Ianander, on 28 February 2011 - 03:57 PM, said:
Hello Centurion , Thank you for the information I didn't know Mitchell was a junior member of the design team.
many thanks again Centurion
Might be interested in my account (in an unpublished work) of the Nighthawk (also known by the test crew as the Sh*tehawk)
The last, and most outré, attempt to produce a Davis gun armed anti airship fighter was made by the newly formed Supermarine company (formerly Pemberton Billings and Co). This was the Supermarine P.B.31.E Nighthawk, a very large twin engined quadruplane. The fuselage, which was mounted between the middle wings, was surmounted by a enclosed cockpit, somewhat reminiscent of a small conservatory, on top of which was built a gunner’s position for the Davis gun and a rearward firing Lewis gun position with a Scarff gun ring. This was level with the top wing. The Davis gun would have a clear field of fire all around the horizon (but the counterweight would decapitate the rear gunner if he was in his cockpit when the main weapon was fired forwards). A second Lewis gun position was stationed in the nose of the main fuselage together with a small searchlight and a 5hp petrol engine to drive a generator for the light and provide heating for the main cockpit that contained sleeping facilities for spare crew members. The pilot was positioned at the rear of the enclosed cockpit doubtless to reduce the possibility that he might actually be able to see an enemy airship whilst at the same time adding extra interest to the process of taking off and landing on ill lit night time air strips. The whole contraption was powered by two 100hp rotary engines. It is worth noting that the total power available to the Nighthawk was less than that used by the majority of light two seater aircraft today and with this it was expected to haul a crew of between three and five, two machine guns and a Davis gun (all with ammunition) and up to 18 hours worth of fuel around the night sky. In fact the Nighthawk could take off and climb very very slowly to its cruising altitude, it could then amble slowly (almost gliding) on its patrol. Its top speed of 60 mph was not that much greater than that of the later Zeppelins and its best chance of intercepting one of these was by collision if one accidentally flew into its path. By the time the Nighthawk was undergoing flight trials in mid 1917 conventional aircraft were shooting down Zeppelins using ordinary machine guns loaded with an ordinary round/tracer round combination of ammunition and there was no need for other approaches. The Nighthawk did make one useful contribution to British defence – one of the junior members of the design team was a Reginald J Mitchell and this was his first experience of aircraft design. He later went on to design the Supermarine Spitfire.
I enclose the drawing I did