Miles Venture: a forgotten prototype

Stargazer

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Excerpt from "Miles Technical School", Flight, April 18th, 1946

A NEW aircraft is being built at a factory belonging to Miles Aircraft, Ltd. Both the aircraft and the factory, however, are unusual, for the factory is part of a school and the new aircraft, except for its engines, is being constructed entirely by the students of the school without any aid other than consultation with their instructors. These students, whose ages are mostly between sixteen and nineteen, also designed the aircraft, and are carrying out all the detailed drawings and stresswork. [...]

In August, 1943, Mr. F. G. Miles asked the school to design and build an aircraft which could be used as a "test-bed" for an electrical automatic pilot and for other electrical equipment. A high-wing twin-engined monoplane was specified, with a tricycle undercarriage and low landing speed, and the aircraft was required to carry two pilots with additional cabin space for engineers to work at a test bench. At the time, the only students with any drawing training were girls, and twelve of them submitted general designs. The best of these designs were used as a basis for further design work. A competition to find a name for the aircraft resulted in it being aptly called Venture.

It is a tribute to the form of training which is carried on at the school that the students seem to have encountered no insurmountable difficulty in tackling so ambitious a project. The main spar, forty feet long, was set up and constructed from ply and spruce by four students unaided. Two girls, sixteen and seventeen years old respectively, with less than six months' experience, laid out and completed the line drawings of the monocoque fuselage to full size and, as can be seen from the accompanying photograph, great progress has been made. All components incidentally, are A.I.D. tested and stamped. Already a second aircraft—a high-performance sailplane, is on the students' drawing boards, and boats and canoes have been built by them as a sideline. [...]

Has anyone ever seen or heard more about this little-known project? Or the "high-performance sailplane that's also mentioned in the article? Even the Putnam book only gives the Venture project passing mention. (DOESN'T!!) Thanks to anyone who can contribute!
 

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That's a new one to me, Stephane, bravo. The text says it was destroyed when almost complete, I wonder if there are any former Miles Technical School students left that might have a photo or drawing?
 
There's another photo in a book called Miles Aircraft from the Archive Photographs Series. The accompanying caption says: 'An important part of Miles operations was the Technical Training School which was established at Davis Farm near Woodley Aerodrome, with the particular backing of Blossom Miles. The students constructed the fuselage of the TS Venture - a twin-engined aircraft intended as a testbed for Miles lightweight autopilots, but the project was not completed beyond the stage seen here.' (which is as the photos above - somewhat contradicting the assertion that it was almost complete when abandoned)
 
Just can't believe what British Pathé has put online... A 4-minute excerpt of a 1947 video newsreel film dated 30 June 1947 about the Miles Technical School. You can see Miles himself and his wife supervising the students and above all the students at work on the Venture!!!

http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=46512
 

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Christmas comes very early this year.
 
I suspect a mole. No, not me. ;D

I mean that I suspect that whoever pulls out these British Pathe clips must be reading this group.
 
In various scenes of that film papers, plans and even the big drawing board can
be seen, but resolution is insufficient to see the drawings itself. Could they be
recognised in a better quality ? Is that film available in better quality ?
Would help a reconstruction ... ::)
 
Apparently, the school was taken over as part of the Reading Technical College in 1949. I found this letter to the editors in the June 16, 1949 issue of FLIGHT:

MILES TECHNICAL SCHOOL
Its Status Under the New Regime at Woodley

In your May 19th issue, in describing the rearrangement of the former Miles Aircraft factory, you stated that the Miles Technical School has been taken over by the local education authority and that aerodynamics are no longer included in the syllabus.
While it is true that no new intake of aeronautical students has yet been undertaken, there are still a number of students who started their course in the pre-L.E.A. era. To these students aerodynamics and aeronautical subjects are still taught, and in the December examination of the Royal Aeronautical Society, beside many other successes, two of our students took first places and another was awarded the Baden Powell Memorial Prize.
L. J. CHANTLER, A.F.R.Ae.S., Senior Assistant
Reading Technical College, Woodley, Berks. (late Miles Technical School)

I wonder if there are any other technical schools today organized like a mini-factory, with students in charge of actually doing the work from design through production, but on a smaller scale, like a student newspaper. From the short clip, it looked like a fantastic place to learn.
 
What's the type of the engine shown ? Maybe an Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah ?
 
Don't know, but the good news is I should be able to provide more information, pics and even an original three-view drawing very soon, directly from the Miles museum curator, via another forum member who will forward them to me so I can scan them and post them. Indeed, Christmas DOES come VEEEEERY early this year!!!
 
I, too, am looking forward to that! There are number of Miles projects about which I would love to learn more if possible...perhaps the Miles museum curator would consider a "wish list" for whenever he has the time?

Stargazer2006 said:
Don't know, but the good news is I should be able to provide more information, pics and even an original three-view drawing very soon, directly from the Miles museum curator, via another forum member who will forward them to me so I can scan them and post them. Indeed, Christmas DOES come VEEEEERY early this year!!!
 
Jemiba said:
What's the type of the engine shown ? Maybe an Armstrong Siddeley Cheetah ?

I would say, yes, you're spot on, perhaps one of the earlier models as this one has a plain, bowl-shaped bell housing where the later Cheetah IX and X seem to have had a larger diameter housing with flutes at each bolt. See the Wikipedia entry and pics on the Cheetah and elsewhere.
 
Thanks for the confirmation of the engine type. And now we really could expect
something much better. I'm eagerly looking forward !
 
Sorry it took some time, but the documents from the museum are finally here.
I had to wait a little more than I'd imagined at first because I waited for the digital versions (I could have scanned the copies made from them but that would have been a bit silly!). So here goes, straight from the mid-forties for your enjoyment.

"Another Secret Projects Forum exclusive." LOL ;D


All attached documents are published here courtesy of
Jean Fostekew, archivist, The Museum of Berkshire Aviation.
www.MuseumofBerkshireAviation.co.uk

Thank you so much to Ken and Jean Fostekew for their help, and Paul "Toura" Touratier of course.
 

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Many thanks indeed, Paul and Stéphane !

Is there any clue, if two versions were planned ? The drawing shows inline
engines, from the film, I would have thought, that radials were prepared to
be fitted, but those scenes, showing assembly of the engines may have had
no relation to the Venture, of course.
 
Wonderful stuff, thanks so much, this is a great addition to my Miles collection. On the engines, I suspect that whatever appropriate powerplants they could get cheap or donated was the most important criteria, but you're right, the earlier photos didn't actually say the radials in the picture were for that aircraft. Did anyone find any dimensions or projected peformance specs for this forgotten treasure?
 
Mole said:
Wonderful stuff, thanks so much, this is a great addition to my Miles collection. On the engines, I suspect that whatever appropriate powerplants they could get cheap or donated was the most important criteria, but you're right, the earlier photos didn't actually say the radials in the picture were for that aircraft. Did anyone find any dimensions or projected peformance specs for this forgotten treasure?

Not yet. But let's keep hoping... ;)
 
Until we manage to find more information such as the specs, allow me to contribute the very first ever decent three-view of the Venture. I'm aware it's not perfect, and in a couple of cases I had to make decisions that can be debated, such as when several lines seem possible (vertical tail in profile view, upper wing in front view for instance). Of course I'm open to any manner of criticism that could make me improve this three-view drawing... Enjoy!
 

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A very pleasing 3-view, Stargazer2006. I cannot comment on the minutiae of accuracy, but it is nevertheless, a real pleasure to view. Well done.
 
I failed to credit the great people who made this contribution possible, so here they are (I also added them to the post above):

All attached documents are published here courtesy of
Jean Fostekew, archivist, The Museum of Berkshire Aviation.
www.MuseumofBerkshireAviation.co.uk

Thank you so much to Ken and Jean Fostekew for their help, and Paul "Toura" Touratier of course.
 

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