Top of the Class (continued...)

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The Other Contenders

Official recognition was given to the Chipmunk as a basic trainer and Tiger Moth replacement for the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in April 1948, when it was announced in Parliament by the Air Minister Mr. Arthur Henderson, that the aircraft was to be ordered against specification T8/48. However, this announcement would appear to have been a little premature as the Air Ministry were informed in early May of the decision to defer ordering the Chipmunk pending examination of the Fairey Primer.

The prototype Primer had as G-6-1, completed brief flying trials at Boscombe Down and the Empire Flying School at Hullavington during late February 1948 and was, therefore under consideration. (The Fokker S-11 two seat trainer was also evaluated about the same time at Hullavington but was considered to be too large and heavy as a basic type weighing in at 2625 lbs max auw).

OO-POM

Two views of the Fairey Primer prototype, OO-POM, in 1948 after its return from Belgium following modification and improvement. Fairey test pilot Peter Twiss is in the rear cockpit.

OO-POM

Designed in Belgium during 1938-39 for a light aircraft competetion as the Tipsy `M' trainer by Mr. E.O.Tips of Avions Fairey, the prototype OO-POM had been flown at the Fairey airfield now known as Heathrow in mid 1939. It was shipped to England in dismantled condition shortly before the German invasion, re-assembled and flown during the early war years as F-0222 and survived the war in dismantled condition. As soon as was possible post war, it was re-assembled and flown back to Gosselies, Belguim as the Fairey Primary trainer with some suggested modifications. These and other improvements were carried out and the aircraft returned to the Fairey Aviation Company at White Waltham in late 1947, still registered OO-POM, with approximately one hundred hours total time flown.

Powered by a Gipsy Major engine driving a Fairey Reed two blade metal propeller as standard, the airframe could accommodate engines up to 200hp. and a four bladed propeller was offered throughout the range as optional equipment. The aircraft also incorporated some unusual features which are considered later in this article. After returning from Hullavington, the Air Registration Board(ARB)carried out flight tests on the 19th. February lasting two hours and ten minutes in order to assess the aircraft for the issue of a UK C of A.

The test pilot, Mr Weightman, commented that the aircraft would make an ideal elementary trainer with crisp, well harmonized controls. He considered however, that the flaps should either be restricted in the degree of movement or be reduced in size as the angle of approach was very steep and coupled with a high rate of descent. This resulted in a large change of attitude during the round out/flare phase and coupled with a sensitive elevator was liable to cause `ballooning'. Similarly, during baulked landings a considerable amount of throttle was required to fly level and an appreciable sink occurred during flap retraction. Two other points which came in for critisism were the horizontal movement of the elevator trim control and the Gosport speaking tubes which were badly placed and cumbersome.

Chipmunk G-AKDN, the 11th Canadian production aircraft, at the 1947 SBAC show at Radlett, Herts. The swept-back fin in the background belongs to a D.H.108.

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