Monday, October 22, 2012
Walter Shirley (left) with Mike Randrup
Scorpion Engined Canberra B.2, WK163
In August 1957, Canberra B.2 WK163 captured the world altitude record. Fitted with a Napier "Double Scorpion" NScD1/2 rocket motor.WK163 achieved a height of 70,310 feet
Walter Shirley, Chief Engineer of D.Napier and Sons was observer on the Record setting altitude flight. When Napiers folded, Walter Shirley transferred to BAe and worked as a Flight Test engineer on the MRCA (Tornado) programme. Walter described the development programme for the twin Scorpion rocket programme flown using the Canberra to Dave Eagles. There was concern that the rocket flame path which extended under the Canberra belly would grow dangerously close to the skin as indicated airspeed reduced at high altitude. He devised a crude but effective way of checking the flame path. He fitted an array of silver solder bars protruding from the a/c belly and with a series of flights was able to observe, post flight, the pattern of the flame path as indicated by the material burnt away, and related this to the flight conditions they had set up.