Sopwith Triplane (1916)
This was a state-of-the-art fighter plane when it was introduced in 1916, but such was speed of innovation in flying during the Great War that by 1917 it had been superseded by the Sopwith Camel. Test pilot Harry Hawker was so confident in the Triplane's design that within three minutes of take-off on its maiden flight he did three successive loops! Most of these aircraft were manufactured in Clayton & Shuttleworth's factory, the one above though is a reproduction of the original plane, but one which won the approval of Sir Thomas Sopwith himself.
1903 Marot-Gardon Quadricycle
In the early days of the internal combustion engine all sorts of wacky vehicles were designed as manufacturers sought the way forward - including this four-wheeled motorbike with the pillion seat at the front! The firm of Marot-Gardon made several designs of motorised tricycles and quadricycles which used to take part in road races alongside the cars of the day.
Allis-Chalmers (Model B) 1950
These little tractors were made in the United States from 1937 onwards and over the following two decades 127,100 were produced. From 1947 they were also manufactured in England, initially from parts made in the US but later made wholly in this country. This charming machine was found in a barn a few miles away and was restored by one of the engineers employed here.
Arvo Triplane IV (a replica of the 1910 plane)
This remarkable machine is a copy of a plane made in the early years of the twentieth century. Early models were merely development prototypes as the pioneers of aviation refined their art, but by the time this Model IV was built it was good enough to use at the flying school at Brooklands but, as it says on the information board, "several times coming into intimate contact with the sewage farm".
This copy was built for use in the film "Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines". As it is largely true to the original plane and flies really well it was purchased for the Collection and can sometimes be seen flying sedately over the fields of Old Warden on calm days.
Ivel Cycle Woks (Est 1880)
Some of you may remember that I wrote a bit about Dan Albone in an earlier post. He lived just down the road at Biggleswade and was a cycle-enthusiast who came up with many inventions which led to him building the first modern bicycles. This is a reproduction of his premises and displays a range of cycles showing the improvements which took place during his short but productive lifetime.
Mignet HM.14 Pou-de-Ciel
Suspended on wires from the roof of one of the hangars is this sweet little "Pou-de-Ciel" (literally "Louse of the Sky", but usually rather freely translated as "Flying Flea"). From 1920 onwards Frenchman Henri Mignet strove to develop a small plane which enthusiasts could build at home, leading to the HM.14 in 1933. Mignet flew the plane successfully and published the plans, resulting in many planes being built worldwide.
However many of these home-built aircraft began to crash, getting into dives which the pilots were unable to pull out of. This led to the planes being grounded or banned in many countries. It was later proved that the accidents were caused by the builders incorporating design features of their own, such as putting in larger engines or modifying the wings. The Pou-de-Ciel never lived down the bad publicity, though thousands of micro-light aircraft of basically similar design have been built and flown since.
Supermarine Spitfire Mk Vc (1941)
"Spitfire" - just the name of it was enough to get small boys of my generation excited as we ran around the playground with arms outstretched enacting air battles! This particular plane was flown out of Duxford by No. 310 (Czech) Squadron escorting USAAF bombers of the 91st Bombardment Group which included the famous "Memphis Belle". It has recently been completely stripped down and returned to its original wartime specifications.