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Printed From: Cross & Cockade
Category: General Discussion
Forum Name: General
Forum Discription: General Discussion
Printed Date: 02 Mar 2021 at 19:30
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 10.03 -

Topic: Vulcan
Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Subject: Vulcan
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 14:23
Was there a WW1 aeroplane known as the Vulcan?  I've been told a friend's great-uncle was killed whilst testing one in June 1918, but not having been able to find a descriotion of said aeroplane I wonder if he is mistaken.

Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 14:27
There was a Vickers Vulcan, but that first flew in April 1922 : -

Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 15:32
Much obliged Nick, my friend is obviously mistaken. 
Perhaps I can try another approach.  The man who was killed was Lt Donald Humphrey Sessions MC on 20 June 1918.  The CWGC gives his unit as No 2 School of Aerial Gunnery, but it is possible that should be No 1 SAG.  The announcement of his death in The Times simply recorded he died 'whilst flying in Kent' .  It just crosses my mind that the reference to Kent might mean the accident happened at Hythe. Would that rather sparse information be sufficient for an expert on this period to fill in the gaps please?

Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:15
Chris Hobson "Airmen Died" should give you the details of the aircraft, if they are known.
My copy is at home, but I can check it next week for you if no one posts before then.
Alternatively, the casualty record crads at the RAF MUsuem (Hendon) will provide the info.

Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:27
Thank you Nick, that would be very kind of you.  I thought I would try the forum first as Hendon is so busy it takes a while to get a response.  (That's not a complaint as I appreciate the constraints under which the research department works.)

Posted By: AndyK
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:49
Hobson says:
"SESSIONS, Lt Donald Humphrey, MC. 1 (Obs) Sch of AG, pilot. Native of Quedgeley. KWF 20.6.18. Buried at Quedgeley, Glos."
No aircraft details ...

Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:51
Blast - but many thanks Andy.  Back to the drawing board (Hendon).

Posted By: AndyK
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:55
Apologies to Mr Hobson!
Elsewhere in the book it gives the name of his passenger - AM1 H Munton - and details of the aircraft he was flying - DH4 serial B5454.
Air Britain DH4/9 File says of B5454:
"No 1 (O)SoAG New Romney. Test flight - tailplane failed while manouevering. A/C broke up 20.6.18. 2/Lt DH Sessions & AM1 H Munton both killed."
So there we have it ...

Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:56
You are a genius Andy, grateful thanks.

Posted By: AndyK
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:58
Intreresting to the story, DH4 B5454 was built by Vulcan Motor & Engineering Co Ltd, of Southport ...

Posted By: DuffGenMerchant
Date Posted: 26 Apr 2011 at 16:59
That's even better as it helps  explain how my friend became confused.

Posted By: KK
Date Posted: 27 Apr 2011 at 15:12
l hope you and your fried live long and prosper       Wink


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 27 Apr 2011 at 16:01

Some notes on Vulcan :

Vulcan took over an old ice rink at the northern end of Lord Street, close to the former Grand Cinema, to build the aeroplanes. These were then taken to John Gaunt’s former hangar on the foreshore at the northern end of Hesketh Road. This hangar, and the large expanse of hard sands adjacent, were known as Southport Sands aerodrome, and later as Hesketh Park. After the aircraft had been assembled they were flown down to the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough for acceptance tests. Later the aircraft were taken, presumably by rail (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway converted 79 carriages for transporting aircraft, at least some of these were used for transporting aircraft to/from Southport as it is known that some carried the legend “IMPORTANT - TO BE RETURNED TO SOUTHPORT WHEN EMPTY BY FIRST MEANS - REQUIRED FOR MILITARY PURPOSES*) to 1 Aircraft Acceptance Park at Coventry. When 15 AAP opened at Manchester (known as Alexandra Park, but actually on Hough End Fields) the aircraft were taken then. Later, presumably, they went by rail to Coal Aston, as did the DH9s built at NAF 2 (Heaton Chapel).
In 1917 the RNAS built two 12,500 square feet Bowstring Truss hangars at Southport. These are noted as having been capable of housing small coastal non-rigid airships, used mainly for anti-submarine work and convoy patrols, but there is no record of such craft being based at Southport. The facility was known as an Aircraft Storage unit, forming part of 13 (Training) Group facilities, along with 15 AAP and the Airship Construction Station at Barrow-in-Furness. Later the facility was designated No 11 Aircraft Acceptance Park (Southport), with the intention of being used to conduct acceptance trials for the Royal Air Force, though individual records for the last batch of DH9As built by Vulcan indicate that they went to 15 AAP instead..
The B.E. 2 biplanes were made in a range of sub-types as part of three main orders for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). Serial block 6728-6827 were for the B.E. 2d/e. 6782, 6786, 6787, and 6791-6800 were transferred to the Imperial Russian Government. The next order was for B.E. 2c/d/e A1792-A1891. Most of these were fitted with 90 h.p. RAF 1a engines, although A1826, A1829-A1833, A1835, A1836 and A1839 were all delivered to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) without engines. A1819 was completed as a B.E. 2g. Generally, those aircraft ordered as BE2ds seem to have been completed as BE2es.
Following on from this was Contract Number 87A/1871 for B.E. 2c/e B3651-B3750. Most of these aircraft were fitted with R.A.F. 1A engines, although B3657 and B307 had Curtiss OX-2 engines initially. Fifty one B.E. 2 e aircraft from this production batch were transferred to the RNAS.
As the wartime coalition government sought ways of limiting profits while still stimulating the expansion of manufacturing capacity, a lot of money could be gained from undertaking munitions work. Large profits made during 1916 led to questions about the Hampsons war profiteering. This resulted in them leaving Vulcan, which was then reformed as Vulcan Motor Engineering (1916). The episode caused Thomas Hampson no great difficulties as he became Lord Mayor of Southport in 1917.
Nor did the war profiteering claims deter Wardman for accepting new contracts for aircraft, with Contract 87/A/1413 being placed for one hundred Aircraft manufacturing Company De Havilland D.H. 4 bombers (B5451-B5550). These were to be powered by the 230 h.p. Siddeley-Deasy Puma engine though, given the production delays with this engine due to porosity of aluminium castings, the airframes may well have not been fitted with the engines they were intended to have.

A continuation order for a further one hundred D.H. 4s was expected, to be built as C1051-C1150, but this was not placed and an order for the D.H. 9 bomber was received instead under Contract  87/A/1413, AS17570, AS.1917S(BR113). These were allocated the serial block B9331-B9430, and were to be fitted with Puma engines also. The D.H. 9 was developed from the D.H. 4 and incorporated a number of modifications based on the experience of aircrew operating the D.H. 4 in France. Principal among these changes was the decision to move the pilot’s cockpit aft of the main fuel tank, so that it was adjacent to the observer’s cockpit, in order to improve communication. The issue with the D.H. 9 was to be linked to its association with the Puma engine, the production version of which entail the modification of engine bearers so that they could not accommodate alternative engines. Production delays and the failure of the Puma to produce the hoped-for 300 h.p. meant that the type was obsolescent as it entered service. This was a consequence of relying on an underdeveloped engine to boost the performance of a dated design adopted for mass production. Nevertheless, the D.H. 9 was used widely by day bombing squadrons of the RAF, as well as undertaking anti-submarine duties.

Attempts continued to develop a replacement for the D.H. 9, with large contracts for the D.H. 10 and Vickers Vimy twin-engine bombers being placed to produce a powerful force for 1919. Also, the D.H. 9 was developed further, being fitted with a larger wing and capable of being fitted with the American 400 h.p. Liberty engine which had been developed with mass production in mind. Vulcan received an order for one hundred of these Liberty 12A D.H. 9A bombers on 21 March 1918 under 35a/414/X.293. E9868-9876 were shipped to the US Government.

A second order (H3546-H3795) was placed on 17 July 1918, under BR580 and 35a/2084/C414. The Armistice in November 1918 led H3671-H3795 to be cancelled in January 1919. H3670 seems to have been the last aircraft to be delivered, in September 1919. H3647 and H3649 were sold to Soviet Russia.

Another contract cancelled due to the end of the war was one for six hundred ABC Dragonfly radial aero-engines. These were due to be manufactured in 1919, but there were concerns about this under developed engine design already as testing had revealed torsional vibration problems which tended to cause the engine to seize after only a few hours’ running. Had the war continued in 1919 these engines may have been cancelled anyway, and possibly not replaced with other designs as Vulcan may have lacked the capability of manufacturing the alternative Bentley BR2 rotary aero-engine.

The last Vulcan D.H. 9A in RAF service was H3552, which was at 5 Flying Training School, at Shotwick, between November 1923 and January 1924. It struck Avro 504K in thick mist while landing at Shotwick on 29 November 1923. Fortunately, pilot Officer JE Dovan-Webb was unhurt. A similar accident happened on 21 January 1924, after which the D,H. 9A went to 39 Squadron.

During the Second World War (1939-1945) the Vulcan Works, now owned by Brockhouse, build aircraft gun turrets for Wellington and Lancaster bombers.

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