WORLD WAR I PUZZLE FOR H.B. AIRMEN
CLUB SEEKING ANSWER TO PLANE RIDDLE
Two framed pictures on the wall of the Napier Aero Club’s clubhouse at the Hawke’s Bay Airport are proving a poser for club members. Since the pictures were given to the club about a year ago, nobody has been able to identify the occasion on which they were taken.
The pictures (reproduced above and at right) show what is obviously the christening of an aircraft which bears the name “Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand.” But where the ceremony took place or who are the people concerned in it, is a mystery.
The pictures came into the club’s possession through a young member, Colin Simpson. He obtained them from his landlady who had purchased them – with other pictures – at an auction sale.
Since they were hung on the clubhouse wall they have created considerable interest to members and visitors.
The club is anxious to know details as it would like to include these with the historic pictures.
The pictures are obviously relics of the First World War as men in the picture are wearing uniforms of the Royal Flying Corps. One picture shows a woman christening the aircraft with a bottle of champagne. But who the persons in the pictures are is unknown. How the aircraft came to be named Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand is also unknown and presents a puzzle. It was obviously a “presentation” aircraft but who presented it?
B.E. 2C AIRCRAFT
It is believed the aircraft itself was one of the type designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory Farnborough, of the Bleriot experimental designation of B.E. 2C which first flew in 1914.
The aircraft in the picture is probably a later variant of B.E. 2C, powered by the R.A.F. 1A eight-cylinder engine and probably built late in 1915 or early 1916.
These aircraft were designed for reconaissance purposes but were used as bombers carrying two 112lb bombs under the wings or fuselage. They were also used as home defence ships against enemy airships.
As the aircraft were flown from the rear cockpit armament in the front cockpit, operated by the observer, was restricted.
Pilots of B.E. bombers usually carried a rifle as a defensive weapon.
Construction of these aircraft was made under contract by many firms. As no serial number is shown in the photographs it makes identification difficult. However the “S” seen on the rudder may be a clue.
The B.E. 2C aircraft, without engine instruments or guns, cost £1072 10s. The R.A.F. 1A engine cost £522 10s.
Photo caption – THESE ARE THE PICTURES which the Napier Aero Club is trying to identify. In each photograph may be seen the uniform of the Royal Flying Corps.