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John Kenworthy

(1883 - 1940)

John Kenworthy was born in Darlington, County Durham, in December 1883, the son of George and Ellen Kenworthy. A mechanical engineering graduate of Durham College of Science, in 1911 he joined the Royal Aircraft Factory as a design assistant at Farnborough, Hampshire. His first design in 1912 was the B.E.3. He also designed the H.R.E.2, a floatplane version of the earlier B.E.2 designed by Geoffrey de Havilland, following by the B.E.4, B.E.7 and in 1913 the B.E.8 After the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, the Royal Flying Corps needed fighter and reconnaissance aircraft from the Royal Aircraft Factory and Kenworthy as Chief Designer produced the F.E.8 in 1916 and the R.E.8 in 1917.In 1916 he was part of the project team as chief draughtsman who designed S.E.5 and the S.E.5a.

From 1918 to 1921 he had been chief designer and engineer to the aircraft department of the Austin Motor Car Company, supervising a department which had an output of 50 service aircraft week. While with Austin he had designed the Kestrel, Greyhound and Whippet biplanes. In 1922 Kenworthy joined the Westland Aircraft Works as assistant chief designer, but his tenure was short lived and by 1923 was chief designer at the Aircraft Disposal Co. where he designed the Martinsyde ADC and Nimbus, developments of the F4 Buzzard. In 1925 the company became ADC Aircraft Ltd, still with Kenworthy as chief designer.

In August, 1929, Captain P.G. Robinson was developing his ideas for a light sport aeroplane to compete with the de Havilland Moth and Avro Avian machines and he contacted Kenworthy, who at that time was working for the Aeronautical Inspection Directorate of the Air Ministry, to provide a suitable design. Kenworthy continued with the Air Ministry, acting as consultant, giving Robinson Aircraft the design they wanted and subsequently the benefit of his experience in an advisory capacity. On 12 August, 1929, the Certificate of Incorporation of the Robinson Aircraft Company Limited was issued and by early September, Kenworthy was drawing up the specification for the Redwing. This called for a side-by-side two-seater with low landing speed and exceptionally low stalling speed.

In 1931, the Robinson Aircraft Company was reconstituted and became the Redwing Aircraft Co Ltd. On 1 July 1932 John Kenworthy joined the Redwing Aircraft Company full-time as chief designer and joint Managing Director, and on the same day Gatwick Aerodrome and Club was officially opened. The company moved their operations to Gatwick, but in 1934 the Redwing Aircraft Co., moved back to Croydon aerodrome.

In late 1936, Kenworthy joined Rollason Aircraft Services at Croydon in charge of the Detail Section (Air Ministry contracts).

John Kenworthy B.Sc., F.R.Ae.S, died on 8th November 1940 in Croydon after a long illness.

Biography References

  1. The Redwing Story, John Lane (Privately published, 1992)
  2. Martinsyde Aircraft, Ray Sanger (Air Britain Publications, 1999)
  3. Flight Magazine 21 Jan, 1937

V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017