The Comper Aircraft Company

After Nick left the RAF he gathered a few friends an family together to finance the setting up of the Comper Aircraft Company.  It was formed in March 1929.  Nick Comper and friends, relatives and a local businessman raised £15,800 capital.  The directors included his brother, Adrian Comper, GA Dawson, a local businessman and owner of Hooton Aerodrome, Flight Lieutenant JB Allen, who had served with Comper at Cranwell and A Moulsdale.  Richard Shuttleworth, who later created the Suttleworth Museum at Old Warden near Biggleswade, was also an investor and director.  He invested £7,000.  Nick became chief designer and managing director.

It was based at Hooton Aerodrome, near Ellesmere Port in Cheshire.

The first Comper Swift emerged from the Hooton Works in December 1929.   It was a great improvement on the CLAs given a greater aerodynamic cleanness by placing the wing directly on top of the fuselage and the pilot was accommodated immediately behind the wing in a cutout in the trailing edge.  It was made entirely of wood with a girder-type fuselage built up in three sections and wings of conventional two-spar type braced with V-struts and capable of being folded to a width of only7 ft 6 ins.  The undercarriage arrangement with its rubber-cord suspension totally enclosed in the fuselage, and the total loaded weight of only 600 lbs made sure of a lively performance, even though its first version only had an A.B.C. Scorpion II engine.

Designated Comper CLA -7 and named Swift, the prototype, registration G-AARX, first made a public appearance at Brooklands on 17th May 1930.

For a short time Hooton was the only commercial aerodrome in the north of England.

Over forty Swifts were manufactured at Hooton during the lifetime of the company.swift-factory

The  works at Hooton, however, lacked facilities for manufacture of a sophisticated multi-seat touring aircraft.  Work on the Mouse was therefore delayed until the new factory at Heston airport was ready for production.

comper-factory.jpg

Moving the works from Hooton to Heston was completed in March 1933 and by early September Nick donned a business suit and bowler hat, sat in the pilot’s seat, slid the cabin top closed and the Mouse took off.

But by 1933 the company was suffering grave financial difficulties.  The move to Heston was a sympton of last ditch moves being made by the company’s directors.  There were urgent and frequent reshuffles of the board until finally the company ceased trading in August 1934.