S.W. Stannage, Manager of Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd at Mascot,
N.S.W. wrote to the Australian Controller of Civil Aviation to advise:
"It is Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's intention to bring into this
country a Lockheed Altair aeroplane from the U.S.A." and also "to
ascertain the position with regard to the importation of American
aircraft to this country at the present time, and to make sure that
there will be no difficulty in landing the machine when it arrives."
It should be remembered that, at this time, the importation of American
aircraft was effectively banned as the United States was not a signatory
E.C. Johnston, Controller of Civil Aviation, replied to Stannage advising
that he had discussed the importation of the Altair with Sir Charles
on the telephone on 1st May and that: "Finally, I advised Sir Charles
before importing the aircraft to secure if possible from the U.S.A.
authorities a Certificate of Airworthiness for export and/or the Certificate
described in Rule 16 of the Air Race Conditions."
first indication of Smithy's involvement with "Ship #152" is a Lockheed
Inter-Departmental Communication from Richard A. Von Hake, the Lockheed
Factory Superintendent 1933 to c.1940.|
"We have been informed that a deposit is on the way from Fenchurch
Export Corporation for Mr. Kingsford-Smith for an Altair to be used
in the Australian Race. This ship will be dual controlled, two cockpits
with canopy, and with gas sufficient for 2900 miles at 205 cruising.
We are about to endeavour to purchase Victor Fleming's Sirius, minus
engine and propeller. This fuselage will be used for the Kingsford-Smith
Altair, and will require an S1D1 engine and a controllable pitch propeller.
Further details will follow as soon as received. Will confirm deposit
immediately when received and advise personnel to ferry ship from
United (Pacific Airmotive) to factory.
On the same day, things began to get serious with another Inter-Departmental
Communication (henceforth IDC) from Von Hake to the Factory. The document
is initialled, appropriately enough, V.H.!
"Please start thru immediately an Altair wing, complete with tanks
and landing gear, for Kingsford-Smith - earliest possible completion."
Lockheed Repair Order specifies:|
motor from ship, take off all accessaries (sic), starter, generator,
fuel pump, baffles and etc. Motor will be returned to Pacific
Airmotive with propeller.
wing and landing gear. Wheels, tires and tubes to be returned
new retract wing and additional fuel tanks in fuselage as per
new Wasp S1D1 motor.
surfaces are to be removed and fuselage recovered.
entire ship as per sketch.
up and install listed instruments in board. (Last
item is hand-written and fifth word is indistinct.)
Lockheed IDC passed Engineering Change Order #367 to the Factory:|
engine cowling as came with the ship without change.
pressure type baffles building out to cowl in same manner as on
Wiley Post's ship.
Wing gas tanks will be used, 4 in all, and no dump valves will
be installed in any wing tanks.
this ship the hot spot must be hooked up to the exhaust collector.
The flow of exhaust gases from one cylinder will be sufficient
according to P&W.
not hook up the oil regulator. An oil radiator will be installed
instead but not the standard Lockheed radiator. Data will
follow on this.
Lockheed IDC to the Factory states:|
from United Aircrafts Products Co., Dayton, Ohio 1 only 6 inch
diameter oil cooler with thermostatic by-pass valve.
will be delivered with simple hot-spot device - no oil regulator.
carburetor air heat of any kind will be used.
air intake install box under carburetor with 2 air entrances on
each side with ducts up to and through pressure baffles on each
side of engine. One between cylinders 3 and 4 the other between
cylinders 7 and 8. Scoops to 90 to L.E. of cowl same as Electra.
Lockheed IDC to the Factory states:|
"Attached hereto is three view showing painting specifications for
Here is the drawing, but don't expect too
much. It's rudimentary nature may surprise and disappoint! The most
significant aspect of this drawing is the colour specification of
"Consolidated Blue", a product of Berry Brothers of Detroit Michigan.
Berryloid Pigmented Dope. Most contemporary
sources describe the colour as royal blue. Note that the drawing does
not mention the blue panels which ultimately adorned the wing upper
Lockheed IDC passed Engineering Change Order #371 to the Factory:|
"Please proceed with the manufacture of the following gas and oil
tanks for Kingsford-Smith. Marked prints furnished herewith.
2500 K - 110 Gal. Gas Tank (Use hydrostatic gauge in ship at present
4086 M - Oil Tank (approx. 36 gal.).
Install large type wing fillets. Fill in baggage compartment door*.
Install new Pyralin in canopy top.
Extra tanks will follow"
The last line is underlined on the original and was to prove very
* The baggage compartment door was still present in this photo
taken in August 1935 which suggests that this order may have been
Lockheed IDC passed Engineering Change Order #372 to the Factory:|
"Proceed with the manufacture of two extra 16 gallon tanks for Kingsford-Smith.
(One left hand and one right hand). The tank will be made according
to verbal instructions given to Harry McComb. Additional spar blocking
to support these tanks are furnished herewith on marked blue prints,
(rear spar and auxiliary flap spar). The baffles in the tanks
will conform to the blocking shown. The above tanks will be located
on both sides of the wing in the first bay outboard of Rib #1 and
between the rear spar and the auxiliary flap spar."
Lockheed IDC passed Engineering Change Order #374 to the Factory:|
"Proceed with the manufacture of one gas tank as per matched prints
34363-R and 34026-R. The tank will conform to the dimensions shown
on 34363-R. You will note that the dump valves have been relocated.
The cutout on the bottom is shown in detail on drawing 34026-R as
is also the fuel outlet. This installation will not pertain
to Laura Ingalls' job due to the location of the dump valves."
Lockheed IDC from Von Hake to the Factory specified:|
wishes the installation of the SE Wasp, which is rated at 500
HP at 11000 ft.
range of 2900 mi. is required.
equipment will consist of an Altair with 2 pilots at 160 lbs.,
2 gal. of water at 18 lbs., radio at 20 lbs., food at 10 lbs.,
and life saving equipment at 20 lbs. He estimates that 50 lbs.
should cover all instruments which he wishes to install in the
closeable dump valve in the main fuselage tank is required. No
dump valves required in the wing tanks.
wishes a rate of climb indicator in both cockpits and no Sperry
Horizon in either cockpit.
40-gal. oil tank is required with a large drain and a check cock
for 30 gal. valve.
engine temperature indicator must be installed.
3-view drawing must be furnished to him such that he can give
us the color he wishes on his airplane.
folding map table must be installed for the rear pilot.
light must be installed in the rear cockpit so that the co-pilot
may easily read his maps.
vacuum pump, Eclipse manufacture, is desired at extra cost.
Directional Gyro in the front cockpit is required at extra cost.
rear stick should be quickly removable so that the table for the
co-pilot may be lowered.
oil regulator is to be furnished with the engine, but instead
there is to be a very efficient oil cooler installed.
baffles are to be installed and special emphasis is to be laid
on oil cooling.
standard battery is to be installed, which is the 6TS-13, in the
Eclipse 15-amp. generator is to be installed on the motor.
regular standard Lockheed collector ring is to be installed with
the hot spot to the oil regulator connected up, but the intensifier
tubes for cabin heating are to be removed.
will be no cabin heating whatsoever.
shipping department should check and see which is the best and
cheapest method of shipping the plane to Australia.
is to be painted consolidated blue with silver wing and silver
striping. ANZAC to be in 9" block letters on each side of the
Lockheed IDC from Otto Santoff to "The Shop" repeated much of the
previous IDC but with several changes or clarifications:|
two gallon water container is to be installed so that it will
be accessible from both cockpits.
forty gallon oil tank to be installed with a check valve at 30
temperature gauge to be installed in front cockpit only.
will not be equipped with oil regulator. (But an oil radiator
type 6 inched diameter National Aircraft Product)
ring from old motor to be used only with hot spot connected.
air scoops will be between cylinders #3 and #4 and #7 and #8.
Air scoops will come out even with leading edge of cowl.
board will be made according to marked print by Kingsford-Smith.
Centenary Air Race Committee in Melbourne received an entry from Sir
Charles Kingsford Smith. The entry, for a Lockheed Altair, nominated
P.G. Taylor as the second pilot. Press reports indicated that Melbourne
businessman, Sidney Myer had offered to contribute £500 towards the
cost of Smithy's entry if six others would give the same amount.
was reported in the press that Smithy had arrived in New York to seek
from the Department of Commerce a certificate for the Altair.
a press interview on this date, Smithy stated that "the controversy
between the British Aero Club and the National Aeronautic Association
over the Melbourne Centenary race was far from settled." and that
"he intended to seek approval of his entry when he returned home,
and, although he expected considerable opposition, he was confident
as to the outcome, because he believed public opinion would support
("The Age", Melbourne 18th June 1934).
Altair was sold by Lockheed Aircraft Corp. to Sir Charles Kingsford
Smith. This fact appears on a Department of Commerce licence which
accompanied the Altair on delivery to Australia. This document is
"Experimental Aircraft License No. X118W Serial No. 152
Model LOCKHEED ALTAIR 8E"
Significantly all weights and fuel capacities are blank. The expiry
date of this licence was 30th June 1934. This was apparently the only
"official" document that came to Australia with the Altair. Note that
this license describes the aeroplane as an Altair 8E whereas all other
documents have it as an Altair 8D (Special). This anomaly cannot be
some time between 25 and 28JUN34 the American registration X-118W
was removed from both sides of the rudder, the starboard upper wing,
and the port lower wing. It is believed that the wing registration
was black and the rudder registration was white.
S.S. Mariposa sailed from Los Angeles Harbor, Long Beach bound
for Sydney with the Altair loaded on the sports deck. Smithy and his
wife Mary travelled as passengers. Photograph
reports on this date quoted the Australian Minister for Customs (Mr.
White) as stating: "that if Sir Charles Kingsford Smith's American
Lockheed Altair machine for the Centenary Air Race was given a certificate
of airworthiness by the Defence Department, the Customs Department
would lift, in this case, the prohibition on the importation of planes
from countries not signatories to the International Air Convention."
letter from the U.S. Department of Commerce to Carl B. Squier of Lockheed
"Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of June 27, 1934, enclosing
documents for transfer of title to Lockheed aircraft, model Sirius
8 Special, manufacturer's serial number 152, commercial license NC-118W,
formerly recorded in this office in the name of Victor Fleming, M-G-M
Studios, Culver City, California, which you purchased and sold to
Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, Sidney (sic) , Australia. Title to this
aircraft has been transferred on our records to Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith.
However, since the aircraft has been removed from the continental
limits of the United States for the purpose of engaging in air navigation
wholly within a foreign country, commercial license NC-118W has been
revoked and no further action will be taken by this office."
Altair arrived in Sydney, Australia, completely assembled, as deck
cargo on the Sports Deck of the S.S. Mariposa. There had been objections
to the use of the name ANZAC on "an American made aeroplane"
from the Returned Soldiers' League, the Royal Society of St George,
the British Empire Union in Australia and the All-Australian (British)
Aeroplane Fund Committee. (This latter organisation was seeking sponsorship
for the construction of an Australian designed aircraft to be entered
in the race. In the event, funds were not forthcoming and the aircraft
was not completed). A press report on 19th July stated:|
"Although Kingsford Smith made formal application to the Government
for permission to use the word, the Ministry feels that Anzac is too
sacred to be commercialised. Kingsford Smith will probably be asked
to remove the word from his machine."
Eventually, the name had to be covered with brown paper before the
aircraft was permitted to be unloaded in Australia. (ANZAC is an acronym
of the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps which landed at Gallipoli
in 1915. Even to this day, the name is treated with much reverence.
Obviously Smithy had intended no disrespect, for he himself had served
aircraft was offloaded on to a barge (Number L. 238 H.M.C. 154) by
the floating crane Titan and taken to Anderson Park in Neutral
Bay (at a reported cost of £100) from where it was flown to Mascot
aerodrome. P.G. Taylor accompanied Smithy on the flight. It was reported
that only 10 gallons of fuel was uplifted. On departure from Anderson
Park, the name ANZAC was again visible. Smithy later suggested
that the brown paper covering had been removed, either by spectators
or by the slipstream. Because the aircraft was deemed to be in breach
of Customs regulations, it was subsequently impounded in a hangar
Quotes from P.G. Taylor's book
[The arrival of the Altair was in effect a re-enactment of the arrival
of Lockheed Orion 9A Special NC12229 (msn 187) "The Spirit of Fun"
which arrived in Sydney on the S.S. Monterey on 13th October 1932.
The following day the Orion was taken by barge to Anderson Park in
Neutral Bay from where it was flown to Mascot. The aircraft was undertaking
a round-world tour by Arthur M. Loew of MGM Studios and Joseph Rosthal.
The pilot was Captain J.P. Dickson.]
Senior Aircraft Inspector at Mascot wrote to the Collector of Customs,
"With reference to this office memorandum of 16th July, relative to
Kingsford Smith's "Altair" and the writer's telephone conversation
of even date with your Mr. Terry, it is desired to advise that that
the letters ANZAC displayed on each side of the fuselage have
now been obliterated. With regard to the removal of a vital part of
the aircraft to render it inoperative, Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
raised strenuous and laudable objections to the removal of any part,
and gave his verbal assurance that the machine would not be flown
until cleared by the Customs Department. The engine has, however,
been rendered inoperative by the removal of the ignition leads to
Nos. 5 and 6 cylinders which have been wired to a common earth and
sealed with (3) lead seals."
sent the following telegram to the Minister for Defence:
"Respectfully request your special permission authorisation to permit
Customs release my Centenary machine for test flying pending arrival
papers and licences not obtainable owing last minute rush. Personally
guarantee use aircraft in normal airworthy type condition not for
hire or reward."
The Minister replied as follows:
"Further your telegram eighteenth regarding your Centenary aeroplane.
I request you please inform me whether your machine was covered by
U.S.A. Certificate of Airworthiness for Export. If not in your possession
when will such document be available in Australia and where will it
be available for inspection."
ensued a protracted exchange of correspondence involving Smithy, the
Australian Controller of Civil Aviation, the Australian Minister for
Defence, the Prime Minister's Department, the Air Race Committees
in Melbourne and London, Lockheed, the U.S. Department of Commerce
and others regarding certification of the Altair. Only selected items
have been included here. The question of certification was to be an
ongoing feature of the Altair's short existence. The Australian certification
had been greatly complicated by Smithy's admitted failure to arrange
the necessary inspections and documentation before importing the aircraft.
This was in spite of verbal and written advice of this requirement
before he departed for the United States to take delivery of the Altair.
Smithy attributed his omission to a last minute rush to ship the Altair
before a strike. Later, Smithy also attributed it to his having been
"in a glorious daze". Clearly Smithy had fallen under the spell of
the beautiful Altair!
was reported in the press that the Altair was released from Customs
bond on this date. Release was on the condition that the name ANZAC
be permanently obliterated. It was stated that this had been done
previously with water-based paint. P.G. Taylor recorded in his book
that the "permanent obliteration" had also removed the lacquered surface
underneath the name.
On this date, Smithy sent a telegram to the Minister for Defence advising
that: "Complete stress analysis in my possession."
A hand-written letter from Mascot to CCA on this date states: "Re
stress analysis. K.S. states that he has given the Company his personal
assurance that documents will not leave his possession, but they are
available at his office. In view of this he cannot forward documents
as requested by you." The writer is presumed to be the DSCA and "the
Company" is presumably Lockheed.
At about this time it was reported in the press that: "Wing Commander
Wackett spent all yesterday (Thursday) going over the design of Sir
Charles Kingsford Smith's Lockheed Altair. He worked out the various
stress factors with a slide rule, but has not yet completed the job.
He took down many pages of highly technical data which will be forwarded
to Melbourne next week." It is believed that "yesterday" was the 19th
Another press report stated: "Stress specifications which the Civil
Aviation Department requires, have not been produced, and today Wing
Commander Wackett began the long task of stressing the many details
of the plane. It may take him weeks."
A minute from the Senior Aircraft Inspector at Mascot to the CCA on
10th August 1934 quotes centre of pressure calculations sourced from
"the stress analysis". Presumably this is the Lockheed stress analysis
held by Smithy, so it would appear that this document was still at
Mascot in early August.
A telegram from Smithy to the Civil Aviation Department (apparently
on 2nd October 1934) stated: "Anxious return stressing data to Lockheeds
will you please send them Mascot immediately." This implies that Smithy
ultimately did release the Lockheed stress analysis to Civil Aviation
was reported in the press that the Royal Aero Club in London had cabled
the Air Race Committtee in Melbourne, advising the race numbers which
had been allocated to Australasian competitors. Race number 28 had
been allocated to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith.
interviewed by the press, Smithy stated that he had: "decided definitely
to rename the monoplane Lady Southern Cross. The name Southern Cross
has always been a lucky one for me. I have prefixed lady as a compliment
to my wife." The press had earlier reported that several proposed
names were under consideration. These were said to include: Aurora
Australis, Spirit of Phar Lap, Hargrave's Hope, Star of Gallipoli,
Shipmates, Merino, Blue Streak, Trade Wind and Sunny South!
for Registration of Aircraft and Application for Certificate of Airworthiness
both signed this date by C. Kingsford Smith.
still limited to a three mile radius of Mascot Aerodrome, the Altair
was test flown by Smithy and P.G. Taylor. It was reported in the press
that a speed of 230 mph had been attained.
Altair was photographed with the name
ANZAC removed and with a fairing fitted over the tail wheel.
This fairing was not fitted in the United States and neither was it
present when the Altair was unloaded from the Mariposa on 17
July 1934. The name ANZAC was obliterated on 18 July. The photograph
was probably taken on 26 July when the Altair was test flown at Mascot.
This suggests that the fairing was fitted between 18 and 26 July.
Although the fairing could have been packed inside the aircraft when
shipped, it is more likely that it was a local speed modification
manufactured at the direction of Lawrence Wackett.
Inspection Report signed this date by T. Pethybridge. This document
states that the Altair was fitted with a Pratt and Whitney Wasp SE
serial number 5522. This document, together with the applications
for CofR and CofA were forwarded to the Controller of Civil Aviation
on this date. All three documents describe the aircraft as a "Lockheed
Altair 2POLM". This is (U.S.) Department of Commerce nomenclature
2 Place, Open Cockpit, Landplane, Monoplane.
It will be noted that this classification does not reflect the fact
that this aircraft had been modified to feature enclosed cockpits.
Certificate of Registration No 482 issued for VH-USB on this date.
District Superintendent of Civil Aviation (DSCA) advised the Controller
of Civil Aviation (CCA) that: "Owner VH-USB has requested representatives
this Branch witness take off test with full load from Richmond soon
as ground permits."
aircraft was test flown on a measured course between Norah Head and
Macquarie Light. On the same day the aeroplane was test flown on a
one mile course diagonally across Mascot Aerodrome.
of Registration No 482 issued for VH-USB on 27th July 1934 was forwarded
to the District Superintendent, Mascot by the Controller of Civil
flight to determine fuel consumption at 15,000 feet.
flight to measure speed and fuel consumption.
flight to measure fuel consumption. It was reported in the press on
this date that Smithy and P.G. Taylor had tested the Altair on a 43
mile course between Macquarie Light and Norah Head lighthouse. It
was reported that a load of fuel sufficient for 2,000 miles was carried
and that the aircraft reached an altitude of 15,000 feet. Press reports
stated that Smithy would not divulge the maximum speed achieved.
minute from the Senior Aircraft Inspector at Mascot to the CCA quotes
centre of pressure calculations from "the stress analysis".|
See more about The Stress Analysis
was reported (The Labor Daily, Sydney 15AUG34) that the aircraft
was raised by a block and tackle attached to a girder of the hangar
roof and lowered to the ground "at different rates of impact"
to test the ability of the undercarriage to withstand increased operating
It was later reported (The Sun, Sydney 18AUG34) that during
these tests a mechanic in the pilot's seat was "surprised when
a klaxon horn commenced to scream a loud warning" when he retarded
the throttle lever while the undercarriage was retracted.
wrote to the CCA enclosing a letter from the Dept of Commerce (dated
20 July 1934): "The Lockheed Corporation has advised this office of
your cable requesting information as to whether your Lockheed Altair
is eligible for a normal type certificate with normal tank capacity.
The Department of Commerce files indicate that this airplane, prior
to the installation of additional gas tanks and certain recently developed
improvements, such as wing flaps, controllable pitch propeller, and
minor changes with which you are familiar, was an approved model and
carried a commercial license in this country. The wing flaps and controllable
pitch propeller equipment referred to above have been tested and approved
on the Lockheed Model Orion, which is similar to your Altair, with
the exception that the pilot seat is forward, rather than aft. Unfortunately,
unless a particular model is tested and approved with additional equipment,
such as that cited herein, it is not eligible for an airworthiness
certificate. However, we trust the information contained in this letter,
together with the data furnished by the airplane manufacturer, may
be of some assistance to you in obtaining a license for this airplane."
flight at Richmond at maximum take-off weight with 478 gallons of
fuel and "42 lb of air force ballast". The aircraft took-off
within 500 yards, clearing a 20 foot screen placed at 660 yards. (Source:
The Daily News, Perth, 18AUG34). |
The tests were conducted at RAAF Richmond because Mascot was not suitable
for heavy take-offs.
and Taylor departed Mascot in a heavy rain squall bound for Melbourne
but had to force land the Altair when the engine cut out at thirty
feet owing to water in the carburettor. The press reported a bumpy
landing near the Cook's River resulting in some sheet metal damage
to the tail area.
DSCA Mascot cabled the CCA: "Lockheed Altair departed for Melbourne
1415 today Wednesday. For information it appears dual controls rear
cockpit could be easily eliminated."|
Record flight Sydney to Melbourne 2 hours 25 minutes.
this date, the President of Lockheed, Robert E. Gross, wrote a letter
in reply to a telegram from Mr. Carter Tiffany of New York (believed
to be an east coast representative for Lockheed) who was apparently
receiving enquiries from Australia. This particularly telling, but
carefully structured letter can be read here.
aircraft was demonstrated over the city of Melbourne by Smithy with
Eric Chaseling in the co-pilot's seat. This flight was originally
planned for 24AUG but Smithy was struck down by influenza. P.G. Taylor
was not available for the flight as he had been required to dash back
to Sydney to deputise for the bed-ridden Smithy to honour a long-standing
commitment to fly the Southern Cross to a fund-raising event
at Crookwell on 29 August. There was nobody available at Mascot to
fly the Southern Cross so Bill Purton flew down to Melbourne
in a Gipsy Moth to collect P.G. Taylor who returned to Melbourne in
"the Gull" (presumed to be VH-CKS, pilot unknown) in time to join
Smithy on the return flight of the Altair to Sydney on 31 August.
Essendon at 1432 local for Mascot. Record flight Melbourne to Sydney
2 hours 11 minutes.
and P.G. Taylor departed Mascot for Melbourne to make a non-stop flight
from Melbourne to Perth. Mascot was not suitable for heavy take-offs
and nearby RAAF Richmond was also unsuitable due to recent heavy rain.
Similarly, Essendon in Melbourne was not suitable for such a flight
so the aircraft flew to RAAF Laverton.
Laverton, Melbourne at 0610 local for Maylands Aerodrome, Perth. Flight
time 10 hours 19 minutes.
departure from Perth for Sydney, Smithy aborted the takeoff when the
Altair, with a heavy fuel load, failed to become airborne at the nominated
point. The aeroplane came to rest with the starboard undercarriage
in a ditch. The only damage was confined to the starboard undercarriage
which was found to be twisted out of alignment. After a temporary
repair, the aircraft departed two days later, albeit via Adelaide
as Smithy was reluctant to uplift a full fuel load on the suspect
Maylands, Perth at 0355 local landing for fuel at Forrest before continuing
to Parafield, Adelaide where it landed at 1130 local in the record
time Perth-Adelaide of 6 hours.
Parafield at 1210 local landing for fuel at Hay before continuing
to Sydney where it landed at 1617 local in the record time Adelaide-Sydney
of 3 hours 32 minutes.
was reported in the press that Smithy supervised the dismantling of
the undercarriage which was taken to Cockatoo Dockyard for repairs
after the take-off accident in Perth.
Altair was weighed at Mascot. The Weight Particulars certificate (C.A.
Form 65) records the nett tare weight as 3675 lbs. The aircraft was
weighed without fuel or oil and it is also noted that it was weighed
flight Mascot, Sydney to Archerfield, Brisbane 2 hours 35 minutes.
flight Archerfield, Brisbane to Mascot, Sydney 2 hours 16 minutes.
invited P.G. Taylor to "commit aviation" in the Altair at
Mascot. The co-pilot's seat was occupied by aircraft engineer N.J.
Official Secretary for Australia in U.S.A. (New York) sent the following
telegram to the Prime Minister's Department (Canberra): "With reference
to my telegram of September 21st, received the following from United
States Department of Commerce:- "We have received technical data indicating
structure Lockheed Altair serial number 152 belonging Kingsford Smith
is satisfactory for certification in McRobertson Race at gross weight
6,700 pounds. We cannot certify that structure conforms with these
calculations but believe it does."
Prime Minister's Department (Canberra) sent the following telegram
to The Official Secretary for Australia in U.S.A. (New York) at the
request of the Controller of Civil Aviation: "URGENT. Your telegram
of 25th September, Kingsford Smith's Lockheed. Glad urgent advice
why Commerce unable to certify structure. Is their inability due to
uncertainty upon any point we could determine by inspection here?
Telegraph full particulars enable us to investigate and advise."
Official Secretary for Australia in U.S.A. (New York) sent the following
telegram to the Prime Minister's Department (Canberra): "Your telegram
of 25th September, text of which was submitted to Department of Commerce:
Their reply follows - "Unable to certify that structure of Kingsford
Smith's Lockheed conforms with calculations we have, as aeroplane
was shipped without being submitted to us for inspection. Believe,
however, that Lockheed Company's statement representing calculations
as conforming with actual structure is reliable." Generally Washington
authorities have been most willing to assist adjustment of embarrassing
situation and their failure to adopt your suggestion to determine
possible issue after official inspection in Australia emphasizes the
point that they are not free to certify structure which they have
Controller of Civil Aviation wrote to Smithy: "I desire to confirm
my telegram of today's date reading as follows:-
'Advice received from United States Department of Commerce begins.
We have received technical data indicating Lockheed Altair Serial
No. 152 belonging to Kingsford Smith is satisfactory for certification
in MacRobertson races at gross weight sixtyseven hundred pounds. We
cannot certify that structure conforms with these calculations but
believe it does. ends. In reply inquiry from here why Department Commerce
unable to certify structure and offering undertake inspection here
of any points Department Commerce require to enable their certification
Department Commerce advise their inability to certify due to machine
not having been submitted inspection prior shipment. This Department
unable to go beyond Commerce advice as regards structural aspects
and is now forwarding you certificate as to advice received from Commerce.
Department issuing also Certificate Airworthiness special category
racing at gross weight sixtyseven hundred pounds.'
View the Certificate of Airworthiness.
The certificate relating to the structural aspects of the aircraft
is enclosed herewith. I attach also copies of the recent communications
with America relative to the matter. I understand that the tests of
the machine for compliance with the flying requirements of the I.C.A.N.
normal category are being undertaken immediately and a further certificate
relating to performance will be sent to you as soon as the results
are known. I enclose herewith also a Certificate of Airworthiness
for the machine authorising flights in the special racing category
at a gross weight not exceeding 6,700 lbs.
The "Certificate relating to the structural aspects" reads as follows:
"I, EDGAR CHARLES JOHNSTON, Controller of Civil Aviation in the Commonwealth
of Australia, hereby certify that I have received advice that the
Department of Commerce of the United States of America has received
technical data indicating that "LOCKHEED ALTAIR" aircraft, Serial
No. 152, constructed by the Lockheed Company of Burnbank (sic), California,
U.S.A., and now owned by Sir CHARLES KINGSFORD SMITH, M.C., a British
subject whose address is care of the Kingsford Smith Air Service Ltd.,
Mascot Aerodrome, Sydney (such aircraft now being registered in the
Commonwealth as VH-USB), is satisfactory for certification in the
MacRobertson Air Races at a gross weight of 6,700 lbs.
The advice adds that the Department of Commerce cannot certify that
the structure conforms with these calculations as the aircraft was
shipped from America without being submitted to the American authorities
for inspection. The Department of Commerce believes, however, the
advice runs, that the Lockheed Company's statement representing the
calculations as conforming with the actual structure is reliable.
With reference to the statement above made regarding compliance with
conditions of the MacRobertson Air Race, the Department of Commerce,
U.S.A., is in possession of the conditions of that Race and is aware
that machines entering that Race must conform substantially with the
minimum airworthiness requirements of the I.C.A.N. normal category
at the gross weight mentioned. Signed Controller of Civil Aviation
26th September, 1934."
The CCA sent the following telegram to the DSCA, Mascot: "Proceed
with tests Altair at sixtyseven hundred pounds gross. advise results
hand-written "Summary of Flight Trials" appears in the file for VH-USB.
It is initialled by Alfred Gordon Berg, Superintendent of Aircraft
and dated 28th September 1934. The text of the report is reproduced
in its entirety, albeit split up over the two days of the trials for
historical context and with minor formatting changes for clarity:|
"Flight trials were carried out at Mascot. Trials were carried out
early in the morning but owing to the wind velocity being 18-25 m.p.h.
the results were inconclusive with the exception of the figures for
climb, which were as follows:-
All-up weight (calculated) = 6670 lbs.
Height after 1 minute 800'
Height after 2 minutes 1400'
Height after 3 minutes 2000'
Height after 4 minutes 2500'
These are satisfactory."
"Tests continued at 7.30 a.m., when wind was negligible.
All-up wt. = 6670 lbs.
Temp. 66 (degrees F)
Measured Landing Run = 268 yards
Height over screen (from photographs).
= 65.5' (first test)
= 68' (second test)
The above tests are considered satisfactory proof that this aircraft
meets the ICAN flight requirements at an all-up wt. of 6700 lbs."
following certificate appears on the file for VH-USB:|
"I, ALFRED GORDON BERG, Superintendent of Aircraft, Civil Aviation
Branch, Defence Department, on behalf of the Controller of Civil Aviation
in the Commonwealth of Australia, hereby certify that "LOCKHEED ALTAIR"
aircraft (Constructors Number 152), owned by Sir CHARLES KINGSFORD
SMITH and registered in the Commonwealth as VH-USB, has been submitted
to flight trials and compiles with the flight requirements for the
I.C.A.N. normal category at a gross weight of 6,700 lbs."
It is signed by Alfred Gordon Berg and dated 28th September 1934.
It carries the following hand-written notation:
"The certificate sent from Melbourne was dated 27th Sept., on which
date the flight trials were not completed. After consulting with the
Commonwealth law officials and with Mr. McComb (Melbourne) I issued
the above certificate in lieu of that sent from Melbourne."
The certificate sent from Melbourne also appears in the file but with
the hand-written notation: "Not Issued". This document is similar
to Berg's certificate above, but carries the signature of E.C. Johnston
(Controller of Civil Aviation) and is dated 27th September 1934. Significantly,
there is a blank line for the retrospective insertion of the gross
Berg (signing for E.C. Johnston) wrote to Sir Charles Kingsford Smith:|
"With reference to the official performance trials carried out on
your Lockheed Altair Aircraft VH-USB on 27th and 28th September, 1934,
I am to advise that these tests have demonstrated that this aircraft
complies with the I.C.A.N. requirements relating to flight, for normal
category landplane, when loaded at a gross weight not exceeding 6,700
telegram from Smithy to the Civil Aviation Department (apparently
on 2nd October 1934) stated: "Anxious return stressing data to Lockheeds
will you please send them Mascot immediately."|
See more about The Stress Analysis