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Towle Aircraft

Cy-27

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It the time of year to go through some of those old unsorted notes that remained unsorted from years gone by.

Tom Towle has already been mentioned in his work with early Stout airliner designs (http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,26224.msg267752.html#msg267752)
Tom Towle (1887–1983) was born in Dayton, Ohio and worked for:
- Dayton-Wright Company
- Martin Aircraft
- Aeromarine
- Stout Metal Airplane Co
- Ford Motor Company (Stout Division)
- Towle Marine Aircraft
- Eastman Aircraft Corporation
- Towle Aircraft Company
- Monocoupe Aircraft Corporation
- Lambert Aircraft Towle
- Grumman
- Hudson Car Company (Aircraft Division)
- Church & Dwight company

The Towle aircraft appear to have been referred to as TA-1/T-1/WC, the TA-2/T-2 and the TA-3/T-3 in both America and Europe with no apparent consistency.

Towle Marine Aircraft TA-1 (WC)

In 1927 the Towle Marine Aircraft was set up to build the Towle TA-1 (WC). The WC designation stood for World Cruiser and was usually the designation used in contemporary reports. This first Towle design, was a custom built aircraft for a 1929 round-the world flight. Towle was commissioned by Henry McCarroll to promote Detroit's aviation expertise.

The WC was a flying boat with an aluminum hull. The strut braced parasol wing was fabric covered.
The fuselage was ash framed with aluminium skin. Wing was wooden with a fabric covering.

A prototype was built with the first flight in November 1928. The pilot was George R. Pond. The prototype WC, serial X5328, flew as far as Brazil (again piloted by Pond) before engine reliability issues forced the cancellation of the round-the-world flight attempt. It was assumed that the aircraft was abandoned in Brazil and destroyed by nature.

The design was refined later as the TA-2 when the Towle Aircraft Company was founded in 1928.

General characteristics

Engine: 2 × Comet R-612 Seven cylinder radial, 150 hp (110 kW) each
Capacity: 4 passengers plus 2 crew
Length: 35 ft (11.0 m)
Wing span: 52 ft (16.0 m)
Empty weight: 2,750 lb (1,247 kg)
Gross weight: 4,420 lb (2,005 kg)
Maximum speed: 115 mph (185 km/h; 100 knots)
Minimum control speed: 45 mph (72 km/h; 39 knots)
 

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Cy-27

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Towle Aircraft Company TA-2

Between 1928-1932 the Towle Aircraft Company was set up to produce the Towle TA-2 and Towle TA-3 amphibians. The TA-2 was a six seat amphibian of all metal construction.

The TA-2 first flew in 1929 by piloted by George Pond with the aircraft registered as NX491H. The Wright Whirlwind engines were installed in a faired housing and wing struts of the earlier TA-1 were not present. It had wing mounted floats into which the landing gear retracted. No wing ribs were present and the type used a Warren truss internal structure. This wing was patented by designer Towle and gave a very high strength to weight ratio wing.

The TA-2 only lasted a few months as the fuselage broke in half during rough water tests on Lake St Clair. Further damage was caused when a crane used to lift the aircraft from the water caused even more damage.

Some sources say there were two TA-2’s built, but the second example could have been the TA-3.

General characteristics (Flight 1930)

Accommodation: 6 passengers plus 2 crew
Wing Span: 47 ft9 in (14.55 m)
Length: 33 ft (10.0 m)
Wing area: 292 sq ft (27.1 sq m)
Gross weight: 4,420 lb (2,010 kg)
Take-off weight: 2,253 lb (1,022 kg)
Maximum speed: 135 mph (217 km/h; 117 knots)
Cruise speed: 100 mph (160 km/h; 86 knots)
Landing speed: 55 mph (88 km/h; 48 knots)
Range: 498 miles (800 km; 432 nau mile)
Power 2 x Wright Whirlwind J-6-165 (240 hp)
Maximum chord: 8 ft (2.44 m)
Minimum chord: 4 ft 9 in (1.45 m)
Wing loading: 15.15 lb sq ft (74.2 kg sq m)
Power loading: 13.4 lb hp (6.1 kg hp)
Range: 600 miles (966 km)
Fuel capacity: 90 gallons (400 litres)
 

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Cy-27

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Towle Aircraft Company TA-3

This design was the world’s first twin-Diesel powered aeroplane using non-flamable Diesel fuel. Tom Towle was one of the designers of the Ford Tri-motor 4AT until Ford cancelled airplane building. The wings on the TA-3 were a scaled down version of the 4AT wings. The TA-3 used Towle's own airfoil, the TT-2 at the root and TT-1 at the tip.

The Towle was powered by 2 Packard diesels on loan from the Packard Motor Car Company. It was built of corrugated aluminium exactly like the Ford Trimotor. Towle got his third design built at the hangar on Grosse Isle in Detroit, and ran out of money during the flight testing program. It had appeared as an exhibit at the Detroit Aero Show.

The aircraft first flew on 3rd (or 9th) May 1930 from the Detroit River. The Towle TA-3 amphibian flew well, but not for long. It never got a chance to do much as it was a victim of the depression.

Although fitted with Packard diesels, the type could also be fitted with Wasp Juniors or Wright J-6-200's. The Towle all-metal wing had no spars, ribs or bays. Internal structure was made of corrugated Alcad. The airfoil was designed in 1925 by Tom Towle and was the Towle F-2 profile. The cost of the amphibian TA-3 was $30,000 and as a pure flying boat, $32,500.

Towle looked for money to continue development and found a backer who wanted a quick return on his money than the average backer and he insisted that Towle put the airplane in service so it could start earning some money straight away.
The completed aircraft was leased to Koehler Airlines. Later, it was sold to A. J. Williams of West Palm Beach, FL, in July 1932. Its new illegal role was as a bootlegging transport between Florida and the Bahamas. The DR-980 engines were replaced with Wright J-6 engines. The aircraft was destroyed by a tropical storm at a pier at Bimini Island in February 1933.

General characteristics

Accommodation: 8 passengers plus 2 crew
Engine: 2 x Packard DR-980 (225hp) diesel
Wing span: 50 ft (15.24 m)
Maximum speed: 125 mph (201 km/h; 109 knots)
Cruising speed: 100 mph (161 km/h; 86 knots
Rate of climb: 650 ft min (198 m min)
Take-off time water: 16 seconds
Service ceiling: 12,000 ft (1,829 m)
Service ceiling on one engine: 6,000 ft (3,658 m)


Sources:

L'Aerophile Magazine 1930
Great Lakes Pilot News April 1992
Aviation Magazine (US) 1930
Flight Magazine 14 February 1930
Skyways Issue 29 (Jan 1994)
 

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Cy-27

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A few more TA-3 images...
 

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Schneiderman

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Excellent summary!
I have some additional material on the aircraft that I will post on this thread later (Router died so I cannot access the internet from my laptop at the moment)
Do anyone know whether there was any link between Towle and Canadian Vickers?
 

hesham

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Schneiderman said:
Excellent summary!
I have some additional material on the aircraft that I will post on this thread later (Router died so I cannot access the internet from my laptop at the moment)
Do anyone know whether there was any link between Towle and Canadian Vickers?

I think there wasn't any link.

Great work my dear Cy-27.
 

Schneiderman

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Well one of Canadian Vickers employees worked with Towle on the TA-3 so I am not so sure
 

Schneiderman

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Additional hi-res photos of the TA-3 here

http://www.shu-aero.com/AeroPhotos_Shu_Aero/Aircraft_N/Towle/index.html
 

Schneiderman

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Photos of the TA-3 under construction
 

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Schneiderman

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Towle patents showing features of the TA-2 and 3
 

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Cy-27

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Excellent photographs Schneiderman. I have never seen those before.

I understand that Skyways Issue 33 also has details of Towle's patented aerofoil structures from 1938 (I will try and find a copy of the magazine that is not too expensive!)
 

riggerrob

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A Towle-Eastman flying boat is on display at Victoria International Airport. It is a single-engined Sea Rover (radial, tractor with a two-bladed aluminum propeller) with an aluminum hull. Five of the 18 Sea Rovers (built in Detroit) worked in B.C. BCAM's exhibit combines components from three different Sea Rovers that crashed in B.C.
 

spike_2209

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Towle TA-3 under construction was featured in a book Marine Aircraft Design by W Munro

:)
 

Schneiderman

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Indeed, and William Munro was the employee of Canadian Vickers who contributed to the design of the TA-3.
 

Stargazer2006

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Skyblazer said:
Some excellent research here, Cy-27 and Schneiderman, thanks a lot.

On taking a closer look, I have found a couple of inconsistencies in Cy-27's account of the Towle amphibians.

Cy-27 said:
The prototype WC, serial X5328

In all references I've found, the sole WC was registered as [X7956] (c/n unknown), and it's even apparent on photos.
The registration you've quoted, [X5328], was used by a completely different aircraft, the Tipton Biplane.

Cy-27 said:
the Towle TA-1 (WC)
The design was refined later as the TA-2
Some sources say there were two TA-2’s built, but the second example could have been the TA-3

You assert here that the WC simply was the same as the TA-1, and that there may have been two TA-2s.
Strangely enough, and although I've used some of the same sources for my research (most notably Skyways #29) this is not what I've found.

What I've seen or read on the subject (and the info from the civil register) has led me to believe that after the WC Cabin Amphibian prototype, a single TA-1 was produced (also found as T-1) that was similar BUT distinct from the WC. Described as the production version of the WC, and also powered with two 150hp Comet engines, it was the first all-metal amphibian built in the U. S. (the WC only had all-metal wings). It was registered as [NX491H] (c/n 1) and was then modified as the TA-2 by fitting two 240hp Wright J-6 engines and omitting the wing struts. Unfortunately I have never seen any photo of the TA-1 configuration.

Apparently only a third aircraft was built, the TA-3, registered as [X495M] (also c/n 1). I'm attaching a beautiful Packard ad featuring that one aircraft.
 

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