Camm, Sir Sydney

Camm, Sir Sydney
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b. 5 August 1893 Windsor, Berkshire, England
d. 12 March 1966 Richmond, Surrey, England
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English military aircraft designer.
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He was the eldest of twelve children and his father was a journeyman carpenter, in whose footsteps Camm followed as an apprentice woodworker. He developed an early interest in aircraft, becoming a keen model maker in his early teens and taking a major role in founding a local society to this end, and in 1912 he designed and built a glider able to carry people. During the First World War he worked as a draughtsman for the aircraft firm Martinsyde, but became increasingly involved in design matters as the war progressed. In 1923 Camm was recruited by Sopwith to join his Hawker Engineering Company as Senior Draughtsman, but within two years had risen to be Chief Designer. His first important contribution was to develop a method of producing metal aircraft, using welded steel tubes, and in 1926 he designed his first significant aircraft, the Hawker Horsley torpedo-bomber, which briefly held the world long-distance record before it was snatched by Charles Lindbergh in his epic New York-Paris flight in 1927. His Hawker Hart light bomber followed in 1928, after which came his Hawker Fury fighter.
By the mid-1930s Camm's reputation as a designer was such that he was able to wield significant influence on the Air Ministry when Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft specifications were being drawn up. His outstanding contribution came, however, with the unveiling of his Hawker Hurricane in 1935. This single-seater fighter was to prove one of the backbones of the RAF during 1939–45, but during the war he also designed two other excellent fighters: the Tempest and the Typhoon. After the Second World War Camm turned to jet aircraft, producing in 1951 the Hawker Hunter fighter/ground-attack aircraft, which saw lengthy service in the RAF and many other air forces. His most revolutionary contribution was the design of the Harrier jump-jet, beginning with the P.1127 prototype in 1961, followed by the Kestrel three years later. These were private ventures, but eventually the Government saw the enormous merit in the vertical take-off and landing concept, and the Harrier came to fruition in 1967. Sadly Camm, who was on the Board of Sopwith Hawker Siddeley Group, died before the aircraft came into service. He is permanently commemorated in the Camm Memorial Hall at the RAF Museum, Hendon, London.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
CBE 1941. Knighted 1953. Associate Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society 1918, Fellow 1932, President 1954–5, Gold Medal 1958. Daniel Guggenheim Medal (USA) 1965.
Further Reading
Alan Bramson, 1990, Pure Luck: The Authorized Biography of Sir Thomas Sopwith, 1888–1989, Wellingborough: Patrick Stephens (provides information about Camm and his association with Sopwith).
Dictionary of National Biography, 1961–70.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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