Classic History Books

William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

1909. It has since been used with success by aviators all the world over. That in the Aerial Derby of 1913
- which was flown over a course Of 94 miles around London - six of the eleven machines which took

part in the race were fitted with Gnome engines, and victory was achieved by Mr. Gustav Hamel, who

drove an 80-horse-power Gnome, is conclusive evidence of the high value of this engine in aviation.


CHAPTER XXIII. A Famous British Inventor of Aviation Engines

In the general design and beauty of workmanship involved in the construction of aeroplanes, Britain is
now quite the equal of her foreign rivals; even in engines we are making extremely rapid progress, and

the well-known Green Engine Company, profiting by the result of nine years' experience, are able to turn

out aeroplane engines as reliable, efficient, and as light in pounds weight per horse-power as any aero

engine in existence.

In the early days of aviation larger and better engines of British make specially suited for aeroplanes
were our most urgent need.

The story of the invention of the "Green" engine is a record of triumph over great difficulties.

Early in 1909 - the memorable year when M. Bleriot was firing the enthusiasm of most engineers by his
cross-Channel flight; when records were being established at Rheims; and when M. Paulhan won the

great prize of L10,000 for the London to Manchester flight - Mr. Green conceived a number of ingenious

ideas for an aero engine.

One of Mr. Green's requirements was that the cylinders should be made of cast-steel, and that they
should come from a British foundry. The company that took the work in hand, the Aster Company, had

confidence in the inventor's ideas. It is said that they had to waste 250 castings before six perfect

cylinders were produced. It is estimated that the first Green engine cost L6000. These engines can be

purchased for less than L500.

The closing months of 1909 saw the Green engine firmly established. In October of that year Mr. Moore
Brabazon won the first all-British competition of L1000 offered by the Daily Mail for the first machine

to fly a circular mile course. His aeroplane was fitted with a 60-horse-power Green aero engine. In the

same year M. Michelin offered L1000 for a long-distance flight in all-British aviation; this prize was also

won by Mr. Brabazon, who made a flight of 17 miles.

Some of Colonel Cody's achievements in aviation were made with the Green engine. In 1910 he
succeeded in winning both the duration and cross-country Michelin competitions, and in 1911 he again

accomplished similar feats. In this year he also finished fourth in the all-round-Britain race. This was a

most meritorious performance when it is remembered that his Cathedral weighed nearly a ton and ahalf,

and that the 60-horse-power Green was practically "untouched", to use an engineering expression, during

the whole of the 1010-mile flight.

The following year saw Cody winning another Michelin prize for a cross-country competition. Here he
made a flight of over 200 miles, and his high opinion of the engine may be best described in the letter he

wrote to the company, saying: "If you kept the engine supplied from without with petrol and oil, what

was within would carry you through".

But the pinnacle of Mr. Green's fame as an inventor was reached in 1913, when Mr. Harry Hawker made
his memorable waterplane flight from Cowes to Lough Shinny, an account of which appears in a later

chapter. His machine was fitted with a 100-horse-power Green, and with it he flew 1043 miles of the


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