Aero engine, rotary radial, metal, designed by Archibald Richardson, c.1912, built by Harold 'Curley' Eagle, Enfield, NSW, Australia, 1916
This engine represents the ingenuity of local constructors in design and manufacture. It was typical of local constructors on limited budgets to design and manufacture their own engines, usually incorporating second-hand parts, due to the high cost of production aero engines. As with this engine, local constructors sometimes used complex rather than simple solutions in their design and manufacture in the hope of maximising the power output, or the efficiency, of an engine.
The aero engine was designed by Archibald Richardson and made by Harold 'Curley' Eagle, at his grandfather's workshop at the brickworks at Enfield, New South Wales, Australia.
The aero engine was fitted to an aircraft built by Les Hankie at his father's joinery at Concord, New South Wales; both engine and airframe were designed by Archibald Richardson. The engine was initially tested in 1916 at Enfield, New South Wales, Australia and the aircraft was transported to Richmond, then the site of the New South Wales State Aviation School, in mid 1918 . On the 21st of June 1918 the Windsor & Richmond Gazette reported: "The small monoplane invented by Messrs. Richardson Bros., and which was being brought to the aviation school at Clarendon for a trial met with an accident whilst nearing the aerodrome. It will take a little time to remedy the damage, and it is then the intention of the inventors to attempt a flight." Apparently the aircraft, when repaired, made one low level flight with Chief Flying Instructor 'Billy' Stutt at the controls. This information came from Mr Roderick Shaw Colquhoun, a student on the Fifth Course at Richmond at the time, who witnessed the flight and passed the information to Mr Ted Wixted of the Queensland Museum in 1982 following on from an enquiry to Ted by Norman 'Bill' Eagle, son of Harold 'Curley' Eagle.
On the 17th of July 1918 Mr James Nangle, the Superintendent of the Sydney Technical College which at this time administered the State Aviation School, wrote to the School: "Permission was recently given to Richardson Bros. to use the aerodrome in connection with their flying machine. I desire Chief Flying Instructor Stutt to report whether there is any good purpose permitting use for further term?" In response on the 2nd of August 1918 Billy Stutt wrote: "Messrs. Richardson Bros. removed their machine early this week. I understand they have sold it to Auto Aviation School, Sydney. Consequently it will be necessary for them to use the aerodrome for a further period." Apparently the sale, if Stutt was right, fell through as the airframe, damaged after turning over, was returned to the Concord joinery where it was suspended from the rafters until 1935 when it was taken down and burnt. The engine also damaged in the last accident, was removed to Harold 'Curley' Eagle's house at Strathfield where it remained until it came to the attention of Harold's son Norman (nicknamed Bill) about 1972. The incomplete and damaged engine was rebuilt to running condition over a period of 12 years by Harold's son.
Sources: Hayes, Neville F., Billy Stutt and the Richmond Flyboys: The New South Wales State Aviation School 1915-1918 and beyond, (Pacific Downunder, Cowes, Victoria, 2008), p.287f.
Meggs, Keith R., Australian-built Aircraft and the Industry Vol. 1, Bk. 1, (Finger Four Publishing, Seymour, Victoria, 2009), p. 127f.