The Spartan Story

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<p>THESPARByChetPeekWithGeorgeGoodheadSTORYThe Spartan StoryByChesterL. PeekWith George GoodheadPublished by:Three Peaks PublishingNorman, OKCopyr.ight, 1994, Chester L. PeekFirst Edition, Second PrintingPrinted in the United States of AmericaISBN 0-943691-16-8Other books by this AuthorTheTaylorcraft StoryResurrection of a JennyThe First CubFlyingWith40 HorsesContentsAcknowledgements vPrologue viiChapter OneThe First Spartan, (1926-1927) 1Chapter TwoSkelly Takes Over, (1928) 11Chapter ThreeThe Spartan Biplanes, (1928-1932) 23Chapter FourThe Spartan Monoplanes, (1929-1932) 41Chapter FiveThe Spartan School ofAeronautics, (1928-1938) 57Chapter SixThe Spartan Executive, (1935-1941) 75Chapter SevenThe Army Air Corps Arrives, (1939-1944) 93Chapter EightThe British Are Coming, (1941-1945) 105Chapter NineThe Spartan Warbirds 119Chapter TenWar Comes to Spartan, (1941-1946) 131EpiloguePostwar, (1946) 147vAcknowledgementsThis book has beenlong abuilding. Some forty years ago, GeorgeGoodhead, aearly Spartan Student, began collectingfactory photos, drawings and documents from thecompany archives. Therestoration of two Spartan planes, the Model12 and aC-2-60,addedfurther to his Spartan information. I was contacted in late 1992 and agreed to writeThe Spartan Story, using as a startingpoint the volumes ofmaterialfaithfully collected byGeorge. Because ofhis considerable contributions to the book throughout its gestation, Iam proud to name him as co-author.As the research went forward, many other individuals and organizations lent theirassistance. Former employees such as Randy Brooks, RexMadera andB. B. Broome gener-ously opened their personal files to me. Dick Smith, who was a student during the"DirtyThirties", sent photos and reminiscences of that difficult era. Neighbor andfriend ''Pete''Howard, a youngflying cadet at Spartan in 1941, gave a personal insight into that roman-tic period. Mary Jones shared an hour-long taped interview given by Jess Green, contain-ing interesting anecdotes ofSpartans's early years. Anotherfriend, Kent Faith, furnishedme with reams ofmaterials he had collectedfor a school writing project, including copiesof the"Spartan News "from 1941 through 1945. Tulsa Historian, Beryl Ford, opened hisvast archives of Tulsalore, many of thephotos and newspaper articlescame fromhiscollection.An internationalflavor was gainedwhen the Miami, OK, Dobson Museum allowedme to peruse their extensive collection ofmaterial on the #3 BritishFlying Training School,which operated there from1941 to 1945. Through them I was able to contact the schoolsveteran's association, and a number of British pilots generously sent stories and photosdescribing their training in Oklahoma.Oklahoma City's Air-Space Museum opened their historical library to me, and myever-helpful neighbor, HaroldMaloy, lent 1920-1930's periodicalsfromhis extensive col-lection. Vernon Foltz, Director ofthe Spartan Alumni Association, copiedoldmanuals andnews articles fromtheir files. Twobooks werevaluablein gaining background materialconcerning two main Spartan characters. Bill Skelly is well described in Ironside's book,"An Adventure Called Skelly", andMiller's book, "The House of Getty", gives a thoroughreview ofJ. Paul Getty's career.My family has been most supportive. Wife Marian accompanied me on the manytrips to Tulsa andMiami,searchingfor and copying documents. Andshe did not complainduringthehundreds of hours I spent, intenseand uncommunicative, hunched overmyoffice computer. Son Stan took valuable timefrom a busy lawpractice to guide me throughthe intricacies of WordPerfect and PageMaker.To all the above I extend my sincere thanks.Chester L. PeekNorman, Oklahoma, 1994Prologue(October 25, 1926)Prologue viiWillis Brown and Waldo Emery with the First Spartan.JUPlNERWillis Brown was elated! Thebig biplane he was flying handled like a dream. It felt solidand steady; eventhequestionable"SuperRhone" imported motor wassounding smoothandpowerful. As he leaned over the padded leather cockpit coaming of this newplane, he could seetheTulsaskylinespreadingtothesouthwest. Directlybelow wastheMcIntyreairport fromwhich he had taken offmoments before. An interested and anxious crowd could be seen gazingup at the circling plane.Theonlookersincluded Paul Meng, OK. Longrenand WaldoEmery, co-designersandbuilders ofthis new machine, dubbed "The Spartan C-3". The future ofthis endeavor, and muchoftheir own careers, could depend on the results ofthis test flight.After trying a fewstalls and tightturns, Browncut thethrottleand began along circulardescent. Theplanewasheadingintotheprevailing southwest wind asit floatedovertheboundary fence and settledeasily onto the dry Oklahoma prairie of the airfield Taxiing up tothe hangar line, past a couple of Curtiss Jennys, the plane stopped in front of the small groupofspectators. A cheer went up as Brown waved a"thumbs up" sign, steppedfromthe cockpit,andjumped to the ground."The Spartan Story" had begun!The First Spartan 1Chapter OneThe First Spartan(1926-1927)Thefirst Spartan C-3 with"Super Rhone" Engine. BERYL FORO COUECI10NThefirst Spartanplanewasdesignedandbuiltthroughthe efforts of a trueaviationpioneer, WillisC. Brown. Born January17, 1896, in Brooklyn, NewYork, Brown was only13years old whenhehad hisfirst aviationencounter. EncouragedbyBleriot'sflight over the English Channel that summer, Browndesigned and built a primary glider in spaceborrowed fromalocal wagonshop. Hisfatherwassomewhat fearful of thisenterprise, but his motherproved sympathetic, even helping himpurchasenecessarymaterialssuchas pianowire, fabricandbaby carriage wheels.Whenfinished, the 150poundcontraptionwashauled to EastonParkway, whereit wasplaced on aknoll for takeoff. Ropes were fastened to theundercarriageandheldbyeager schoolmates whoweretoassist inthelaunching. Franticrunning bythe crew, and a fortunate gust of wind lifted the gliderandBrownintotheair, but disaster struckalmostimmediately. As he saileddown the hill, at analtitude of 10 to15 feet, a talltelegraph pole loomedahead. Unabletoavoidthisobstacle, Brownendedup at the foot of the pole surrounded by the wreckageof his first aircraft. Fortunatelyhewasunhurt, andhis ardor for aviation was undampened.Realizing the limitation of a glider, Brown beganto designa poweredplane, a biplane along thelinesof the Curtiss pushers. In the summer of 1911, whileonvacationwithhisfanlilyat Sebago Lake, Maine,he built the wings and tail groupfor the plane,continuingworkthat fall in the basement of hishome. A friendlymachineshopproprietor allowedhimtousehisfacilities intheevening afterhehadfinishedhis classesat thePratt Institute. A junkdealer soldhimaMitchell autoengine, whichheadaptedtohisneeds. Hismothercontinuedtohelpfinancethemodest costs of theproject; othermoneywas earnedbysuch jobsasturningonandoff the2 The Spartan StoryThe First Spartan 3The hangars at McIntyre AirpOf1where thefirsl Spartan was assembled.FORDthe successful testing ofthe prototype wouldattract well-heeledinvestors fromthe oil-rich Tulsa businesscommunity.When viewingphotos of this first planeit appears tobeofthetypical biplane design,two passengers in thefront cockpit, the pilotinthe rear. However,instead of the surplusCurtiss OX-5 motorusedbymost planesoftheday, theSpartanispowered by a clean-FORD looking radial. Andwhere most biplaneshaveacertainamount of "stagger"(i.e. thelowerwmgIS set somewhat totherear of theupper), bothwmgs on the Spartan are exactly one above the other.Structurally, the plane had been designed to meetall requirementsof the"Class 1"planesasset forthby the new Aeronautics Branch of the Department ofCommerce. This meant that a complete stressMcIntyrejIying a Standard J-I.new association with the Tulsa firm a realopportunity.Astheplaneneared completion, operations weretransferred to the McIntyreAirport onthe NortheastSideof thecity, wheretwolarge hangarshadbeenrented. Therethefirst planewas assembledandreadied for its inital flight. All those involved hopedWillisC. Brownbiplane of Brown's design in early 1926. Progress wasslow at first; theyhadlimited financing, andhad toset upa complete factoryfrom"scratch". To addatoneof legitimacytotheenterprise, theychosethename of "Mid-Continent Aircraft Company" andcalled the plane the "Spartan". The suffix C-3indicated it wasa commercial plane witha capacityof three persons.Late in the summer, A. K. Longren, anexperienced production man from Kansas, was hiredtoset uptheconstruction. As wasBrown, AlbinKasper Longren had been a true aviation pioneer. Inearly 1911, Longren and his brother, already veteransof themidwest racing-carcircuits, begantobuild aplane of their owndesignontheir farmsevenmilessoutheast ofTopeka, Kansas. Using the typical"pusher" design ofthe day, a 60HP motor wasmounted behind the pilot between the biplane wings.Longren,then 29, first flew this plane on September2, 1911. The brothers continued building and flyingexhibitionplanes until 1919, whentheymovedtoTopekaand startedtheLongrenAircraftCompany.After buildingmore than 20planes, thebusinessfailed, goingbankrupt in 1923. Heconsideredthisstreet lampsfor theBrooklynEdisonIlluminatingCompany.By the sununer of 1912, the craft was finished andready for test. The plane was hauled to the BrightonBeachRaceTrack, where, at age 16, WillisBrownwas determined to fly his first power-driven machine.After several experimental groundruns, theplanelifted off, and flew ataheightof 10 to15 feet foradistance of over 200 yards.Thefollowingyear, Brownspent his sparetimeflying his plane;continuing his studies of the theoryandpracticeof aerodynamicsat thePrattInstitute.He graduated in 1914. Later that year, havingaccepted ajob with the Foxboro Company to test andinstall aeronautical instruments, he sold hisplane toanotheraviator, whousedit forexhibition flyinginthe midwest for a number of years.WorldWarI startedshortlyafterBrownbeganworkfor theFoxboroCompany, andhisworktookhim to the various aircraft manufacturers of the time,installing the crude flight instruments then available.In1917, when the United States entered the conflict,Brown joined theservice, graduating fromthe U. S.ArmySchool ofAeronauticsat Cornell University.He saw active duty atGershner Field, Lake Charles,Louisiana, and forsome yearsheld a conunission aspilot in the reserves.While inthe service hemet another pilot, WaldoD. Emory, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who was alsointerestedindesigningandbuildingplanes. Forseveral yearsafter leavingtheservice, neither manwas able to find work in aviation. Brown went backtosellingcontrolsandinstrumentsfor theFoxboroCompany throughout themidwest; Emory set upanoil field instrumentationbusiness inTulsa. Thebusinessprospered, theentireoil and gas industrywas going through a huge expansion, and new, morescientifictechnologieswerebeingusedfor thefirsttime.In the natural course of their businessassociations, Brownand Emory began to discuss thepossibilityof buildinga "newproduction" planedesignedtoreplacetheaging JennysandStandardsthen being flown. Other aviation pioneers hadsimilar ideas. Stearman, BeechandCessnawerebuilding the first Travel Airs up inWichita,WeaverandBrukner were buildingtheir Wacos inTroy,Ohio, and Matty Laird had designed his LairdCommercial in Chicago.Using space available in Emory's instrumentshop, a former mattress factory at 915 NorthWheelingAve., thetwopartnersbegantobuilda4 The Spartan StoryThe First Spartan 5of stalicstabili y incorporated makes Ihe ship afeagainstover-controlllllgand auses the airplane toseek it normalair speedat anylime thecontrolsare released neverthelesthe SPARTAI have the utmot inand can be flown JUt bythe pressureofthe fingers. Firehazard has been eliminated. Th gasoline tank is out,ideof tbe bodystructure. Overflowing of Ihe lank or leakagef,om any cause IS thus prevenled from draining into Ibe(uselage.SPARTAN C-3GENERALIbC-3 airplane is a tractor type bipla"e,a' slllge ay. of struls. The wings are of semi-thIck sectIon embodYlllg great rigidity Ah' h d 't' b T . . 'g egree 0k. I Itf IS producedbyIheapplicationofa thoroug';. nowe ge 0 aero-dynamIClaws. The balance and slabil-,tv are constant, whether the ship is flown with or wilhoutuseful load (I.e. fuel or passengers I Th h' df(et nose.heavy or tail h 'b'. e Ip oes notfl' I I. I - eavy at t le eglllnlnf( or ending ofIt;! 11. W Jere tlefuel isconslantly beingused Th d . e egree</p> <p>A I R P LANincommonwithall othervehiclesfor thetran portationof as-ofef.of .necessity be divided into several distinct eI TYPE C-3' has be CI IcaO' y deIgned . for the purpose intended. The SPARTAfor a itot and te deIbned and bUilt to .provide afety andrapidtransportation"_' Lhing ,P b dWOsengers or LhelreqUlvalenLinarticlesofcommerce Every-, la een one III both de .0'd' .abilitv to perform arduous takSl nan CIon tructlOnof thee hips toinsure their. 5 con tant y and con. t tl . h h ..amount of mallltenance Th d . k' I en y WIt t e mlllimum. e eIgners wor 1110' to pe T t' If f .est degreeofcommercial uLilitydecided t 0, h CI IcaIOn ca mg or a slup having the high-. . a oncetlat t e shIpsho Idh . . .non- pmnlllg characteristics. Thorou h dem' u avepoIllveno.n.stallmgandLhat th PARTAT C-3asbu'lt bdgh on LratlOnshaveprovenbeyondaquestIOnof adoubtI em0 les LeepomL It h h d f' ..sponsetothe slightet wi hof th'l k' . S Jg egree0 staUcstabIlItyanditsre-ePlOt rna e Itaplea f b h h . ismostimportant safety forall. It i C . e met materialsprocurableonthemark d' 0 sayownoneof theseships, andthoroughl ati fied areuse exclUSIvely. Youwill beproudtoridinginperfect afety. y t eknowledgethaLyouandyour pa engersare... '.:.....'. ....'. ,'.'. .... . '. '::'l'hoto 1' L. MllI{'rThewingstructureconsistedof boxtypesparssupportingWarrentruss ribsmadeof sprucestripsandbirchplywoodgussets. All wingcompressionribs wereofthebox type, designedtotake bothcompressionandtorsionloads. Wing fittingsweremade of Army specification steel.The controlsurfaces were of similar constructionto the wings; box type beams with plywood sides, andribsof Warrentrussconstruction. Thehighaspectratio of the control surfaces proved unusuallyeffective in flight. All maneuvers could be made withverylight control pressures. Elevatorsandrudderwere activated by steel control cables. Ailerons wereinstalledonboththe upper andlower wings andcontrolled by a combination of "T"crank and cables,eliminatingpulleysandbalancewires. Interplanestruts were of streamline steel tubing, bracedbystreamline steel tie rods.The landinggear ofthis prototypewas of theNewIdeal PlaneWhich Was Flown SundayAnd the Men WhoMade It aSuccessanalysishad beenmade forall parts, using the loadfactors designated. The plane, when it final1yreceivedits ApprovedType Certificate, wouldbeeligible for use in interstate commerce.Mediumcarbon1020steel, Armyspecification,was used for the fuselage construction. The structureutilized a modified Warren truss, being rigidlybracedwithsteel tubing, nowires or turnbucklesbeing employed. All tubing was flushedinside withboile...</p>