The Comper CLA.7 Swift was designed by Flt Lt Nicholas Comper in 1929. It was a small monoplane of wooden construction with plywood and fabric covering. The folding wing was mounted on top of the fuselage to give the pilot a good downward view. The prototype Swift was powered by a 35hp ABC Scorpion engine, but the first seven production aircraft were modified to be fitted with the 50hp British Salmson AD9 radial engine.
To improve the aircraft's performance for air racing, Comper then fitted Pobjoy radial engines as standard, although three Swifts were fitted with de Havilland Gipsy engines. Richard Shuttleworth was a director of Comper Aircraft and owned two Comper Swifts. 41 Comper Swifts were produced and today there are six complete Comper Swifts in existence, some replica Swifts have been built.
The Collections Comper Swift was the ninth Swift to be built in 1932 and a 15 minute test flight was made on August 24 1932 by Nick Comper. It was originally registered to Alban Ali as VT-ADO 'The Scarlet Angel' and spent the first part of its life in India. It was a competitor in the 1933 Viceroy's Challenge Cup Air Race in Delhi. Also competing in this race was Richard Shuttleworth and his flying instructor George Stead, racing in two more Comper Swifts. Alban Ali came sixth with the second fastest time at 124mph. Richard Shuttleworth retired from the race. After the race Ali left Delhi to fly the Swift back to England escorted by George Stead. During this flight Ali had to make a forced landing near Gaza and VT-ADU was badly damaged. After repairs Ali continued his flight, but the engine was not working properly and Ali crated VT-ADO and shipped it to Heston.
'The Scarlet Angel' was then sold to George Errington who rebuilt it and re-registered the aircraft as G-ACTF on May 24 1934, with the aircraft then flying soon after. Errington then flew the Swift all over the country and abroad and listed all of the places that the aircraft had visited on the rudder. The aircraft was sold in 1937 to Francis K. Luxmore who kept the Swift at Portsmouth where it remained during the war. In 1948 it was bought by test pilot Ron Clear. Clear groomed the aircraft for air racing and cleaned up the airframe, in the 1950 Daily Express race, the now silver G-ACTF finished in fifth place with an average speed of 141mph. G-ACTF was sold in 1951 and went through several owners until being sold to BOAC pilot Alan Chalkley who flew it extensively. However it was put into storage until being purchased by the Collection on August 16 1996. It had not flown for six years, but made its first display appearance in 1997. Over the years G-ACTF had been extensively modified with an enlarged cockpit, wheel spats, brakes and other parts. During 1998 it was overhauled and restored to its original factory condition and paint scheme. However engine problems have kept it away from the display scene since then, but it should fly again soon.
Length: 17ft 9in
Wingspan: 24ft 0in
Engines: one 90hp Pobjoy Niagra II