Saturday, 24 January 2015

Avro 504 biplane

 The Avro 504 was a remarkable aeroplane and there were 10,000 of them built between 1913 and 1932, making it the most manufacture aircraft of the first world war.  There is a surviving flying example at Old Warden Aerodrome and it can be seen in the Shuttleworth Collection of old aeroplanes. The 504 has the distinction of being the first British aircraft type to drop bombs in anger.  It is also the first British aircraft type to be shot down by German forces.
 The Avro 504k was the mainstay of RFC pilot training during the Great War.  Most of the aircraft were based in the UK or away from the front lines.  It was a sturdy aircraft with a short takeoff and a slow landing approach.  Landing required more runway space than takeoff as none of the early aircraft had wheel brakes.  Braking relied on a single tail skid.
 As a trainer, the rear instructors cockpit was well equipped.  Standard controls and instruments were similar to those in all types of service aircraft of the time.  Plates were also fixed in the rear cockpit showing the flying limitations of the aircraft.
 The front trainee cockpit was very sparse.  No throttle, no instruments and only two switches.  The trainee was expected to fly by the seat of 'his' pants and feel the aircraft around the sky.  If you can fly without instruments, flying with instruments will be much easier.
 The Avro 504 had a cruising speed of 90 miles per hour (mph).  Engine revolutions needed to be limited to 1250 revolutions per minute (rpm), as exceeding these values would lead to engine temperature increasing with the risk of excessive oil loss, and that could damage the engine.  Stalling speed is about 50 mph and the aircraft will sink slowly at that speed in level flight.  A full stall occurs at about 39 mph and recovery requires more than 800 feet of altitude. 
 At the start of the Great War, this was a very good performance, but by early 1915 this aircraft was too slow for combat flying, especially since it had no guns installed.  A few early examples were fitted with a single forward pointing over wing Lewis gun which was operated from the rear cockpit, but this was not a very successful option. There was a float plane version which was a very stable aircraft.
After the war some redundant machines were purchased for civil use and registered accordingly.  There were still many machines flying in Civil Clubs at the start of the Second World War.

Flight Simulator aircraft designed by Lukasz "Lucas" Kubacki for the Aircraft Factory

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