Vickers, Sons, and Maxim

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Armaments firm Vickers, Sons and Maxim Ltd. established an aircraft office in 1908 and in that year built an airship. Captain, later Major, Herbet F. Wood headed aviation department. Ca. late 1912, Richard Harold Barnwell, known as Harold, joined as test pilot, becoming chief pilot and a designer until his accidental death in August 1917. In 1913, George Henry Challenger, chief engineer, works manager, and a designer at British and Colonial Aeroplane Co., 1910-1913, transferred to Vickers; he resigned from there in 1918. Other pioneers at Vickers were Archibald Reith Low and Howard Flanders.

Patent FR-1912-443849, filed via Vickers Limited, makes priority date reference to Patent GB-1911-8220, filed by Hiram Stevens Maxim. This must naturally be the "Maxim" included within the company name, his individual work dovetailing into this corporate process.

On initiative of Wood, acquired license from REP in 1911 and built eight REP-designed monoplanes 1911-12. Opened flying school in late 1911 at Brooklands/Weybridge. Barnwell designed several fast machines, notably the Vicker Bullet, which he also piloted.

Gunston says Wood had idea to acquire RFP license in 1910. Dir1920 pp34-35 has ads for this firm listed at Aviation Department, Imperial Court, Basil Street, Knightsbridge, London, S.W.3. In November 1928, Vickers acquired all equity of Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd, becoming Vickers Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd.

Earlier: Jarrett, 1987, pp 84-85, says that on Sept 15, 1897, "the Maxim and Nordenfeld company was taken over by Vickers, to become Vickers, Sons & Maxim Limited. Vickers, which had held a minority shareholding in the company, paid £1,353,000 for the artillery and ammunition works at Erith, Crayford, and Dartford. Owing to the lack of government orders and to 'eccentric' management by Maxim and Nordenfeld, the company had not fared well in the 1880s but had been made profitable in 1896 by Sigmund Loewe, whose appointment to the board had been arranged by Lord Rothschild. Loewe's business ability has been described as 'one of the most important assets which Vickers acquired' in the purchase, and Vickers was 'entirely ruthless' in taking only the people it wanted from compan ies that it bought. Maxim was 'effectively' eliminated from any position of influence." And it seems that Maxim "was required to remove his hangar from the company's ranges at Eynsford. Coupled with Maxim's poor finances following his experiments in the late 1880s and early 1890s, this brought his [aero?] work to an end. It also deprived Pilcher [of a] hangar [and of his] flying ground." (There are many footnotes in Jarrett's text to sources.)

Patents associated with organizations named Vickers, Sons, and Maxim, Vickers Ltd., or Vickers Limited

People affiliated with Vickers, Sons, and Maxim or Vickers Ltd. or Vickers Limited

Publications by or about Vickers, Sons, and Maxim or Vickers Ltd. or Vickers Limited



Names Vickers, Vickers Limited, Vickers Ltd., Vickers, Sons, and Maxim
Country Great Britain
City many
Started aero 1908
Ended aero
Key people Herbet F. Wood, Harold Barnwell, George Henry Challenger, Archibald Reith Low, Howard Flanders, Hiram Stevens Maxim
Wikidata id