Oral history of British science
Higton, Dennis (Part 11 of 24). An Oral History of British Science.
The British Library Board acknowledges the intellectual property rights of those named as contributors to this recording and the rights of those not identified.
Legal and ethical usage »
Interviewee’s home, Shrewton, Salisbury
Higton, Dennis, 1921-2012 (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 11: Remarks on subsequent jobs at RAE: measuring tail loads on Spitfires; working with John Charnley; need for engineers to measure, Frank Smith telling him off for mistake in measurements; using a slide rule. [04:00] Discussion on table of results in report, path from of instrumentation in test flights, via calculations to finished report results, calculating girls called 'computers', DH doing calculations himself if in a hurry on exciting jobs, such as set of perfect results obtained with Frank Smith [13:00 pause] Remarks on: Squire, drag expert; need to clear flies off wings to minimise drag; anecdote about Frank Smith cleaning wings with glass paper; dead flies damaging boundary layer, meaning they had to fly in early morning and shield wings on take-off; [18:00] 'Report on high speed aerodynamics at the Royal Aircraft Establishment 1942-45'; DH work excitement. [19:36] Remarks on: low salary; walking and cycling in outdoors for fun; postwar research aeroplanes, DH assigned to Bolton Paul [BP] Delta, flying himself to BP Wolverhampton. [21:29] Remarks about DH learning to fly at RAF Pangshanger, value of flight experience, DH difficulty solo spinning a plane. [25:00] Remarks: jobs being cancelled and research stopped at end of war; DH using a velometer on bomber turrets to help solve problems of glass misting up. [29:00] Remarks on: DH postwar work on BP Delta; Boscombe Down's Handel Davies for DH to transfer there, negative associations to going to Boscombe Down to join less prestigious boffins, John Derry crashing DH108 as DH was offered transfer; family circumstances; terrible problems with Supermarine Swift. [34:00] Remarks on Boscombe Down: nature of work testing planes and safety; lower status of Boscombe's Boffins; familiarity with pilots; problems with Swift wing; difficult period for DH; living in a prefab; poor communications between Farnborough and Boscombe; political problems with Swift; DH previous work at Boscombe; Handel Davies wanting him; staff problems. [38:20] Remarks on: going to Boscombe because his career needed a change; Joy liking the modern nature of prefab house; DH realising something was up on his first day at Boscombe; RAE director Morian Morgan writing a concerned letter to DH; bad behaviour of people at Boscombe; deep problems connected to Swift and need for someone to solve them; office politics at Boscombe. [43:20] Comments on vertical take off [VTOL] rig built by DH: background, importance of jet power; Hawkers approach of vectored thrust, used in Harrier; [46:35] DH developing rig to explore VTOL control on orders of Handel Davies; description of rig, built 1952; Handel Davies not enjoying practical activities; concept taken further in RAE and Roll Royce Flying Bedstead and control system on Harrier; [53:30] further description of rig; transfer to Boscombe; busy period of significant projects; Wayson Turner of Empire Test Pilots School. [59:00] Remarks on: term boffin, frowned upon at Farnborough, pride at being a boffin; keeping up flying; ejector seats improving safety. Remarks on: BP Delta, surplus aircraft at end of war, shape of aircraft, background to project, DH visiting firm; busy period of work postwar; description of Morian Morgan, anecdote about meeting him on holiday in Gunwallow; description of Handel Davies, with anecdote about DH getting Miss Bradfield's name mixed up at small wind tunnels, theoretical mathematician, skied and sailed with DH.
Interview with aeronautical engineer Dennis Higton.