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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 7

I The First 100 Years 1788-1888

II Railways

III Motorised Vehicles

IV Aviation
i Local Inventions, Research, Design and Manufacture
ii The Development of Air Transport: The Trail Blazers
iii The Services
iv The Royal Flying Doctor Service
v Ground Aids and Safety Innovations
vi From Aviation to Modern Shipping

V Modern Shipping

VI Innovative Small Craft

VII Conclusion

VIII Acknowledgements

IX Contributors



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Local Inventions, Research, Design and Manufacture (continued)

L. V. R. Jones constructed his first aircraft in 1907, but his own power plant for that aircraft was not successful.[4] His Bleriot-type monoplane, which was steam powered, flew for the first time in 1911, and another one, powered by a petrol engine, flew in 1912. In 1927, Jones designed and built the Wonga, the first aeroplane in Australia which used steel instead of wood for the majority of its structure.

H. E. Broadsmith and N. Love established, in 1919, Australia's first aircraft manufacturing industry, with a company called Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company (AAEC) and produced six AVRO 504 K training biplanes for the R.A.A.F. and seven for civilian customers.[5] It is interesting to note that Broadsmith, together with Professor Warren of Sydney University, undertook a programme to determine the suitability of Australian timbers for manufacture to British Aeronautical specifications and found
Mountain Ash to be the best material.

Broadsmith's very ambitious project, the design and construction of a six-seat bi-plane airliner, the B1, was unsuccessful in meeting the Civil Aviation Board's specifications without re-engining, although the prototype flew successfully.

Broadsmith also won the 1924 Low-Powered Aeroplane Competition with his design, which was built by a young pilot-engineer Edgar Percival. The second prize was won by L. J. Wackett with his Warbler aircraft, powered by the Wizard engine, also designed by Wackett.[6]

Lawrence J. Wackett (later Sir Lawrence) was one of the towering figures in the history of Australian aviation covering, as he did, virtually all aspects of activities: pilot, designer of airframes and engines, entrepreneur and manager.

He started his career in the Australian Flying Corps in the First World War and saw service in Egypt; when the R.A.A.F. was formed in 1921 Wackett decided to move into aircraft design and development and, after a short professional training period, persuaded the then Defence Minister, R. K. Bowden, to set up a R.A.A.F. Experimental Aircraft Station at Randwick, in order to develop aircraft suitable for Australian conditions.[7]

The first design was the Widgeon 1, a flying boat, followed by a much larger amphibian, the Widgeon 11, powered by a 440 hp A.S. Jaguar engine. In 1927, the Widgeon 11 undertook a 9,000 mile flight around Australia.

Two other aircraft were developed at Randwick to the prototype stage: Warrigal 1 (a trainer) and Warrigal 11 a single seat fighter. As a result of a government-sponsored report, the Randwick Station was closed in 1931: Wackett resigned from the R.A.A.F. and transferred, with some personnel and equipment to Cockatoo Dockyard. He continued working for the R.A.A.F. but also undertook several civilian projects including the Codock, a six passenger twin engined airliner, commissioned by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith.[8]

In 1934, Wackett and some of his staff moved again, to the Tugan Aircraft Company at Mascot, where the Codock design was developed into the Gannett a six/seven passenger airliner, which provided excellent service with the R.A.A.F. and with small airlines in N.S.W. Eight Gannetts were completed when the Tugan Company was taken over to form the nucleus of the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation in Melbourne. The remaining career of Sir Lawrence Wackett is reviewed under the C.A.C. section.

To complete the section on individual innovators, we have to mention Don Harkness, who is remembered as the first Australian who designed and developed a type-approved aircraft engine. The engine in question was the Harkness Hornet, first built in 1928 and later installed in two locally built aircraft types, the Genair and the Wonga.[9]

Organisations in Australian Science at Work - Australian Aircraft and Engineering Company (A.A.E.C.); Australian Flying Corps; Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (C.A.C.); R.A.A.F. Experimental Aircraft Station, Randwick; Royal Australian Air Force (R.A.A.F.); Tugan Aircraft Company, Mascot

People in Bright Sparcs - Broadsmith, H. E.; Harkness, Don; Jones, L. V. R.; Kingsford-Smith, Sir Charles; Love, N.; Percival, Edgar; Schaetzel, Stanley S.; Wackett, L. J.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 504 - 505, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher