Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

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Aircraft Starter Truck

As aircraft engines gained in power and size, the difficulty and danger involved in starting an engine by "swinging the prop" increased dramatically. The idea of developing a mechanical means of starting an aircraft engine was first conceived by Capt. B.C. Huck, a test pilot for the Aircraft Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (AIRCO) of Great Britain. Thereafter, truck-mounted aircraft engine starters, regardless of manufacture, were popularly known as "Huck" starters.

The starter consisted of a "claw" or similar adapter that was fitted to the propeller. A drive shaft, which could be adjusted both vertically and horizontally, was mounted on a truck chassis and was driven by means of a chain or gear from the truck. A spring-loaded clutch that engaged the claw or prop boss was mounted on the end of the drive shaft. Once the engine started and the propeller's rpm exceeded that of the starter, the clutch retracted a few inches and disengaged from the prop.

The vehicle on display in the Early Years Gallery is a representation of a truck-mounted aircraft starters that were common at airfields around the world in the 1920s and 1930s.

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