Team of volunteer designers build flying star of new Museum of Science and Industry gallery

By Culture24 Staff | 02 July 2010
A black and white image of an early 20th century monoplane

(Above) Image: M Goodall and A Tagg (deceased), authors of British Aircraft before the Great War, published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd., Atglen, PA

Almost a century after it was conceived in a cramped textile workhouse on the outskirts of Manchester, a replica of the world's first enclosed cockpit monoplane volunteers will become one of the star attractions at the Museum of Science and Industry’s new £7 million Revolution Manchester Gallery after volunteers launched a painstaking mission to build it.

Salford -born AV Roe’s single-seater F aeroplane was derided for its design when it was made by the Avro company in the Ancoats area in 1912, but its success played a key role in informing the construction of the Lancaster bomber and the first Transatlantic flight.

A photo of two men discussing designs for a plane

Dynamic designers Peter Teagle and Dennis Stead (left) discuss the Avro F propeller

Formed to break down into pieces for easy transport by plane, it is being recreated by a 12-man squad using spruce, fabric, an ancient Viale engine and two-metre wings and propellers with the help of meticulous studies of old photos and drawings.

"Roe's Avro F was an incredibly significant development at the time," says Project Manager Peter Teagle.

"It was the first time that a pilot didn't have his head stuck outside the cockpit and it demonstrated the safety and power of monoplanes.

"At the time people were very pessimistic about covered cockpits as they thought the pilot wouldn’t be able to see and would be choked by fumes and so on, but it proved to be fine.

"Everyone also thought monoplanes were very unsafe and unstable but actually the single wing made it significantly stronger and allowed minimum drag and maximum fuel efficiency, so the monoplane could reach much faster speeds. Eventually they superseded the bi-planes altogether.

"Few aeroplanes could be as representative of Manchester's contribution to aviation."

The team has already built the wings, fuselage and rudder of the plane, and will work on the wings, undercarriage and controllers in the next phase.

It is expected to be completed to coincide with the reopening of the main building in autumn 2010.

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