Peter Rowland Payne
6 September 1927 -- 10 December 1997
A Memorial to an Engineer
Peter R. Payne, P.E., F.R.Ae.S
Your life has probably been touched by the engineering work of
Peter Payne -- probably not directly, but certainly indirectly.
Much of his work was the type of basic research that could be,
and was, applied to many fields. A brief listing of the major
types of work where Peter was either part of the engineering team,
or did the work himself, shows the breadth and depth of his impact.
- Amphibious Tracked Vehicles
- Ejection systems for supersonic aircraft
- External aircraft antennas
- Ground effect vehicles
- Helicopters and Autogyros
- High-speed boats: monohull, catamaran, foil supported
- Anthropomorphic dynamic test mannequins (now called "crash
- Model Airplanes
- Non-lethal projectiles for firearms (so-called "rubber"
- Water pulse-jet engines
As well as his interests in engineering and the sciences, Peter
was interested in classical music, a wide variety of literature,
history, and he loved to sing.
Peter R. Payne was a superb engineer. His work is well known around
the world. He attended the College of Aeronautical Engineering
in London; was a registered Professional Engineer in Canada; and
a Chartered Engineer in England. He was a Fellow of the Royal
Aeronautical Society. His professional reputation was built on
innovative and practical solutions, delivered quickly, and backed
up with sound mathematical theory. He made major contributions
to the sciences of aerodynamics, biodynamics, and hydrodynamics.
He was the principal in several different companies. He was my
The most widely known and applied result of Peter's recent marine
engineering and research is the type of ship hull called the Small
Waterplane Area Twin Hull, or SWATH ship. The SWATH design offers
exceptional stability in most sea states, especially at low to
moderate speeds. It also permits higher speeds than more conventional
hull forms in a given sea state. The genesis of the SWATH design
dates to the Favorable Interference Catamaran (FICAT) he developed
in the mid-1960's. (I helped lay up the wood and fiberglass for
the prototype hulls, in our garage.) The FICAT design evolved
with research from a supercritical displacement hull, to a planing
hull version, and then to the semi-submerged SWATH design. SWATH
designs are now in use and under construction all around the world.
Some users are shown in the list below.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is
building a 114 foot SWATH design ship as a control and support
vessel for the Tiburon remotely operated deep diving research
vehicle. The main benefits are high stability in bad weather,
and ample space for researchers to stay on board for extended
- Radisson Seven Seas Cruises launched
the 20,000 ton ssc Radisson Diamond luxury cruise ship
in 1992. The SWATH design reduces pitch and roll -- and passenger
discomfort and motion sickness -- and allows guest accommodations
equal to that of a much larger conventional vessel.
- Several companies are building SWATH design ships for use
as passenger ferries in various locations.
- Trico Marine Services is
building and operating a SWATH design crew boat for Petroleo Brasileiro
S.A. (Petrobras). This will be used to transport people to and
from Petrobras oil drilling platforms of the Brazilian coast.
- United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) survey and research ships, including the R/V Halcyon.
A quote from their WWW page says: "A SWATH is unlike other
boats in its ability to work in rough waters that would probably
send conventional research vessels of the same size back to port.
... Research operations with a SWATH vessel can be conducted as
scheduled without much concern about weather."
- United States Navy Victorious
(T-AGOS 19) class and the larger Impeccable
(T-AGOS 23) class ocean surveillance ships are SWATH types, as
is the Sea Shadow "stealth" ship test bed.
Another type of Payne high speed boat achieves results in a different
way. The SeaKnife hull form is a supercritical planing hull that
cuts through waves instead of riding over them. This reduces the
vertical pounding accelerations typical of conventional planing
hulls by a factor of more than ten. There are a number of SeaKnife
boats in operation and on the drawing boards. Designs include
sport and racing boats, and military patrol boats. Another planing
hull form is the WaveStrider, which has been produced as a 24-foot
boat for the Navy, and is in production as a high speed ferry.
(The stealth boat that appears in the new James Bond movie "Tomorrow
Never Dies" is a WaveStrider.) He also developed the
Air Lubricated Planing Hull (ALPH). A boat of this type is the
Hydrotrac, noted as being the world's fastest production boat
for a given power. All of his boat designs were tested in the
Chesapeake Bay, near Annapolis, and the nearby Severn and Magothy
Rivers. High speed planing hull theory receives a detailed presentation
in Peter's book, Design of High Speed Boats, Volume 1: Planing.
His computer program, BOAT3D, is used by many to model and design
high speed boats.
In other marine engineering work, Peter was instrumental in the
development of modern high speed, low drag underwater bodies.
He accomplished this by applying the then-radical idea of designing
the body shape to maintain a laminar flow boundary layer over
as much of the surface area as possible. On the other hand, he
devised methods to prevent tow cable strumming by causing the
cable's boundary layer to become turbulent instead of laminar.
In another project, he was able to double the waterborne propulsion
efficiency of the Marine Corps LVT-P7 amphibious tractor.
Peter's professional work started in helicopters and other rotary-wing
aircraft. An early project (1954-1956) was a ram-jet engine to
be attached to rotor blade tips. (The principal problem with the
system turned out to be the difficulty of getting fuel to the
engines past the rotating blade hub.) At about the same time,
he developed the stiff-hinged rotor blade, which is now used on
virtually all rotary-wing aircraft. His first book, Helicopter Dynamics and Aerodynamics,
was published in 1956 in England, and 1959 in the United States.
In 1959, he developed the Avian 2/180
jump-start autogyro. This aircraft went from concept to a flying
prototype in less than one year. However, it never achieved commercial
production. It was a vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, as
opposed to previous autogyros which required at least some forward
motion before takeoff.
One of Peter's interests was ground effect vehicles, also known
as air cushion vehicles (ACV) or by the trademark "Hovercraft."
ACVs are distinguished by their ability to ride on an air cushion
over water, and any reasonably smooth land. (Many are in service
as ferries across the English Channel and in other locations,
and for other special purpose applications. The Marine Corps uses
ACVs as beach assault craft, because they can deliver troops well
inshore instead of just at the surf line.) One of the ACV applications
designed by Peter was the Mine Search Head Carrier.
This small ACV would be tethered to the front of a military vehicle
and search for land mines without being in physical contact with
the ground. This was the first ACV designed in the USA for a specific
Work done by Peter on various aircraft crew escape systems has
resulted in two very different results.
- The first is the Dynamic Response Index mathematical model,
which is used by the US Air Force, and other countries, as the
basis for ejection seat specifications. It also has other applications.
A number of other industries use the Dynamic Response Index to
reduce injuries and to quantify vehicle ride quality. Peter discovered
this by accident about twenty years later. While gathering information
for cushioning material to be used in high speed boats, he contacted
snowmobile manufacturers to find out what they used for seat cushioning
and how it was designed - only to discover that the models were
based on his own biodynamics work from twenty years earlier!
- The other result was "Dynamic Dan",
the first instrumented anthropomorphic mannequin that correctly
simulates the dynamics of a human being. Later incarnations of
these mannequins are collectively known as "crash test dummies."
His work on parachutes resulted in some of the most complete mathematical
models of how parachutes open and work, and the first model that
correctly predicted experimental results.
Speed. Peter enjoyed speed. Although
not a pilot, he was around high performance aircraft for most
of his life. (This was partly due to the fact that his father
was in the Royal Air Force during and between both World Wars.)
Early work involved attempts to make helicopters go faster. Later
work included devising ways to get pilots safely out of broken
high speed aircraft. On land, he liked to drive fast. He spent
a couple of summers in the early 1960s racing the family Triumph
TR-4 at Continental Divide Racetrack in Castle Rock, Colorado.
(I learned the value of seat belts from watching those races.)
On the water, of course, he was always involved in making ways
for people to go faster. And he always enjoyed test driving the
Rubber Bullets. In 1967, Peter developed
some non-lethal bullets for firearms. These had the same impact
shock and knock-down ability as lead bullets, but did not penetrate
the body. An advanced version (patented) had the ability to inject
drugs, such as tranquilizers. The idea was that these projectiles
would enable law enforcement officers to incapacitate and capture
criminals, without the risk of killing them or bystanders. While
there was a lot of interest in the project, there was no funding
forthcoming. Also, I have anecdotal evidence that a member of
the President's Crime Commission had an objection that these bullets
might hurt the people the police were shooting at!
(???) It is interesting to note, though, that rubber bullets are
now in wide use by a number of police and military forces around
Model Airplanes. Peter's first job,
starting while in school, was as a designer and writer for the
Aeromodeler magazine, in England. (He wrote for them under the
pseudonym of "John Halifax".) I understand that some
of the airfoils and propeller sections he designed are still used
on certain types of free flight model airplanes.
Water Pulsejet engines:
This fantastically simple steam engine has no moving parts except
water. As it is heated externally, any heat source can be used.
This adaptation of a child's toy has been scaled up to provide
power for 14 foot and larger boats.
Writing. Peter wrote constantly. His
published books, papers, and articles probably number in the hundreds.
I have collected a small sample bibliography.
Adding unpublished company working papers would push the number
into the thousands. He wrote to share knowledge and information
with others, to learn from the feedback he received from readers,
and to keep track of where he was in each particular project.
He also loved the occasional ironic twist. One of his prized possessions
is a set of three books. One is his first edition of Helicopter
Dynamics and Aerodynamics. The second is a Russian translation
(1963) of that book. (At that time, the USSR did not bother with
trivial details such as copyrights.) The third volume is a declassified
copy of a previously secret NASA translation of the Russian edition!
Helicopter Dynamics and Aerodynamics was very influential
to a worldwide generation of helicopter engineers. A 1967 note
to Peter from M. L. Mil, head of the Russian helicopter design
bureau, says "People read your book with great interest in
our country. I greatly value your book …"
|1927 - 1938||Peter
Rowland Payne born on September 6, 1927. Son of Charles Payne and
Florence Freda Badham Payne. Born at Moreton-in-Marsh, England. Raised
in nearby Chipping Campden, and at the Royal Air Force base at Abu
Suweir, Egypt. Brother (John) born in 1928, sister (Pauline) born in
|1938 - 1947||Family
returned to Chipping Campden. Charles Payne remained in Egypt for the
duration of the war. Peter served in the RAF starting in September 1945
|1947 - 1956||Writer for various magazines, including Aeromodeler (as John Halifax, until 1949), Aeroplane, and Flight.
|1948 - 1956||Worked
for Auster Aircraft, Bristol Aero Engines, Napier, and Saunders-Roe.
Developed helicopter ram jet engine, and stiff-hinged rotor blades.
|1956 - 1960||Emigrated
to Ontario, Canada, and lived in the Toronto area. Worked for Avro
Canada. Formed Avian Industries in 1958 and developed the Avian 2/180
|1960 - 1963||Emigrated
to the United States, and lived in the Denver, Colorado area. Worked
for Stanley Aviation, and Frost Engineering. Developed crew ejection
system for the B-58 bomber, ejection and escape systems for other
aircraft, anthropomorphic mannequin, and mathematical models that
describe human response to acceleration forces.
|1964 - 1974?||Moved
to Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, and founded Payne Inc. Gradual
change in emphasis from aeronautics to marine engineering. First FICAT
model built in 1964. Developed SeaKnife hull in 1971, and founded Blade
Hulls, Inc. in Rockville. Elected a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical
|1974? - 1989||Moved
to the Annapolis / Severna Park area, to be closer to Peter's favorite
"test tank", the Chesapeake Bay. SeaKnife production, development of
other hulls such as the "Gayle" boat, ALPH, WaveStrider & etc.
Payne Inc. became Ketron Annapolis.
|1989 - 1997||Formed Payne Associates. Further research led to Dynafoil boat, and formation of Dynafoils Inc.
|1997||Passed away on December 10.
This is still very much
a work-in-progress. I expect to be able to add more
as I get the time to research Peter's life and work. I would greatly
value and appreciate contributions and suggestions from those
who knew him. Please send things to me by E-Mail,
by post to:
Graeme C. Payne
4440 Weston Drive SW
Lilburn GA 30047
© 1998, 2000 Graeme C. Payne. All Rights Reserved.