Letter: A winged horror that tainted the sky

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The Independent Online
Sir: I read with interest your tribute to Gwen Alston (27 July) and her work on the stability and control problems of aircraft. It brought to mind the anonymous Fleet Air Arm officer's poem on the Barracuda:

Why should the unoffending sky

Be tainted and corrupted by

This product of a twisted brain,

That's aeronautically insane,

This vile and hideous abortion,

Devoid of beauty and proportion,

That people call a Barracuda,

Whose form is infinitely cruder

Than any other scheme or plan

As yet conceived by mind of man.

To see it stagger into space

Would bring a blush upon the face

Of the most hardened Pharisee

Within the aircraft industry.

But I suggest we don't decry

This winged horror of the sky;

But keep it 'til the war is won,

And then we'll all join in the fun.

Festoon the wings with fairy lights

And wheel it out on gala nights,

Thus so we'll help dispel the rumour

That Britons have no sense of humour.

Presumably the discoveries made about the Barracuda's characteristics by Eric Brown and Gwen Alston caused modifications to be made, since the aircraft remained in service until 1953.

Yours sincerely,


Olney, Buckinghamshire

(Photograph omitted)