Roy Fedden : biography
Sir Alfred Hubert Roy Fedden MBE, FRAeS (6 June 1885 – 21 November 1973) Retrieved: 31 December 2008 was an engineer who designed most of Bristol Engine Company's successful aircraft engine designs.
Fedden was born in the Bristol area to fairly wealthy and influential parents. His older brother was the artist Romilly Fedden. Fedden's family was the first in the area to own a car, an interesting parallel with Harry Ricardo's. This early influence almost certainly led to his future career. Fedden attended Clifton College, but did not do well scholastically and was known primarily for sports. After leaving, he declined to enter the Army, and announced he would apprentice as an engineer.
Later war and after
The stress of wartime production needs had taken its toll on Leonard Butler, who left the company to recuperate. Although Fedden had created a long line of hugely successful engines for Bristol, he had fought constantly with management over funding priorities. Without Butler's influence it seems Fedden "had enough", and shortly after being knighted, he left Bristol to take up a variety of positions within the Government. For much of the remainder of the war, he travelled in the United States with another Bristol employee, Ian Duncan, to study their production line techniques in order to improve their own.
In 1945 Fedden led a Ministry of Aircraft Production mission to examine German aeronautical expertise and research. In the course of this he visited the V-2 production centre and labour camps at Nordhausen. Flight 29 November 1945
On his return, Duncan and Fedden set up Roy Fedden Ltd. in 1945. Their first product was a small horizontally-opposed aero engine intended to be installed within the wings of twin-engine aircraft. The Fedden O-325 saw no use. He then turned to a new turboprop design which also found little interest. Finally they decided to design their own car, powered by a three-cylinder air-cooled radial, but they found it had serious handling problems and tended to flip over when being cornered hard. This was largely due to the desire to maximise interior space coupled with the inherent difficulty of packaging a three-cylinder radial in a car chassis, which led to the engine being mounted above the rear axle, giving the car an undesirably high centre of gravity. Work started on a replacement chassis, but the rest of the company's engineers lost interest and left, and soon the company had to be dissolved.
After this, Fedden worked for a time consulting with George Dowty, but soon retired and spent his time teaching at the College of Aeronautics at Cranfield University.
Fedden was childless. He has sometimes been mistakenly described as the father of a prominent British artist called Mary Fedden. He was in fact her uncle.
His apprenticeship was completed in 1906, and he immediately designed a complete car.Lumsden 2003, p.91. He managed to convince the local firm of Brazil Straker to hire him, and the design was produced as the successful Shamrock. He remained at Brazil Straker over the following years, and he was particularly influential in convincing company management to take on the repair of various aircraft engines when World War I started. The company's role soon expanded to producing Rolls-Royce Hawk and Falcon engines, as well as major parts of the famous Rolls-Royce Eagle. Henry Royce offered Fedden a senior position with his company, but Fedden declined.
In 1915, Fedden started the design of his own aero engine, along with his draughtsman Leonard Butler. The two were inseparable for the next twenty years, and the part number of most components of Feddens engines were prefixed "FB" to indicate the shared credit. They designed two engines during World War I: the 14-cylinder radial Mercury, notable for the cylinders being arranged helically instead of in two rows, and the larger, more conventional single row nine-cylinder Jupiter design of about 400 hp.
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