View Full Version : Help with ID - 4 blade prop

12-06-2015, 01:26 PM
Hello All

I have a 4 blade propeller that I am looking to sell, but wanted to find out more about it.

I have spent most of the afternoon looking through this forum and am seriously impressed with the level of knowledge.

I am a little clearer about what I have, but decided to take the plunge and ask the experts what it is and hopefully an indication of its value.

I believe it is a Target Towing plane winch propeller.

The DRG number is T29505/2 but there is also the number 3899 stamped next to it as well.

Thanks in anticipation.


12-07-2015, 12:09 PM
I can't be sure, but I think I've seen that model before and it was thought to be from an auxiliary prop and is of British design. It may go back to the late teens or early twenties.

I don't think it was felt to have been used on a target drone, but am not sure of that.

12-08-2015, 06:07 AM
I have seen the same propeller in Australia (where is your one?) and it was described as coming off a Supermarine Seagull - Walrus, a mid thirties amphibian. This was unverified and I have never seen the aircraft with this fitted. This is a small propellor roughly three feet in diameter with a very lightweight hub taking a small diameter shaft, perhaps 3/4 of an inch? My thoughts are that it was used on a high capacity wind powered electrical generator, though I have never seen a four bladed application like this. Without an accurate ID it is hard to put a value on it. What makes you say it went on a target?

Bob Gardner
12-08-2015, 06:43 AM
Welcome, Licia, to the forum.

You are quite correct. It is a winch propeller from a target tug aircraft, most probably a WW2 aircraft. When not in use it rested inside the fuselage of the aircraft.

The aircraft towed the target drogue off the ground and when required for target practice, this prop was lowered into the airstream to provide the power for the winch which let out the drogue quite a long distance behind the aircraft; at least several hundred yards; sometimes nearly a mile.

I recall that once, when deployed for ships of the Royal Navy, a shell exploded just behind the target tug, where upon the pilot, with considerable sang froid, radioed to the ship "I'm pulling this ruddy target, not pushing it!"

The letter T on the drawing number indicates the authority that designed it, the Royal Aircraft Establishment.

Some years ago a dealer offered one on eBay with the fanciful thought that it was an auxiliary prop from an airship, and everyone who had one believed it, but fortunately this seems to have ended now.

Your prop would sell at auction here in the UK for about 200 GBP. If you clean it carefully with a cloth dampened in warm water, dry it, and polish it with beeswax it will look much better.

With kind regards,


12-08-2015, 07:00 AM
Wow, that's great thanks for the very detailed response Bob.

I have seen a very similar looking prop on the crash site orkney web page that suggested it may have been from a Miles Martinet type aircraft and that they are quite rare.

Is this a possibility for my prop?

Once again thanks all for your help.

kind regards


Bob Gardner
12-10-2015, 04:43 PM

I suspect the Miles Martinet is oft mentioned simply because it was the first purpose built target tug in the RAF.

It was usual in the RAF to use obsolete but powerful aircraft in the role; examples are the Hawker Henley a light bomber, the Defiant fighter with the rear gun turret removed, and in the later years of WW2 and well into the fifties such aircraft as Beaufighters, Mosquitos and Tempests were used. This range of aircraft suggests that all used a standard winch and target. A powerful aircraft was essential to tow about a mile of cable and the drogue, which of course was almost an air brake.

I remember in the late 1970s at an Army fire power demonstration a Canberra bomber appeared. The commentator on the Tannoy announced that it was a target tug and that troops would fire at the drogue that it pulled. The Canberra arrived at a slow speed and went and nothing happened. We idly debated whether he had forgotten his drogue target when at last it appeared some minutes later, at least three quarters of a mile behind the aircraft.

With kind regards,