Where do my interest in Armstrong Whitworth A.W.
41 Albemarle come from ?
First of all, that’s right some of the men who flew it are buried near my home so I have a certain interest in Albemarle. But what can I say when I find plenty of same details on WWII Axis planes made by British sites and nearly nothing about the first and only nose-wheel aircraft made in Great Britain during World War II !
And it’s the same in museums where we can see Axis planes sometimes from the same example but no Albemarle, no Stirling (the Royal Air Force’s first operational four-engined bomber), no Whitley ( the first heavy bomber monoplane with retractable landing-gear, the first plane with airborne radar to fight against ships and the first plane in RAF to be used for paratroopers !), …
Only a few photos but no examples survived of this planes who had technics never found before on other planes.
So as the Stirling Aircraft Association (2000) who works in order to preserve the Stirling memory, I’m going to try to preserve the memory of the Albemarle (but in a lower scale than SAA-2000 !).
The Albemarle is often presented in the few sites which talk about it as a plane not liked by the men who flew it. So how can we explain that, by example, Plt Off Cunningham (297 Squadron), who is now 80 years old, always speaks of the Albemarle with great affection !
Same thing for Kenneth Frere (296 Squadron) who says : “It was fun to fly, it looked good and I am sorry that not a single example remains with us today.”
In the same mind, read this about workers in MG factory during WWII :
“Abingdon assembled the complete front end, or cockpit of the Albemarle. One of the most interesting features of the A.W. 41 was the electrical testing gear.
Of particular interest was the assembly of the front end and cockpit of the Albemarle aircraft, the A.W. 41. The photograph shows a line up of some of the people involved in its manufacture. Cis Cousins is third from the left. The Albemarle is interesting for a number of reasons:
I. It was one of the first contracts obtained by Cecil Kimber at the beginning of the war. He obtained the contract at his own initiative since he was desperate to find work for the M.G. factory and its employees.
2. It was this contract, according to McComb, that led him into conflict with the Nuffield Organisation who, themselves, specifically Sir Miles Thomas, Chairman, wanted to organise the war work for the whole of the Nuffield factory structure. This led to Kimber's dismissal from M.G. and George Propert, a long time M.G. manager with a works management background, took over as General Manager, while H.A. Ryder was nominated as M.G. Managing Director.
3. The second reason for the interest is that the front end of the Albemarle aircraft was far more complex than any car ever produced by M.G.. In particular the front end contained the cockpit and all the pilots' and navigators' control systems which had eventually to be connected to the rest of the aircraft in another factory. In order to ensure that this front end was properly assembled and that all controls would work, the inspection team at M.G. devised an ingenious test rig for testing the completed aircraft front end before delivery to customers. A write-up of this electrical test rig was made in September 1942 and given to Works Superintendent Bill Slingsby who would eventually transmit this to the Autocar magazine. I am not sure at this stage whether the Autocar ever published it.
The new test rig allowed the Albemarle nose section to be fully and accurately tested in a single hour. This method replaced an old "bell and battery" method, described as rather hit and miss, which used to take three days for each front end. Apparently, the new rig worked so well and so impressed other aircraft companies that at the end of the war it was sold to the aircraft industry for use in peace time aircraft production. In all, 653 of these Albemarle aircraft units were made. Each nose section required as much work as the construction of a complete fighter aircraft.”
And we should forget this plane after
All the people really interested in planes will say no.
That’s why I created this section dedicated to the Armstrong Whitworth A.W. 41 Albemarle because for me aviation, and his history, is not always speaking about the same famous planes but also telling about this “less glamorous” planes in which several men and women gave their lives or worked. This people and their planes make the real complete history of planes.
Note : The complete MG text can be found at : http://www.mgcars.org.uk/mgcc/sf/000101.htm