Serving Midwest Aviation Since 1960

Mystery Airplane: October 2013

Comper C.L.A. 7 Swift

Former RAF Flight Lieutenant Nicholas Comper formed the Comper Aircraft Company at Hooten Park in 1929 to build the Swift. Its prototype, G-AARX, first flew on 16 April 1930, powered by a 35 hp ABC Scorpion engine. Forty-one Swifts were manufactured and powered by Salmson and Pobjoy radials and de Havilland Gipsy III inlines. With an empty weight of just over 500 pounds and wing span of 24 feet, the Swift proved a natural for air racing. Even the Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, owned one.

During World War II, the Royal Air Force impressed four Swifts which were used as station hacks. One, G-ABPE, was used by the commanding officer of No. 25 Squadron painted in the unit's night fighter colors and squadron codes.

The Gipsy engine Swift in this Oshkosh 2009 photo was first flown as G-ABWH on 22 June 1931 and won the 1932 King's Cup Air Race. In 1933 it was shipped to the United States for Roger Wolfe Kahn, a well known big band leader and pilot who appeared on the cover of Time in September 1927. Registered NC27K, it flew in the Roosevelt Field Races in December 1933 and the Cleveland Races in 1934. It had a top speed of over 190 mph. Kahn later became a test pilot and Director of Service and Product Support with Grumman. By 1939, the little de Havilland powered racer was in Australia as VH-ACG. After a crash on a golf course near Sydney in December 1950, it was repaired, stored for 18 years, then rebuilt. VH-ACG is now owned by Roy Fox of Kellyville, New South Wales. Eight original Swifts plus one replica are known to exist, four of the airworthy.

This month's winner is Bob Coolbaugh from New Market, Virginia. Other correct responses came from Graydon Carlson who'd been visiting air museums out west, Joe Connell who recognized VH-ACG from Oskohsh and Ed Wells, who remembered it but had to look up what it was! Had a great week at Oshkosh. Thanks to everyone who stopped at the Stinson to chat. Blue skies and fair winds for autumn.


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