Flight, June 1929
THE CIVILIAN COUPE
A New British Light 'Plane for the Private Owner
WE are able to give this week general arrangement drawings of an entirely new British light 'plane, which is now almost ready for its first flights. This machine, the
"Civilian Coupe 1," has been produced by the Civilian Aircraft Co., of 27, Moor Street, Burton-on-Trent - a company that has just recently been formed to carry out experimental work in connection with a new type of Private-Owner light 'plane, and other machines.
The "Civilian Coupe" has been designed - specially for the Owner-Pilot - by Mr. Harold D. Boultbee, who, as no doubt some of our readers are aware, has been associated with aviation since 1909; for the last six years, for instance, he has been designing for Handley Page, Ltd. Mr. Boultbee has formed the company with the assistance of some friends in Burton, viz., Mr. T. R. Shercliff, Mr. W. B. Briggs, Mr. S. H. Buxton, and Mr. T. S. Green.
We can only give but brief particulars of this machine at the moment, but very shortly we hope to give a fuller, illustrated description. As will be seen, it is a braced high-wing two-seater monoplane, with a 75-h.p. A.B.C. "Hornet" engine. Its special features may be summarised as follows :- All 3-ply covering throughout, finished with Cerric cellulose lacquer. All controls by sliding rods. Ball bearings to all moving parts. Ball joints enclosed in leather sleeves to all chassis joints. Folding wings. Two side doors, staggered seats, detachable wind shields. Detachable engine unit, including oil tank, instrument panel and all controls, pipes, etc. Unimpeded view in all directions, including backward view when tail on ground. Very robust construction throughout, to stand hard wear.
The principal characteristics and performance are :-
Span 35 ft. 6 3/8 in.
Chord 5 ft.
OA. length 19 ft. 4 in.
Height 6 ft. 3 in.
Width, folded 11 ft. 2 in.
Wing area 1678 sq. ft.
Total weight (normal) 1,560 lbs.
Weight/h.p. (normal) 19 lbs.
Weight/sq. ft. (normal) 9-3 lbs.
Speed range (apx.) 42-100 m.p.h.
Climbing speed 670 ft. off ground
Ceiling 12,500 ft.
Flight, April 1930
AIRCRAFT FOR THE PRIVATE OWNER
THIS machine has been designed especially for the owner pilot who wants a machine that will, so to speak, maintain itself.
It has many special features with this end in view. Mr. H. Boultbee, who has formed the Civilian Aircraft Co., of Burton-on-Trent, has been connected with aviation since 1909, and was for many years designer for Handley-Page, so that he can be said to have a deal of practical experience at his back to guide him in this venture.
The fuselage is a ply-wood structure throughout, and instead of the normal varnish is protected with a cellulose lacquer, which should greatly enhance its weather resisting properties and obviate the necessity for repainting except at very infrequent intervals.
All the controls are designed as rods, so that the owner can have no trouble with cables which may stretch or fray, and also the rods make inspection very much simpler. All moving parts on the control system are fitted with ball bearings, which again should require practically no attention.
The undercarriage is made with ball joints to all moving parts, and these are enclosed in leather sleeves packed with grease, so that they should be impervious to the weather.
The wings are designed to fold, and are constructed of ply-wood throughout, a method which enables the designer to dispense with internal bracing, which may require attention and truing up.
The fuselage has two doors, so that although the seats are arranged side by side, the pilot and passenger will each be able to enter from their respective sides, as in all modern saloon cars.
The engine mounting is rather unique. In order to facilitate production, this has been designed so that the engine may be mounted on the mounting, which will carry the controls, the oil tank, the instrument panel, and all pipes, etc., before it is assembled in the machine, and when this latter is ready the complete unit is bolted up in place on the nose of the machine. This means that the engine unit as a separate entity may be erected in the engine shop and tried out before it is taken to the fuselage, and when it does get there, there will be nothing to do as regards fitting except bolting up four bolts.
The tail unit is also designed en the same principle, and can be bolted on to the fuselage by four bolts. This unit includes the tail plane, elevators, rudder and fin, so that when ready to assemble, besides bolting up, the only other job to be done is to connect up the controls, and this also is arranged to be a simple matter.
The rear part of the cabin has a large skylight, through which the pilot has an unimpeded view, even when the tail of the machine is on the ground.
The fuel feed is, of course, by gravity, and the engine is the flat twin air-cooled A.B.C. 85-h.p. Hornet.
Flight, April 1931
THE CIVILIAN COUPE
An interesting little cabin aircraft which provides all the comfort of a saloon car without in any way sacrificing the view, so essential to safe flying
THE Civilian Coupe, which we recently had the pleasure of trying in flight, is now in production in the works of the Civilian Aircraft Co., Ltd., which are situated on the south side of Hedon, the municipal airport of Hull.
The machine has been altered quite a considerable amount since it was first shown in public at Heston in 1929. At that date the machine was definitely rather narrow and was fitted with the A.B.C. "Hornet" engine. It flew, however, quite well and embodied several novel features, which suggested that subsequent models might have many very definite advantages over existing light aircraft. This recent one, which is the first of the production type, is fitted with the Armstrong-Siddeley "Genet Major" engine and many details of the machine have been re-designed. The cabin has accommodation for two passengers sitting side by side, with the pilot on the left-hand side, while his passenger's seat is slightly staggered so that there is ample room for the shoulders of both of them, although the overall width of the fuselage has been kept small. As will be seen from the photographs, the wing is mounted at some height above the top longerons and the whole of the space between the wing and the fairing of the fuselage behind the pilot is filled in with cellon. There is also a large cellon panel in the roof of the cabin with the result that the pilot obtains a perfectly clear view both in front and behind him, on both sides, and above.
The wings and the fuselage are both covered in plywood as are the tail units, which makes the machine an exceptionally strong proposition for the private owner whose machine may have to stand a large amount of knocking about.
Another improvement is the fitting of wheel brakes. These are the Bendix Perrott type in Dunlop wheels and are actuated in a particularly easy and useful manner. On the left-hand side of the pilot there is a hand lever which, when pulled half-way back on a ratchet, allows either brake to be, put on by the action of the rudder bar, thereby greatly facilitating taxying. If, however, it is required to put both the brakes on at once the lever is simply pulled further back and can be locked there, so that chocks are unnecessary when the engine is being run up or when the machine is standing in a wind. To even further enhance the value of the brakes, a particularly simple tail wheel has been incorporated instead of the more usual tail skid. This is actually a castor wheel from a trolley and is sprung by a large vertical spring. The advantage of a tail wheel over a skid was immediately apparent both when taxying over rough and stony ground and also when turning the machine sharply by means of the brakes.
The wings are designed to fold and are locked positively by spring operated locking pins which obviate the necessity for having to knock in the pin as is so often the case. Behind the two seats there is a fairly large luggage locker which can be increased in length by opening a small door at its after end should it be desired to carry golf clubs.
The top speed would seem to be somewhere about 109 m.p.h., while the landing speed is fairly low. At the present moment there still remains a little work to be done upon the controls, since the ailerons are somewhat sluggish in their action and the rudder appears to be rather on the small side. These points are, however, being rectified and even apart from them the Civilian Coupe is nice to handle and should have a great appeal to those who do not wish to pay several hundred pounds more to obtain such cabin machines as are at present available. A machine of this type has certainly been wanted for a very long time and it is really rather surprising that one has not been built before this. There is not the slightest doubt that side by side seating is the logical arrangement for privately-owned aircraft, particularly as a very large percentage of those who fly such machines will seldom wish to take more than one passenger with them. At the present moment the Civilian Coupe is the only machine catering for this market and it therefore has the field to itself. Few people who have flown in comfort in a machine of this type will ever again want to return to machines which necessitate their dressing up as for a polar expedition before they start off, for quite apart from being cold there is the great sense of relief a cabin machine gives in allowing the pilot to open and examine his maps in comfort.
The new Civilian Coupe at Heston which is fitted with the A.B.C. "Hornet" and carries two in the enclosed cabin. Beside the nose is Mr. Hunt, Works Manager.
Another view of the prototype Coupe. The schoolboy standing by the nose gives an idea of scale. In August 1933 'IL was sold in Ireland and became EI-AAV.
The prototype Civilian Coupe, fitted with a 75 h.p. ABC Hornet engine, at Heston in July 1929.
The same aircraft with lengthened nose, shortened exhaust pipes and faired undercarriage struts.
The Civilian Coupe is the first two-seater to give side by side enclosed seating with a really good view, an excellent performance and low cost. Fitted with wheel brakes, this makes an admirable private owners' machine.
Two views of the third Coupe, G-ABFJ, taken during the summer of 1931. Registered in April that year, 'FJ met its end following a forced landing three months later.
Coupes G-ABFI and G-ABFJ taking off from Heston on May 30, 1931 at the start of the London to Newcastle air race. G-ABFJ ran out of fuel and ’FI was placed 7th with an average speed of 119 m.p.h.
CIVILIAN AIRCRAFT Co Ltd Coupe II G-ABNT was built at Hedon, Yorkshire, in 1931, and Flt Lt Bowling flew it to tenth place in the Heston-Cardiff race on september 19 that year, averaging 89 m.p.h. on its 100 h.p. Armstrong siddeley Genet Major I engine. After being acquired by S.B. Cliff early in 1933 it was based first at Woodley and then at Whitchurch. Later that year it was acquired by Mr G.O. Rees of Cardiff, who flew it from the sands along the south wales coast. In 1939 it was dismantled at Carmarthen, and survived to be sold in 1978 to Shipping & Airlines Ltd, which restored this unique survivor to airworthy condition. “Bunty”, as it is affectionately known, is now based at Biggin Hill.
Coupe G-ABNT photographed at Heston in July 1932.
'NT in 1931, soon after it was built.
'NT shortly after restoration at Biggin Hill last year.
Civilian Coupe G-ABNT, pictured during a test flight in almost 50yr.
The sixth and final Coupe was G-ABPW. In October 1932 it was delivered to a German firm of aerial photographers and, registered D-EPAN, survived until the Forties.
A MODERN TAIL: The tail wheel shows the thoroughly practical way in which the Civilian Coupe has been designed as regards such details. This fitting makes the Coupe very comfortable when taxying.
A COMFORTABLE ARRANGEMENT: No one can complain of the comfort provided in the cabin of this machine. It will be seen that the seats are slightly staggered thereby giving ample shoulder room.
A large celluloid panel in the roof gave the pilot a clear view above.
Civilian Coupe Light Plane 75 hp A.B.C. "Hornet" Engine