|The Tool Drawing Office|
Harry joined the Tool Drawing Office in 1955 – but what exactly is the function of this department?
Component parts for aircraft have to be made very accurately so that they will always fit exactly with other parts in a new aircraft or as a replacement spare part in an existing aircraft. To do this fixtures are required to position and hold the material and position the cutting tools and drills in the same place for every item in each production batch at any time.
These fixtures and any special cutting tools are designed in the Tool Drawing Office by people who understand the machinery and process used in the factory. They are then made in the Tool Room.
The Tool Drawing Office also design aircraft assembly fixtures: large rigid structures designed to hold all the pieces of aircraft structure and equipment in the correct positions whilst they are drilled, bolted or riveted together. Thus each sub-assembly and ultimately the whole assembled aircraft is the same size and shape as any other aircraft of that type.
1955, I decided that I would apply to get into the Tool Drawing Office. It was most unusual then for anybody to be taken from the works in the office, most unusual. They generally were only ‘apprentices of the year’ that were offered that privilege. But I was pleased to say that I was interviewed and got the job.
So I started at Kingston in the Tool Drawing Office that was then situated in a building in Acre Road. I worked there – it was quite a big office – I worked there until we moved back to the Richmond Road, the new Richmond Road office block. So we now had a Tool Drawing Office in the front office in the new big office building at the Ham end of Richmond Road.
We continued to work on Hunter and then of course we got the Harrier which was an exciting time. I was then transferred to the assembly section – the TDO- was split into two – there was half that did the machine shop tools, drilling fixtures, milling fixtures and the like and the other half did the main assembly jigs and lifting tackle. And of course, shared between both halves were the shop equipment and what have you. And we did the main assembly jigs for all the tooling for the Harrier and then the Hawk. It was a very satisfying, very happy time.