Oral history of British science
Hooper, Ralph (Part 7 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 7: Comments on construction of prototypes: construction methods, such as machining and spot welding; flow of design from project office to drawing office to experimental department; differences between experimental prototypes and ones intended to lead to production; role of external companies, such as Dunlop, Plessey, Dowty, Vickers, Ferranti. [06:30] Comments on interaction between project and drawing offices and experimental shop; continued interaction of other offices in process, such as on fatigue and aero-elasticity tests; mock-up aeroplane. [11:25] Comments on intake problems: changes in intakes due to engine changes; unique problem of having to worry about intake when aircraft was static; experiments with inflatable intake lips; eventual solution on the Harrier with blow in doors. [15:05] Remarks on problems with reaction control system, inlets, pitch control; rough design of original wing; overlap of work on P1127, Kestrel and Harrier. Comments on computing: Ferranti Pegasus from 1958; apprehension of some staff toward computer; writing only one program himself; later impact and changes in computing in 1970s during Hawk work; pocket computers; expanded computer facilities; [21:35] Hawker Siddeley group, not SC, wanting computing. Remarks on Avro analogue computer: used on early P1127 work, such as transitions; Robin Balmer's assignment of its operation to another member of staff, who later left for Canada; replacement with digital equipment; longevity of manual calculations. [26:15] Remarks on: knock on effects of changes to design; making do with minor problems on prototypes; first P1127 flights; facilities for testing; initial problems with outriggers, solution of 'dead leg' on the Harrier, patented by Dowty [33:10] Comments on: not seeing first flights himself; Thomas Sopwith and Spencer Spriggs' view of second test flight. Comments on context of work after 1957 defence white paper: several people, including Ken Causer and Bill Napthine leaving in 1957; concentration on P1127, bright future of P1154 expected; self defeating exercise of 1965 redundancies. [37:35] Remarks on: systems approach; Harrier's analogue electronics from TSR2; [PICTURE of moving map display]
Interview with aeronautical engineer Ralph Hooper