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Sir Sydney Camm

The chief designer at Hawkers, Sydney Camm was the eldest child of Frederick and Mary Camm and was born in Windsor on 5th August 1893. Camm became interested in aircraft at an early age and was a member of the Windsor Model Aeroplane Club. He built model gliders for boys at Eton College.

 

After leaving school he became an apprentice woodworker and later joined the Martinsdale aeroplane company, working there during the First World War. In 1922 he joined the Hawker Engineering Company at Kingston-upon-Thames as a Senior Draftsman. His first aircraft design was the successful Cygnet race plane in 1924.

Replica Cygnet appropriately registered G-CAMM

 

Camm was promoted to Chief Designer in 1925 and from then on he was to work on an unprecedented range of technological advances in aviation. From the 1920s to the 1960s he designed 52 aircraft ranging from gliders, biplanes, monoplanes, jets and finally, Camm’s team developed Vertical Take Off and Landing with the P.1127 experimental aircraft. This aircraft led to the Harrier and Sea Harrier fighter-bombers.

Tomtit trainer K1786 (G-AFTA) at Old Warden

 

Camm’s designs evolved logically and progressively from each other, as though each design was the prototype of whatever was to come next. The Typhoon could be thought of as the prototype to the Tempest which in turn was the prototype to the Sea Fury and so on. The result was a succession of designs that were reliable with excellent performance and handling characteristics.

Demon K8203 (G-BTVE) was built in 1937

 

The three Camm-designed aircraft operational during the Second World War were particularly important in the major campaigns and battles of the conflict. The Hurricane notably in the Battle of Britain and the Battle of the Atlantic; the Typhoon in the Liberation of Europe; and the Tempest in the Battle against the V-1 Flying Bomb.

Notable aircraft designed by Camm

Aircraft

Type

Year

Number built

Cygnet

Biplane competition aircraft

1924

2

Hart

Biplane light bomber

1928

922

Osprey

Biplane light bomber seaplane variants

1929

130

Nimrod

Biplane light bomber

1930

92

Fury

Biplane fighter

1931

275

Audax

Biplane light bomber

1931

>625

Demon

Biplane light bomber

1933

305

Hind

Biplane light bomber

1934

528

Hurricane

Monoplane fighter

1935

14,583

Typhoon

Monoplane fighter

1940

3,317

Tempest

Monoplane fighter

1942

1,702

Sea Fury

Monoplane fighter-bomber

1944

864

Sea Hawk

Jet fighter-bomber

1947

542

Hunter

Jet fighter-bomber

1951

1,972

P.1127 /Kestrel

Experimental V/STOL jet led to Harrier

1960

15

Legacy

Over 26,000 aircraft of Sydney Camm designs were built. He had an astonishing career by any measure and before he died he had been planning the design of an aircraft to travel at Mach 4, four times the speed of sound.

Sea Harrier Z7015 is based at Old Warden

 

Sydney Camm lived at Thames Ditton in Surrey. He married Hilda Starnes in 1915 and they had a daughter in 1922. He was a member of the board of Hawker, and later Hawker Siddeley Aviation from 1935 until the end of his life. In 1953 he was knighted for his contribution to British Aviation. He died on 12th March, 1966 at Richmond, Surrey and is buried in Long Ditton.

On 21st July 2012 a full-size replica of a Hawker Hurricane was unveiled in Alexandra Gardens, Windsor, as a memorial to Sir Sydney Camm, CBE FRAeS.

Further reading:

Sir Sydney Camm – From Biplanes & Hurricanes to Harriers by JE Chacksfield

 

The Four Geniuses of the Battle of Britain by David Coles & Peter Sheppard

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