Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Charles K 'T-H' Turner-Hughes 1908-1973

Charles Turner-Hughes
Albemarle prototype
Whitley prototype

Known throughout the aircraft industry as "T-H," Charles Turner-Hughes had a very varied career.
Charles K Turner-Hughes was educated at Pangbourne Naval College taking a short-service commission in the R.A.F., he learnt to fly at No. 5 Flying Training School on Avro 504 KS and Sopwith Snipes. The Snipe was the last aircraft to go into service with a rotary engine. On qualifying for his wings, he was posted to the famous No. 56 Squadron,here he flew Gloster Grebes and later Siskin.This was his first introduction to the Siddeley Group aircraft, and the Siskin was the earliest all-metal fighter to go into service with the R.A.F. His next move, in 1930 was to No. 24 (Communications) Squadron (which can be considered as the beginnings of Transport Command) where he flew such exciting types as Moths, IIIFs and Wapitis.

When the late Ramsay Macdonald, then Prime Minister, was flown by No. 24 Squadron to visit Hindenburg in Berlin, he wore a seat-type parachute over a Sidcot suit and sat in the open cockpit of a Wapiti. Things are different for V.I.P.s to-day. Turner-Hughes did not pilot the Premier, but flew his personal assistant. In 1931, when his commission came to an end, he came out of the Service and joined Caribbean Airways in Jamaica. This airline company had a Moth, a Fairchild on floats, and a Vickers H-boat. This latter was very like the Walrus, but had an American 400 h.p. Liberty engine which was a remnant left over from the 1914-18 war. After six months of this work he returned to England and joined the Cobham air circus. This travelling air display and joy-riding concern was the biggest of its kind in the world. Charles stayed with it for two seasons. His share of the show was aerobatic and low inverted flying on a Tiger Moth. For six shows a day, Sundays included, he was paid £25 per week. This was later increased to £30.
Having had a sufficiency of barnstorming, Turner-Hughes then turned to more serious flying, becoming No. 2 test pilot to Campbell-Orde at Armstrong Whitworths, and in 1936 became chief test pilot. This post he held for ten years until he gave it up in 1946.
His first prototype was the A.W.Scimitar, a single-seat fighter, and all A.W types from then which were the Whitley,Ensign,Albermarle and 52-G flying wing glider. His flying hours exceeded 6,800 on over 160 different types.