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Thread: Hucks Starter: entry into RAF service?

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    Default Hucks Starter: entry into RAF service?

    Fellow Forumites,
    Can anyone put forward any hard information as to the date of introduction into RAF service of this useful vehicle? I would imagine it was somewhere about 1920/22 period, but it may have been a little earlier, and was probably as a result of the introduction of more powerful types of aero engines into service, such as the Napier Lion, Bristol Jupitur, AS Jaguar, and the American Liberty V-12, although such types as the RR Eagle may have been the irritant which required scratching. Were these vehicles purchased as basic chassis by the Air Ministry from British Ford, then modified into the complete and perfect ultimate form by another contractor? I see that the RAF used two basic types of the Hucks starter, although this was probably brought about by the lengthening of the basic chassis as produced by Ford, and was not specifically at the request of the Air Ministry itself. All contributions welcome!
    David D

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    Hi David

    According to RAF Ground Support Equipment by Fred Adkin, the Hucks starter was designed in 1916 and entered service in the early 20's but no specific date is given. It also does give any details of its manufacture.

    Malcolm

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    The official name was "Starter, aeroplane engine, Hucks, Ford". Hucks was chief test pilot of Aircraft Manufacturing Company in 1917 when he initiated the idea of such a starter. Airco, as the above company became, started producing the starter in 1918, named the Airco Aero Engine Starter. Hucks died in the flu epidemic and they named the starter in honour of him. It's official adaptation by the RAF seems to have been May 1920, after teh RAE had tested it.

    Details from: Wheels of the RAF by Bruce Robertson

    A

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    Hello All,

    Name: HUCKS, BENTFIELD CHARLES
    Initials: B C
    Nationality: United Kingdom
    Rank: Captain
    Regiment/Service: Royal Air Force
    Unit Text: Aircraft Manufacturing Coy.
    Age: 35
    Date of Death: 07/11/1918
    Additional information: Son of William and Kate Hucks. Born at Bentfield End, Stanstead, Essex.
    Casualty Type: Commonwealth War Dead
    Grave/Memorial Reference: 115. 39669.
    Cemetery: HIGHGATE CEMETERY

    Col.
    Last edited by COL BRUGGY; 19th April 2009 at 15:19. Reason: minor correction

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    Col and Amrit,
    Many thanks for your efforts, we are now somewhat better informed than before, although the actual process of purchase of these vehicles is still somewhat obscure. I wonder how many were built over the years (perhaps up till the late 1920s or early 1930s), not including manufacturing licenses obtained from abroad (Soviet Russia and Imperial Japan were great enthusiasts for these starters, although choosing their own "platforms" for their later versions which served right through WW2). My guess would be over 100 and less than 300 - any improvement on that? Even the RNZAF had a single example which was used at Wigram for many years to start their Grebes and Bristol Fighters. This vehicle was still marked up with full RAF markings and serial number for much of its life. A replica of this vehicle is currently under construction by volunteers at the RNZAF Museum.
    David D

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    I have seen a photo some where of a Hucks type starter mounted on a truck, in use with the RCAF in about 1930. I will try to find a link to it.

    Found it, Atlas 111 with what could be a "home made" Hucks truck.

    http://www.aviation.technomuses.ca/databases/image_bank/dig_image.cfm?Lang=e&id=32279
    Last edited by Bill Walker; 20th April 2009 at 00:00. Reason: added link

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