Paul's Space - A place for Paul's writing
A Startrek story, originally from the Baker Street Chronicles Volume 4 (1983). With apologies to Mr Roddenberry.
Excerpt on the flying of Sopwith Camels by Victor Yeates from his brilliant, harrowing semi-autobiographical novel, "Winged Victory", 1932. Camels were rotary-engined scouts, in which the engine itself was bolted to the propeller and the crankshaft to the airframe of the plane - the opposite of any sane practice. The immense torque of the spinning engine, a quarter the weight of the whole plane, made the machine violently unstable, tending to flip it over in the opposite direction. Changing the engine revs even a little altered its flying equilibrium, and had to be compensated for by the pilot. On turns the nose either dipped or rose sharply, depending on whether the turn was with the engine-spin or against it. Turns to the right were lightning-fast, while to the left the machine had to be dragged round.
To get an idea of how this works, try holding a bicycle wheel by only one end of the axle. Spin it up a bit, still hanging with only one hand, then try to turn it through 90 degrees. The wheel tries to take off all by itself in a completely different direction. This is the effect, from an engine weighing 300 lbs, spinning at up to 1000 rpm, that made the Camel so maneuverable, so dangerous in the hands of experienced pilots, and so deadly to novices.