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Updated June 2012

T. E. Lawrence to Flight Lieutenant W.E.G. Beauforte-Greenwood

Mount Batten.


Dear Flight Lieutenant Beauforte-Greenwood,

Here is a final report, so far as present arrangements go, on the little surf-board target. It is very good for its proposed job, I think, the only difficulty being spotting, which is best done from the aircraft, the fixed a base-line of 600 yards giving to the observer a good chance of guessing his shot's real position. 

I had to give up towing it behind 159, as we did only 13 miles an hour with it, full out; and could only get out occasionally, the other two 35-footers being under top-overhaul for Schneider duty. So I hoped it onto the Biscayne Baby and ran it off its keel! The rough days (everybody said the wire would break in the bad water) were great fun, the sea being much too bad for a Southampton upon last occasion. Once I got it up to 35 m.p.h.: but 20-25 is really its fastest decent speed. For a fast target you would have to re-design, with flared bows and a flattened after-moulding, I think, to plane: with scoop-tubes like air intakes thrust through the floor and amidships. You could make it weigh only half of this target's weight, I think. 

This one slowed my light boat by about 3 miles an hour only, at its worst. 

I think any quantity of reconditioned 5 cwt drogue cable is available, and its lightness and strength makes it ideal for this tow, if it is carefully handled. The art is to wind it regularly and so avoid kinks. If that is done, or if all kinks are cut and spliced, the wire will last indefinitely. The main reason for a power-driven drum is to be able to wind up smoothly, under load. 

I'm afraid this photo should have been taken from behind the target, to show that its splash is much the same as my boat's. The 600 yards interval makes it look so remote and small. We have put the target back into station stores, now. It is a bit worn at its edges but still quite good. The Flying Boat very much enjoyed bombing at it. 

The towing is dead easy: you can turn any way you please, as slow or as fast as you like. I have doubled back like this within 50 yards of the target, with its proceeding blissfully in the former direction, while I dashed by!   

Yours sincerely,

T. E. Shaw.

Mount Batten is sad over the CO's posting to Manston on promotion. It is a great loss for flying boats and motor boats as he was keen on water work. Also he was a very good C.O. I wonder if Calshot have bust old 200 again!

Source: DG 729-30
Checked: dn/
Last revised: 28 November 2008

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