Mike's Homage to Amy Johnson
On 5th May 1930, from Croydon Airport, an intrepid Amy Johnson took off in her Gipsy Moth, which she had named ‘Jason’, on her epic flight to Australia. The first part of her 11,000 mile journey took her to Vienna and Constantinople, then a hair-raising flight over the Taurus Mountains dodging swirling banks of cloud and narrowly missing high mountain peaks, took her to Aleppo in the Syrian desert.
Between Aleppo and Baghdad she was forced down by a sandstorm and had to land in the middle of nowhere. With stops at Jhansi and Allahabad, she made it to Calcutta, but on the next leg suffered a bad landing, damaging her aircraft. The repairs held up her progress for several days, and at the same time dashed her hopes of beating Bert Hinkler's record of fifteen and a half days (for the same journey). A frightening flight over the Burmese jungle where an engine failure would have meant a possible meeting with unfriendly tribesmen, took her to Rangoon. Then on to Bangkok, Singapore and Timor Island. What lay ahead was a flight over a stormy and treacherous sea to Port Darwin. Fighting fear, loneliness and exhaustion, and praying that her faithful ‘Jason’ would hang together for the duration, she eventually completed the journey and arrived at Port Darwin to a tumultuous reception from the local population. The date was 24th May, and she had become the first woman pilot to fly from England to Australia. In recognition of her achievement, she was awarded the C.B.E. by King George V and given £10,000 from the Daily mail.
On examination after the flight, the aircraft was found to be in an appalling condition; propeller nuts were dangerously loose, there was almost no compression on two of the four cylinders and the spark plugs had seized. Despite all this, all that was needed was routine attention and the plane was back in perfect order! A fine testimony to the quality of the De Havilland airframe and engine. This very aircraft can now be seen hanging in the Science Museum, Kensington.
Having decided that I would like to build a model of this famous bi-plane, I set about finding a suitable plan. Remembering a plan in the old Plans Handbook, I took a look at the Sarik Hobbies web-site and managed to procure a copy of RC135, the very plan - a 1/6 scale model by M P Sun. But when I examined the plan, I was disappointed on several counts; the model was big, the amount of scale detailing was more than I was prepared to take on and the use of the RAF-15 wing section would further complicate things. A bit discouraged, I had a word with our De Havilland guru, Mr Jamieson at this point. Jim quickly put me on the right track and at our next meeting, furnished me with a folder-full of De Havilland cuttings and in particular the Gipsy Moth. Included was an A4 sheet of a Gordon Whitehead plan for a sport scale DH60, ⅛th scale and complete with a Clark-Y section! This ticked all the boxes.
A free download of Gordon's plan was taken off the internet and the file taken off to the local printing shop. I had the plan printed slightly enlarged so that I could build the model to a scale of 1-in-7, giving me a span of 52 inches. The picture attached shows the fuselage well under way, ready for the top and bottom sheeting, block balsa around the nose, and the hatch incorporating the Gipsy engine mock-up. As you will be able to tell from the piecemeal construction of the nose structure, the electric conversion process was a bit of a challenge! But eventually I was able to install the 3547-960 outrunner in the correct position and at the specified 3° downthrust and sidethrust. The observant among you will have noticed the lack of wing fixing provision, this is because my Moth will have folding wings, just like the real thing! Tailplane and fin construction was using the tried and tested sandwich method resulting in a strong but light structure.
Part 2 will cover the construction of the wings and will detail the wing folding mechanism (which I have yet to figure out!)
Photos - Mike Pirie
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