Further to Arthur Burch’s initial letter, Arthur has
kindly provided the information and pictures for the Hawker Hunter
Round-the-Pole Display. These picture and text will be included in
the RAFMAA History pages on the Website. (Ed)
1953 my friend Dan Barker and I were stationed at 32 MU RAF St.
Athan. We were given the task of producing a model
flying display to be used on RAF recruiting stands at big
exhibitions and shows around the country. The first of these was to
be the Earls Court Radio Show in late 1953. This was to be followed
by a stand at the Schoolboys Own Exhibition in early 1954 and
many other shows in 1954 and 1955. I have attached a photocopy of an
article that appeared in the Model Aircraft Magazine for Feb.1954
which describes our stand at the Schoolboys Own Exhibition in 1954.
Commander at the time, was Group Captain
A.R.Saw and he gave us the
full backing of all the facilities on 32 MU. We were given our own
workshop and taken off
all normal duties, to work full time on the
project. Departments that were mainly involved in the making of this
display included Station workshops, the Machine shop, the Chrome
Plating section, the Carpenters shop, the Instrument, Electrical and
Radio sections, plus the MT section who provided two 'Queen
Mary' transports to convey all our equipment.
attempt at an RTP model, was an Electric Ducted Fan powered Boulton
Paul BP 111, an Experimental Delta. Although it did fly, our fan was
very inefficient and despite putting 48 volts through the 24 volt
motor, there was not much power. One of us came up with the idea of
using a compressed air jet, with the air supply being fed to the
plane down a plastic tube, from a rotating banjo union on the
pole. This proved to be the answer and performance was
good, providing we had an ample supply of air.
time, the Hawker Hunters were soon to enter
service and there was a
'Jetex' Kit for this aircraft on the market. It had a span of around
18 ins. and a length of 20 ins. this seemed to be an ideal choice
provided we could adapt it to our needs. To help make them more
representative of the Hunters coming into service we were given the
serial numbers of the first batch of aircraft. WT 555 to WT 560.
were intended to be powered by the solid fuel 'Jetex' rocket motors
and they had an aluminium 'augmenter tube' running the length of the
fuselage. With the Jetex motor blasting down the tube, air was drawn
into the tube by the jet's exhaust, which increased the thrust
available over what the motor alone would produce. We made use of
this feature in conjunction with our air jet, as you can see from
the drawing. In order to supply sufficient air for two aircraft to
we had to
use three substantial electric compressors, of the size a
garage/workshop would need.
To make our
Hunters more realistic I designed a retracting undercarriage,
powered by a 24 volt electric motor. This worked on the screw-jack
principle, where the nut cannot be pushed along the thread. This
gave effective locking in both up and down positions, see my
drawing, which shows how it operates. The double worm drive
reduction gearbox was designed and built by a skilled instrument
maker, Vic Quelch, who also made all the brass end fittings for the
pole had as its base, a supercharger impellor from a Rolls Royce
Merlin with the blades machined off. We used to fly two aircraft in
formation and each plane had its own swivelling head on the pole.
This banjo type connection fed the air to the model via a 1/4
ins. neoprene tube and three slip rings fed the electric supply down
fine wires to the undercarriage motor.
was 30 ft. diameter, with a flat outer runway, this was built in 8
sections for ease of transport. Incorporated in the outer runway,
were retractable guide rails which were used to steer the nose wheel
of the model, on leaving the runway, to follow a fixed rail on the
taxi-way up and over the centre part of the airfield. At a point
near the centre, there were two solenoid operated chocks. You can
see both the rails and the chocks on the photo showing WT557 up
against them. In the centre of the airfield, was the chequered
control van with red & green lights and a hangar with a spare
aircraft parked in it.
panel was about 8 ft. long with 3 operator positions, two pilots and
an ancillary operator, who controlled the retractable guide rails,
the runway controller's lights (red & green), the chocks and the
sound system. Each pilot had two control levers, the throttle and
the undercarriage selector, he also had a voltage control, a warning
light and an air pressure gauge.
plane would fly at up to 60 mph and it was very tricky to fly two in
formation. Due to the different radiuses of the flight path, they
flew at quite different speeds. With around 10 ozs thrust they
accelerated quickly to flying speed and landing took some care to
avoid heavy arrivals.
attracted a great deal of interest and hopefully fulfilled its
purpose by helping the recruiting policy of the RAF. I hope this
story and the photos will be of interest to the RAFMAA's
and I hope also that it stirs some memories for other members.
(ex. Cpl. in
to Arthur for his help with providing some more detail for our
existing archived RAFMAA photos and especially for his efforts to
bring us this fascinating story of his endeavours to create a truly
brilliant working model display.
has information of what happened to this amazing creation,
Hunter display undercarriage built onto a Perspex plan outline of
please get in touch with me, top