JODEL D. 140E “Mousquetaire”
When Alan Shipp retired from a thirty-year career as an officer with the Humberside Fire Brigade, in 1994, he wasn’t short of ideas on what to do to fill his well-earned hours of retirement. In 1988, he’d qualified as a microlight pilot, flying from Doncaster (now closed unfortunately) and expected to find more time to enjoy his hobby and improve his flying skills. Over the years he’d also used his leisure time to work on many hands-on projects, that involved using several different materials, building up experience and quite a lot expertise along the way. He had no doubt that he would find the time to undertake many other projects to fill the increased time available to him in retirement.
However, despite enjoying microlight flying and satisfying though this was, Alan was quietly looking for something more comfortable and challenging to develop his flying skill at another level. Appropriately, out of the blue, his brother, Ron bought a two-seat Piel CP-30 Emeraude in 1991, as an insurance write-off, a project that required major repairs if it was to become airworthy once again. Ron asked Alan if he felt confident enough to undertake the work, pretty much knowing that he had the skills required. Whilst Alan was confident that he had the time available and the necessary skills and saw the project as a worthwhile challenge, he had to ensure that he had sufficient space to carry out the repairs.
He therefore increased the size of his garage and equipped it as his workshop. The aircraft, when stripped down and taken into the new workshop, was found to require a complete new spar and wing, together with major fuselage repairs.
Utilising original French plans, Alan built a new wooden wing from scratch and carried out the repair to the fuselage over a period of eighteen months and finally had the satisfaction of seeing it fly again, making its maiden flight from Breightonin 1996.
It would be fair to say that this project gave Alan the ‘bug’ – his thinking being, “If I can do it for Ron, I can do it for myself.” After much thought and considering various options he decided in 1992, on building a Jodel D.150 Mascaret. This aeroplane is a traditional timber construction and fabric design and is a robust aircraft, often considered to be the “Rolls Royce” of two-seaters, with the distinctive “bent wing” that is typical of Jodel design. Although known to most, it is worth repeating that the name Jodel, is a contraction of the names of a test pilot (Eduard Joly) and a designer, Jean Delemontez, who got together in 1946, to form Avions Jodel to repair aircraft and gliders for the re-emerging French flying clubs. The company acts both as a design bureau and as a provider of plans for the many Jodel variants. Their low-wing club training and touring aircraft were said to epitomise the post war light aircraft movement in Europe and have been built by many individuals and companies since the mid 1900s and therefore have an excellent track record.
Accordingly, Alan sent for a set of plans from the Société des Avions Jodel of Beaune France. They are of course denoted in French and use metric measurements – and so when they arrived, it became not only necessary for Alan to work in metric scale, some of which had to be converted to Imperial, since the only place he could obtain parts was in America, but also to learn sufficient of the language to understand the specification and the complexities involved in construction. Finding the correct timber for the airframe was made somewhat easier by living close to Hull, where many of the major timber importers are based. There is a range of quality materials and expert help is available for advice, but as Alan says, “It has to be looked for”.
He machined the timber in his workshop to the finished sizes required for the wooden airframe. The steel tube was imported from Aircraft Spruce and Speciality Co. of Corona, California and their catalogue became his bible in sourcing many of the parts required.
Hours and hours were devoted to the project and it became more a labour of love than a hobby, completely taking over Alan’s life as he spent many hours in his workshop, with time completely suspended, whilst he studied the plans, pondered over problems, worked on parts and components, fitted various equipment and strived to complete the aircraft. He reckons his best assistant during the whole project was a one-inch roll of masking tape, which acted as a third hand transplant. As the aircraft became more complete, Alan had to extend the workshop again to facilitate construction and to store completed parts, since, as he said at the time, it had become “a bit like making a shoe in a shoe box”. His inspector throughout the project was Chris Turner from Breighton. After around 8,000 hours; equating to four-and-a- half-years of effort, it was ready to fly and Alistair Newall took it up for the first time in May 1996. His superb craftsmanship was self evident and as a result Alan was awarded the Wilkinson Sword for ‘Best Jodel at the PFA Rally at Wroughton and the Premier Award for a homebuilt at Epinal, France, both in 1996. Since then Alan has spent many happy hours flying around Europe, maintaining and improving his flying skill. But something was missing!
Anyone might think, having achieved his ambition that Alan would call it a day on building a home built from scratch. Well, despite the enjoyment of flying his own creation, time began to hang heavy in between times. He was missing the joy of using his hands creatively. So, having an empty workshop and having amassed a great deal of experience, Alan decided to go one better and sent for the plans for a Jodel D.140E Mousquetaire. This is an altogether much bigger and beefier aircraft than the Mascaret. In fact, it is the biggest Jodel that you can get your hands on, provided you could that is, and it offers a truly amazing combination of load lifting, range, spacious comfort, vice-less handling, slow landing characteristics and short field performance. Its lifting capacity is really impressive and can take five adults, their luggage and a more than useful amount of fuel aloft. In short, it is an iconic aircraft.
It’s worth looking back at this point into the design origins of the D.140E. The Jodel D.11 Club, was a two-seat trainer built at the behest of the French Government in 1948, to re-equip French flying clubs, and proved to be a great success. Production was undertaken by French entrepreneur Lucien Querey, who founded the Société Aeronautique Normande (SAN) at a small grass airfield near to the Normandy town of Bernay. The SAN version was designated D.112, which was later upgraded as the D.117. At this time Jean Delemontez had been appointed as the technical consultant to SAN and when Querey at the Bernay factory was invited by the French Government to submit a tender for a much larger aeroplane, Delemontez was automatically consulted.
He rejected the original specification as being much too complicated, as it required the extensive use of metal, a 260 hp Potez engine and a retractable undercarriage. He felt that these features would make it far too heavy to be an effective performer. He persuaded the Government to allow him a free hand by promising the performance they desired without the power, weight and cost penalties they had originally proposed. His alternative design was basically a scaled up D.117, to produce an aircraft that could carry five adults, their baggage and a huge amount of fuel and powered by the reliable 180 hp Lycoming 0-360. Since it was Delemontez’ fourteenth design, it was designated as the D.140A by SAN.
The prototype was first flown by Lucien Querey himself, in July 1958 and the name ‘Mousquetaire’ was chosen. Following a disastrous fire that raged through the small factory and the death of Query, as the result of a massive heart attack, early in December 1959, production did not resume until later in the month, with the refined ‘B’ model. The much- improved ‘C’ model flew in 1963 and featured Frise ailerons, bigger flaps and a completely redesigned and enlarged swept fin and rudder. This model was the most prolific version in numerical terms, with seventy being produced. The final version was the D.140E, which offered many further refinements, including the replacement of the fixed tailplane and elevator with an all-flying tailplane. Forty-three examples were built, which included eighteen for the Armée de l’Air, which service used them for basic pilot and navigation training, as glider tugs, communications and – slightly modified, for ‘casevac’ from the battlefield during the Algerian campaign. This latter arrangement worked so well that civilian operators adapted them in similar fashion, fitted with skis for use at ski resorts. The Armée del’Air, as yet, has found no suitable replacement for this versatile aeroplane and as a result the Mousquetaire is a highly cherished and sought after aeroplane in mainland Europe and few come up for sale – and then only rarely the ‘E’ model.
This then, is the aeroplane Alan decided to build from scratch in 1998, using plans he obtained from Avions Jodel. His previous experience of building a Jodel was invaluable in undertaking this project, as many of the problems he’d wrestled with and resolved last time, allowed for a speedier construction period for this aeroplane. However, despite his earlier experience, he also realised that he was still in for a long haul with this project. Having constructed the fuselage up to the firewall, his workshop had to be increased in size again to accommodate the wing structure.
In fact the sheer size of this aeroplane took Alan by surprise, it has a wingspan of 33’ 7” and a length of 25’ 8”; and stands at 6’ 9” in height. Although he was mentally prepared, following study of the plans, the physical size came as somewhat of a shock, especially when it came to construction and assembly in an already tight space. Having seen construction in Alan’s workshop, I can vouch that it’s an ultra tight fit with only millimetres to spare.
The aeroplane at this stage is almost complete. The cabin is fully fitted out with instruments and although the red leather seats are made, they are yet to be installed. Alan fabricated his own engine mounts and has fitted a 180 hp Lycoming 0-360 engine, which he acquired almost ‘bare’ but which had a starter, carburettor and magneto. However, this left the exhaust to be fabricated manually and this was a complicated task, done through Alan crafting hand made jabroc dies as a former for pressing out the stainless steel components, which then had to be welded together. The fibre-glass cowlings for the engine have been moulded, fitted and painted and the next major task will be installing the electrical wiring and fitting the control cables.
This work can’t be done until the wing is fitted to the aeroplane and the fuel tank fitted, since the cables pass through the tank. When it is finally lifted onto its undercarriage, the scale of his achievement will be fully realised. He is looking for completion in September/October 2008, although as Alan says, “Nothing is certain, I’ve learned through experience to expect the unexpected.”
Typical of the man, Alan has been very generous with the experience he has gained and with the parts he has accumulated; and others undertaking similar projects have been given his time and both the benefit of his considerable advice and the loan of items to assist in crafting their own aeroplane.