|Hunter centre sections|
Apprentices spent one year in the Training School and were then sent off to spend time working in differe3nt departments within the company. Doug’s first assignment was the Machine Shop at Canbury Park Road but after six months he was transferred back to Richmond Road to work on Hawker Hunters – then in production.
Well I moved to Richmond Road then when I left Canbury Park Road.
I worked in the Centre Fuselage Section. I think that was after I finished in the Spar Building? Shop.
So what aircraft would you be working on?
That was the Hunter. And the Hunter, the Hunter fuselage was in three sections. There was the front section, which was mainly the cockpit and the gun pack which was under the cockpit floor. And then there was the centre section which is where the engine was. And the wings attached to the centre section. And then there was the rear section which is where the fin and the tail plane was mounted. And I worked in the centre section and I acted as a ‘dolly boy’.
And what that means is that the structures are riveted. You got the outer skin which is riveted to circular frames, which give the profile of the section of the aircraft. And then between the frames they held apart by metal sections which are called stringers. And the skin, the outer skin which is in sections, rivets onto the frames and the stringers. And it tends to be a sort of an egg box type construction.
And the rivets are – all the holes are there in the skin and also in the stringers and the frames. And then the fitter would put a rivet into a hole, and he had a ‘windy’ rivet gun which made a terrific noise, a hammering noise. And you would be inside the fuselage with a metal block and you would have to hold against the rivet while he was with he was riveting it over, burring the end to hold it together.
So you would go from one, to two, to three, to four and so on. Which is fine – except you’re in the fuselage all the time for well, for the whole morning and the whole afternoon. And of course it was deafening, it wasn’t continuous but it was pretty well ongoing. There was no ear protection in those days – I mean Health and Safety would have a ‘field day’ today – that is no ear protection. It’s a wonder I have got any hearing left actually.