Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Albert Hatfull: The Senator, Junior 60 and much, much more!

Albert Edward Hatfull ought to be more famous.

At free flight events in the UK (and around the world) you are likely to see a SENATOR rubber model soar up into the sky for yet another flight over 3 minutes. I never tire of watching the SENATOR. It may well be the most successful rubber model that has ever been sold in kit form (by Keil Kraft). To demonstrate what I mean, here is a great video of a SENATOR being trimmed on a short motor run by US modeller Almico123:

Isn't that superb?!

Many RC afficianados will know and love the Junior 60 design. Originally a free flight "gasser", you'll still see Junior 60s being used by radio control clubs as "workhorses" and camera platforms. It is charming and possesses a functional attractiveness that is difficult to explain to non-modellers. See this fabulous article on an electric conversion by Barry Slater.

The plans for these iconic designs are as beautiful as the models themselves. The SENATOR and JUNIOR 60 were just two of the many models designed by Albert Edward Hatfull. The plans were drawn by him while he was engaged by Keil Kraft as a young man.

Albert was born in 1926 in London. His family had a strong engineering and sea-faring tradition. However, he was into aeroplanes and from the age of 9 he cut his teeth on Megow and Guillow's kits. By all accounts he was a colourful character with a great sense of humour. He was fond of New Orleans jazz, followed the US model aircraft scene (Korda et al) and played the piano. He attended Tottenham Technical College, studied maths and draughtsmanship and developed an interest in aerodynamics. Sadly in 1942 at the tender age of 16, he contracted polio from a local swimming pool. This was a time when vaccination was not yet available. The disease restricted his hand mobility, but the wonderful thing is that he did not let it stop him from being creative.

Soon after the polio infection, the youthful designer created his first model for Keil Kraft. As it was wartime, he named it the INVADER glider and it became a best-seller. Before the age of 20, the JUNIOR 60 was created, quite literally "while the V2s were falling on London". Despite the polio, he built a career as a proficient draughtsman. Engineering drawings and later patent work at the Science Library provided a living, but model aircraft were his passion. He designed dozens of planes, including the SENATOR in ca. 1950 and the SKYSCRAPER around the same time. The two models are very similar, the main difference being an undercambered fuselage on the SKYSCRAPER. Albert was clearly interested in aerofoil shaped "lifting" fuselage profiles. Interestingly, he did not report any difference in the performance of the SENATOR as compared to the SKYSCRAPER and the former became much better known, widely flown.

Apart from gliders (e.g. SOARER series) and rubber power jobs, he also designed many Jetex models. Of the jet designs, his personal favourite was the De Havilland VENOM. Many of his plans were published in the aeromodelling press. He even designed Keil Kraft's triangular trade mark logo!

After Keil Kraft, he did some design work for Worcraft models (Dewsbury) and Elite models (Manchester). These included the Worcraft SCARAB - with lovely elliptical wing profiles and the Elite ELF, which like the SKYSCRAPER, sported a beautiful aerofoil shaped "lifting" fuselage profile. Ill health forced him into retirement in 1984 and he passed away in 2007.

I hope this blog post helps to make Albert E. Hatfull's name as famous as his models. Aeromodellers will not forget him!

(I hope to continue researching and will endeavour to expand this blog post accordingly. For example, I wonder if someone has a good list of all his models - if you do, please email me!).


1. Harry Payling (2007), Obituary of Albert Edward Hatfull, New Clarion SAM 1066 newsletter, November 2007, p.20-21.

2. Bill Morley (1996), SAM meets Albert, SAM 35 Yearbook 9 , p.2-7.

3. Andrew Longhurst (1995), Rubber Column No.149, SAM Speaks No.155 June 1995, p.3, 5-6.


Eduardo Yamin said...

Nice tutorial and trimming session!
my blog:
regards from Brasil.

Chuck Glider said...

Thanks Eduardo. Love your blog too. What a fantastic slope you have to fly from!

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful story, now I know who designed the Senator which I built and flew along with other Keil Kraft models with my uncle as a boy generating a passion for model aircraft and such happy memories. Now retired as an ex Rolls Royce and General Electric engineer but still flying models. Shows what can be acomplished in adversity. Thank you.

Chuck Glider said...

Anonymous, I agree (and thanks for your kind words).

Cliff said...

Many many thanks from one whom Hatfull saved from much sadness in those far off Fifties. How proud I was to find my own name could be fitted into an aerofoil section like his. I do so hope it was not he author Elliston Trevor attacked in 'The Flight of the Phoenix'.