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Sydney Camm--the British Design Genius.

Wed Feb 04, 2004 12:18 pm

I think here in the USA, we always read that Clarence "Kelly" Johnson and Jack Northrup are aeronautical design geniuses with innovative ideas.

Yet, I think Americans have forgotten an equally influential design genius: Sir Sydney Camm (1893-1966), the Chief Designer at Hawker Aircraft and Hawker Siddeley Aerospace (with merged into the BAE Systems company).

Camm's resumé of great designs is nothing short of legendary: the Hart family of biplanes, the legendary Hurricane fighter, the Typhoon, Tempest and Fury piston-engined fighters that were near the zenith of piston-engined fighter design, the Sea Hawk fighter that pioneered jet operations on Royal Navy carriers, the outstanding Hunter jet fighter that defined the limits of subsonic jet fighters, the revolutionary P.1127 Kestrel that pioneered V/STOL military aircraft, and initial design work near the end of his life on what would become the Tornado multi-role fighter.

Camm's legacy lives on: the Hawker Siddeley company he worked for designed the wings for the original Airbus A300B airliner (indeed, Hawker Siddeley worked on the A300B wing design and production as a private venture when the British government originally pulled out of the Airbus consortium). It is this group--now part of BAE Systems--that designed and built the wings for all subsequent Airbus airliners, including the upcoming A380, the world's largest airliner.

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RE: Sydney Camm--the British Design Genius.

Thu Feb 05, 2004 2:12 am

He was one of the greats certainly.
While the Spitfire was the better fighter in most respects, the earlier Hurricane design was far easier to produce, and that was crucial in 1940.
Typhoon may have been a poor high level fighter , but it was a fantastic ground attack aircraft, performing much of the vital strikes against German forces and supply lines, the 4 x 20mm cannon and bombs/rockets were devastating.
Had policy after 1945 not been so muddled and wrong headed, his teams would have produced even greater aircraft, for example a planned supersonic Hunter would have been a best seller, but the RAF were not interested.
Sea Hawk (and land based versions) should have been the original P1081 swept wing version that was actually flown.
But the Hawker legacy is impressive anyway.
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RE: Sydney Camm--the British Design Genius.

Thu Feb 05, 2004 3:31 am

If you are a student of aircraft design, especially military aircraft, there are names of individuals who advanced the art, whom you should be aware of.
Sydney Camm (Hurricane) and Reginald Mitchell (Spitfire) are two British designers that fall into this classification.
Sydney Camm's work was mainly evolutionary in that each design began with the lessons learned from the previous designs over a long line of airplanes.
Reginald Mitchell's was more revolutionary in that much of the Spitfire's heritage was derived from the RAF's High Speed Flight, the Schneider Trophy Races, and the S-6 airplanes.
Each man made a huge mark on aviation.
If I remember correctly, there is a gallery in the RAF Museum at Hendon that is dedicated to Sydney Camm, and it is a well deserved memorial.
No matter what the airplane is, there is no sweeter sound than a Merlin.
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RE: Sydney Camm--the British Design Genius.

Fri Feb 06, 2004 1:28 am

One major legacy of Sydney Camm was the fact he recognized what more powerful piston engines could do for fighter planes. The Hawker Tornado was probably the first fighter developed around a piston engine in the 2,000 bhp range--the original Vulture-powered version had a nearly 400 mph top speed. Only the desperate needs for more Hurricane production during the Battle of Britain prevented the Tornado from reaching operational service. One Tornado prototype was built around an early version of the Bristol Centaurus radial engine, and it was among the first piston-engined powered fighter prototypes to exceed 400 mph in level flight.

But I think Camm's more modern legacy are the Hunter fighter and the Harrier V/STOL ground-attack fighter. The Hunter was probably the ultimate in subsonic fighters, a superb plane that was well-liked by everyone that flew the plane. The Harrier came out of the ground-breaking research done on the P.1127 Kestrel, the first truly useful V/STOL airplane ever made.
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RE: Sydney Camm--the British Design Genius.

Fri Feb 06, 2004 10:42 pm

Camm & Mitchell. Geniuses IMHO. What a pity that this Country that produced so many fantastic A/C is now reduced to buying/sharing/helping to build other A/C. Great names that are now just history. Sopwith, A.V. Roe, Blackburn and Fairey etc..... Very very sad  Embarrassment

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