Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

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Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

Postby wifesaysno » Fri Dec 28, 2012 11:53 pm

Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

First off, apologies for being very late. Things have been a bit busy over here. Now on to business, thank you Ozzy for the wonderful suggestion!

I can think of no better way to introduce the reader of this to the Gemini than with this beautiful video of a preserved Gemini:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToV62V5XaGE

     The Gemini is yet another aircraft I had no idea ever existed despite all my attempts

to the contrary previous to the suggestion by Ozzy. Like the Great Lakes, now that I know of it, I feel foolish never having known of such a wonderful little plane!

http://www.digplanet.com/wiki/Miles_Gemini

     The Miles Gemini is supposed to be a light touring twin for about 4 people. It was equipped with rather tiny engines, a huge green-house like cockpit, as well as high lift devices.
     More importantly, the Gemini is another one of those aircraft that is historically significant. Not because of commercial success but rather because it was the last production aircraft produced by Miles and one of the first pure civil designs built after WW2. Miles having been another one of those classic aircraft manufacturers that sadly went the way of the dodo thus the Gemini represents the end of the Golden Age of the aero industry in Britain.

However, it also represents the start of peace and rebuilding. WW2 was the most devastating conflict in human history, aircraft being a major source of this devastation. Considering the Gemini's first flight was just a few MONTHS after VJ Day and the official end of the war, the Gemini represents an extremely abrupt change of an aero company from war to peace. Too me at least, it gives the Gemini a special place in the records of aviation history as one of the
first peaceful designs created after the biggest war in human history.

A good forum discussion elsewhere on the interwebs covering various aspects (and nastalga) of the Gemini:
http://www.pprune.org/private-flying/28 ... emini.html

Some good original documents and photos from its hey-day to look at before I ramble on some more:
http://home.comcast.net/~aero51/html/gallery/m65.htm

     Now with all that boring 'deep' jabber out of the way I draw focus to the design itself. Considering the year of its first flight, 1945, the design's construction and aerodynamics are rather PRE WW2. As the design was developed from the single engined Messenger, it is very likely that preliminary design work on this aircraft started before the end of the war albeit no doubt Miles was busy with its war commitments as every aircraft manufacturer was.
The design featured originally an engine very similar to the original engine of the Great Lakes: a dainty 90hp albeit the Gemini had 2. The aircraft was built primarily with wood, this would explain a great deal as too why there are so few left flying today as wooden aircraft require a large effort to keep flight worthy. A wood build up though can be rather light weight, as such it is my guess this was done for weight reasons as by 1945 the use of metals as the primary material was well established. A unique feature is the fixed trailing edge detached flaps. These look very much like the flaps on a Junkers Ju52 or '87 and would be just as effective. If it was not for the standard engine fitment being so weak, the Gemini would be a good short field airplane considering it had these fixed flaps and a large rectangular wing...but a lack of power complicates this issue. The power was an issue not just from weight, but also from the drag. Add the poor power loading and a fare amount of drag together and now you have a real plodding airplane. However, the sources of drag are what give the Gemini its distinctive look and endearing handling: strong, stable, spacious interior, and superb views from the cabin/cockpit. Of note too is that unlike a very similar plane, the Piper Aztec/Apache lineage, the Gemini is a tail dragger. These means that the pilot MUST PAY ATTENTION any time the engines are turning. Paying closer attention to the video provided at the beginning shows that the twin engines, high lift wings, and rather stubby layout ensure that the airplane requires attention on final and the ground roll. During the rest of the flight, it appears to be a rather gentle (albeit slow) airplane. But what do you expect from a tail dragger?! If you want a tail dragger that is a piece of cake to land and requires no special attention, then get a nose wheel!

From an engineering and design standpoint, I see great potential in the Gemini's design. With a bit more development it could have spawned a British competitor to the Piper twin line of the later Aztec/Apache (or similar machine). Like the Aztec, the Gemini was built with rather lack-luster performance but utility and comfort in mind. With a bit more power and some slight aerodynamic refinements the Gemini would likely have been a major player in the civil light twin market. But alas, Miles financial woes finally caught up and that would be the end. A quick note on the power issue, apparently many-a Gemini recieved more powerful powerplants usually still well below 200hp.

In closing, the Gemini certainly is not a glamorous airplane. Nor is it ground breaking. Nor did it have a long production run. However, the Gemini could be considered as the last of the 'classic' British vintage civil airplanes and among the first pure civil flying machines to be born post WW2. Personally, I am a huge sucker for vintage airplanes (hence the WACO pic in the signature). Therefore, I think the Gemini is spectacular. It is made of wood, has classic lines, its a tail dragger, and it lacks the boring refinments of modern design styles. In other words, its a pure classic airplane. Fingers crossed someone with real talent gets an idea to make a pack of the Gemini for FS2004/FSX!


Well folks this one was a hard bugger for me to find info on, if any of you find any other useful links or tid bits of info, as usual please share!

Until next time,
May your landings be smooth, and your beers strong!
Last edited by wifesaysno on Sat Dec 29, 2012 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

Postby Hagar » Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:04 am

Interesting choice of aircraft. F.G Miles Ltd was based at Shoreham Airport when I first worked there in the early 1960s. The Gemini was the brainchild of F.G's younger brother George who took over as chief designer during WWII. There were plenty of Miles types around then & the Gemini was very popular. One regular visitor was owned by Shell Aviation & flown by Sir Douglas Bader the legless RAF ace. He was later given this aircraft when he left Shell.

The aircraft was built primarily with wood, this would explain a great deal as too why there are so few left flying today as wooden aircraft require a large effort to keep flight worthy.

The problem wasn't the wood so much as the glue which deteriorates over time & caused things like de-lamination of the structure & plywood covering. Restoration of aircraft using this type of construction is a skilled job & very expensive. There would be a lot more around now if they'd been built using modern aero adhesives.

A wood build up though can be rather light weight, as such it is my guess this was done for weight reasons as by 1945 the use of metals as the primary material was well established.

Miles aircraft were traditionally built of wood. This was for various reasons, one being the shortage of aircraft grade metal during & immediately after WWII. The only all-metal Miles production aircraft I can think of was the Marathon. This was produced by Messrs Handley Page after Miles Aircraft folded in the 1950s. I had my first flight in a Marathon at RAF Topcliffe when I was 14 years old.

I've attached a couple of my photos of a Gemini taken at one of the Shuttleworth Colection displays last year. This one belongs to Sir John Allison.

Image

Image
Last edited by Hagar on Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

Postby ozzy72 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 4:46 am

Doug (Hagar) was the guy that educated me on Miles aircraft and prompted my interest in their designs and innovations ;)
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Re: Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

Postby Flying Trucker » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:18 am

Excellent choice of aircraft, wonderful commentary and some interesting Links Adam.

As always a job well done.... ;)

Some excellent shots and first hand history Doug... ;)
Cheers...Happy Landings...Doug
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Re: Plane of the something #10: Miles Gemini

Postby wifesaysno » Sat Dec 29, 2012 9:32 am

Excuse me while I wipe the drool of my laptop a second Doug  ;D

BEAUTIFUL shots!

So it was their glues that deteriorated? Wood properly treated does seem to last a while, I have seen WACO YMF-5 s/n 14 at work before, she was built in the mid-late 80's and the wood was still going strong. It even shrugged off a bit of a ground loop!

After working here at WACO Classic for a bit now on the Great Lakes, I really wish others would try to bring other vintage designs back. As you said Doug, the Gemini built to modern specs and for me a bit more HP would probably sell pretty well. Although here in the US at least, the art of building mainly wooden aircraft structures is dying. We have ONE experienced craftsman in our shop to carry it on to his co-workers.

Wow, I am rambling again  ;D

Let me just say, a wooden aircraft is a work of art, I feel very fortunate to see wooden wings being built every day.
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