Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Austin Greyhound

In 1918, Britain's Royal Air Force issued the Type III specification for a replacement for the Bristol F.2 Fighter. The replacement was to be powered by the new nine-cylinder, 320hp, ABC Dragonfly radial engine. Armament requirement was two fixed synchronised 7.7mm Vickers guns and a single 7.7mm Lewis gun on a Scarff ring in the rear cockpit.

The Austin Motor Company had produced large numbers of aircraft, including 800 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s, for the war effort and they promptly submitted a design by J. Kenworthy, formerly of the Royal Aircraft Factory. Kenworthy’s design was named the Austin Greyhound.
An order for three prototypes was placed on 18 May 1918.

The Greyhound was a two-bay biplane of all-wooden construction. The craft had a wingspan of 39 feet with wing area of 400 feet and a Gross weight of 3,032 pounds.

The Greyhound's engine was covered by a conical cowling, with the cylinder heads protruding. The circular shape of the cowling continued down the fuselage. The upper and lower wings were almost the same size.

While the first prototype was quickly built, problems with the Dragonfly engine, which was found to be 66 pounds over its designed weight and was subject to severe overheating. The copper-plated cooling fins proved useless; the cylinder heads tended to glow a dull red at operational speeds. Developed power fell far short of estimates and it showed much poorer fuel consumption than expected. Attempts to improve cooling with cylinder redesign were marginally successful. All this meant that testing was delayed. 

The second prototype being delivered to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath in January 1919, being followed by the reworked first prototype in May and the third in February 1920. 
Although performance was deemed good, no production was ordered of any of the competitors, with the Bristol Fighter remaining in service until 1932. The last Greyhound remained in use as a flying test bed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough until June 1922.

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