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Old 08-20-2019, 05:11 AM   #1
Mtskull
 
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Default Mystery Propeller

Hi

I am trying to identify the origin of this Propeller:

It is believed to have come from an aircraft which crashed or forced landed near Ravenglass, in the English Lake District.
Diameter is approximately 7 feet, it has 8 bolt holes, 7 laminations and is stamped “RIGHT HAND” and “G 1270 N 41”.
Any information or suggestions regarding likely manufacturer or application would be much appreciated.

Andy

Last edited by Mtskull; 08-20-2019 at 05:26 AM.
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Old 08-20-2019, 07:47 AM   #2
Bob Gardner
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Greetings Andy,

G1270 is a batch number. Batches contained one hundred propellers, so yours is the 41st in Batch 1270. The Air Board instituted this nomenclature around September 1917, before which the system of procurement was chaotic. For example the RNAS ordered a few at a time. Individual Naval Air Stations could buy direct from the manufacturer.

Your Batch Number, G1270 dates from around late 1918. It was part of an order for 300 props (G1269, G1270 and G1271) made to drawing number AD644 by The Bristol Aeroplane Company for the Sopwith Camel.
The prop maker was paid £15-10s-0d for each prop, giving a contract value of about £4600 GBP.

As a footnote to a chaotic procurement system, it would seem that some pilots, learning by rumour that a propeller made by one company was a better performer than one made by a different maker to the same specification, toured RFC depots in France in search of this possibly mythical beast.

The German Flying Troops experienced the same problem of chaotic procurement and as a result both air forces instituted central authorities.

In Britain the Air Board was formed to bring the Royal Air Force into existence from the RFC and to bring the procurement of aircraft under centralised control.

In Germany the Inspectorate of the Flying Troops was formed, universally known as IdFlieg. In their Propeller Hand Book (Propellermerkbuch) it was specifically stated that several makers could produce a propeller of the same specification for Idflieg, and these were of identical merit and performance.
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Old 08-20-2019, 08:15 AM   #3
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Default Dave Bahnson

Dave,

We should move this thread to Early Propellers.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 08-20-2019, 04:06 PM   #4
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Bob,

Many thanks for your swift and extremely informative response to my query; one question answered, many others raised!

To further my own investigations, does anybody know whether a propeller such as this might have been disposed of as military surplus and then re-used on a different type of aircraft? (There are a couple of aircraft known to have forced landed in the area in which this propeller is said to have been found but neither was a Sopwith Camel).

Rgds,

Andy

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Old 08-21-2019, 12:21 PM   #5
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Andy,

The sudden end of WW1 in November 1918 was unexpected to both the Allies and to Germany. The Allied efforts to produce ever more men and more materiel had seen logarithmic increases, which was in full flow when the Armistice was signed in November 1918. This meant that the National War Factories were working flat out to meet orders, and although the hostilities had ended, the Government contracts still existed and were binding, so production continued well into 1919.

For much of the four years of war, both sides produced men and war-like materiel at an exponential rate. Thus, by late 1918 newly built factories were producing huge numbers of aircraft and aero-engines.

Arthur Ord-Hume in his book entitled The Great War Plane Sell Off records that by late 1918, at the end of WW1, the RAF had 33,000 aircraft on its books, and 35,000 aero-engines. I have not come across the number of propellers held, but often aircraft were delivered with one propeller fitted plus two spares which suggests several tens of thousands of propellers.

(An irrelevant footnote from my researches is that farmers throughout Britain were give free flax seeds by the Government during WW1 which then bought their crop to produce linen fabric for aircraft and propellers. By March 1919 the Government owned 32,000,000 yards of flax, sufficient to go three quarters of the way around the globe!)

At first, Government depots sold off surplus propellers for sixpence each. During 1919 the new Government Disposal Factories sold two-bladed propellers for six shillings. The Government had paid the makers between £12-0s-0d for a Sop Pup two-bladed prop and £31-4s-10d for a two-bladed Sopwith Cuckoo prop.

At least 50,000 propellers were sold to the public; possibly double this number. (I have not come across any valid data.) The echo of this is evident today where eBay has several propellers or artefacts made from WW1 propellers on sale everyday.

It is always possible that some impoverished aviator somewhere has considered fitting his WW1 prop in desperation to his latter-day Auster or Piper aircraft but I doubt if the power and torque of a light aircraft engine would successfully turn a Sopwith Camel propeller. If it did, I doubt if the century old glue would hold fast. It is also unlikely that the hub bolt-holes could be modified, although I do occasionally see a prop for sale with two different sets of bolt holes.

An aircraft force-landing in the mountainous Lake District would probably smash the prop.

Before I became a researcher of early aviation I bought and sold WW1 propellers. Both Dave and I have several times been offered a WW2 propeller from a Spitfire or Hurricane by the great-grandchildren of a pilot who flew them in WW2. Not one of those offered to me was what the seller said they were. Most were from a post-war Tiger Moth or similar. They were not trying to deceive me. They were merely repeating the verbal family history as known to them, and were horrified when I told them what their prop was actually from.

So, Andy, I suggest that as a starting point never believe anything that you are told about a wooden propeller unless it comes from Bahnson or Gardner!

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 08-21-2019, 12:53 PM   #6
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Bob,

Thank you for your very interesting and informative reply; you are right, as you will see...

I was thinking more along the lines of the propellor possibly having been re-purposed in the 1920’s for use on a D.H. Cirrus Moth or Desoutter Mk1, examples of both aircraft types being known to have forced landed not far from where the propeller now resides.

Further enquiries however have revealed that, rather than being retrieved from a local accident site as I was given to believe, the propeller was gifted to the family of the present owners by one Walter Nugent Sherlock, a former RFC and RAF pilot. (His is a fascinating story in itself; it is worth entering his name into Google).

Anyway, I digress; thank you again for your help in solving the “mystery”.

Andy

Last edited by Mtskull; 08-26-2019 at 12:32 PM.
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Old 08-22-2019, 08:44 AM   #7
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Purely the sake of interest, here are a couple of better photos:
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1CFA15AC-9572-4B34-9887-06D3673F3B03.jpg (97.8 KB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg 3962A020-2CED-4D0A-99D7-80625AB52F6F.jpg (95.0 KB, 5 views)
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