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Weird Wings - HAC.3 Meteor

Enlarge image (will open in a new window)The RAF School of Technical Training, Halton, produced a number of light aircraft designs in the 1920s which in many cases were built and flew competitively. These included a two-seat biplane, the 32 hp Cherub-powered HAC.1 Mayfly(G-EBOO) which appeared at air pageants and racing events. It was later converted to a parasol single-seater, the HAC.2 Minus, retaining the same registration. This entered the King's Cup Race in three successive years to 1929.

C.H. Latimer-Needham, an Education Officer at the School who played a substantial role in developing the HAC.1 and HAC.2, meanwhile became associated with the two Granger brothers in 1926, founders of the Nottingham Experimental Light Plane Club.

They had designed a small tailless monoplane, the Archaeopteryx. The prototype, G-ABXL, made a successful first flight in October 1930, also with a Bristol Cherub engine. It continued flying for some years, ending its days with the Shuttleworth Trust. It served to interest Latimer-Needham in tailless or flying wing aircraft, which he envisioned as capable of housing all personnel and payload within the wing.

He set about working on a tailless design known as the HAC.3 Meteor. The pilot sat in a nacelle between the front and rear mounted Bristol Cherub engines. These engines had been lent to Halton Aero Club by the Air Ministry, and had once been used in an experimental helicopter designed by one Vittorio Isacco, mounted unsuccessfully in each rotor blade.

The Airworthiness Department of the RAE helpfully suggested fitting of "pilot-planes" on the leading edge of the wing, effectively producing a slotted wing. This lowered the aircraft's minimum speed to give it a range of 25 to 120 mph. By that time design and construction had gone to far to increase the wing area to take full advantage of the pilot-planes and to augment high-speed performance.

The aircraft had tandem landing gear in the main fairing, the front wheel steerable by the rudder pedals, and adding a rudder effect in flight. By the end of 1929 construction was over 90% complete, at which stage officialdom abandoned the project. The reason given was that the RAF was changing over to all-metal aircraft.

2x Bristol Cherub III, each 32 hp

43.93 feet

Wing area:
150 sq. ft. (plus contollers, 30 sq. ft.)
722 lb.

Min. 25 mph, max. 120 mph


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