Posts Tagged ‘Ron Flockhart’

(VC Browne)

Ken Wharton, BRM P15 V16 during the 1954 Lady Wigram Trophy…

Alfred Owen started what became a long commitment to race his BRM’s in Australasia to further the Owen Organisations commercial interests with a trip by the stupendous, stunning and thoroughly nutty P15 V16 to New Zealand in 1954.

Its fair to say the car underperformed as it usually did, but the impact it made on all who saw and heard the marvellous machine at both Ardmore for the NZ GP and Wigram has endured for far longer than a more reliable but less memorable beast.

Wigram (VC Browne)

 

Such free and easy days- Wharton warms the car up before the NZ GP start at Ardmore (J Short)

The 1954 New Zealand International Grand Prix was the second in the history of the race, the first was won by local, John McMillan’s Ford V8 engined Jackson Special in 1950.

The Kiwi organisers leapt over their Australian neighbours across the ditch in attracting an international field to their Formula Libre race including Wharton, Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari 125, Horace Gould in a Cooper Mk23 Bristol as well as Jack Brabham’s similar car, Tony Gaze, HWM Alta, Stan Jones in Maybach 1- the eventual winner, Lex Davison’s ex-Moss/Gaze HWM and others.

Wharton had the race won in P15 chassis ‘2’ but suffered complete front brake failure- vaporised brake fluid streamed from the front brake cylinders coming down the main straight so Wharton slowed and came into the pits.

Repairs were impossible so the front brake pipes were disconnected with Stan Jones in Maybach 1 winning the race, and subsequent protests about lap-scoring. Stan had more than his share of those post-race contests over the years but he won this one, perhaps at Gould’s expense.

Wharton was second ‘…in what must have been one of the greatest drives of his career to bring the BRM home and to complete the longest race in the cars history’ wrote Doug Nye- Tony Gaze was third, Horace Gould fourth, Ron Roycroft fifth in an Alfa Romeo P3 and Jack Brabham sixth.

Wharton’s problems were caused by a bit of circuit grit lodging in one of the calipers preventing a piston returning fully and causing the brakes to overheat through constant friction, eventually popping off a brake hose union and releasing fluid onto the scorching disc.

(CAN)

At Wigram (above) Wharton again started from pole from Peter Whitehead’s Ferrari, Tony Gaze’s HWM Alta and Fred Zambucka in a pre-war Maserati 8CM.

Whitehead won from Gaze and Wharton, then John McMillan in an Alfa Romeo Tipo B the first local home. Wharton bagged the fastest lap and lap record- as he had at Ardmore.

The BRM had a fresh engine installed between the meetings the car exceeding 150mph on the back straight- shrieking and bellowing in the most audio-erotic fashion in all of motor racing.

(M Hanna)

‘Wharton more or less had the race under control until he had to pit around lap 42 and took on a gallon of oil, the car eventually quit short of the finish line, Wharton pushed it across the line home for third place’ wrote Bob Homewood.

‘The long-distance venture had not proved to be the prestigious demonstration Owen Racing Organisation had hoped…The car was shipped home on the SS Karamea…Ken Wharton flew home via Hawaii…while (mechanic) Gordon Newman decided that New Zealand was such a pleasant country he eventually settled there’ Doug Nye wrote in ‘BRM 1’.

(BRM 1)

Ken Wharton pushed the big, beefy BRM a quarter of a mile over the line just as fourth placed man McMillan’s Alfa Romeo P3 commenced its last lap, encouraged by the BRM mechanics.

(B Homewood)

Gold dust- a Lap Chart from Bob Homewood’s collection ‘…from my BRM in NZ stuff, I make no claim that the pencil lap times are correct’ he quips.

Whilst the Mk2 P15 returned to the UK the team would return many times to Australasia, on the next occasion with a P25 for Ron Flockhart in 1959, shown below at Wigram- he won the prestigious Lady Wigram Trophy from Brabham and McLaren’s Cooper T45 Climaxes that day, a story for another time…

(CAN)

Credits…

VC Browne & Son, Classic Auto News, Bob Homewood Collection, Winton Bristow via Roger Dowding, Merv Hanna Collection, ‘BRM 1’ Doug Nye, sergent.com

Etcetera…

(BRM 1)

Jack and Ken at Ardmore.

Brabham in the cap looks across as Wharton sets off for some screaming but sonorous 1.5 litre V16 supercharged practice laps, Cooper T23 Bristol ‘Redex Spl’ looking suitably modest alongside its more aristocratic but far less successful countryman.

(BRM 1)

Lotsa plugs and lotsa plug changes…Newman and Southcott set to it, which of the two airfield circuits is unclear.

(unattributed)

 

Beast at rest in the Wigram pits

 

(W Bristow)

Roger Dowding wrote ‘…sketch by Winton Bristow…I have about eight of them, some finished some not (love to see ’em!) but interesting cars, I have Win’s notes too. Win was a car enthusiast…’. Luvvit!

Pity the long distance travelling race mechanic in 1954, read Nye’s account of Gordon Newman and Willie Southcott’s trip from Lincolnshire to the other end of the world in December 1953.

’…the adventure began at 8am in Bourne, when they caught the bus to Peterborough.

This was followed by a train to King’s Cross, London to report to KLM’s Sloane Street office at noon, a bus to Heathrow and then a 5pm flight to Amsterdam, thence to Auckland via Sydney, Australia.

They had a worldwide Letter of Credit with them, value £130, comprising 50% of 15 weeks wages (£60), expenses at £3 a week (£45) and an extra £25 for contingencies. The NZ GP was…run on January 9 and…Wigram…in the South Island on February 7 with sundry exhibition dates in between.’

No rest for the wicked…

The mighty supercharged 1.5 litre V16 engine (Vic Berris)

 

Wigram again (unattributed)

Tailpiece: Wharton, Wigram 1954- not exactly a light car, just ask Ken…

Finito…

Ron Flockhart and Mustang P51, Moorabbin Airport, Melbourne 1961…

I wrote an article three years ago about Ron Flockhart, his win together with Ivor Bueb aboard an Ecurie Ecosse Jag XKD at Le Mans in 1957 (he won in a D Type with Ninian Sanderson in ’56 too) and tangentially about his death in a Mustang P51 fighter in Melbourne’s Dandenong Ranges during preparations for his second attempt on the Australia-United Kingdon air record in April 1962. Click here to read it; https://primotipo.com/2015/01/17/le-mans-1957-d-type-jaguar-rout-ron-flockhart-racer-and-aviator/

Recently I came upon some photographs of Ron in Australia taken during the 1961 pre-Tasman racing internationals, this led to another ‘Flockhart Google cruise’ and discovery of the substance of this piece which is an article first published in ‘Pilot’ magazine written by Neil Follett and Nick Stroud. That article is from an aviation rather than a motor racing perspective- I found it fascinating, I know many of you ‘crossover’ into ‘planes as well as cars so here ‘tis, the racing bits which are mine, will be clear I think.

Ron Flockhart in red and Ivor Bueb with Jag XKD ‘606’ after the 1957 Ecurie Ecosse Le Mans win (unattributed)

‘One of the first racing drivers to fly himself to meetings in his own aircraft, Ron Flockhart raced at the top level in sports cars and Formula One before a growing interest in long distance record flights led to high adventure and stark tragedy.

William Ronald Flockhart was born in Edinburgh on 16 June 1923. He began his motor racing career in 1951, going on to win the 24 Heures du Mans race in 1956 and 1957 while driving a D-Type Jaguar with the Scottish Ecurie Ecosse team. Flockhart also participated in Formula One races, entering his first−the British Grand Prix−in 1954 and continuing throughout 1956–60. The Scotsman competed in fourteen F1 races with five different teams, his best result being a third in the 1956 Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

Flockhart also displayed an early interest in flying, owning Auster 5 G-ANHO during 1954–57, and becoming one of the first Formula One drivers to fly their own aircraft to race meetings. In the early 1960s he became interested in record flights between England and Australia, noting that the record was held by Arthur Clouston and Victor Ricketts in the DH88 Comet G-ACSS Grosvenor House.

The Comet won the 1934 MacRobertson Air Race and was the aircraft in which Ricketts and Clouston flew from London to Sydney (and then on to New Zealand) in 80hr 56min in March 1938. Flockhart considered that this record could be bettered. He was also interested in bettering the standing solo Australia−UK record, held by H F ‘Jim’ Broadbent, who had left Darwin in Percival Vega Gull G-AFEH on 18 April 1938, and landed in England on the 22nd having covered 9,612 miles in five days 4hr 21min, the last pre-war record flight between the two countries.

In October 1960 British holding company United Dominions Trust (UDT), through its subsidiary Laystall Engineering, formed an agreement with the British Racing Partnership to form a motor-racing organisation known as UDT Laystall Racing. As an extension of its racing activities, UDT became involved with the purchase of (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation, Fishermens Bend, Melbourne built) Commonwealth CA-17 Mustang Mk 20 VH-BVM for Flockhart’s record attempt.

This aircraft had originally been purchased from the RAAF by former RAF and RAAF pilot James L ‘Wac’ Whiteman, who intended to enter the aircraft in the 1953 London to Christchurch (New Zealand) Air Race. Wac withdrew from the race when he realised it would not be competitive with the jets entered and in 1954 its ownership passed to Arnold J Glass, a fellow racing driver against whom Flockhart would compete in the 1961 and 1962 New Zealand Grand Prix races. Used latterly for target-towing experiments, it was sold to UDT for around £2,000 with around 100 flying hours on the clock. Flockhart was also able to obtain 63 gallon combat droptanks for about £7 each’.

Flockhart with the unloaded left front of his Cooper T51 Climax just kissing the Warwick Farm Causeway tarmac in 1961 (J Arkwright)

Racing in New Zealand/Australia, Summer 1961…

Ron organised an ex-works Cooper for his limited campaign of races in the Antipodes in the hot summer of 1961. T51 Climax ‘F2-7-59’ was ‘ex-Works Car No 3 according to the Cooper Register…believed to be Masten Gregory’s regular car during 1959…Bruce McLaren’s race-winning car at both Sebring December 1959 and at Buenos Aires in February 1960…and may be either the works teams spare car during 1960…or the car sold to Fred Tuck for 1960’ according to oldracingcars.com. Whatever the case, whilst the T51 was a good jigger, it was no longer in the full flush of youth with the quicker cars that season the T53 ‘Lowline’ Coopers of Brabham and McLaren, the works P48 BRM’s of Graham Hill and Dan Gurney and Rob Walker’s Lotus 18 Climax driven by Stirling Moss.

Flockhart and Denny Hulme fighting for 4th place during the 1961 NZ GP at Ardmore both in Cooper T51 Climax 2.5 FPF, Ron 4th, Denny 5th (sergent.com)

Moss disappeared into the distance in the 7 January NZ GP at Ardmore but was outed with a badly slipping clutch mid-race giving the win to Brabham from McLaren, Hill and Flockhart a plucky fourth.

With much preparation to do in Australia for his pending flight he missed the balance of the NZ events and re-acquainted himself with the Cooper T51 at the first international meeting held at the new, technically challenging Warwick Farm circuit laid out amidst a horse-racing facility on the western suburban outskirts of Sydney on 29 January.

Getty Images caption dated 2 February 1961 notes ‘The Flying Scotsman’ is travelling from Australia to England on a dual mission- first to marry BOAC hostess Gillian Tatlow and second to attempt to break the Australia-Britain record for single-engine planes..(Getty)

He was fifth in the ‘Warwick Farm 100’ held in scorching hot weather and won by the Moss Lotus 18 with its side-panels removed to help cope with the extreme conditions. A fortnight later he contested the last race of his ’61 tour, the ‘Victoria Trophy’ that year held on a circuit laid out on Ballarat Airfield, Ballarat is in Victoria’s Goldfields region 120 Km from Melbourne.

Flockhart at Ballarat Aerodrome, 1961. This Cooper T53 Climax  (autopics.coma.u)

Ron raced a Border Reivers Cooper T53 Climax to third to the works BRM P48’s of Gurney and Hill with Dan scoring the only ‘international win’ for that chassis that weekend. With that, and a fortnight until his scheduled Mustang departure for the UK he re-focused on a high-performance machine of an altogether different type.

Flockhart with G-ARKD, place? (Pilot)

Preparations begin…

‘With the end of the Antipodean motor racing season in early 1961, preparations began for the flight to the UK. Rolls-Royce ran checks on the Packard Merlin 38 engine, which had only run 110 hours since new, and which had never been ‘through the gate’. The magnetos were overhauled in Scotland and Smiths Australia set to work on overhauling the cockpit instruments.

Preparatory work on the airframe was undertaken at the Illawarra Flying School, which modified the fuel system by introducing a manual device by which the system could be depressurised. Two static vents were incorporated into the airframe under the cockpit sill, each containing a valve. This would enable Flockhart to run the droptanks dry without the risk of sucking air into the system. The system would then be repressurised from the exhaust side of the vacuum pump to assist initial transfer. This worked well, although a stiff bootful of rudder was required to counter the rolling moment causd by the change in lateral balance as a tank emptied.

In the limited space available in the Mustang’s cockpit two German Becker VHF radio sets were installed, which provided 36 communications channels, and Lear T12 automatic direction finding (ADF) equipment was fitted in the position usually occupied by the gunsight. No VOR, ILS, HF radio or marker-beacon receiver equipment was fitted−Flockhart held no instrument rating. Normalair supplied the oxygen equipment, Dunlop provided new tyres, and Lodge delivered new plugs. Rolls-Royce suggested that the Merlin be opened up to maximum continuous power every half-hour during the flight and again briefly during descent and approach.’

Bankstown Airport Sydney 1961 (G Goodall)

G-ARKD lookin’ a million bucks outside Fawcett’s hangar at Bankstown after final prep for the 1961 flight (G Goodall)

‘Final preparations and modifications were undertaken by Fawcett Aviation at Bankstown Aerodrome in Sydney, and the Mustang was officially added to the British register on 24 February 1961 as G-ARKD, in the name of Ronald Flockhart. In the days leading up to his departure for the UK Flockhart had logged a mere twelve flying hours in the Mustang.

In March 1961, Flockhart told British magazine Flight that piloting a Mustang for the first time was like ‘driving an ERA after a sports car; things happen very quickly’. He also admitted that it had taken some time to get used to the Mustang’s long nose and the technique of a curving approach, and had accordingly suffered ‘one or two bumpy landings’, but had quickly come to like the aeroplane very much. Flockhart noted that although the Mustang was big and powerful, ‘it was amply stable for the long hours of steady, level cruise’.

The planned route for the flight was Sydney—Alice Springs—Darwin—Sourabaya—Singapore —Rangoon—Calcutta—Karachi—Bahrain—Beirut—Brindisi—Nice and on to London, with overnight stops at Singapore, Karachi and Brindisi. Flockhart’s plan was to fly only during daylight hours and in segments of a maximum of five hours. All fuelling arrangments along the route were to be made by Esso, which Flockhart found to be ‘unfailingly helpful and efficient’

(Pilot)

Setting off…

‘On Tuesday, February 28, 1961, Flockhart and G-ARKD, painted in an overall bright red colour scheme with white detailing, departed Sydney for the first stop at Alice Springs. En route from the latter to Darwin, Flockhart experienced a magnetically charged dust storm, which affected his ADF equipment. He settled in at 12,000ft and followed the faint line of a solitary railway across the endless red terrain to Darwin.

The next day Flockhart departed Darwin for Surabaya on Java. Well out over the Timor Sea he saw an ominous line in the distance, marking an inter-tropical front piling clouds up to 50,000ft and higher. From 12,000ft he dived to low altitude to find a hole in the milky mist. After ten minutes the Mustang popped through the other side of the front with most of the paint on its leading edges stripped off. The diversion had cost a substantial amount of fuel and Flockhart elected to divert to Baucau on East Timor for replenishment.’

G-ARKD, Darwin 1961 (L Brighton)

‘After a quick refill from fuel kept in 45 gallon churns in a thatched hut, Flockhart took off for what he later recalled as ‘the loveliest part of the trip’−east-north-east over the Balinese islands and coral atolls to Singapore. The maximum endurance of the Mustang was seven hours, for six of which Flockhart could be on oxygen. Typical cruising speed was 225 knots at 12,000ft, although the speed would increase to 280 with the periodic opening of the throttle, as per Rolls-Royce’s suggestion.

The diversion to Baucau meant a late arrival at Singapore, where Flockhart was further delayed by an accident which had closed the runway at his next stop, Rangoon. Having received the all-clear to depart, Flockhart headed into the darkness, his first experience of flying the Mustang at night. Finding that the ADF equipment functioned better at night, he followed airways all the way to Rangoon, where the scarlet Mustang received a great deal of attention, not least from the Czechoslovakian crew of a SA Tupolev Tu-104.’

G-ARKD- 63 gallon drop tanks being filled, place unknown but looks like Australia (I Leslie)

Across India…

‘The following morning there was still plenty of interest in the aircraft, and on departure for Calcutta Flockhart held the Mustang down on takeoff until he could pull up 4,000ft almost vertically into cloud.

Navigating largely by means of contact flying−using established landmarks− Flockhart experienced difficulties on the leg to Calcutta, becoming embroiled in a cloud layer at 2,000ft which caused him to miss the let-down beacon into Calcutta and overshoot, forcing him to put down at Barrackpore, some fifteen miles north of Calcutta.

After a swift refuelling, Flockhart was off again for the longest leg of the journey, across India and Pakistan to Karachi, which he completed in 5hr 50min using 43gal/hr of fuel. Flockhart later related that he ate only a few Horlicks tablets on this leg, and refreshed himself on landing at Karachi with ginger beer kept cold in the ammunition bays.

At Karachi the Mustang was turned around in less than an hour, Flockhart taking off in the moonlight to follow the Iranian coast to Bahrain. As he later told Flight: ‘Navigation at night was wonderful. There is a great tranquillity about it. The isolation and the beauty contrasts sharply with the actions of those on the ground, who try to tie you down with streamers of paper. Flying at night in the moonlight, the only shadows are on the surface’.

It was still night when Flockhart landed at Bahrain, where he discovered that air had been leaking from the port main wheel oleo. This caused little concern, however, and after a safe landing the undercarriage was quickly repaired by the RAF. Flockhart was soon off again, to follow an oil pipeline to the mountains of Lebanon and Beirut. He was cleared−and then recalled−by Damascus air traffic control shortly after passing over the city, but, short of fuel, he elected to continue to Beirut and face the consequences there.

It was indeed at Beirut where the trouble started.

Despite the diversions and delays owing to minor repairs, Flockhart was still well ahead of his own schedule when he taxied out at Beirut for the next leg to Brindisi on 3 March.

Confusion on the ground, however, led to the Mustang’s coolant boiling while Flockhart was held while other aircraft landed. The Mustang finally departed for Brindisi but poor weather forced Flockhart to divert to his nominated alternate, Athens.’

G-AKRD on the deck at Athens Airport. Aircraft later damaged by a cockpit fire, left exposed for years in Athens and eventually scrapped, now seemingly resurrected from the dead (I Leslie)

‘Anxious not to lose any more time, Flockhart refuelled quickly and requested clearance from the Tower, which was refused as no flight plan had been filed. Requesting to file an airborne flight plan, Flockhart was refused again, the Tower demanding that he pay landing fees, despite the fact that these had already been seen to by Esso. As Flight elegantly put it: ‘temperatures rose−in the Tower, in the cockpit and in the cylinder heads’.

Realising that resistance was futile, Flockhart retired for a rest, before trying again in a few hours. With the paperwork sorted, he returned to the Mustang in the early morning, but found on starting that steam was issuing from the cowling. Refilling the coolant system, he found that the coolant was running out between Nos 3 and 4 cylinders on the starboard bank. By this time he was twelve hours behind his schedule, but two days ahead of the solo record.

Exhausted and frustrated, Flockhart left G-ARKD at Athens and continued to London by commercial airliner to be married as planned a few days later on 11 March 1961. The Scotsman subsequently told Flight that it was ‘not the flying, nor navigation, nor preparation which was responsible for the failure. It was an air traffic system out of touch with the individual needs of a type of flying that has not yet, by any means, disappeared from the global scene’.

In September 1961 the Mustang was severely damaged by a cockpit fire while being taxied at Athens airport, putting paid to its use in any further record attempt.’

Arnold Glass’ BRM P48 inside Ron Flockhart’s Lotus 18 Climax, DNF for both – Lycoming Special of Forrest Cardon to the right 16th- Maser 250F to the left of Cardon is Chris Amon 11th  to the Lycoming’s left, Ardmore 1962 (sergent.com)

Racing in Australasia 1962…

There was plenty of the depth in the international fields local drivers confronted in 1962- visitors included Moss back with a choice of Rob Walker cars- Lotus 21 and Cooper T53, McLaren and John Surtees also ran T53’s with Jack in a T55. We had our first look at Jim Clark aboard a Team Lotus Lotus 21 Climax but like Flockhart, Clark was hamstrung a bit by having only a 2.5 FPF- in the hands of the top-liners de-rigeur in ’62 was a 2.7 FPF ‘Indy’ engine. Ron raced a Border Reivers Lotus 18.

In a bit of Mini Cooper racing trivia the first such cars were taken to New Zealand and on to Australia by Bruce McLaren and Ron- a third car intended for Roy Salvadori missed the trip. They raced the ‘bricks’ at several of the meetings in which they contested the feature races with their GP cars. The potential of the machines, despite their size, was not lost of any of the racers or spectators who watched cars which of course became icons which define an age.

Dennis Marwood’s Humber leads Jim Steans Mini and the Coopers of McLaren and Flockhart at Wigram in 1962 (J Steans)

It was a mediocre tour really, Ron’s two NZ races were the Ardmore NZ GP and Wigram with DNF’s due to engine problems and a failed universal joint respectively. Moss won both races, the NZ GP famously a very soggy one in the Lotus 18 powered by a 2.5 FPF.

Fifth at Warwick Farm was much better for Ron and a high point, Moss took that win too, this time aboard the T53 2.7 having tried both cars in practice with Moss preferring the more-chuckable Cooper to the Lotus around the ‘Farm. Flockhart had an early day in the Lakeside International after a collision on lap 20, the race was won by Brabham’s T55.

Flockhart in the Border Reivers Lotus 18 Climax in the Sandown paddock 1962 (autopics.com.au)

Flockhart missed the Longford round won by Surtees and rejoined for the first Sandown International, like Warwick Farm it was laid out within a horse-racing facility and on Melbourne’s then south-eastern outskirts 40 km from the city. Brabham won again with Flockhart suffering bearing failure in what turned out to be his very last motor-race.

Sandown Park is only 10 Km from Moorabbin Airport and 30 Km from Kallista in the Dandenongs, both sadly to loom large for all the wrong reasons shortly thereafter.

Flockhart and mount, outside the Brookes Aviation hangar, Moorabbin Airport, fateful morning of 12 April 1962 (G Goodall)

Take two…

Not to be deterred, within months (of the 1961 Athens airport fire) Flockhart began looking for another Australian Mustang for a second attempt on the record that had eluded him. The aircraft chosen was former RAAF Mustang VH-UWB, acquired on Ron’s behalf by AREF Ltd of Ascot, Berkshire and registered G-ARUK. Flockhart had announced his intention to try and beat the record again, with plans to follow the route Melbourne—Sydney—Darwin—Singapore—Madras—Bahrain—Brindisi—London, starting on 16 April 1962.

‘Jock Garden, chief flying instructor and manager of the Civil Flying School, the flying training arm of the Mustang’s operator in Australia, Brookes Aviation, recalled in his memoirs: ‘Ron arranged to buy VH-UWB from John Brookes, and Brookes Aviation undertook a complete overhaul on the aircraft. Rolls-Royce, as a co-sponsor [of his next record attempt], sent out two engineers from England to service the engine; the aircraft was repainted in red and re-registered in the UK as G-ARUK.

I flew Ron over to Essendon Airport in the [Beech] Debonair early in 1962 and during the flight I asked if he had any recent instrument flying experience. When he told me he had none in the last eighteen months, I suggested it would be wise for him to gain recent instrument flying practice in view of the intended long flight, but he did not follow up on that advice.

‘I had the pleasure of doing the flight-testing of the Mustang on 19 March 1962, after its extensive servicing and it was in perfect condition with the Merlin the smoothest running engine I had ever encountered.’

‘A couple of days before he intended setting out on his record attempt Ron was to fly to Sydney to have maintenance done on his ADF unit. The weather conditions on 12 April were bad, with low cloud and rain, but Ron was determined to go. This proved to be a fatal decision as, within only a few minutes after departure, he lost control in cloud over the Dandenong Range and entered a spiral dive from which he could not possibly recover. He was killed instantly.’

The official report of the accident by the Australian Department of Civil Aviation gives the following conclusion: ‘While there is insufficient evidence to establish conclusively the cause of the accident, the possibility that the pilot temporarily lost control of the aircraft while circling in cloud, and that it subsequently stalled during the recovery and turn to avoid high terrain, cannot be excluded’.

Flockhart was flying the Mustang from Moorabbin to Bankstown to conduct fuel consumption tests and have the ADF equipment serviced. After encountering low cloud, he reported that he was returning to Moorabbin. The Mustang then changed course some 140° before entering a narrow gap between cloud-obscured hilltops in the Dandenongs.

The report stated that ‘the pilot circled in the vicinity of Kallista several times at low altitude and for the most part in cloud. The aircraft then emerged below cloud at a height of approximately 1,300ft, carried out a left turn probably to avoid higher terrain and, in the course of this turn, the nose dropped sharply and the aircraft struck trees and the ground at a steep angle, while rolling and turning to the right’.

At the time of the accident Flockhart held a British PPL endorsed for single-engined landplanes under 12,500lb (5,670kg) maximum permissible all-up weight. His total flying time was 961hr of which 69 were on Mustangs. During the six months immediately before the accident he had flown only five hours. He was not rated for instrument or night flying. In late 1960 he had undergone about 21 hours of ground-based Link trainer instruction on ADF, ILS and VDF procedures, but his logbook showed no record of any instrument flying or Link trainer instruction since that time.

Flockhart’s flying achievements were substantial and deserve a great deal of credit; his Mustang flight from Australia to Athens had been made with limited professional backing by a club-trained private pilot. Sadly, he never got the chance to finish the job — with his death on 12 April 1962, his final race had been run.’

Etcetera…

Flockhart hooting across Warwick Farm’s Causeway during the WF 100 in 1961, Cooper T51 Climax ( J Arkwright)

Flockhart’s Cooper T51 Climax in the Warwick Farm paddock in 1961. Car raced to a Longford win by Roy Salvadori the week later and then sale to David McKay at the end of the summer post the Hume Weir meeting also contested by Roy (J Arkwright)

‘Historic Dandenongs’ tribute to Ron Flockhart

Mustang A68-152, 135 and 175. All aircraft issued to 23 Squadron Brisbane so guessing RAAF Amberley circa late 1952/3. CAC Wirraway’s alongside (L Potts)

Etcetera: The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Mustang P51’s…

Source: airforce.gov.au- Point Cook Museum, Victoria

‘One of the finest American fighter aircraft of World War II, the North American Mustang owed its origin to a Royal Air Force (RAF) specification for a single-seat fighter to replace the Curtiss P-40. The first flight of the prototype NA-73 occurred in October 1940. Production models reached the RAF in November 1941 and these aircraft became known as Mustang Mk I (P-51) and Mk II (P-51A). The original 1,150 hp Allison engine lacked performance at high altitude, and the RAF employed the early Mustangs on low-level armed tactical reconnaissance sorties. Meantime, the US Army Air Force (USAAF) ordered a limited number of P-51s and P-51As as the Apache, to operate in the dive-bomber role.

However, once the basic P-51 design was mated with the proven Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, the aircraft became an enormous success. Through P-51B, C and D models, the Mustang became one of the finest Allied fighters of World War II, and was just as capable at long-range escort as short ground-attack sorties. Fitted with a bubble canopy in place of the earlier ‘Razorback’ fuselage, the P-51D was the most widely produced version of the Mustang, with 8,956 built.

Interesting developments of the Mustang included the XP-51F and XP-51G lightweight versions and, the fastest Mustang of all, the P-51H, with a top speed of 487 mph at 25,000 ft. The ultimate development of the aircraft occurred post-war, when two Mustang fuselages were joined, resulting in the USAAF’s F-82 Twin Mustang.

In November 1944, RAF Mustangs were first flown by the RAAF’s No 3 Sqn in Italy.

Mustang P51D cutaway drawing (Haynes)

In 1943, the Australian government arranged for the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) to manufacture the Mustang Mk IV (P-51D) under licence from North American Aviation. The RAAF urgently needed a new fighter, and so the first CAC Mustangs were built mainly from imported semi-finished parts. A prototype Mustang, A68-1001, was used for development trials and the first Australian production Mustang, A68-1, flew on 29 April 1945. This aircraft was handed over to the RAAF on 4 June 1945 and was used for trials by No 1 Aircraft Performance Unit until October 1946. It was placed in storage until 1953 when it was delivered to the Department of Supply at Woomera.

The first 80 Mustang 20s (A68-1/80) were delivered with Packard Merlin V-1650-3 engines, under the CA-17 designation. A second contract called for 170 improved Mustangs, but only 120 were completed. Known as CA-18, the first 40 were built as Mustang 21s (A68-81/120) with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. The remaining CA-18s comprised 14 Mustang 22s (A68-187/200) with Packard Merlin V-1650-7 engines. A CA-21 contract for a further 250 Mustangs was cancelled and, in lieu of the remaining CA-18s and CA-21s, 298 lend-lease P-51Ds and Ks were taken on strength (A68-500/583 and A68-600/813). In addition, the RAAF also accepted Mustangs for the Netherlands East Indies Air Force (N3-600/640).

Produced too late for World War II, RAAF Mustangs were assigned to Japan for occupation duties and, early in 1946, Nos 76, 77 and 82 Squadrons flew into Iwakuni. In 1949 Nos 76 and 82 Squadrons withdrew to Australian and the Mustangs of No 77 Squadron remained to take part in the Korean War from June 1950 until April 1951, when they were replaced by Gloster Meteors.

In Australia, Mustangs remained in service with Citizen’s Air Force Squadrons until they were withdrawn from service in 1959.’

(MOV)

Technical Specifications CAC CA-18 Mustang Mk21…

Type/Airframe- Single seat long range fighter. All metal stressed skin construction

Engine- Single Packard Merlin V1650-7. SOHC, 2 valve, carburettor fed, two-stage supercharged V12. Bore/stroke 5.4×6 inches, 1650 cid, circa 1490 bhp @ 3000 rpm. Weight 1640 pounds

Dimensions- Span 11.28 m (37 ft): length 9,83 m (32 ft 3 in); height 3.71 m (12 ft 2 in).

Weight- Empty 3567 kg (7863 lb); loaded 4763 kg (10 500 lb).

Performance- Max speed 636 km/h (380 kt); Climb, 13 mins to 30,000 ft (9144 m); Maximum rate of climb 1059 m (3475 ft)/min; Service ceiling 41,900 ft (12 771 m); Range 1529 km (825 nm) on internal fuel tanks.

Armaments- Six 0.50 in calibre machine guns; two 454 kg (1000 lb) bombs or up to 10 rockets

Rolls Royce Merlin cutaway drawing (Aeroplane)

CA-17 A68-34 a pretty picture. Issued to 25 Squadron in 1951/2 so probably in the air over RAAF Pearce, Perth (SLSA)

Plane dudes have as much interest in chassis numbers et al as us car chaps of course, here they are..

A68-5 RAAF Serial no / Type CA-17 Mk20 Mustang / Construction no 1330 NA110-34370 (Flockhart’s 1961 plane)

Early build- 5th of a batch of 80 shipped to Oz as kits of parts, delivered to 1 Aircraft Depot ex-CAC 6 July 1945. To 78 Sqdn, then stored 14/11/45 till sold 30/1/53 to ex-Flt Lt JL Whiteman with only 35 hours up, Sydney- reg VH-BVM. To Arnold Glass, purportedly acquired with winnings from a racehorse ‘Johnny Zero’ which the aircraft was then called, Sydney May 1954. Target towing experiments with Fawcett Aviation in 1959, also flown by A Oates. To Ron Flockhart August 1960 with around 100 hours on the clock- reg UK G-ARKD Feb 1961. ‘Abandoned’ in Greece 4/3/61, cockpit fire whilst being taxied in Athens 7/9/61. Rego cancelled by UK CAA as ‘aircraft destroyed’ 26/11/61. Abandoned and left in the open in Athens 1961-1970. Reportedly broken up for scrap in Athens circa 1970.

6 June 2012 re-registered as G-ARKD to ‘Classic Flying Machine Collection Ltd’, Foulsham, Dereham, Norfolk, UK-‘remains/parts storage for restoration’

A68-113 RAAF Serial no / Type CA-18 Mk21 Mustang / Construction no 1438 (Flockhart’s 1962 plane)

Delivered to 1 Aircraft Depot ex-CAC on 1 April 1948. Issued to 78 Wing November 1949, to 1 AD July 1950, 10 Sqdn Townsville May 1953 for target towing duties. Sold August 1957, then again February 1958- Reg VH-UWB. Sold to Flockhart April 1962- reg UK G-ARUK. Flockhart’s fatal crash at Kallista 12 April 1962. Rego cancelled by UK CAA as ‘aircraft destroyed’ on 23/5/62.

CAC production line, Fishermens Bend circa 1945 (T Lyons)

Photo Credits…

‘Pilot’ magazine, Geoff Goodall Collection, W Cdr L Brighton, Ian Leslie, Jim Steans Collection, John Arkwright, autopics.com.au, Lionel Potts, Museum of Victoria, State Library of South Australia, Tony Lyons, Haynes, Aeroplane magazine

Bibliography…

‘Pilot’ magazine article by Neil Follett and Nick Stroud via aeroexpo.co.uk, sergent.com, oldracingcars.com, adf-serials.com.au, airforce.gov.au

Tailpiece: Cool dude- Flockhart, Warwick Farm 1961…

(J Arkwright)

Finito…

 

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The victorious Ron Flockhart/Ivor Bueb Ecurie Ecosse entered ‘D Type’ Jag during the 1957 Le Mans 24 Hours, it was the third and last win for the fabulous car which reigned supreme at la Sarthe from 1955-1957…

The winning car covered 4397 Km, an average speed of 183kmh, a record which remained unbroken for four years.

D Types also finished in second, third, fourth and sixth places, an unparalleled result to that time. Ninian Sanderson and John Lawrence were second, Jean Lucas/ Jean-Marie Brussin third, Paul Frere/’Freddy’ Rouselle fourth and Mike Hawthorn/Masten Gregory sixth. Flockhart also won the race in 1956 partnered with Ninian Sanderson.

The car on its back is the Tony Brooks/Noel Cunningham-Reid Aston Martin DBR1 300.

Brooks ran wide on the exit of Tertre Rouge, rolled and was hit by Umberto Magliolis’ Porsche, the cars running second and seventh respectively at the time. Both drivers escaped without serious harm. The incident happened in  the twelfth hour of the race.

Le Mans 1957 lap 1

‘XKD606’, Bueb up leading the Lewis-Evans/Marino/Martino Ferari 315S (5th), #4 behind the Ferrari is the Hamilton/Gregory D Type (6th)(unattributed)

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Undated unattributed shot of the ‘Browns lane’ factory, a ‘C’ being fettled as well as the ‘D’s. (unattributed)

Technical Specifications and ‘XKD606’…

The summary technical specifications of the ‘XKD’ were included in this earlier post on its close brother the ‘XKSS’.

https://primotipo.com/2014/05/30/72/

The winning car was ‘XKD606’ the last long nosed 1956 works car built, unraced that year as Desmond Titterington crashed it in Le Mans practice. Jag withdrew as a factory team from racing at the end of ’56, ‘606’ was delivered to Ecosse in November 1956 and was successful in ’57 with a 3.8 litre fuel injected engine at Le Mans with plenty of works support.

This engine gave circa 306bhp@5500rpm and 312lb ft of torque@4500rpm.

Flockhart and Bueb post 57 win

Flockhart in red alongside Ivor Bueb post victory with the Ecosse Team and ‘XKD606’. (unattributed)

The car was raced at Buenos Aires later in 1957 by Flockhart and Galvez, but crashed by Flockhart and rebuilt with a new chassis and bonnet.

‘606’ remained in Ecosse’ hands in 1958-1960, raced again at Le Mans by Flockhart and Bruce Halford in 196o, it failed to finish. The car raced on into 1961 in the hands of privateer Jack Wober and was split into two after a crash; the body and rear suspension, and front subframe and engine. Both halves were then completed with replica parts creating two ‘original’ cars.

The Louman Museum in The Hague acquired both cars in 1994, the ‘XKD606’ being recreated by repair and uniting its original components. It is used frequently in historic events.

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Le Mans 57 finish

Flockhart returns the car post finish, Le Mans 1957. (unattributed)

Ron Flockhart…

Ron Flockhart BRM Goodwood 1954

Ron Flockhart at the wheel of the awesome, wild but unsuccessful BRM Type 15, the 1.5 litre supercharged V16 racer by then running as a Formula Libre car in the UK. In essence the car was late and largely missed the Grand Prix formula for which it was designed. Goodwood, Easter Monday 1954. (John Ross Motor Racing Archive)

Flockhart began racing motor bikes in Italy and the Middle East after the War before being de-mobbed by the British Army, having served in WW2.

He began racing cars in the the ex-Raymond Mays ERA R4D in 1952, progressed to a Connaught and was picked up by the Owen Organisation where he was essentially their ‘third driver’, he raced in fourteen championship Grands Prix between 1954 and 1960, the last a Cooper T51 Climax in the US Grand Prix at Sebring.

He was very competitive in sports cars, including the two victories at Le Mans.

Daily Express Int Trophy Silverstone 1956

# 6,8,7 Jean Behra, Ron Flockhart and Harry Schell in BRM P25’s and #2 Masten Gregory Maserati 250F, #15 Horace Gould Maser 250F. Daily Express Trophy, Silverstone 1957. Behra won from Schell and Flockhart, Gregory was 5th. (John Ross Motor Racing Archive)

Ron Flockhart BRM P25 Monaco 1959

Flockhart in his BRM P25 Monaco GP 1959. He spun on lap 64 having qualified well in 10th. Jack Brabham won in a Cooper T51 Climax, his first Championship GP victory.(unattributed)

Like many drivers of the period Ron Flockhart was a pilot and flew to and from the circuits of Europe more quickly than commercial airline or car travel allowed.

He flew an Auster for a long time to places such as Folkingham, Snetterton and Silverstone whilst testing for BRM in the UK and introduced Jack Brabham to light aircraft.

His racing injuries restricted his activities somewhat, his love of flying and passion for speed lead him to decide to attempt the Sydney-London record for petrol powered planes. The attempt was backed by ‘United Dominions Trust ‘ who wanted publicity for their racing team ‘UDT Laystall’, a noted team of the period.

His first attempt in 1961 fell 1500 miles short of London when his Mustang suffered serious engine failure, rain having seeped into the engine whilst on the ground in Greece, Flockhart enjoying ‘Rock-star’ fame and attention in Australia before and during the attempts. The first plane was written off after suffering a cockpit fire before take-off.

Ron Flockhart Cooper Climax Ballarat

Ron Flockhart in his ‘Border Reivers’ Cooper T53 Climax, Ballarat Airfield, Victoria 1961. He raced well, 3rd behind the factory BRM P48’s of Dan Gurney and Graham Hill. He also raced in Australia the following summer in a Lotus 18. (autopics)

Ron competed in New Zealand and Australia that summer before setting off for London in a second ex-RAAF Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation built Mustang ‘G-ARUK’ on 12 April 1962.

He left Moorabbin Airport in Melbournes’ southern outer suburbs enroute to Sydney where he was heading to have additional fuel tanks fitted.

The Mustang had only been in the air 10 minutes, heading east over the Dandenong Ranges when he radioed in to report ‘I’ve got trouble. I’ve lost my compass, i’m at 3000ft and in heavy cloud’, immediately after this, contact with the plane was lost, the aircraft crashed into bush on the Monbulk hillside in thick cloud and light misty rain. Flockhart was still in the aircrafts debris which was spread around the crash site, strapped to the remains of his seat with his parachute attached.

Flockhart Mustang 1962

Ron Flockhart in the hours before his death. P51 Mustang CA-18 Mk21 frame # ‘A68-113’ was one of many built by the Australian ‘Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation’ in Melbourne during  WW2 (Geoff Goodall)

A Ministry of Aviation Report did not conclusively determine the cause of the accident but it was considered a possibility ‘that the pilot temporarily lost control of the aircraft whilst circling in cloud, and that it subsequently stalled during the recovery and turn to avoid the high terrain…’

Flockhart portrait

Lovely portrait of Ron Flockhart at the 1959 Silverstone ‘Daily Express International Trophy’ meeting in May. RF finished 3rd in his BRM P25, the race won by Brabhams’ Cooper T51 Climax. (John Ross Racing Archive)

Flockhart obit

Etcetera…

Flockhart Le Mans 57

Flockhart Le Mans 1957 (Automobile Year)

Flockhart Le Mans 1957

Nice shot of Flockhart cornering the D Type during the ’57 race. ‘XKD606’ works supported with factory 3.8 litre injected engine, last of the ‘long-noses built’. (unattributed)

Mintex 57 Le Mans ad

Flockhart Le Mans 1956

Ron Flockhart in the D Type he shared with Ninian Sanderson to win Le Mans in 1956.(Automobile Year)

Le Mans 1957 finish

Flockhart leads the second placed sister Ecurie Ecosse D Type of Sanderson/Lawrence over the line, record distance travelled which stood for the next 4 years .(unattributed)

Flockhart WF 1961

Flockhart 5th in his Cooper T51 Climax, ‘Warwick Farm 100’ January 1961. The race was won by Moss in a Lotus 18 Climax. (John Arkwright)

Photo Credits…

Motorsport Magazine, autopics, Geoff Goodall, John Ross Motor Racing Archive, John Arkwright

Finito…