Friday, January 30, 2009

Capt Arthur Stuart Keep MC xxxx - 1952

Arthur Stewart Keep joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment in September, 1914, and went overseas with it in November, 1915. He was invalided home in 1916 and transferred to the R.F.C., gaining his wings in August 1916. Until January 1917 he was engaged in ferrying aircraft and then went overseas as a test pilot. In January 1918 he was posted to No. 55 Sqn, Independent Air Force, stationed in Alsace-Lorraine and equipped with D.H.4S. He took part in daylight bombing raids on Mannheim, Coblenz, and other targets and was awarded the Military Cross after the famous Cologne raid,at that time the longest daylight bombing operation of the
1914-18 war. He was wounded and invalided home in July, 1918. Shortly after the Armistice he was sent to Westland Aircraft as Air Ministry test pilot and, on demobilization in 1919, joined the
company as their test pilot. In this capacity he carried out all the flying of the Weasel, a two-seat fighter biplane powered by a 320 h.p. A.B.C. Dragonfly; the Limousine, a four-seat cabin
biplane fitted witfi a 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon engine; and the Westland six-seater (450 h.p. Napier Lion), with which he won the first prize of £7,500 in the small-aeroplane class of the
Air Ministry competition for commercial aircraft, held at Martlesham Heath in the autumn of 1920.
He also flew the Walrus, a carrier-borne reconnaissance biplane for the Royal Navy. Basically a D.H. 9a, but with the Liberty motor replaced by a Napier Lion, the Walrus had flotation bags
and an observation blister, and carried a crew of three. The test machine with which Capt. Keep was actively concerned was the Dreadnought "postal monoplane," powered by a single Napier Lion and embodying the "flying wing" theories of M. Woyevodsky, a Russian inventor. The initial test flight took place in May 1924 and ended in disaster, owing to control difficulties.
Keep was seriously injured and had to have both legs amputated. Although this misfortune ended his active flying, he continued with Westland as technical superintendent, later becoming a director of Petters, Ltd. (to take over whose aircraft branch the Westland company was formed in 1935), until his retirement in 1935.