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British Industrial History

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Felixstowe Fury

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The Felixstowe Fury (serial N123), also known as the Porte Super Baby, was a large British, five-engined triplane flying-boat designed by John Cyril Porte of the Seaplane Experimental Station at Felixstowe

Although the test-flying programme demonstrated the aircraft's suitability for long-distance flight, on 11 August 1919 (the eve of a planned flight from England to South Africa) it stalled into the sea on take-off, killing one member of the crew and suffering irreparable damage.

The Fury was delivered to Felixstowe on 31 October 1918, its first flight taking place on 11 November.

The Fury's unstaggered wings comprised the 3-bay lower wings, mounted near to the top of the hull, and a pair of 4-bay upper wings of larger span; all were supported by pairs of vertical struts and diagonal cross-bracing.

The original design specified three 600 hp (447 kW) Rolls-Royce Condor engines but these were not available and five 334 hp (249 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle VII engines were fitted instead. These were mounted on the middle wing and supported by additional struts, configured as two outboard tandem tractor/pusher (push-pull) pairs and one central pusher. In addition to its triplane configuration, the Fury had a biplane tailplane with a triple rudder, mounted on a single vertical fin. Initially it was provided with servo-motors for the main flight control surfaces, but these were later removed without compromising the pilot's ability to control this large aircraft. At some point the engines were replaced with the more powerful 334 hp (249 kW) Eagle VIIIs.

By 24 April 1919, flight testing had progressed so well that the Fury was able to perform a 7-hour flight.

In view of the intense competition in early 1919 to achieve the first transatlantic flight, it was intended to ship the Fury to the USA for it to join other teams in the race. The first Atlantic crossing by the Curtiss NC-4 (which reached Lisbon on 27 May 1919) and the first non-stop crossing by Alcock and Brown a few weeks later (Ireland, 15 June) led to the abandonment of this project.

Plans were then made for another long-distance flight, this time for the 8,000-mile flight from England to South Africa. This was due to start on 12 August 1919; final preparations were being made on 11 August when the aircraft crashed on take-off, killing one of the 7-person crew (wireless operator Lt S. E. S. McLeod, drowned). The surviving crew members were: Lt-Col P.F.M. Fellowes, Maj E.R. Moon, Capt C.L. Scott, 2nd Lt J.F. Arnold, W/O J.G. Cockburn and W/O H.S. Locker.

The Felixstowe Fury was the last aircraft to be designed by Porte: two months after its destruction he succumbed to tuberculosis, dying on 22 October.



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