Flight, February 1931
THE "FALCON FOUR"
A New and Interesting Twin-Engined Four-Seater
THOSE who have come to the conclusion that aircraft design, particularly in the private owner's class, has reached stagnation point, are apt to change their view during
the coming spring and summer. Several new types are coming along, and among them are several which are quite unusually interesting.
By the courtesy of the owner, FLIGHT is able this week to publish brief particulars of one of these new aircraft, which is now in course of construction, and which promises to "strike a new note" in the design of aircraft for the private owner. The machine, which is to be known as the "Falcon Four," has been designed by Mr. Basil B. Henderson, of Shoreham, and is being built by Mr. Miles, of Southern Aircraft, Ltd., also of Shoreham Aerodrome.
Mr. Henderson, it will be recollected, already has to his credit two very successful designs: the "Hendy Hobo" and the "Hendy 302." Both these machines incorporate a type of wing construction patented by Mr. Henderson, which is especially suitable for cantilever monoplanes, and the chief feature of which is great torsional strength, so that wing flutter is practically impossible. This type of wing construction is being used in the "Falcon Four," and there is no reason to doubt that it will be successful in that machine as it has been in the previous types.
Mr. Miles has gained fame as the producer of the "Martlet," a little single-seater with a perfectly amazing performance, and the collaboration of Miles and Henderson in the production of the new machine should be sufficient guarantee that the machine will be in every way a sound job in spite of its novel design.
The "Falcon Four" is a low-wing, twin-engined cantilever monoplane designed to carry pilot and three passengers. In a general way it may be said to represent the translation of flying-boat practice into landplane design. The engines are placed high above the wing, giving a higher thrust line than is usually met with in land 'planes, but not, it would seem, any higher than frequently employed without ill-effects in flying boats. The adoption of this engine placing has a number of advantages, and these are increased by the fact that the "Cirrus-Hermes II" engines are being installed as "pushers." This placing of the engines has only been made possible by the research work carried out by Cirrus Aero Engines, Ltd. That work is, we understand, still going on, but enough has already been ascertained to indicate that cooling of the engines should present no insuperable difficulties. This is to be heartily welcomed as a piece of very real progress, for there can be no doubt that the "pusher" type of aircraft has a number of advantages, and once the cooling problem has been overcome we are sure that several "pusher" types will be produced.
In the "Falcon Four," the two "Hermes II" engines are placed on stilts above the wing, and located fairly far back. By so doing, it has been found possible to move the occupants fairly far forward, so that the cabin lies mainly ahead of the wing, with the result that the view from all four seats is exceptionally good. A further advantage is that the air screws are well out of the way, so that passengers can enter and leave the machine while the airscrews are running without fear of being struck (the door is ahead of the wing).
Another result of placing the engines as far back as possible is that the am aunt of noise which reaches the cabin is considerably reduced, while the use of a clever shock absorber system in the engine struts and wing attachments reduces to vanishing point the vibration transmitted to the cabin. The machine is designed for a cruising radius of 600 miles at 100 m.p.h., and as this duration is above the average, the comfort of the occupants is an item which has to be studied carefully. In the "Falcon Four" comfort is, in fact, the keynote of the design. Engine starters are fitted, so that the engine can be started from the cabin by pressing a button.
Structurally, the new machine is of all-wood construction, and fabric is used for the wing covering.
The wide-track undercarriage has low-pressure tyres and independently-operated wheel brakes, while a tracking air-wheel takes the place of the usual tail skid.
Finally, it should be mentioned that the two photographs which illustrate these notes, and which might convey the impression that the machine is already finished and flying, show a scale model of the "Falcon Four," cleverly suspended in front of a hedge to give the impression of a machine coming in over the treetops.
When the machine is finished and has completed its initial flying tests, we hope to publish a more detailed description.