
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Dowding remained ever thankful for Beaverbrook’s ability to get things moving and they stayed warm friends after the war.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 16:14
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Trying to strike deal

Originally Posted by Planemike View Post
PJ......... Thank you for your comprehensive reply. Ten years to strike a deal....!!! You were both patient & persistent...!! Worth it in the end of course!!
In the meantime I had (with Swift) moved to Cornwall and was trying to eradicate or solve the vales issue, which was rather important due to the extended ferry trips to Air shows.
The matter came to a head (or rather cylinder head) when no 1 cylinder on the original R engine suffered an exhaust valve failure on take off from a local strip, although I managed a hurried landing the valve penetrated the piston and rather spoilt my day. I was in another protracted 'deal' to buy a genuine 42 Willys Jeep (in a shed on a local farm) but had to 'overshoot' to try to get a replacement motor for the Swift. This required another attempt for the Streatham Pobjoys which took a couple of years and the Jeep money. The R engine has no proper valve lubrication so with the Niagra I trusted with its oil fed rocker heads the problem would fade away. It was better but during a ferry trip to Redhill for yet another show there was another 'bang' and I landed straight ahead in a pasture near Dorking. This time the piston held so it was not a serious situation for the innards. To cut this brief, I decided to consult with a serious manufacturer of vales for the racing car world and was invited up to Godalming for a investigation. This was an absolute superb visit as they decided immediately that the material of the original valves was totally useless for reasonable use, and that was the main problem rather than lubrication. They fixed me up with a replacement set in a modern material (and slightly better tulip design) with the classic statement (they will never break) and they never have since.
This became a PFA/LAA approved mod eventually many years later when they found out.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 16:29
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Castle Brom

Thanks R6915 for that it just shows how good Prune is for digging out that detail that never went into print or a book. I did hear that there were 'issues' with the workforce and Unions and that Beaverbrooks 'riot act' included talk of 'conscription' if matters were not settled.
Until then Supermarine and Vickers had no responsibility for the CB situation, but they certainly got things moving once the were asked. Also Sir Richard Fairey spelt out the problem very clearly and as an 'independent' observer his opinion was taken seriously thank goodness.
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 18:15
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This thread got me thinking - I was aware of the 'dispersed' manufacture of Spits during the early part of the war thanks to the (previously mentioned) TV program I watched a while back. However, at least now days, Rolls is centered in Derby. Was Rolls engine building significantly impacted by the Battle of Britain and the air war that followed? Or was Derby far enough north to be out of ready range of the German bombers?
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Old 26th Aug 2021, 20:02
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Derby, Merlins and BoB

Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
This thread got me thinking - I was aware of the 'dispersed' manufacture of Spits during the early part of the war thanks to the (previously mentioned) TV program I watched a while back. However, at least now days, Rolls is centered in Derby. Was Rolls engine building significantly impacted by the Battle of Britain and the air war that followed? Or was Derby far enough north to be out of ready range of the German bombers?
I consider Hookers book (Not much of an engineer) a 'must read' for several reasons, and covers a fair slice of the Derby production plus the shadow and American input.
The BoB versions would have been Derby built. Another cracking inside info source is a series of Tech based book series by the Rolls Royce Heritage Trust.
Merlins are covered in No2 The Merlin in perspective by AHB, No 9 Rolls Royce and the Mustang, There are several publications in the series covering Rolls history. Well worth the effort in tracking them down.

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Old 27th Aug 2021, 10:52
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Originally Posted by POBJOY View Post
In the meantime I had (with Swift) moved to Cornwall and was trying to eradicate or solve the vales issue, which was rather important due to the extended ferry trips to Air shows..
PJ.... Interested to hear about your adventures "commuting" in the Swift from Cornwall.. Pleased you sorted your valve problems, others in PFA/LAA will no doubt be grateful for your efforts....
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Old 27th Aug 2021, 11:18
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Cool

Nothing to do with the price of fish, but does anyone remember this, St Hitla’s vs Biggin Hill?



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