Monday, 9 January 2012

(1927-1938) KEA Chelidon

KEA Chelidon, and in front of it most probably Lowe-Wylde and H.G. TraversThe Chelidon was designed and built in the State Aircraft Factory (KEA) by a Greek team under the supervision of Charles H. Lowe-Wylde, according to the Navy's specifications. Its development was completed in an impessive eight weeks. It was a two-seater military biplane designed mainly for advanced training and reconnaissance, and with the option of conversion into a hydroplane.
After testing though, it was considered inferior to its contemporary alternatives and production was cancelled. The Navy would be equipped instead with Armstrong Whitworth Atlas biplanes. KEA would go on building British-designed aircraft under license, including Avro 504, Atlas and 621 Tutor, but no other Greek-designed aircraft.

The photo above shows most probably C.H. Lowe-Wylde and Blackburn's test pilot (Herbert Gardner "Tiny" Travers).

Operational History
Dec. 1926 - The navy orders 18 aircraft
11 Feb. 1927 - First flight of the prototype.
23 May 1927 - Last three takeoffs from Tatoi. The last flight lasted 30 minutes and C.H.Wylde himself was in the back seat.
After a three month test flight period, the aircraft's performance is deemed inferior to alternative options, and the order is cancelled. The prototype is possibly used for technical personnel training at KEA and is most probably scrapped in 1938.

KEA Chelidon

Length: 5.79 m
Wingspan: 8.17 m
Engine: 1x Salmson (120 hp)
Speed: ~150 km/h
Crew: 2

For Gamers and Game designers With production having been cancelled, the sole KEA Chelidon prototype was possibly used as a training platform for the factory's engineers.

For Modellers
A profile by Dimitris Georgiadis:


  1. Hello. I found this:
    Royal Hellenic Air Force (RHAF) during
    World War II. Organization and Operations

    Starts at page 121.

  2. Me again, i have found a mysterious Greek 20mm gun that was in use by Italian Army in Occupation:

    Any idea what it was 20mm T.S. 101 ?


    by the artist Vincent Bourguignon this is a profile of the rare KEA Chelidon 1927

  4. A daughter of Herbert Gardner Travers DSC (1891-1958), Eva Travers, wrote 'Cross COuntry' - an account of her father's and his elder [James Lindsay Travers OBE (1883-1924)] and younger [Charles Tindal Travers AFC (1898-1969)] brothers' aviation careers drawing on her father's logbooks and family correspondence.

    In the book H G Travers refers to the Chelidon as the Helithon, and it lists some entries about test flying it, including:

    05/02/1927 'first trials. taxying. T skid bracket broke. repaired.

    07/02/1927 'Taxying tail skid broke. replaced.'

    09/02/1927 '2 straights. 05 minutes ok'

    20/02/1927 '1 circuit 05 minutes. Undercarriage OK. shock absorber cross arms bent. machine has strong tendency to swing landing.'

    No information was provided for 11/02/1927 but the book does reveal that he flew the aircraft three times on 23/05/1927 and that its designer, Charles Herbert Lowe-Wylde (1901-1933), accompanied him on the last two flights.

    Incidentally, there appears to be some doubt about the true identity of Charles Herbert Lowe-Wylde, contemporary press reporting of the inquest indicates his name was Charles Herbert Lowe, who had a brother, Thomas Harold Lowe. However, a thread on the Sussex History Forum indicates that some believe his true identity to be Thomas Harold Lowe.