top of page

The School of Special Flying, Gosport

(Monochrome Photograph - Showing Avro 504s outside the hangars of the School of Special Flying, Gosport, Hampshire 1918.)

Due to the poor quality of replacement pilots, in Decemberof 1916 Major R. R. Smith-Barry, was posted to commandNo. 1 Reserve Squadron at Gosport with the remit to createan improved method of pilot training.

Within a short time Smith-Barry and his team had evolveda system of training using the Avro 504 alone, whichenabled them to take a new recruit to such a state ofproficiency that he was able to fly any air service aeroplane.

The success of this method of training was immediatelyrecognised and the Squadron was renamed the School ofSpecial Flying in September 1917.

The Gosport School trained instructors who were then, inturn, sent to the training units throughout the UK to passon their flying skills.

After the War ended the method of tuition was almostuniversally accepted world-wide and its basis still remains today.

The origin of the AVRO 504K

(Monochrome Photograph - Showing the first conversion of an Avro 504A (B3157)to a 504K built at the School of Special Flying The engine installed was a 130 hp Clerget.)

Towards the end of 1917 the shortage of rotary engines for Avro 504s again became acute and this time the net was cast further afield by the Training Brigade. Engines then being considered included the 100 hp overhung Monosoupape, the 80 hp or 110 hp Le Rhone and the130 hp Clerget.

It would appear that the first installation was again instigated by the Training Brigade.

Superficial similarities between the cowling and side fairings used by the Clerget engined Sopwith Camel may also have influenced the design. It is known that Air Department produced drawings for the conversion and details were supplied to Avro in early October, 1917. The following month the company began to create production drawings for the new version of the aeroplane using the designation Avro 504K.

It had a redesigned open fronted cowling and would accept any available rotary engine by using one of as election of adapter plates.

Thus was created the immortal version of the Avro trainer which, together with the Gosport system, was to teach thousands of pilots to fly all all over the world during the following 20 years.

bottom of page