Aviation Historian 41
T.Jenkins - Guts, No Glory
An air-to-air study of the second long-range Horsley, J8608, which twice failed on record attempts.
The second long-distance Horsley, J8608, was used for two subsequent attempts on the England-India non-stop record, both with Carr at the controls. Both failed, but Flight described Carr as having “set an example of devotion to duty ... which must remain a glorious example for the younger generation of the RAF to live up to”.
The Horsley selected for the RAF’s distance record flight, J8607, was in most ways a standard Service example of the type, with no major alterations to fuselage structure, wings or engine; the only substantial departure from standard was the addition of an extensive fuel-tank system within the fuselage and wing centre-sectons.
Initially named the Kingston, the Horsley was a large two-bay biplane day bomber designed by Sydney Camm under the direction of W.G. Carter in 1924. Here Horsley II J8606 has its cowlings removed to show its 650 h.p. 12-cylinder upright 60° Vee water-cooled poppet-valve Rolls-Royce Condor IIIA engine, as fitted to J8607 and J8608, the two long-range Horsleys built for the record attempt.
Personnel at Cranwell wave off Carr and Gillman in J8607 as they set off on their record attempt at 1038hr on May 20, 1927. A large part of the attempt was to prove that a useful aircraft, capable of transporting people or goods, as opposed to a machine built for duration alone, could make a meaningful flight over a long distance.
J8607 photographed from one of the three Horsleys which accompanied it to the English east coast, where it was met by a flying-boat for the crossing of the North Sea to Belgium, which was reached in a little more than two hours. The Horsley was so heavily laden with fuel that at its take-off weight of 14,360lb (6,514kg), the wing-loading was some 20lb/ft2.
Another one of the sequence of photographs taken aboard the barge, with the Horsley inverted, alongside the SS British Rose at Abadan in Iran, which presumably brought the remains of the Horsley back to the UK, although it appears that it was not restored and returned to service. The airframe appears to be in remarkably good condition considering its watery fate.
More photos of J8607 aboard the lighter. In the British aeronautical press, questions were raised about whether Carr and Gillman’s flight had exceeded Lindbergh’s in terms of distance covered. Lt-Col Ivo Edwards, Technical Adviser to the Director of Civil Aviation, stated that, using Great Circle navigation methods, Lindbergh had covered 3,588 miles (5,774km) and the Horsley 3,419 miles (5,502km). The Times, however, using the Great Globe at Kew, suggested that Lindbergh’s distance was 3,639 miles (5,856km) and the Horsley 3,415 miles (5,496km). Either way, it was clear Lindbergh had flown further.
The somewhat battered and soggy J8607 aboard a lighter (river barge) following its ditching in the Persian Gulf. There was some speculation on the distance covered by both the Horsley and Lindbergh’s Ryan, especially in light of the fact that it was almost impossible to ascertain exactly where in the Persian Gulf the Horsley had finally come down.