Avro Duigan Biplane
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Avro Duigan Biplane

One aircraft only, first flown in February 1912; converted into the Lakes Sea Bird in October 1912, crashed at Windermere in June 1915.

Avro Duigan Biplane

 ENGINE1 x 40hp Alvaston
    Wingspan10.36 m34 ft 0 in
    Length8.94 m29 ft 4 in
    Height3.20 m11 ft 6 in
    Wing area32.52 m2350.04 sq ft
    Max. speed64 km/h40 mph

Nick Forder, 03.02.2011

Srirama Vekatasubba Setty was the son of Rama Thippaiah Setty and Savitri Sakamma. He was born in Mysore, in the Karnataka State, India, in 1879. After attending the Western Mission High School, he graduated with a degree from the Maharaja’s College, Mysore, in 1900. He then attended the Engineering College at Roorkie in Uttar Pradesh. Travelling to England to continue electrical and mechanical engineering studies, Setty went to work for Wilson and Robinson.

Setty joined AV Roe and Company at Brooklands, near Weybridge, Surrey, on 8 May 1911. The Avro Flying School charged £50 for tuition to Royal Aero Club certificate standard or accepted work on the developing and testing of aircraft instead of payment. AV Roe recalled (in 1939), “At Brooklands in 1911 an Indian student joined us. As he had some drawing-office experience at a technical college, he assisted me in getting out drawings of the ‘500’ and ‘501’ types, which were then sent to our Manchester works to be actually built.” Roe’s recollections are not always supported by contemporary documentation, and it may be that Setty worked on drawings for the original Type E. Roy Chadwick, working in Manchester, developed the first Avro 500 ordered by the War Office. However, Setty definitely worked on general arrangement drawings for the Avro Type F enclosed monoplane on 17 August 1911, and worked further drawings with fellow aspiring pilot Sydney Sippe between 24 and 31 August.

Sippe and Setty began learning to fly with Avro at about the same time, with the periodical Flight recording that they had both begun to attempt straight flights in mid June 1911. On Saturday 17 June Setty was called upon to guide a group of Indian visitors to Brooklands. Setty is next recorded as having been ‘rolling’ an Avro biplane, presumably the 35.p. Green Type D No. 3, on 25 September until he suffered a burst tyre. Rolling resumed soon afterwards but Setty was soon in trouble as “After two or three straight lines he turned off and ran in to the sewage farm. He is a vegetarian, and it is thought that he may possibly have some irresistible attraction for the cabbages which grow that way.” Rolling continued on 6 October, and Setty’s first straight flight was made on until 11 November.

Further straight flights were made on 29 November, 27 and 29 December. On Saturday, 30th December, two circuits were recorded, though Flight noted later that Setty’s first circuits were not until 16 February 1912. Setty flew the Viale-Avro D No 6, with an experimental propeller, on 1 January 1912. He was back flying circuits on Type D No 3 a week later, on 8 January. Setty was airborne on Friday 12 January, but did not fly again for another month, when he was back practising ‘straights’ on 12 February.

On 14 February John Duigan, an Australian, began erecting his Avro biplane at Brooklands. This had been built in Manchester in 1911 and taken to Huntingdon for flight trials. Fitted with an Alvaston engine, Duigan discovered that his biplane was significantly underpowered. He replaced the Alvaston with an ENV engine and moved to Brooklands for further trials. By tuning the engine and trying different propeller designs, Duigan managed to make a number of flights but his Avro was never practical as a passenger aeroplane.

Setty may have been involved in helping to erect Duigan’s Avro as part of his normal work at Brooklands. Setty had his photograph taken sitting in the Avro, but there is no evidence to suggest that he was ever allowed to attempt to fly it. The Calcutta Modern Review, published in July 1912, claimed that Setty designed one of the propellers for the Avro. No other modifications were made until after Duigan sold the aeroplane. The new owners enlarged the wings and fitted a 50 h.p. Gnome engine to give the aircraft an acceptable performance. Nevertheless, Duigan managed a number of flights in March and April, and passed his Royal Aero Club tests on 20 April, 1912.

Further flights in the Avro D were made by Setty on 21 February, though one ended up in the sewage farm. Fortunately Setty wasn’t hurt, and was back in the air on 13 February. 16 February, 1912, was the date of his last recorded flight. Setty did not attempt the tests which would have gained him a Royal Aero Club certificate.

It appears that Setty left Avro soon afterwards as, on 12 March 1912, HV Roe wrote a reference for him stating “He has had considerable experience in the Flying School and has become very efficient in the tuning up of aeroplanes and engines. He has the makings of a very good Pilot (although he failed to obtain his ‘Ticket’). He has also worked in the Drawing Office on some new types of machines, and we now consider him to have had sufficient experience to be left in entire charge of the erection of a machine of any type. If required, he could carry out any alterations, which may be required, including the designing and drawing of same.” Generally HV believed that Setty had “giv ...

jayaprakash, 16.01.2011

Thank you very much for bringing up of one more strong evidence on S.V.Setty's presence in the design office of AVRO during the pioneering years of AVRO COMPANY (1911-1913).

Nick Forder, 06.12.2010

“In writing of the past I do not like to say that I designed this or that aeroplane, for even if a machine is of one’s own conception, yet there must necessarily be others who played an important part in its final details and construction. Pioneers in any line are sure to have assistants who think they have done the deed themselves, and perhaps the following may indicate this trait.

At Brooklands in 1911 an Indian student joined us. As he had some drawing-office experience at a technical college, he assisted me in getting out drawings of the ‘500’ and ‘501’ types, which were then sent to our Manchester works to be actually built. I noticed whenever I had occasion to leave the aerodrome that on my return little had been done. I asked him the reason, and he always had some excuse that he wished to ask me about some detail or other. Later he returned to India, and one day I received from him an Indian newspaper in which I read an account of a dinner that was given him to celebrate the fact that he had been responsible for designing an aeroplane which had been ordered by the British Government in large numbers !”

Ref : The World of Wings and Things, Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe

Les Beard, 08.05.2009

Can anyone steer me to background on Alverston Engines?

jayaprakash, 05.08.2008

I feel, this Aircraft is Historically important after Wright brother's aircraft as the Three First Aviators from different Countries were involved in its design and development,which ultimately helped to AVRO to deliver the world's FIRST AND BEST TRAINER AIRCRAFT (AVRO-504).

Mark Pilkington, 05.08.2008

A minor correction to my comment below "It is also most likely S.V. Setty played a major role the design of the Avro D / 500" should in fact refer to the "Avro E / 500" series of aircraft developed in 1912 after the Avro-Duigan, not the "Avro D" that predated the Avro-Duigan by flying its first flight in April 1911.

In some ways the Avro-Duigan can be considered a development of the Avro Type D customised to John Duigan requirements? Apparantly the Avro-Duigan was first fitted with a 40 HP Alverston (inline 4 or 6 cyl?) that was not successful and that engine was replaced at John Duigan's request with a 35 HP ENV V8 engine.

He is also understood to undertake futher modifications to the aircraft including propellor changes.

Mark Pilkington, 05.08.2008

Having reviewed the information referred to by Jaya, I would happily agree his Grandfather is acknowledged as being responsible for the drawing of the Avro-Duigan, design of the propellor, and collaboration on the design with A.V. Roe. It would seem that John Duigan's input to the design may have revolved around selection of the engine, and other "output" specifications, rather than detailed design inputs other than the engine? It is also most likely S.V. Setty played a major role the design of the Avro D / 500, following his involement with the Avro-Duigan, despite competing claims elsewhere that this was a product of Roy Chadwick, who had started at Avro in 1911 as an 18yo. it would seem S.V. Setty had departed Avro's by April 1912 and therefore nearly 18 months prior to the first flight of the Avro 504 in September 1913, this design therefore is more likely to be correctly attributable to Roy Chadwick, but it has always been acknowledged to have inhereted design aspects from the earlier Avro 500.

Given their overlapping service from 1911 to 1912, it is interesting to consider that S.V.Setty's departure from AVRO perhaps allowed Roy Chadwick to move into the Chief Draughtsman and later chief designer role at the company.

Despite all of that, S.V. Setty certainly deserves acknoledgement of his role in the design and drawing of these early Avro aircraft, and his role as a pioneer aviator in India.

JAYAPRAKASH, 03.08.2008

This aircraft was named as Avro Duigan as he purchased the aircraft from AVRO. Hence he has no role to play in its design. S.V. Setty’s original design was called AVRO- e or 500. The demonstration of his design, named after John Duigan was called AVRO Duigan
I repeat, this aircraft has been designed, built and tested by S.V.Setty
all by himself. Before leaving AVRO, he designed one more aircraft, which later became world famous, as a Trainer aircraft called AVRO -504. All this can be understood by the Experience certificate and the Gold Medal presented to him by A.V. Roe in June 1912.

Mark Pilkington, 25.07.2008

It would seem from the earlyaviator.com site http://www.earlyaviators.com/esetty1.htm that S.V.Setty did work in the Avro drawing office and most likely played a part in the design and construction of this aircraft.

This aircraft was specified and ordered from A.V.Roe by John Duigan of Australia in 1911, and used by him to gain his formal pilots licence in the UK, however Duigan had previously designed and flown his own pusher Biplane in Australia in 1910, and is understood to have played a major role in the design of this aircraft, hence his name being included by A.V.Roe for the type. He later designed and built a similar tractor biplane in 1913 in Australia using the ENV engine from this aircraft. http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/duigan_bio.html

jayaprakash, 19.06.2008

This aircraft was designed by my great grand father s.v.setty. The detail can obtained in web site early aviator

Do you have any comments about this aircraft ?

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