Oral history of British science
Hooper, Ralph (Part 9 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 9: Comments on: recent retirement of Harrier, carrier replacement decision, earlier Sea Harrier retirement, Joint Force Harrier, Joint Strike Fighter; longevity of Harrier in service, compared to Hunter, Lockheed Hercules and B52; importance of service in Falklands and developments for US Marine Corps; recent Harrier operations. [08:05] Comments on GL: most enjoyable to work with, great sense of humour, helpful, first class engineer in both inception and application; early visits of SH and GL to Hawkers and RH to Bristol; GL later work on Concorde and later career; good working relationship over challenges of engine and its intake; anecdote about meeting between GL and RH at Bristol. [13:10] Comments on report on reaction control system: starting off with educated guess work; arrangements for variable bleed system; development of learning process from guess work to in service needs. [17:20] Comments on: P1154 demise and cancellation; RH working on P1127 and Kestrel, visiting HM and BB at Dunsfold on Saturdays. [20:00] Comments on RH's interest in gliding: spending weekends at gliding club until work became too busy; purchasing gliders as part of syndicates; recently restoring glider; enjoying peace of gliding and scenery; other glider syndicate members, Frank Irving of Imperial College, Laurie Hall of Air Registration Board, Ted Ashford a printer; links between Imperial College and Surrey Gliding Club, which moved to Hampshire; limited relationship between gliding and work; air touring round Europe with friend David Scallon. [Short Pause - mic adjustment] [29:30] Remarks on: interest outside work flying, gliding, skiing, rugby until he moved to Kingston; moving to current home in 1959; parents moving to Somerset; heavy work-load of job by mid 1960s; offices in Canbury Park Road until 1958 when they moved to Ham; history of Kingston factory, originally a Sopwith aircraft production site. Description of design offices, factory and other facilities at Kingston; problem of local power station chimneys covering drawing office with grit; partitioned offices until 1968 for RH; directors offices on the 'golden mile' in front of building; SC's easy route from his office into the design department. [36:30] Remarks on: P1154 not involving many people; P1127 work continuing to clear a design for evaluation, later the Kestrel; engineering curiosity; Kestrel evaluation squadron as a way ahead for the design; RH attending final mess party at Wittering at end of trials. Anecdote about RAF mess games, marine officer having his spurs stolen. [45:00] Remarks on: reaction of pilots to Kestrel, with reference to RAF 'Harrier' story; senior German test pilot destroying a haystack during a take off; remarks on German test pilot's earlier career in Luftwaffe; reasons for other nations involved in evaluation; problems of multinational projects; RH and Hawker limited involvement with evaluation. [53:00] Comments on changes between Kestrel and P1127: changes in wing design; success of evaluation programme; hole in the wood trials by HM and in evaluation; period of uncertainty after P1154 cancellation, feasibility study of two seater; American Army pilot writing off an aircraft. [59:30] Remarks on path from Kestrel to Harrier: RAF requirement; changes in intake design as engine thrust increased; alterations to increase external store carriage; changes in materials; changes in undercarriage; Harrier not a product of the systems approach. Comments on: changes in contract requirements between Harrier and later Hawk, to alter aircraft testing regime; dealings with 'Ministry of Planes' and the RAE.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Ralph Hooper