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Old 07-03-2016, 03:47 PM   #1
Jacqui
 
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Hi

I'm acting as executor for my late aunt and am trying to identify/value a wooden propeller hanging in her house. I don't have any information about its history, but know it's been in my family for at least 60 years as another relative remembers seeing it in my grandparents' home in London during the 1950s. They may well have owned it long before then.

I'll be going over to the house later this week so should be able to provide accurate information about its length then, if necessary. What I know so far is that it is marked G4054 N7 and June/24 and has 6 bolt holes. I assume there isn't an obvious makers logo or stamp as I'm sure the person who took the photos for me would have taken one showing it.

Apologies about the quality of the full length photo - again, I'll be able to provide a better one in a few days.

Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


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Old 07-04-2016, 01:28 PM   #2
Bob Gardner
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Jacqui,

The number G4054 is a batch number added during manufacture in 1924. It doesn't indicate for what aircraft it was intended. There should be other numbers on the other side of the prop which record the drawing number, and the diameter and pitch of the propeller. These should enable us to identify for which aircraft it was made. Should these not be apparent, please measure the length in mm from tip to tip.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 07-05-2016, 11:19 AM   #3
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Hi Bob

Thanks for your reply. I've been to the house today and taken a couple more photos showing the propeller's other markings. Tip to tip the propeller measures 1176mm.

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Old 07-06-2016, 12:15 PM   #4
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Thank you Jacqui,

The task you have set me has been one of the more difficult ones.

The data you photographed show that your prop is British and tiny in size compared with most wooden propellers for that time. The AID stamps are airworthiness stamps by the Aeronautical Inspection Department, which show that the prop might well be a flown example.

A series of very small aircraft were built in 1923-24 for air races. One was a Cygnet made by the Hawker company; another made by de Havilland was called the Humming Bird. My guess, after an hour or so's research is that your prop was made for this aircraft in 1924. It was powered by a 750cc motorbike engine.

If so, firstly this suggests that your Aunt's family may have been connected with flying these small aircraft in air races in the 1920s. Secondly, the prop is of historical value.

I haven't researched the Humming Bird aircraft. If none now exist your prop is possibly the only surviving part of the aircraft. (I think about seven or eight were made). If one does exist in a museum, (perhaps you might wish to google it) you might consider bequeathing it to that museum. If not, and if as executor you are duty bound to realise its cash value, I would advise putting it into a specialist auction house, Dominic Winter in Cirencester who are one of the leading houses for such items. I must add that although it is of historical value it has little monetary value; perhaps a hundred pounds or so.

If you need help in researching Humming Bird aircraft etc please let me know.

With kind regards,

Bob
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Old 07-06-2016, 02:18 PM   #5
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Bob,

Thank you so much for all the time and effort you've put into identifying the propeller. It's very much appreciated and the information you've unearthed is fascinating.

I doubt my aunt had any idea of the propeller's history. I've never heard of any family connection to aircraft but have to admit I know very little about my grandmother's parents so, if there is a link, it may be through them.

Having done a little Googling it appears there are no airworthy Hummingbirds left, and I can only find mention of one in a museum (de Havilland Aircraft Museum in Hertfordshire).

I'll have to speak to the other executor and decide what course of action to take. Because of you and this website, though, the decision we make will be an informed one - which is a great position to be in.

Once again, many thanks for all your help.

Jacqui
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Old 07-07-2016, 05:54 AM   #6
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Thank you Jacqui. Let us know what happens.

Bob
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Old 07-07-2016, 10:16 AM   #7
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Jacqui,

An after thought. The archives of the magazine Flight are on line. They include copies of every issue of this magazine from about 1910 to the present time. It has a search facility. If you search for DH Humming Bird in the year 1924 it will probably list all the pilots that flew the aircraft in the air races, just in case your grandmother's parents' name crops up.

I'll find the address in half a mo!

Bob
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Old 07-07-2016, 10:27 AM   #8
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Jacqui,

https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/

Bob
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Old 07-07-2016, 03:53 PM   #9
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Thanks Bob!

I've searched the records of Flight as you suggested. The only mention of someone with the right surname is in 1927 during the annual de Havilland Sports Meeting - when a B G Skingle won the 100 yards open's 4th heat and the first heat of the 220 yards open. From information in the article it appears he would have been part of either the Office Staff team or the Engine Shop one. So, not quite as romantic as being a pilot but a definite right place/right time link all the same.

The initials are wrong for it to be my great-grandfather, but it seems likely that B G Skingle was someone quite close on the family tree, and that it was because of him that the propeller came to be in my aunt's house.

After discussing all the information you were able to provide with the other executor, we've decided to sell the propeller and have listed it on Ebay. I did contact the de Havilland Aircraft Museum to let them know of its existence, and they say that although they won't bid, they'll watch the auction with interest.

Thanks again for all your help. I now know far more about the propeller than I ever expected to.

Jacqui
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Old 07-08-2016, 07:45 AM   #10
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Jacqui,

And for my part I have discovered far more about the propeller than I ever expected to!

Bob
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