Flight, May 1921
THE H.L "MARLBURIAN”
An Interesting Amateur-Built Monoplane
FOR those who have been interested in, or connected with, aviation since its earliest days, and who have watched the enormous progress made during the War in the design, manufacture,
and handling of aeroplanes, there is, perhaps not unnaturally, a tendency to look back with regret upon the "old days" and to lament the passing of the spirit which animated the pioneers of flying and pervaded the whole aviation community. Aviation in those days was mainly confined to a relatively few enthusiasts who did not expect to make the business pay handsome dividends, but who were content so long as they could scrape sufficient money together to carry on with their experiments and make technical progress. One is apt to think that the industry has now become "commercialised," and that most people are looking upon it as an ordinary business proposition. This view is not, of course, strictly justified, otherwise the industry of today might be even smaller than it is, but it is a very natural one.
It is therefore very refreshing, and also very encouraging to those who believe in the future of flying in its many aspects, to find that the old spirit is by no means dead, and that here and there, if one look carefully, one may yet come across instances of enthusiasm and a spirit closely akin to that of the pioneers of flying. One such instance, which, we think, is worthy of reference, is furnished by a youth living near Newcastle, who has built no less than seven machines with his own hands and practically unaided. On one of these he taught himself to fly at the mature age of 16 1/2. Truly the spirit of the pioneers is not dead.
The machine which is illustrated in the accompanying photographs is the seventh of a series of machines of various types built by Mr. F. Harold Lowe, of Heaton, Newcastle-on-Tyne, and represents the results of his practical experience since he first commenced building aeroplanes as a hobby in 1916. At the present time Mr. Lowe is only 20 years of age, and one may therefore look forward to see many more machines take shape under his dexterous hands. The latest of his products is a small monoplane which he calls the "Marlburian," and is fitted with a 60 h.p. Gnome engine. The design of the machine occupied 5 months of Mr. Lowe's spare time, and the actual construction of the machine, from sawing the first piece of timber to putting on the finishing touches, represents 840 hours' work. The only parts that were purchased ready-made were the engine, wheels, propeller and instruments. All the rest was made by Mr. Lowe from the raw material. Those who have any conception of modern aeroplane work will realise what building a machine single-handed means, and will also appreciate that Mr. Lowe cannot have spent many of the 840 hours in daydreaming and in contemplating his work.
As the accompanying illustrations will show, the "Marlburian" is rather a pretty little monoplane on fairly orthodox lines, with a fuselage tapering off to a horizontal knife edge at the stern, after the fashion of the Morane-Saulnier pre-War monoplanes. It will be noticed that there is a slight discrepancy between the photographs and the general arrangement drawings as regards the rudder and fin. In the photographs the early form of rudder and fin are shown. These, as might have been anticipated, proved inadequate, the machine showing a tendency to swerve when being taxied on the ground. This was remedied by fitting larger fin and rudder, as shown in the scale drawings, and the machine is now, we understand, very easy on the controls and answers her rudder well, also when on the ground.
The fuselage is fairly wide, and has seating accommodation for pilot and one passenger side by side. It is built up of four spruce longerons, with spruce struts and cross members, braced with steel wire. The front three bays are covered with three-ply wood. At the point of attachment of the undercarriage struts the lower longerons are built into a girder section so as to provide greater strength locally. The undercarriage itself is of the simple Vee type, with struts of solid spruce, streamline section, bound with tape. Both front and rear panels have transverse bracing. The wheels are Palmer Aero wheels, 600 mm. by 70 mm., sprung from the chassis struts by rubber cord shock-absorbers. The tail skid is built of steel throughout, and is steerable.
As shown in the plan view, the main planes have raked tips with rounded corners. They are of fairly thin section, although the camber is considerable. The spars, of which the front one is placed almost on the leading edge, are of solid spruce. Alternate ribs are of box sections, and serve as compression struts, there being four bays of internal bracing. The other ribs are of I-section, with spruce flanges and poplar webs. The wing bracing is in the form of plain steel wire, with four anti-lift wires, eight lift wires, and one external drag wire to each wing. The lift wires are attached to the lower longeron, and not, as in the Moranes, to a cabane under the body. This gives a somewhat flat angle to the wires. The top, or anti-lift, wires are secured to two cabanes in the form of inverted Vees, somewhat like those of the old Deperdussin monoplanes. All wire attachments are of the quick-release type, the shed available for the machine at present being so small that Mr. Lowe is obliged to take the wings off when putting the machine in its shed. This operation, however, occupies only about 20 minutes.
The ailerons have channel section spruce leading edges, with streamline steel tube trailing edge. The aileron kingposts are of cast aluminium, and are provided on the under surface only, being operated by a system of rods and cranks inside the wings. The controls actually pull down one aileron only, the other being given its differential motion by a spring and the short rods going to the king-post. Thus all operating gear is underneath or inside the wing, leaving the upper surface unencumbered.
The tail plane, which is set at a negative incidence of one degree, has box spars of spruce, the front spar being braced by tubes to the lower longerons, while the rear spar is braced by wires to top and bottom fins. The elevator is of the divided type with the rudder working between the two halves.
The 60 h.p. Gnome engine is mounted on a steel capping plate in the nose of the fuselage, while the shaft is supported on a transverse channel steel bearer designed to take the thrust. The cowling and side panels are of aluminium, the latter being hinged like the bonnet of a car. Fuel supply is by means of a windmill pump mounted on the right-hand undercarriage front strut and delivering petrol from a tank mounted under the seats. The oil tank is just in front of the dashboard, and supplies the oil to the engine-driven pump by gravity. In order to ensure the fuel supply in the event of any trouble with the windmill pump, there is a hand-pump in the cockpit.
The following are the main data of the machine :- Span, 28 ft. 6 ins.; chord, 5 ft. 3 ins.; length o.a., 17 ft.; height, 8 ft. 4 ins. Weight empty, 450 lbs. Duration, 3 hours at 85 m.p.h. Maximum speed, 100 m.p.h. Landing speed, 33 m.p.h. Engine, 60 h.p. Gnome propeller, "Integral," 8 ft. 4 ins. diameter.
Mr. Lowe has had the machine out for several flights, among which may be mentioned its first, which was of 27 minutes'duration. He is, we think, to be congratulated on his achievement, and we trust that his example may be followed by other enthusiasts. We shall always be pleased to give space in our columns to descriptions of such efforts by amateurs.