Oral history of British science
Hooper, Ralph (Part 3 of 11). An Oral History of British Science.
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Interviewee's home, Richmond
Hooper, Ralph, 1926- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 3: Comments on aircraft in childhood: RAF Empire Air Days, aircraft gun firing displays. Comments on: being being fond of monoplanes; Westland Lysander, Fairey Battle and Hawker Hurricane uses in wartime. [06:20] Comments on grandfather, chief draughtsman for London North Eastern Railway who lived next-door to RH in childhood in Hornchurch: practical man with workshop; large garden, kept bees, had a part time gardener named Sargent; gave RH and sister apples for 'beavers' - mid morning snack; well documented in LNER history; influenced RH to be interested in similar things; enjoyed free travel in retirement and timed train brake performance; [17:00] good work man, unlike brother Phil; built a boat with engine that RH inherited for a time; sisters in Great Warley, including Aunt Nora his practical godmother. [20:40] Remarks on childhood presents: Hornby trains, Meccano from godfather, later used by mother. Discussion of apprenticeship reports. [28:30] Remarks on: enjoying works part of apprenticeship; supervisors competing for better apprentices; relationships with foremen and charge-hands; advice from good supervisors Jim and Eric Missen. [32:25] Comments on his assignment to the stress office: work of stress office; calculations for a naval aircraft undercarriage stressing; deciding he wanted to design aircraft; description of working in the stress office; advice from boss Crowshore to go into nuclear industry; description of designing a 'Whiffletree', apparatus to stress test an airframe, which RH found boring; [40:00] other methods of stressing aircraft; balance of practical and theoretical work. Description of using a slide rule, later mechanical calculators. Further comments on stressing: large numbers of calculations needed, sources of aerodynamic loading, changes in technology; [45:55] colleagues During, Bill Welham, Crawshore, Albert White, [Stan Dearing]; relationship of stress office to other groups. [50:35] Remarks on starting stressing with an elliptical shaped wing loading and induced drag. Comments on relative statuses of different offices, relation of offices and works. [54:35] Anecdote about Frank Green in experimental workshop at Hawkers being able to build anything they could draw. Remarks on: possibilities of staying at Blackburn; unsuccessfully applying to light aircraft companies after his 2 year at Cranfield; applying to Hawkers at Kingston and Vickers at Brooklands, because of their proximity to Surrey Gliding Club at Redhill, and being more attracted by Hawker's offer. [1:01:10] Story about his unusual interview at Hawkers with Sir Sydney Camm [SC] and Roy Chaplin. Remarks on SC's reputation, the design of the Hurricane, wing thickness of other British second world war fighters, characteristics of varying wing thickness. [1:07:30] Remarks on feeling more ethically comfortable designing fighters than bombers. Remarks on: interviews with Vickers and English Electric [EE]; EE's development of the Canberra; not wanting to return to Blackburn. [1:12:00] Comments on Cranfield: influenced to go there by friend Peter Wroe at Blackburn; extra skills learned, particularly in aerodynamics; specialised in design; teaching and long hours of study; playing rugby and gliding for recreation; aim of college to enhance aviation industry; staff, such as principal E.F. Relf and a maths professor RH knew from UCH; [1:18:00] conditions in the first year the college existed; other students, including service personnel; conditions in harsh winter 1947; description of area around Cranfield; social activities; no female students, role of female labour during the war, female mathematicians and other roles later at Hawkers. [1:28:00] Comments on girlfriends at UCH and Cranfield; girlfriend Vivian, originally from Hornchurch who had been in the WAAF during the war; typical social activities.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Ralph Hooper