Aviation Historian 26
D.Septer - "Pilot Wanted. Plenty of risk, Good pay..."
Fitted with floats, Cotton’s first Martinsyde Type A Mk II (right) stands alongside G-EAQP, the weary D.H.9 he inherited on his arrival at Botwood.
In August 1922 Cotton and the Aerial Survey Co took delivery of two four-seat Limousine IIs; G-EAJL, as seen here, and G-EAMV. A third, G-EARG, arrived that November. Powered by a 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon liquid-cooled V12 piston engine, the Mk II had a top speed of 100 m.p.h. (160km/h) and a service ceiling of 17,000ft (5,200m).
Ski-equipped Westland Limousine III G-EARV of the Aerial Survey Co on its way from Botwood to the goldfields at Stag Bay, Labrador, in April 1923. Alighting on thin ice on the shore of the bay, Cotton and Stannard had to keep the six-seat machine moving to avoid breaking the ice and sinking. The company also used three examples of the smaller four-seat Limousine II.
An Aerial Survey Co party prepares for a photographic sortie in the Limousine III. Note the fuel tanks on the top wing centre section, fitted in addition to wing-mounted fuel tanks.
Martinsyde c/n 215 and Limousine III G-EARV outside the hangar at Botwood circa early 1922. Thanks to engine covers made from balloon fabric to Cotton’s own design, “our aircraft would stay for days on end in temperatures of from 30 to 50 below zero, but when we pulled our covers off, the engines would start up immediately”.
One of only two Limousine IIIs built, G-EARV was a considerably larger version of the four-seat Limousine II, with three-bay wings of 54ft (16-5m) span instead of the Mk II’s two-bay wings of 37ft 9in (11‘5m) span. The Mk III was fitted with a more powerful Napier Lion engine. Here G-EARV is being prepared for a flight at Botwood in 1921.
Captioned as "On the mail route at Fogo", this picture presumably shows G-EARV on the island during one of the regular mail runs. The Limousine III was sold to Laurentide Air Service in 1923, but was scrapped shortly afterwards.
While back in the UK in 1921 Cotton purchased the first Martinsyde Type A Mk II to be built, c/n 215, which arrived at Botwood in November 1921 and bore no identification markings as it was operated only in Newfoundland and not placed on any civil register. It is seen here at St John’s being prepared for its first air mail run.
Martinsyde c/n 215 at Cartwright, Labrador, in March 1922. The Type A Mk II was a four-passenger cabin two-bay biplane with an open cockpit for the pilot. Equipped with radio, cameras and a readily interchangeable undercarriage arrangement for wheels, skis or floats, it was eminently suited to seal-spotting in Newfoundland.
In the summer of 1922 Martinsyde invited the British aviation periodicals to examine Cotton’s second Martinsyde Type A Mk II before it was shipped to Newfoundland, supplying artworks of various aspects, including the passenger accommodation (LEFT) and the cockpit (ABOVE). The radio equipment was fitted in the hatch forward of the cabin. The cockpit panel was dominated by the Vickers-Reid illuminated gyro turn indicator. The cockpit windscreen was designed by Cotton himself.
The sole Avro 554 Antarctic Baby (c/n 5040) two-seat single-bay biplane, powered by an 80 h.p. le Rhone rotary engine, was acquired by the Aerial Survey Co in early 1923 and was used by Canadian aviator C.S. “Jack” Caldwell for seal-spotting during 1925-28, after which it was scrapped in Newfoundland and replaced by an Avian.