Roy Chadwick

.Name:                        Roy Chadwick CBE, FRSA, FRAes – 1893 to 1947

Achievements:           Chief Designer A.V.Roe & Company (AVRO)

roychadwick01Roy Chadwick has a pub named after him on Flixton Rd in Urmston, he was a famous aircraft designer, who was educated in Urmston. (he attended St Luke’s church school in Weaste, and then St Clements Church School in Urmston, Lancashire. ) nd lived there for a significant part of his life. The pub is a relatively new addition to the Urmston scene: a conversion from shops, it was opened in 2005.

Roy Chadwick was born on 30th April 1893 at Marsh Hall Farm, Farnworth, at a time when man’s desire to fly was still a dream. He attended St Clements Church School in Urmston between 1900 and 1907 and lived at 30 Grosvenor Road before moving to 17 Westbourne Road where he stayed until 1914.
By the time of the Wright Brothers’ epic flight in 1903, Roy was already building and flying models of his own design and it was a dream come true when he joined A.V. Roe & Company in 1911. Alliott Verdon Roe himself interviewed the youngster, and was so impressed that he employed him immediately at a salary of One Pound per week.

Roy quickly became Personal Assistant to ‘A.V.’ before eventually being made Chief Designer in 1919 at the age of 26. He was considered by many to be one of the world’s great aircraft designers with a stable of aircraft types to his name: Avro 504, Baby. Avian, Tutor, Anson, Lancaster, Lincoln, Tudor, York, Shackleton and even the original design for the Avro 698 which became the Vulcan.

Roy Chadwick was always one step ahead with his thinking and planning of new designs, and early in the development of the jet engine he spoke of a turbo-prop version, which then was still a long way off. Chadwick’s early sketches of a delta wing design are now well known, and they formed the basis of a shape which eventually became the Avro Vulcan.

At age 18 in September 1911, he began work as Alliott Verdon-Roe’s (later Sir Alliott) personal assistant and the firm’s draughtsman at A.V. Roe and Company based at Brownsfield Mill, Manchester. Under the direction of A.V. Roe, Chadwick drafted the Avro D, a two-seater tractor biplane, the Avro E, which was converted to a floatplane, and in 1912, the Avro F, the world’s first monoplane and cabin machine. He then worked on the draughtsmanship for the Avro 500501 and 503, which led to Avro’s World War I light bomber and trainer, the Avro 504. In 1915 at age 22, Chadwick designed the Avro Pike, a twin-engined pusher biplane bomber. That year, when starting to design entire aircraft, he was based at Hamble, near Southampton. In 1918 he designed the Avro Baby and in 1920, the Avro Aldershot, the world’s largest single-engined bomber and variants of the Aldershot, the Avro Ava and the Avro Andover. In 1925 he designed an all-metal plane, the single-seater fighter Avro Avenger and in 1926, the Avro Avian. In 1928, he moved back to the Avro factory in Woodford, Greater Manchester, used today by BAE Systems. That year, he designed an eight-passenger high wing plane, the Avro 10 and a 4-passenger version, the Avro 4. In 1929, he designed the RAF trainer, the Avro Tutor, a smaller version, the Avro Cadet and an enclosed version, the Avro Commodore. This was followed by the Avro Anson, used in World War II for training crews and as transport aircraft. The number of aircraft designed, or having design input from Roy Chadwick is too much to list here. Further information can be found by researching Roy Chadwick on the internet.

In the late 1930s work began on a twin engined long-range bomber, the Avro Manchester which proved unsuccessful because of the unreliability of its two Rolls-Royce Vulture 24-cylinder X-block engines.  This resulted in the aircraft being re-engined with four Rolls-Royce Merlin  V-12 engines and renamed the the Avro Lancaster with great success.

7,300 Lancasters were built in total. Production of Avro aircraft in 1939 having been moved to a new factory at Greengate in south Chadderton, which until rwecently was owned by BAE Systems. In 1941, he designed a long-range transport, the Avro York and larger variants of the Lancaster, the Avro Lincoln and the Avro Lancastrian.

The above portrait of Chadwick with an Avro Lancaster and the Avro logo is displayed in the Renold Building at the University of Manchester and the picture below shows him in the cockpit of a Lancaster.roychadwick02

After the war, he designed Britain’s first pressurised airliner, the Avro Tudor, based around the Lancaster-derivative Avro Lincoln, though few were built and also the Avro Shackleton in 1946. His final involvement with Avro was overseeing the initial designs of the Vulcan from 1946. Sadly, Roy Chadwick died on Saturday 23rd August 1947  in a crash during the takeoff of the prototype Avro Tudor 2 G-AGSU from Woodford Aerodrome. in what should have been a normal flight over the Lake District The accident was due to an error in an overnight servicing in which the aileron cables were inadvertently crossed.

The aviation world had lost a wealth of irreplaceable experience with this crash, and Chadwick’s death at the age of 54 cut short a career, which could have produced even greater designs. He had been awarded the CBE in 1943 for his special modification to the Lancaster design for the famous Dams Raid, and many feel that had he lived, he would have been knighted.

. “Architect of Wings” by Harald Penrose includes a tribute from Marshall of the Royal Air Force Sir Arthur Harris, the famous wartime chief of Bomber Command. It had been taken from a letter written to Chadwick’s daughter Margaret and read, “Your father never received a tithe of the recognition and honours due from the nation for his services. The Lancaster took the major part in winning the war with its attacks on Germany. On land it forced the Germans to retrieve from their armies half their sorely needed anti-tank guns for use as anti-aircraft guns by over a million soldiers who would otherwise have been serving in the field. The Lancaster won the naval war by destroying over one-third of the German submarines in their ports, together with hundreds of small naval craft and six of their largest warships. Above all, the Lancaster won the air war by taking the major part in forcing Germany to concentrate on building and using fighters to defend the Fatherland, thereby depriving their armies of essential air and particularly bomber support. But the Lancaster was Roy Chadwick, and it was he who did all that for his country.”


By:      Michael Bennett – December 2016

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