Author Topic: The Farley Fandango.  (Read 254 times)

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Offline Rheged

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The Farley Fandango.
« on: October 16, 2020, 10:29:29 am »
I'm submitting this as "Captured", but anyone who feels that they can convert it into a model is welcome to use this as their backstory. I'm also very relaxed about forum members expanding, modifying or revising this material if they see fit. My thanks are due to Zenrat for providing the initial stimulus for this article



The Farley Fandango

After the end of the war in Europe, captured German aircraft were exhibited at Farnborough. British manufacturers were invited to inspect these, and adapt designs to fit their own production procedures and schedules.  Farley’s sent a team from their design office, who felt that they could take the Fieseler Storch and improve it for Royal Artillery use as a spotter/liaison machine.  Peter Farley had served in the Royal Artillery  in Italy as a liaison officer on the staff of Air Vice-Marshal Harry Broadhurst, who acquired his Storch in North Africa, and flew it subsequently in Italy and North-West Europe.  Farley persuaded Broadhurst to allow his personal Storch to be used for the observation and correction of battery fire against Monte Cassino.

The Farley design team were keen to produce an aircraft that had a very short take-off and landing run, could remain airborne at very low flying speeds and was simple to operate.  The Fieseler design was amended with slightly longer wings to improve ultra-low speed handling, and a de Havilland Gypsy Queen II  engine substituted for the original Argus. The prototype first flew in  May 1947, and was described by the Farley test pilot, Alan Frazer, as a docile little aircraft which needed only work on the landing gear damping mechanism. Film footage of the first flight, taken by the Farley in-house publicity staff, shows the aircraft  bouncing noisily and energetically on touching down.  This gave the two seater aircraft its name; the Fandango, a word defined as  “a lively  dance for two people, typically accompanied by the clattering of castanets ”.

The Ministry of Supply issued an order  for ten Fandango  AOP Mark one airframes, and encouraged  Farleys to develop the aircraft further, an  order for 25 Mark 2 Fandangos with the more powerful Gypsy Queen 50  was soon forthcoming. The Mark 1 order was delivered by January  1948 and the Mark 2 by July of the same year.  The aircraft were immediately issued to the Royal Artillery .

The War in Korea found the USA somewhat unprepared,  the  British Government receiving an urgent request for artillery observation aircraft for use by US forces.  A total of seven Fandango mark 1 airframes, undergoing  jungle and desert trials in Queensland and Northern Territories, were immediately shipped to Korea.  The trials in Australia had shown the Fandango mark 1 to be underpowered.  The provision of these machines was described by the Royal Artillery as Uncle Sam’s bad bargain.  Of these seven aircraft, three were damaged in action and written off, two were used as hack aircraft on Jeju Island , one stripped as a source of spare parts and one abandoned in the retreat to the Pusan Perimeter in July 1950. This aircraft had been in an airworthy condition when left on a small airstrip, there being insufficient pilots to fly out all of the aircraft located there. 

In April 1951, the Turkish brigade attached to the US 25th Infantry Division drove North Korean forces from a forward airstrip and took up positions on the surrounding hilltops. Their attack had achieved total surprise and the North Koreans were not able to remove or destroy the aircraft stationed there.  Two Antonov An-2s were captured, along with the Fandango abandoned in July 1950.  It was at that time carrying North Korean insignia, crudely daubed over the US markings.  Turkish troops quickly applied red/white/red roundels and a star and crescent fin marking before arranging for all three machines to be flown south to the Pusan area. The An-2s were absorbed into the UN forces, but the Fandango was left abandoned once more in an isolated dispersal bay. Shortly afterwards, it was discovered by a group of Australian Fleet Air Arm pilots, who “annexed” the aircraft , brought in fitters to make it  fully airworthy and flew it out to HMAS Sydney, with a view to using it as a dead-weight for catapult testing.  By this time, it had acquired 805 squadron RAN markings. Sydney’s engineering officers decided that the Fandango was “ inappropriate as a test dead load”.  Loath to dispose of the Fandango, it was dismantled  and pushed into a corner of the hanger.  Eventually, when HMAS Sydney returned to her home port, the Fandango was disembarked and put into storage at HMAS Albatross, Nowra NSW. 

The dismantled airframe remained neglected in storage until August 2018, when it was “rediscovered” by engineering staff looking for a project for trainee aircraft engineers.   Restoration is currently under way, although the recent Covid pandemic  has considerably slowed down the work.    A first flight , bearing ‘roo roundels, is confidently predicted for early  2022.

Six Fandango mark threes were  built for use by the Army Air Corps as a forward observation aircraft during beach landings.  They were optimised for aircraft carrier operation; the wings easily demountable so that the aircraft could be struck down into the hanger. This experiment was not a success, and the airframes placed in storage. In 1987, Royal Marine Captain  Alec McLeod (actually,  Captain  the Honourable Alexander Lachlan McLeod of Dunvegan)  purchased  the one  surviving  mark three airframe, the others having written off in warehouse inventory checking.  Restored by a group of enthusiasts known as “Alexander’s Rag-tag Band”, the mark three Fandango is currently operated by the Scottish Museum of Flight at East Fortune.  It is identical in appearance to other Army Air Corps aircraft, except that it  proudly  displays the words ROYAL MARINES  where AAC airframes have the word ARMY.

The Fandango was not adopted in quantity by the British armed forces, the Auster AOP 6 and AOP 9 being deemed better aircraft for the task. Other than the two mentioned above, there are believed to be four in preservation, none of them currently in flying condition.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2020, 02:36:36 pm by Rheged »
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Offline The Rat

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Re: The Farley Fandango.
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2020, 05:15:14 pm »
 ;D :thumbsup:
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: The Farley Fandango.
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2020, 03:21:23 am »
Excellent story! :thumbsup:
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Offline zenrat

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Re: The Farley Fandango.
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2020, 03:58:18 am »
 :thumbsup:
Fred

Another ill conceived, lazily thought out, crudely executed and badly painted piece of half arsed what-if modelling muppetry from zenrat industries.

zenrat industries:  We're everywhere for your convenience..

Offline loupgarou

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Re: The Farley Fandango.
« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2020, 01:53:46 pm »
Hmmpf....  :angry: It's just a plagiarism from Francis Mason's standard work on Farley:

   ;D ;D ;D
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