Memoirs of an obsessive aeroplane hater. Part 7

By 'Tubby' Day

I took the two 'Noblers' to the '63 Criterium. On my first round flight, the OS in 'Nobler 2' cut dead half way up the first part of the reverse wingover and was a total write-off. 'Nobler 3' developed strange motor/tank problems and refused to run properly. I had several test flights to try to remedy the situation and, on one of these, lost an undercarriage leg due to fatigue. It broke off flush with the underside of the wing and I could see no way of repairing it on the field. If the model had flown better I might have found more motivation!

Unknown to me at this time, Messrs Nicholls and Moulton, who were in attendance, felt that I had disgraced the team. My practice of running the wheels on the ground at full power during my numerous attempts to sort out the motor were viewed dimly.

Also in the 'team' (this was an open international meeting) was Tom Jolley. Tom had his two 'I-beam' O/D models, similar in appearance to a 'Nobler' and was also having tank problems. As the time approached for one of his official flights, Tom announced to me that he was going to just fly around without actually doing an official flight as he wanted to check his motor. I told him this wasn't on, but he insisted. He proceeded to fly around waving his hand at the judges. They told me, "He must not practice now".

I ran into the circle, told him not to do anything even resembling a manoeuvre, and ran out again, shouting to the judges, "Motor no good!". Amazingly, they accepted this and gave him a reflight. I take great satisfaction from the fact that this flight seemed, in fact, to have a faultless motor run, while the refly was useless!

Later that evening, in the bar, Tom and myself were approached by Henry Nicholls with (Doctor) Ralph Brook in tow. Ralph had just won the World R/C Aerobatic title, this event being held concurrently with the Criterium. "We're holding a whip-round for the guy that enjoyed the meet the most", he announced, "how about you Day?" "Henry", I said, "I AM the guy that enjoyed the meet the most." "Well, f**k off then!" was the reply.

I had travelled to Belgium in company, once again, with the Nixon brothers and Mick Ellis. This time we used the van which Dennis used to conduct his business. It was actually an old Bedford ambulance which had been converted by adding a false body. For the trip, this false body was removed. On arrival at Dover, Dennis was informed that he was now liable for purchase tax on the vehicle. There was nothing we could do at this point so the trip continued.

While we were in Belgium the top gear (three speed box) failed and we travelled across Belgium and from Dover to Hinkley in second gear. After fixing the 'box, Dennis sold the van. Within a week the rear axle failed!

Kit Warburton Tony Kit Warburton Tony

Warburtom 'Tony' built from the Gremlin kit. Can you spot the SMAE number?

Late in the year, Frank Warburton's father (Frank Snr, always known to us as 'Pop') offered me a kit of Frank's 'Tony' which was being produced by Bradshaws Models under their Gremlin name. I accepted but soon regretted it because it was not well engineered and, more important, was very heavy. Flying weight, with the Merco was around 64 ounces. Obviously, this wasn't to be the new wonder machine, so I started on another 'Iroquois'.

Iroquois 5

Iroquois 5

This returned to my own wing and tail with fully sheeted surfaces and wing-mounted U/C. Maybe it was reaction from the 'Tony', but this one weighed 39 ouncess. It had several unusual features, one being the use of a vented balloon tank. This was actually invented by Mike Burch, later a well-known R/C aerobatic flyer. The idea was to solder vents into a metal bottle top and attach it to the front bulkhead with a screw. The balloon was mounted on the rear. By holding the model on its tail, the balloon could be filled and all the air vented out.

Another feature was the use of what I called 'non-linear flaps'. Nowadays, these would be called exponential flaps. The idea was prompted by the fact that there were (and still are) two schools of thought about stunt model controls:
The Bob Palmer approach had more elevator movement than flap movement and gave a very responsive, fast-turning model.
The George Aldrich approach had flaps that moved the same, or a greater, amount as the elevators. This gave a smoother turning model and more stability in level flight.

I tried to conbine the two by producing a linkage that would allow the flaps to move more than the elevator around neutral but give more elevator than flap at the movement extremes. My first attempt produced a model that varied from downright sluggish to smoothly aerobatic! I cut into the model and increased the elevator movement and the result was all that I hoped. The one small snag was that there was a notable 'jump' in the response very close to the control throw that was needed for round manoeuvres.

Non-linear flaps

Once I had learned to fly it, this was a very successful model, but it needed practice. Returning to a conventional model always 'felt' better.

I attended the '64 team trials with the 'Tony', not expecting too much. I was the only entry. I was told by Norman Butcher, now SMAE chairman that I was now the 'team' by default. I explained that there was little chance of my being able to afford to attend the championships, again in Hungary. Nonetheless, I was told that I must sign the form that had been introdyced for team members. This was an agreement that you would attend with two competitive models, etc. I pointed out that this was most unlikely, but was still pressed into signing. I added a note on the form about the unlikelyhood of finding finance before signing.

Not only was the finance not forthcoming, but I had jaundice at the time of the championships and wouldn't have made it anyway.

Despite its rather peculiar turning characteristics, the repaired 'Nobler 3' made it to second place in the '64 Gold Trophy. In many ways, this was a strange machine. It competed in seven contests in all and placed second in five of them. I still believe that a model that is difficult to fly can be more successful than one which is easy. For the rest of 1964 I concentrated on the 'Iroquois 5', having got used to its controls. This model was also used for every contest in '65 and '66, except one. For the record, the exception was the 'Spacebird' which we will reach in due course.

The 'Iroquois' eventually competed in 19 contests and won 5 of them. One of these wins was the trials meeting for the 1965 Criterium. The Criteriums had always been open international meetings, although entries were restricted to three per country. Because of this, some form of qualification was necessery. In previous years, the Gold Trophy was used as an unofficial trials. In 1965 the events title changed once again from Criteriun des As (Criterium of Aces) to Criterium of Europe and it was deemed that an official trials was needed.

There were just three entries and I placed first. I enjoyed these meetings and went ahead with arrangements to make the trip by car. Very shortly before the meeting I was informed that I wasn't in the team. Thus, I was involved in considerable expense and no appeal was even possible. Even if it had been possible, it was much too late. Note that this left GB with an incomplete team. Jim Mannall wrote a long letter of protest but, as far as I am aware, received no reply.

The only information available, by word of mouth, was that it was because of my poor performance at the previous Criterium and my 'letting the Society down' the previous year. With nothing in writing there is no accountability, but my protests at this led to the statement that I had signed a form that I would go. My challenge to them to produce the form was ignored. Unfortunately, this was far from the end of the whole matter.

In line with the philosophy of 'one new model per year', I produced a new model for 1965. This was basically a Mark 2 'Thunderbird' with fully sheeted flying surfaces and a wing-mounted undercarriage. It also had an internal silencer.

Spacebird Spacebird


'65 Nats

Photo from 'Aeromodeller' of the '65 Nats shows Tom Jolley's
un-named I-beam model, 'Spacebird' and 'Iroquois 5'.
Note the fashion for tall tailwheels.

By this time, SMAE rules required that all powered models were fitted with an effective silencer. I didn't like the idea of a silencer projecting out of the smooth lines of the cowl and I felt that the drag would seriously affect the performance. Nowadays, the weight would be felt to be the primary factor. After producing lots of sketches I worked out that the bearers could be staggered to allow the motor to be canted over at an angle. The tank fitted inside the lower bearer (inverted engine) and below the upper bearer. This brought the tank into the proper position in line with the needle valve. The silencer was made from a piece of thin walled one inch diameter aluminium pipe and was mounted as close to the motor as possible. This allowed the motor and silencer to be enclosed in a slightly wider cowl.

I discovered what was called 'low pressure steam line'. This was a pipe made from thin corrugated copper and could be easily bent to quite a sharp curve. This allowed the output from the silencer to be vented down and out of the cowl. In inverted flight, it looked like a steam locomotive.

The model was completed by two large teardrop shaped spats around the wheels and an angled canopy giving the model an appearance very similar to Sirotkin's 'Spacehound'. Thus I called it 'Spacebird'. The wing also carried the legend 'alias Thunderhound'. The bad news was that it weighed 54 ounces.


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