THE 1954 World C/L Championships at the Hague, Netherlands
Account from the Aeromodeller, sans the Aerobatics part
EVERY man, boy or girl who has ever felt the pull of a pair of control-lines should lay down the handle for a moment and give a rousing cheer for the British team which travelled to The Hague on August 20th. For though they did not bring back the World Championship title for 5 c.c. speed, their collection of four cups and two medals represented the best team effort of the meeting, and they left behind them an impression of sportsmanship and skill worthy of World Champs.
This was a team raised by private enterprise. Each man paid his not inexpensive way to and from the contest - and, we may remark, appeared to enjoy doing so - there being quite a story behind the actual gathering together of those keen and able enough to go. Way back in the year when it first became obvious that the S.M.A.E. could not afford to despatch teams to World events in '54, we became anxious that in the A/2 and C/L at least there ought to be some participation by modellers prepared to bear their own expenses, and by good fortune and little persuasion, those most qualified to attend both events by virtue of performance through the eliminators were keen to go. As with the A/2, travel and the myriad items of team management came under our guardian wing through S.M.A.E. sanction and the control-line band of happy warriors alighted at Schiphol via K.L.M. Convair midday on Friday 20th.
Twelve hours later they finished their first day's session in the circle, thirty-six hours later they were resting on their laurels if not on their beds. It was what I call a "past-midnight" meeting. Flying ran on until after 11.30 on each night, bull sessions continued through the small hours and not a moment was wasted. They were full hours, everyone keyed up to top tension, eyes and ears searching for new ideas, motors running all over the place, the pungent smell of burnt Nitro and noisome din of diesel team racers adding up to quite a meeting. What's more, apart from the aerobatics, all events were run indoors and every pilot will well remember the kaleidoscope of tumbling colours, lights-and flashbulbsthat greeted him each flight.
We arrived, somewhat burdened by a large number of models to enable participation in all events, and with some trepidation inspected the Houtrust Hall. It was far better than expected. Ceiling height was in the region of 30 ft., illumination good, surface magnificent, and the preponderance of Shell advertisements left no doubt as to who was footing the bill. Practice flying was already under way, and Brians Fairey and Dunn who were our advance guard quickly summarised the likely opposition. Thus it was that we began thirty-six hours of the most concentrated controlining in my experience.
Early disappointments came in three ways. Amato Prati, new Italian Class 1 World record claimant and his lapped piston Super Tigre G.20S, 118.35 m.p.h. model plus the rest of an impressive list of Italian fliers would not be coming. Dale Kirn, American Air Force flier who uses the revolutionary Stanzel "MonoLine" and did well at this year's U.S. Nationals also could not attend and the biggest personal blow; Team Managers were not allowed to take part in Team Race if a full five-man team had been entered. Flying the High Wycombe "Taurus" racer in practice had been quite a thrill even if it did leave the ground with the urgency of a hundredweight tortoise, and losing my opportunity to fly it in a race meant that Pete Wright would have to pilot both our racer entries in the heats, leaving the possibility of both models reaching the same final as a matter to be sorted out later.
Britain Flies first
Immediate British concern, apart from clarification of ambiguities in the rules, was for us to get five fast 2.5 c.c. flights in within our first half-hour period. It was obvious that with a close time-schedule, we should field the best men first, and Pete Wright went out to reel off a calm 1094 with his familar E.D. Glo-plugged 2.46 Gook, now entering its third season. We managed four flights in the allotted time, Pete Smith as last man not having his turn: but as a series of successive fast flights, the team performance called for appreciation by the gathering spectators. They were soon to resort to cheers as the first of the Team Race heats got under way with Pete Smith more than making up for his lack of opportunity to get at the speed pylon.
Pete had made this F.A.I. special racer in the week or two prior to the contest. It looked large, and it was in fact, a square decimetre oversize: but it certainly was the fastest racer there, the Oliver Tiger taking it round at 81.3 m.p.h. and showing a clean pair of elevators to the Belgian and German racers both in the air and, thanks to Pete Smith and Brian Dunn, was fastest off the ground as well. Straightaway after that heat, we were again occupied with more racing as the Wycombe boys, with Pete Wright piloting, got away to a good lead over their Dutch and Belgian opposition only to have the compression of the well-worn Tiger back-off for a very burpy run. Dick Edmonds sorted matters out at the first stop: but the Dutchman and his E.D. 2.46 had the lead and a 25-ounce Taurus flying at 74-5 m.p.h. could only make up part of the gap. There remained the chance that as third fastest finisher in the heats, it would manage to make the semi's . . . which it did.
Team race tactic
In these first heats, the British boys were able to employ tactics born of considerable practice, particularly at the start which was on the old 2minutes-to-go basis and not a la Le Mans. Others were boiling away for the two minutes whilst we topped up and waited, starting at 1:58 and away with full tank at the fall of the flag. That several reed or flutter valves burned out in other racers was no surprise to the British camp.
As if no respite was to be allowed, we were then called up for 5 c.c., the World Championship Class, and for an hour we were supposed to share the speed circle with the U.S. team represented by U.S.A.F.E. fliers just returned from their Military and U.S. Nationals. Sanction was granted for us to lick our wounds and prepare a little to fly later (it was now sometime after 10 p.m.!) In the meantime the U.S. boys went to town and tubby Bob Lutker up from a Tripoli base soon had us on tiptoe with a none too stable but inspiring 135.4 m.p.h. His performance was then somewhat overshadowed by that of Warren Godden who looked like going equally fast when an abrupt silence followed by the fall of one of the fabric ceiling sound baffles and ensuing peals of raucous laughter announced the fact that he had hit the ceiling. With the aid of a convenient fire escape thoughtfully provided by the Hall authorities, an unscratched model was safely brought to earth. He later repeated this delightful performance and Pete Wright also joined the roof club.
Another highlight came with the antics of "Put-put" Putze and R. Aubert from Rhein Main U.S.A.F.E. base who succeeded in extracting a lot of McCoy innards out of said engine via the exhaust port when the propeller departed from the shaft. Had not Pete Wright brought the screeching engine to a blissful standstill (at the same time, completely removing it in one sweep from the metal fuselage pan!), we might have had the pleasure of seeing an engine disappear through its own exhaust port. As it was, this incident effectively reduced the American participation considerably, and speed was left for Bob Lutker to deal with.
5 c.c. entries from Sweden, Holland and Switzerland kept the circle busy with only one outstanding effort by Olle Ericsson and his SAAB J.29 type design at 133 m.p.h., then Pete Wright made his usual 124-3 m.p.h. with Bazooka to bring him up to third place. He was already firmly in 1st place for Class 1, so the British were content with themselves when they finally became introduced to sleeping quarters at 12:15.
After what must have been a traditional Dutch breakfast (including plenty of cheese) the second, and full day, started with five countries having their first try at 2.5 c.c.
Emil Fresl working alone for Yugoslavia, Jarry Desloges with his own motor for France and M. Gordijn for Holland all came out of the circle with 94 m.p.h. to credit and Peter Wright seemed safe with his 15 m.p.h. lead.
Fresl's Torp 15 Airplane
Back to the screaming Hall interior, Peter Wright had made his second flight, and Brian Dunn, content with 120 from the previous day was concentrating on 2.5 c.c. with Pete Smith to back up our leading position. Each topped the earlier second-best, but Emil Fresl had found some Nitro and was up to 105 m.p.h. From then on, 2-5 was a closed shop and a final 111.8 m.p.h. World Record equaliser certified Pete Wright's win.
5 c.c. was less definite until Bob Lutker made the first of his two 138 m.p.h. record flights and Olle Ericsson seemed a safe 2nd with 133.
Team racing continued through two more heats, the first of which was slow enough to eliminate all three from the semi's, leaving us comfortably placed. The atmosphere seemed electric as the flag dropped for first semifinal as it matched the Netherland's favourite, P. Smelt who had made fastest heat at 6:29. Belgian venerable Longdot, and Pete Smith
As usual we were still flying when the others came down for the first stop, and a very rapid refuelling by Pete made certain of along lead at the half-way stage. The Dutchman was having trouble that was afterwards explained most carefully as attributable to a variety of causes; the trouncing by Pete's 10 Kilometers in 5:46 lending no small measure to his disappointment. Then Dick Edmonds made it a second heat win for G.B. and Janssens of Belgium followed him through to the final.
And what a final! All five of our men were involved, and with young Arthur Andrews pitting the Wycombe model single-handed, Dick Edmonds piloted his first T.R. flight of the day. It was hectic.
At the first stop, Smith was 6 laps ahead and Edmonds level with Janssens. Then the Belgian started to go faster, and the strength of his right arm was making the difference. Dick well knows the penalty of whipping and let him go ahead with young Arthur catching up a lap or so at each pit stop. Only a lap and a half separated 2nd and 3rd at the end, to make it a final worthy of a World Championship-a fact the audience duly appreciated.
Sensational last Flights
There remained the last flights of 5 c.c., and France appeared to have a monopoly of the pylon. Those sages of the art of hand prop carving, Laniot and Labarde were pulling out the stops, and Jarry Desloges was obviously benefiting from their advice. First Laniot tied at 133 with Olle Ericsson, then Desloges came up with exactly the same speed. This made a triple tie for second place and left almost the last flight of the night to decide the issue. It came with sensation. Olle used one of sporting Bob Lutker's own props to jump from a tie at second to equalise the speed for first place! It was a terrific effort-not only on Olle's part, but also for the timekeepers as we had great difficulty in seeing the black and alloy whirling dervish in that artificial lighting. So the meeting concluded. A record attempt by Olle was not as fast, and last man in the pylon was kingpin of the circle, the man who kept the circle going endlessly for so many crowded hours, "Windy" Kreulen. He deserved that flight, and when he landed Pete Wright's reserve model safely, he dizzily stated, "Wow-its like a Carousel (Merry-go-round). I don't know how you fellows managed it!" He was right.
Telegraphic points of note
The way Mercury fuels and P.A.W. rallied to help the team with Nitro and props, many thanks indeed. Nonchalance of the experts, the way they start first flick, walk to the pylon and oh, so calmly, fly fastest and smoothest. Jarry Desloges and his French home-mades.
Individual Placing "Class 1 Speed"
|1.||P. Wright||G.B.||(E.D. 2.46 Glo)||111.8|
|2.||E. Fresl||Yu.||(Torpedo 15)||104.4|
|3.||J. Desloges||Fr.||(Own Motor)||97.5|
|4.||M. Gordijn||Hol.||(W. Mach 1.)||96.9|