History Hour: Williams & Jenkins attempt long-range flight record
On April 24–27, 1929, at 0937 GMT on the 24th, Squadron Leader Arthur Gordon Jones-Williams and Flight Lieutenant Norman H. Jenkins, both of the Royal Air Force, departed RAF Cranwell, Lincolnshire, England, aboard the Fairey Long Range Monoplane, J9479, enroute Bangalore, Kingdom of Mysore, British Indian Empire, on a long-range flight record attempt.
Their departure had been delayed for several days while waiting for favorable conditions for takeoff. It was decided to limit the Monoplane’s takeoff weight to 16,000 pounds (7,257.5 kilograms) and wait for at least a 10 mile per hour (16 kilometers per hour) headwind before attempting to takeoff.
Squadron Leader A.G. Jones-Williams, MC and Bar, with Flight Lieutenant N.H. Jenkins, OBE, DFC, DSM, at RAF Cranwell, June 1929. (Photo by Flight)
After 16½ hours, Jones-Williams and Jenkins were overhead Istanbul, and reached Baghdad 10½ hours later. After another 22 hours airborne they were overhead Karachi, Sindh, in the Bombay Presidency (now, Pakistan). With an estimated 6 hours fuel remaining they were unable to reach Bangalore and elected to land at Karachi while it was still daylight.
The duration of their flight was 50 hours, 37 minutes. They had flown a distance of 4,130 miles (6,646.6 kilometers) on their non-stop flight.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, front view.
Arthur Gordon Jones-Williams (1888–1929) was a second lieutenant in the Welsh Regiment during World War I. He was transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as a fighter pilot. He shot down 11 enemy airplanes and was awarded the Military Cross, followed by a Military Cross Bar (second award). Jones-Williams was promoted from Flight Lieutenant to Squadron Leader in the list of New Years Honors, January 1,1928.
Flight Lieutenant Norman Hugh Jenkins, DFC, DSM, Royal Air Force, was appointed to the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire on June 3,1925.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane J9479, left front quarter.
The Fairey Long Range Monoplane was an experimental airplane designed and built in 1928 by Fairey Aviation Company, Ltd., at Hayes, Middlesex, England, for the Royal Air Force to investigate methods of increasing the range of airplanes. The agreed price was £15,000.
It was flown by two pilots and had a bed for crew rest. It was a high-wing monoplane with a wing built of wood and covered by fabric. The Monoplane was 48 feet, 6 inches (14.783 meters) long with a wingspan of 82 feet (24.994 meters) and height of 12 feet (3.658 meters). The maximum takeoff weight was 17,500 pounds (7,937.9 kilograms).
J9479 was powered by a 1,461.1-cubic-inch-displacement (23.944 liter) liquid-cooled Napier Lion XIa double-overhead-cam (DOHC) “Triple Four” or “broad arrow” (three banks of four cylinders with a common crankshaft), now generally referred to as a W-12 engine. It produced 580 horsepower at 2,585 r.p.m. and drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller.
Fairey Long Range Monoplane. J9479, right front quarter.
The cruise speed was 110 miles per hour (177 kilometers per hour). The fuel tanks in the wings had a capacity of 1,043 Imperial gallons (1,252.6 U.S. gallons/4,741.6 liters).
Because of headwinds encountered the April flight was short of the record. Another attempt was made, this time with a destination in South Africa. On December 16, 1929, however, J9479 crashed at Djibel Lit, Zaghaouan, Tunis, Africa. The airplane was destroyed and both A.G. Jones-Williams and N.H. Jenkins were killed.
Text Author: Bryan R. Swopes