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The Hawker Hart was one of the most significant RAF aircraft of the early 1930s. It had been designed to satisfy Air Ministry specification 12.26, which called for a light day bomber capable of reaching 160mph. The resulting aircraft had a top speed of 184mph, and could outpace every RAF fighter in service when it first appeared, including the Bristol Bulldog II, which had a top speed of 178mph.
The key to the success of the Hawker Hart was the Rolls Royce F.XIB inline engine (better known as the Kestrel). This engine combined a very small frontage with what at the time was an impressive 525 hp (the Bristol Jupiter used in the Bulldog II provided 490hp). This engine allowed Sydney Camm at Hawker to produce a sleekly streamlined aircraft, with a distinctive pointed nose seen in six of the seven aircraft in the Hart family.
The prototype Hart first flew in June 1928. At this date the fastest fighter in RAF service was the Gloster Gamecock, which could only reach 153 mph. Even the upcoming Bulldog would be slower than this new bomber. The new bomber entered squadron service in January 1930 with No.33 Squadron, and immediately presented the RAF with a serious problem. In the 1931 annual air exercises the only aircraft capable of intercepting the Hawker Hart was another Hawker Hart.
The appearance of the Hart made the RAF realise that it urgently needed faster fighter aircraft. In the short term this helped speed up development of the Hawker Fury, the first RAF fighter to reach 200mph. In the long term the developments that began in the early 1930s would lead to the first generation of monoplane fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire.
The Hart itself remained in front line service with the RAF for most of the 1930s. However, by 1938 it had been withdrawn from front line service in Britain. A number of Harts remained in use in the Middle East in 1939, seeing limited active service in 1940, before being replaced by more modern aircraft that were themselves being replaced in Britain, such as the Bristol Blenheim I. The Hart remained in use with the South African Air Force as late as 1943, performing communication duties. By the time production ended over 1,000 Harts had been produced.
The basic design of the Hart proved to be remarkably adaptable. During the 1930s Hawker produced six more aircraft based on the Hart. 1931 saw the appearance of the Hawker Demon, a two seat fighter based on the Hart. The Audax (1932), Hardy (1935) and Hector (1937) were army co-operation aircraft. The Osprey (1932) was a naval spotter and reconnaissance aircraft produced for the Fleet Air Arm. The Hart itself was replaced by the Hind (1935-6), distinguished mainly by its more powerful engine.
Engine: Rolls-Royce Kestrel IB or X
Horsepower: 525 or 510
Max Speed: 184mph at 5,000ft
Ceiling: 21,350 ft
Range: 470 miles
Span: 37ft 3in
Length: 29ft 4in
Armament: Two 0.303in machine guns, one forward firing and one in aft cockpit.
Bomb load: 520lb
Hawker Hart - History
Fundamentally, the Fury was a relatively small, single seat biplane fighter with an airframe incorporating a newly advance design of tubular steel and aluminum for the fuselage and dumb-bell wing spars, which would remain features of all Hawker aircraft well into WWII. 8 Unlike the Hart there was no wing sweepback and ailerons were installed only on the top plane. All versions had a span of thirty feet, while Kestrel variants were 26 feet 8 inches long, with radial engine variants being slightly shorter. Standard armament was installed, comprising of twin Vickers .303 inch guns, with 600 rounds per gun.
Performance varied with the powerplant installed, with Kestrel powered variants exceeding the 200 mph mark, while some of the lower powered radial engine types were slightly slower. It was the last classic liquid-cooled engine fighter biplane in the RAF and subsequent replacements including the Gloster Gauntlet and Gloster Gladiator. Only 118 Furies were produced for the RAF, but approximately thirty-two were exported.
|The High Speed Fury with Kestrel VI S engine, tapered wing and vee interplane struts.|
| British variants included the Fury I, the Fury II, the Intermediate Fury and the High Speed Fury. The Intermediate Fury, registered as G-ABSE, was used as a testbed to meet Specification F.7/30, 9 and led the development of the P.V.3. The Intermediate Fury was first quipped with a Kestrel IIS engine, wheel pants and Messier oleo struts. By the end of 1932, a Kestrel IVS was installed in order to test the supercharger for the Goshawk engine. Other engine installations tested were a Kestrel VI in October 1933, a Goshawk III in May 1935 and Kestrel Special (upgraded Kestrel VI) in August 1935. The High Speed Fury, which featured tapered wings, modified "V" struts, also tested a variety of engines. Engine installations were a 525 hp Kestrel IIS, a 600 hp Kestrel S (Special), a 525 hp Kestrel IIIS, a 600 hp Kestrel VIS, a 695 hp Goshawk III and a Goshawk B.41. 10|
Perhaps the more interesting Furies were the export versions. Standard production Furies were exported to Yugoslavia, Norway, Persia, Spain and Portugal. In addition, some ex-RAF aircraft went to South Africa, where they were used against the Italians during World War II. Yugoslavia produced about 40 modified Furies with cantilever landing gear and more powerful engine, and some of these wound up with the Spanish Republicans, and when the war was over, the Franco government. Some ex-Yugoslav Furies were used by the Italians as fighter trainers with mixed markings. The Persian Furies had Pratt & Whitney Hornet radials, but these were later replaced by Bristol Mercury engines for added performance. So favored were the Persian Mercuries by their pilots, they were flown as late as 1943. The only Norwegian Fury, No. 401, used an Armstrong Siddeley Panther IIIA radial engine, however the results proved disappointing as the engine installation moved the c.g. forward resulting in a tendency of the airplane to nose over during taxiing. The Persian Hornet variants, installed with a metal Hamilton 3-blade propeller, also exhibited the same c.g. problems. 11
Three Spanish Furies with Hispano-Suiza 12XBrs engines were ordered in 1935 and first flown in April 1936. They arrived in Spain July 11,1936 just one week before the start of the Spanish Civil War. Two (4-1, 4-2) were flown by Republican forces and one (4-3) was flown by the Nationalists. At least one of the aircraft changed hands several times, 4-3 being used as a dive bomber until it was destroyed in 1938. 12
Notwithstanding the low production figures, the Fury I will always be considered a classic fighter biplane.
|Wing span:||30 ft (9.14 m)|
|Length:||26 ft 8 in (8.12 m)|
|Height:||10 ft 2 in. (3.09 m)|
|Wing Area:||252 sq. ft. (76.80 sq. m)|
|Empty:||2,623 lb. (1,189 kg)|
|Max Gross:||3,490 lb (1,583 kg)|
|Max Speed:||207 mph (333 km/h) at 14,000 ft (4,267 m)|
|Climb Rate:||4 min. 25 sec. to 10,000 ft. (3,048 m)|
|Ceiling:||28,000 ft. (8,534 m)|
|Normal Range:||305 miles (490 km)|
|Rolls Royce Kestrel IIS , 525 hp (391 kW) for TO, 12 cyl., vee, |
liquid cooled engine, driving a 2 blade, Watts wooden propeller.
|Standard upper front fuselage 0.303 in. Vickers machine-guns |
with 600 rounds per gun.
|1. Herschel Smith. The History of Aircraft Piston Engines. Manhattan, Kansas Sunflower University Press, 1986. 75. |
2. Wikopedia. Rolls-Royce Kestrel
3. Francis K. Mason. Hawker Aircraft Since 1920. Annapolis, Maryland Naval Institute Press., 1991. 196.
4. Francis K. Mason. Aircraft In Profile. The Hawker Fury. Surrey, England Profile Publications Ltd., 1965. 4.
5. Ibid. 3.
6. Mason. 192.
7. Kenneth Munson. Fighters Between the Wars, 1919-39. New York, The Macmillan Company, 1960. 124.
8. Paul Gallico. The Hurricane Story. Garden City, NY Doubleday & Company, 1960. 19,26.
9. Mason. 200.
10. Ibid. 202.
11. Ibid. 199.
11. Ibid. 207.
|1. Michael J.H. Taylor and John W.R. Taylor, ed. Encyclopedia of Aircraft. New York G.P. Putnam's Sons., 1978. 119,121. |
2. Iain Parsons, ed. The Encyclopedia of Air Warfare. New York Thomas Y. Crowell Company., 1975. 52.
3. Michael J.H. Taylor, ed. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. New York Crescent Books., 1989. 485-486.
4. Michael Sharpe. Biplanes, Triplanes and Seaplanes. New York Barnes & Noble Inc., 2000. 221-232.
5. Jean Alexander, Chaz Bowyer, Roger Freeman, Bill Gunston, A.J. Jackson, Bruce Robertson, & Rodney Steel, ed. Encyclopedia of Aircraft. New York Charles Scribner's Sons., 1977. 80.
©Larry Dwyer The Aviation History On-Line Museum. All rights reserved.
Created February 25, 2007. Updated November 9, 2014.
Hawker Hart - History
The last surviving Hawker Hartbees on display at the Museum of Military History, Saxonwold, Johannesburg.
SAAF 804, the last of the four aircraft built by Hawker Aircraft, photographed at Brooklands.
Hawker Hart - History
Oh, Happy Days . Not six months after I reviewed Mushroom's Fury-Nimrod book and wished for one on the Silver Winged two-seaters, here it is . I wish I could claim some credit for providing inspiration, but I know better.
And it really isn't just "here it is" -- it's "here it is in spades" . Because this is the first of Mushroom's new "Orange Maxi" series, with an expanded number of pages to cover types that cannot be covered in the standard format.
The Hart was designed to a 1926 specification for a light bomber and went into squadron service in 1930, promptly out-running the current day fighter, the Bristol Bulldog. Thus it slightly pre-dates its' single-seat cousin, the Hawker Fury.
The Hart was so successful it was developed into roles for 2-seat fighter, army co-op aircraft, target-tug, trainer, and naval equivalents. The Hart family includes the Hart itself, Demon, Osprey, Audax, Hardy, Hind, Hector, and Hartebeest, not to mention variations for different countries. Mostly all were the sleek inline engine version, the exception being the ugly Hector and a few radial engine versions of which only the fully cowled Bristol-engine versions such as the 'Persian Hind' and 'Latvian Hind' do justice to the beautiful lines of the basic airframe.
All in all, the Hart family was used by all UK/Commonwealth air arms and some 15 other countries, in Europe and the Middle East and Far East, sometimes up to 20 years. Most of the combat was in the Middle East in the 30's and early 40's. But the Mushroom book can best tell that story.
The book is in standard Mushroom format, albeit as mentioned, much larger. I'll discuss it in several "sections", although the book isn't formally divided up that way.
The first section, 75 pages, covers the development and RAF/FAA service history, second-line duties, and in some cases, special versions or information of the Hart, Demon, Osprey, Audax, Hardy, Hind, and Hector. There is an extensive discussion of the construction of the Hart which of use to modelers. The section concludes with a brief look at the Hart family in the Abyssinian Crisis with Italy, skirmishes in the Middle East, and chasing pirates in the Far East.
The next section (pages 76-97) cover Commonwealth service in much the same manner. For each country there is a section on colors and markings that is very useful in conjunction with the color profiles at the end. Of note are the variations of brown and green in lieu of the usual dark earth / dark green one expects. Following this, on pages 98-107, we are off to war with emphasis on the Middle East and East Africa. And then (pages 110-146) all the variants in foreign service are discussed, again with color and marking info that goes well with the color profiles. Note a few of these flew against the RAF.
In the sections above, there are numerous 1/72 scale profile drawings and a few 4-views. There are no cutaways, cross-sections, or detail drawings. There is one subtle error in the top-view drawings (i.e. pages 14/15, 34/35) which show the fin offset to starboard. The text says (page 11), and all photos clearly show, that the fin is offset to port - not sure what happened to the drawings. More significant, in the 4-view of the Opsrey on page 34/35, the upper wing is clearly that of the Hart and has not the modified center section to allow the wings to fold.
Unfortunately, many of the above sections do not read that well. The sentences are short and choppy -- I had the feeling that research notes were literally transcribed rather than rewritten. A few well-placed connectives would have helped smooth out the text.
The other issue I had was the, to me, unnecessary and boring focus on crashes and accidents. OK, there isn't a lot of combat to talk about, but who crashed what when isn't a good substitute. In my opinion, there could have been more discussion of the role these aircraft and others played in the evolving doctrine and expansion of the RAF/FAA in the period. There's nothing wrong with some historic context and social history.
The next section (pages 147-152) has charts of production numbers, claims, and specifications.
Following all this, on pages 153-163, is a unique and very interesting section of period pilot's notes and of flying the Shuttleworth's Hind. This is priceless. There are some cynical comments on cockpit arrangement and management of the retractable radiator that really bring the aircraft to life.
Next, a one-page bibliography, which frankly simply doesn't do justice to the material available on either the aircraft or the RAF/FAA 'tween wars.
Next, on pages 165-172, is an extensive and informative discussion of surviving aircraft. This gives one hope that more restorations going to be on display, or even in flight.
- On page 7, bottom photo is id'd as J9933 when it is J9938.
- On page 9, the upper right insert is id'd as K2089, it is K1996.
- On page 55, aircraft are id'd as K5545 and K5513 - they are K4645 and K5513.
- On page 80/81, the last line on page 80 is repeated atop page 81.
- On pages 216/217 a couple photos and captions are mixed up.
- And add to these the drawing errors already mentioned.
This is a great book . I note the editing issues, the choppy text, the focus on crashes, and the fin offset to alert you -- they are insignificant compared the value of the other material in this book. As I noted the pilot's notes and the detail photos alone are worth the price, in my opinion. I have a fairly good collection of "Silver Wings" references -- none of them (except my original 1936 Air Ministry reprint of the 1932 Hart Aeroplane Manual) present this much info on the Hart. This is not another rehash of pictures and information available elsewhere -- you would spend a lot of time and money collecting it yourself.
If you are a fan of the Hart family, or of the 'Silver Wings' era, then you want this book. Regardless of what you already have, I believe this book will add to, not just duplicate, information in your collection.
I have a squadron of 1/72 and 1/48 Hart family kits (Aeroclub, Airfix, Merlin/Frog) in my stash, plus the West Wings wood/tissue, rubber-powered model -- time to get a couple of them out .
What made the Fairey Battle so ineffective?
It was a light bomber operating in contested airspace. Enough said.
It didn't have the firepower to defend from being attacked.
It didn't have the engine power to fly away from enemy fighters (especially when carrying bombs).
It was a light bomber so bombloads were poor.
It didn't dive bomb and it was 1939/40 so accuracy was poor.
It do sometimes feel that it could have seen useful operation service in North Africa through 41 and 42 as the airforces in theater was mainly second line but that was not done.
it was designed to fit in with the expected weight limitations of the Disarmament conference - the Wellington's was allowed to rise above it but just in case - the Fairey aircraft was kept to it. this meant that it had only a single engine, they may have been able to get away with that had a more powerful engine been available - it wasn't.
It meant that it didn't take much 'fire' whether from ground flak, or from enemy fighters to bring it down. Tactics - didn't help low level, OTOH easy to see you target, but OTOH they can see you, and your bomb load isn't enough to make a difference.
The Battle specification was designed as a replacement to the high performance day bomber the Hawker Hart. However, the P.27/32 specification had been a little muddied by the earlier B.9/32. Here is the whole tale as I understand it:
In the 1920's day bombers had been divided into high and medium performance types. At the end of the decade these were represented by the Hawker Hart and the Bolton and Paul Sidestrand, respectively. Both carried the same bomb load of 500 lbs at the same range but the Hart was much faster and lighter with one engine to the Sidestrand's two. The idea was that the high performance bomber would rely on its performance to protect it in the same vein as the DH4 of WW1 and the De Haviland Mosquito of WW2. The medium performance bomber would rely on greater defensive firepower.
Coming into the early 30's this got a little muddied. The CAS at the time, Maund, believed that the Hart platform was much superior to the Sidestrand (which it was) and that this invalidated the twin engine layout for a day bomber. Realizing that this comparison was somewhat unfair as the Hart was much more modern than the Sidestrand he instead insisted on seeing the B.9/32 specification (which was supposed to replace the aging Sidestrand as a medium performance day bomber) and the P.27/32 specification (which was supposed to replace the Hart as a high performance day bomber) as both being replacements for the Hart, thereby testing whether single or twin engines were better in an otherwise similar specification.
This caused problems for P.27/32. B.9/32 had specified 1 lb of bomb load per HP, and with twin 500 hp engines that basically meant 1000 lbs of bomb load. Since P.27/32 was meant to be a direct competitor with a single engine 1000 lbs was also added to it. Hugh Dowding (on the Air Council as Air Member for Supply and Research at the time) suggested that such a specification could be met by the proposed Rolls Royce Griffon developed from the Rolls Royce "R" Racing engine, though he was not really enthused with the specification as a whole, as he saw it simply duplicating B.9/32. By 1933 a new CAS and DCAS were in place who agreed with Dowding. They decided to extend the range asked for in P.27/32 to 720 miles from the original 600 and put out a new specification for a 600 mile range, 500 lb bomb load light bomber (This was the specification, with adjustements, won by the Hawker Henley). This and the heavier bomb load effectively made P.27/32 a single engine medium bomber.
This was not necessarily a crazy idea with the Geneva disarmament conference looking at banning large bombers, and the Battle could have been an OK aircraft had it been fitted with the Griffon engine as intended. However, the original Griffon did not appear, and the concept only really came back in the late 30's. The Battle was fitted with the Merlin, which left it underpowered. Unfortunately its time in service coincided with the government wanting to rearm. Rather than look at the actual bombing ability of their aircraft they set their sights on matching the Luftwaffe plane for plane. The Battle was a convenient way to do that on the cheap, so lots of them were ordered.
If you want to improve the Battle I see two obvious ways:
1. Avoid the confusion of adding 1000 lbs of bombs to the specification and go for an actual Hart replacement similar to what they would end up doing with P.4/34. This gets you a Hawker Henley or Fairey P.4/34 (the precursor to the Fulmar)instead of the Battle.
2. Have Rolls Royce develop the earlier Griffon concept and get it into the Battle. This would keep it from being underpowered.
The history of Hart’s Hill Inn begins as the Civil War ends, when the original building was erected as a private summer home in the style of a Southern plantation manor. One night in 1904 the house burned to the ground.. Undaunted, the owner immediately rebuilt it. It remained a dwelling place for various families until 1946, when it became the Plantation Restaurant. A year later it became nown as Hart’s Hill Inn.
It was in 1963, the year that Matt Lichorowic purchased this restaurant, that the history of this Inn converged with that of the Lichorowic family.
The Lichorowics’ have been an authority on restaurants and large functions since the early years of previous century. John L. Sr., Matt’s father owned five restaurants in his long career. His brother John L. Jr. with his family and Matt himself owned and thrived in over seven restaurants, retiring in 1997. With the new millennium, the Lichorowic family is now close to 100 years of experience as an innkeepers. Many of them as chefs, all as recognized hosts.
Today, Scott, his wife Barbara, and their son Daniel preside over a lovely, newly-renovated Inn which preserves the charm of an old American homestead, yet which is as new and modern as the charming Patio Lounge and Grand Ballroom. Plans are being made for still more accommodations in the near future.
The Founder – William H Hart
The Hart family first came to the Vineyard in the 1870s from the “Hardware Capital of the World” – New Britain Connecticut. The family patriarch – William H. Hart – was president of the Stanley Works. He was an inventive man, with many patents to his name, and is credited (at least within the family) with developing the first American cold rolling process for manufacturing steel.
In 1871, William Hart purchased five lots from the Land and Wharf Company in Oak Bluffs which he combined to provide an ample family compound. In 1873, he bought three more lots.
William and his wife Martha had five children – George, Howard, Edward, Maxwell, Walter and Martha. For more than 40 years the family summered in Oak Bluffs, but in 1911 William began buying up land to the south of Farm Pond, eventually acquiring property that extended all the way from the end of the Oak Bluffs seawall to the “bend in the road”. This was the beginning of a family settlement soon to be called Harthaven.
On September 17, 1914, a Vineyard Gazette reporter visited William and Martha Harts’ new home and published a gushing report. “There is a prospect that more new houses will be built in the new “Hart Settlement” off the Beach Road,” she wrote. “It was our privilege to be shown over the lovely estate and new summer residence of Mr. Wm. H. Hart one day last week. Here are all the latest modern improvements and conveniences. Electric bells and electric lights all over the house and on the spacious piazzas. The interior of the house is of hard wood, finished in natural color. Fine oriental rugs cover the floors and the furnishings and hangings are all in keeping. Mr. Hart has built a fine circular driveway made from the Beach Road up to and from his residence. This has been concreted. The house sets a long distance back from the road and is in the midst of groves of oaks and pines. …A fine view of the sound is seen from the house as well as the interior ponds upon which his land borders. …Mr. Hart has had broad roads cut through his land making a drive through the woods a great pleasure. There is no doubt but that this estate will be one of the beauty spots of the town in a few years.” The White House, as it is called by Harthavenites, is now owned by the Allen Moore family and still stands to the right of Beach Road as you drive along it from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown.
William H Hart laid out lots and formed a company – Hart Realty – to manage and sell them. The community filled out. Martha Hart married Ethelbert Allen Moore and their house was built side-by-side with those of Howard, Walter, Edward and George.
The Best Place to Grow Up
Life in the community was almost studiously informal – a place to escape the cares and the formalities of the mainland. “The older crowd seemed to exude a way of life that was abundant in humor and action,” remembers Stan Hart, “and a style that flowed from a Yankee heritage. Another Yankee, Ralph Waldo Emerson, cautioned his fellow Americans – those who were borrowing their customs, morals and lifestyles from England and other European countries – when he wrote: “Insist on yourself, never imitate.” I think of the older crowd that way. I doubt that they consciously imitated anything. They were as natural as an August nor’easter or the herring run that fed through Harthaven into Farm Pond in Oak Bluffs.”
“The first thing we would do when we got to our Harthaven house,” Howard (Howdy) Eddy recalls, “was get our bathing suits on, run down our driveway in bare feet, across the Young’s land and into the Sound. Delicious! Harthaven was the best darned place to grow up!”
Virginia Hart Low
Val C. Hart
Phronsie Vibberts Conlin
Early on, the community centered around the harbor where many residents kept their boats. Howard Hart is remembered for his speed boat – called Wildcat – which he docked in Harthaven. “Great Uncle Howard Hart, always known to us as Jim, had a succession of boats,” Pete Hart remembers. “One of the most memorable was the wildcat, a high-speed boat. He loved taking us out on it. He also had an enormous catboat and he would take us kids out for “a ginger ale and gram crackers” sail. And then there was his enormous Pierce Arrow, into which he would cram up to 17 kids for an excursion to Edgartown for an ice cream party.”
“A legend grew up around Jim,” John Moore recalls. “Apparently, during Prohibition, as he was returning to Hart’s Harbor, he was hailed by the Coast Guard as a suspected rumrunner. Instead of heaving to, he gunned his powerful two-engined speedboat, the Wildcat, and headed for the harbor at full speed. The Coast Guard cutter tried to follow him but they didn’t know the tricky channel to the old opening… and ran fast aground in the shallows near the beach.”
Jim is also remembered for his sailing lessons. “Jim, our great uncle Howard Hart, bought a number (six, I think) of two man sailing dinghies,” Bung Young remembered, “and had us racing several days a week, sometimes in Farm Pond, sometimes in Nantucket Sound. They were essentially rowboats that he had fitted with a centerboard, a mast and some kind of a rag for a sail. When we were off Buoy Beach, he would have seamanship races that required the crew to wait for the starting gun before swimming out to their boats, weighing anchor and raising sail and heading for Harthaven harbor without colliding with a fellow contestant.”
“I was always a little afraid of participating in the races and I never really wanted to win,” recalls Lucy Hart (Bideau) Abbot. “Howdy Eddy was probably the best sailor, and he was always kind to me. Phronsie Vibberts and I were about the only girls participating in these races. I did like to sail by myself, but I didn’t like Jim yelling at me during the races. It seems we were barefoot all summer.”
The community matured as children were born to the original settlers, then grandchildren, and as other relatives and friends moved in and built houses. Today, Harthaven remains a tight knit community enriched by many new residents who are drawn here by its history and its unique sense of place. Ally Moore’s feelings about Harthaven are similar to those from the past, indicating that little has changed in the ninety years since its founding: “It’s where, as a little boy, I learned to ride a bike, first wobbling down the White House lawn. Later that day, while navigating the circle around the house, I finally ended up crashing into the huckleberry bushes after failing to step on the brake. Last December, my wife Michele went into labor and at midnight we pulled the station wagon past those same huckleberry bushes and headed out for the M.V. Hospital. I felt that same jittery sense of excitement of first riding a bike, of tentatively and happily steering towards the future and bright possibility, which in this case came the following morning at first light in the form of our daughter, Emily Rose.”
(Quotations courtesy of John Moore, author of “Harthaven – The Best Darned Place To Grow Up.” Copies available for purchase from John at [email protected])
More Pro Wrestling:
(In the unlikely event that you’re reading this and don’t at least know the broad strokes: Hart fell to his death during the Over The Edge pay-per-view event on May 23, 1999 at Kemper Arena when the rappelling gear for his ring entrance failed. Hart had, on a few previous occasions in the Blue Blazer gimmick, rappelled from the ceiling in a parody of Sting, one of the top stars in rival WCW.)
When I got it and started reading through the police file, only limited portions of which have been reported on before, I was reminded just how much the true story of Owen’s death is a template for how WWE (then Titan Sports d/b/a the WWF) does business. One that feels instructive in light of current events. (We’ll rely on the police file as much as possible to emphasize how freely available the key information has been since the criminal investigation was closed on July 30, 1999, but there are gaps that need to be filled in from other sources to tell the story properly.)
The 73 page file, released, is not in any particular order, so it can be a bit daunting to read at first. The early pages include some grim details, like wrestling fans Eric Araujo (page 6) and Sharon Kennedy (page 10) fearing that someone had murdered Hart, or how one of the local union riggers, Jim Vinzant (page 1) initially thought Hart landed on someone when he fell. (Hart brushed past referee Jimmy Korderas, but thankfully with only enough force to leave a bump on the official’s head.) It’s on page 17 that you start to get a better picture of what was really going on, as it’s revealed that WWE Vice President of Event Operations Steve Taylor, who booked stunt riggers, had slow footed speaking to detectives. Then, on the next page, we start to get an idea as to why.
Page 18’s report was taken on July 12, 1999, the same day that page 17 was generated by Detective William Martin III to memorialize his efforts to reach Taylor. It recounts a conversation that Martin had with Donna Maryanski, an attorney representing AMSPEC, the company that head rigger Bobby Talbert had purchased his stunt equipment from they also aided in designing the stunt. After noting that AMSPEC had retained Joe Branam, a rigger who had previously worked extensively with WWE, as an expert witness, Maryanski shared some details that cast what happened in a new light.
“She stated that she believes that Branam was originally contacted by the WWF to rig the stunt in Kansas City, but that the WWF had turned him down due to him apparently wanting too much money to complete the job,” wrote Martin in the report. “She believes that is when the WWF contacted and hired Bobby Talbert for the job. She stated that after Branam thought about it, he told his wife, who works for his company to re-contact the WWF and tell them he would do the job and for whatever they wanted to pay him. Maryanski stated that Branam reported that he was not re-contacted by the WWF and later found out the WWF had hired another person for the job.” She also “stated that Branam has told the WWF in the past that he was not going to be part of a particular stunt, due to the safety concerns he had on how the WWF wanted it to occur and the rigging and stunt were not done.” (She appears to be saying that the stunt was not done that way while Branam was coordinating it, though, which would be obvious on its face.)
The fail point of the rigging system that Hart was attached to was a single “quick release snap shackle” manufactured by Lewmar, a company that made marine equipment. It was designed for quickly dropping sails and the like, not stunt work, but that, as noted repeatedly in the file, is not an issue in and of itself, as repurposing items “off-label” is common in the stunt industry. The problem was that a single snap shackle with no redundancy was unsafe for reasons that should be self-evident. (To make matters worse: According to the lawyers representing Owen’s wife and parents when they filed a wrongful death lawsuit against WWE, Lewmar, AMSPEC, and others a month earlier, the shackle could open with just six pounds of pressure, 25% less than the 8 required to fire a KCPD officer’s gun.)
A few pages later, the file loses any sense of even loose chronological order, but more hints of the larger story pop up. Page 29 summarizes Det. Martin’s interviews with a trio of stuntmen, with notes about them saying that “most times there are some type of fail safe or secondary line” and how they “have seen the pull release be as low a one pound” on the quick release used at Over The Edge. Pages 41-50 document Det. Martin’s meetings with Tom Dewier of the International Stunt Association to get his input and test the equipment. Dewier cited numerous issues, from the vest being inappropriately restrictive of breathing, to the quick release pull cord having minimal slack, to giving Owen control over the stunt, to not using one of at least three safer options of rigging up the vest.
That’s bad enough, especially what was relayed from Branam, but pages 33-34, summarizing an interview with Bobby Talbert, the rigger in charge of the fatal stunt, confirms the worst.
According to Talbert, he was referred to WWE by Barry Brazell, the main rigger on Sting’s stunts in WCW, who Steve Taylor had called first. “[Talbert] stated when he met with Taylor [in Orlando a few weeks before Over The Edge] they discussed the type of stunts that the WWF was interested in having performed, which were ‘drop-ins’ from the ceilings and ‘pull-outs’ where a person is raised from the floor area to the ceiling,” wrote Det. Martin.
“Taylor had told him their company had other stunt people that performed these stunts in the past, but they were not good enough for the camera shots because they performed the stunts too slow.” When Taylor explained that they needed someone to help Owen Hart rappel from the ceiling, “Talbert told him that he had performed the same stunts with the wrestler, STING from the WCW. That wasn’t exactly true: It would come out in discovery for civil lawsuit, mainly from the deposition testimony of WCW stunt coordinator Ellis Edwards, that Talbert just assisted Brazell three times on the Sting stunts he was not “Sting’s rigger” or “WCW’s rigger” at all. Regardless, Taylor contacted him the week of Over The Edge about working that particular show. “Talbert stated originally the stunt was to be that a midget MAX-MINI would be attached to the victim, however, they later decided against performing that stunt and were only going to lower the victim into the ring.”
There it is, in black and white: WWE was looking for a new rigger because past riggers, according to Talbert as paraphrased by Martin, “were not good enough for the camera shots because they performed the stunts too slow.” WWE rigger turned AMSPEC expert Joe Branam would, according to the 2004 book, Broken Harts, by Owen’s widow, Martha, add details during the civil case that confirmed the obvious conclusions to be drawn from the statements that he (indirectly) and Talbert gave police. Apparently, Steve Taylor had told Branam at least three times that Vince McMahon wanted a quick release on rappelling stunts for aesthetic reasons, which the rigger always refused, citing extensive safety concerns.
The night of Hart’s death, the same Vince McMahon who asked for a quick release held an impromptu press conference. There, he snapped at a reporter who asked why there was no redundancy in place protecting Owen, sarcastically declaring her “an expert in rigging” and accusing her of trying to “put yourself in the spotlight.” As long as that man is in charge of WWE, this way of doing business isn’t going away. Saving a few seconds on each occasional rappelling stunt was so important to Vince that he repeatedly tasked staff with finding someone who would do what an expert told them was far too dangerous to even try.
Of course that guy didn’t proactively cancel WrestleMania. Or sideline Roman Reigns. Why would you think otherwise?
Brett Jonah Hart (1969- )
United Airlines executive Brett Jonah Hart was born on March 22, 1969 and raised in the small town of Cassopolis, Michigan where his parents were both self-employed at their own companies. In his youth, he spent his summers working on construction sites with his contractor father. Hart attended the University of Michigan and became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity in 1989. He double majored in English Literature and Philosophy, and obtained his BA in 1990, before obtaining his JD from the Law School at the University of Chicago in 1994.
Hart remained with the firm for two years before being offered a position in the U.S. Treasury as Senior Advisor to the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Treasury, Edward Knight, and counsel to then Secretary of the Treasury, Robert Rubin in the President Bill Clinton Administration. Hart spent two years at the Treasury before returning to Sonnenschein, Nash & Rosenthal where he eventually became a Partner. After that point he held a number of high-level executive positions. He was Chairman of Metropolitan Pier & Exposition Authority, Secretary and Executive VP & General Counsel for The Hillshire Brands Co, Secretary and Senior VP & General Counsel of United Airlines and Senior VP and General Counsel of Continental Airlines, Inc. Hart also worked as Executive Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary of the Sara Lee Corporation, before he rejoining United Airlines in 2010, serving as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer.
On May 20, 2020, Hart became the first African American to head a major airline when was chosen of President of United Airlines. He succeeds Scott Kirby, who will become CEO at the company. Hart faces challenges with United including the COVID-19 global pandemic and its impact on the travel industry. He is directing his focus on managing human resources, labor relations, and the public advocacy against the backdrop of the pandemic.
Hart also hold positions on several boards, that includes the University of Chicago, the Obama Foundation Inclusion Council, and Northwestern Medicine. He resides in Chicago with his wife Dontrey, and their three sons, Jonah, Aiden and Matthew.
Hawker Hart - History
When World War I was declared on 4 August 1914 the demand for Sopwith aircraft far exceeded the capacity of the existing Sopwith factory, and although Sopwith was able to start mass production of aircraft, many were built at other factories throughout England and France.
The first to be built in significant numbers was the 1 1/2 Strutter. With a single seat and two seat variant it had guns fore and aft. Of the 4,200 built, Sopwith built 246, eight other British factories built 1,020 and the remaining were built by the French.
The Strutter was followed by the much more agile Scout which was soon renamed Sopwith Pup. Of the 1,847 Pups to be built, 97 were built at Sopwith and the remainder by other British factories.
Sopwith 5F. 1 Dolphin (Harry Hawker standing in front)
When World War I came to an end, the demand for Sopwith aircraft ceased. With a workforce of near 2000, and huge amount of capital equipment, which had no further use, the future for Sopwith Aviation was dire. With a considerable post war tax commitment imposed by the Government, the company struggled and eventually went into liquidation in 1920, paying all creditors.
H. G. Hawker was subsequently formed by Harry Hawker, F. Sigrist, V.W. Eyre and F.I. Bennett.
TOM Sopwith joined the board sometime after. H. G Engineering initially struggled, building aluminium motor car bodies to motor cycles and even saucepans.
Although Harry was killed in an aircraft accident in 1921, TOM Sopwith led the company through a period of phenomenal growth. Merging with Armstrong Siddeley in 1935, then de Havilland in 1961, it went on to manufacture some of the most famous aircraft in aviation history—continuing to bare the Hawker name. In 1977, the British Government nationalised the UK aviation industry by forming British Aerospace.
The first of all the Hawker aircraft was the Hawker Duiker which was used for reconnaissance after World War I.
The Harrier was a two seat biplane High altitude Bomber first flown in 1927.
The Hawker Hart was a two-seater light bomber. It was designed during the 1920s by Sydney Cam and first flew in 1928
The Hawker Fury was a British biplane fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force in the 1930s and holds the distinction of being the first interceptor in RAF service to capable of more than 200 MPH
An improved Hawker Hart bomber, the Hawker Hind was light bomber of the Inter-war years, introduced in 1935
The Hawker Demon was a fighter variant of the Hart light bomber. 54 were built for the RAAF with the 1st 18 delivered in 1935.
The Hawker Hurricane is a British single-seat fighter. At the end of June 1940, following the fall of France, the majority of the RAF's 36 fighter squadrons were equipped with Hurricanes. The Battle of Britain officially lasted from 10 July until 31 October 1940, but the heaviest fighting took place between 8 August and 21 September. Both the Supermarine Spitfire and the Hurricane are renowned for their part in defending Britain against the Luftwaffe generally, the Spitfire would intercept the German fighters, leaving Hurricanes to concentrate on the bombers, but despite the undoubted abilities of the "thoroughbred" Spitfire, it was the "workhorse" Hurricane that scored the higher number of RAF victories during this period, accounting for 55 percent of the 2,739 German losses, according to Fighter Command, compared with 42 per cent by Spitfires.
Although over 14,500 Hurricanes were built , it is believed that only 12 survive in airworthy condition worldwide.
A single-seater fighter bomber, the Hawker Typhoon was designed to be a medium–high altitude interceptor as a replacement for the Hawker Hurricane. 3,317 were produced between 1941 and 1945.
Developed from the Hawker Typhoon, the Hawker Tempest was introduced in January 1943. 1,702 were built.
The Hawker Tornado was a single-seat fighter intended to replace the Hawker Hurricane. Only four were built.
The Hawker Sea Fury was the last propeller driven fighter to serve with the Royal Navy, and also one of the fastest production single piston-engine aircraft ever built. The Sea Fury entered service two years after WWII ended. The Sea Fury proved to be a popular aircraft with a number of overseas militaries, and was used during the Korean War in the early 1950s. It could reach 460mph, with over 860 built.
The Hawker Sea Hawk was a single-seat jet fighter. Although its origins stemmed from earlier Hawker piston-engine fighters, the Sea Hawk became the company's first jet aircraft. 542 were built.
The Hunter entered service with the Royal Air Force as an interceptor aircraft in the 1950s. Two-seat variants remained in use for training and secondary roles with the RAF and British Navy until the early 1990s. On 7 September 1953, the modified first prototype broke the world air speed achieving 727.63 mph (1,171.01 km/h). 1,972 were built.
The Hawker Siddeley Harrier
The Hawker Siddeley Harrier, known colloquially as the "Harrier Jump Jet", was developed in the 1960s and formed the first generation of the Harrier series of aircraft
Photos courtesy of the Brooklands Museum via the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project