A Hucks starter is an auxiliary power unit, almost always a motortruck, that provides initial power to start up piston aircraft engines. Such Hucks starter trucks can be considered a mechanical replacement for a member of the groundcrew who would have spun an aircraft's propeller by hand. This is because of the starter truck's position in front of the airplane when starting, much like a groundcrew member.
They were commonly used in the 1920s and 1930s, when aircraft engines had become too large to be easily started by hand.
The power is transmitted to the aircraft via a power take-off shaft, much like those found on the drive trains of rear-wheel drive vehicles, or agricultural machines. The shaft of the starter fits into a special protruding hub incorporating a simple projecting claw clutch on the center of the airplane's propeller assembly. When engaged, the power of the truck's engine is transmitted to the aircraft engine until start up, whereupon the faster speed of the now-running engine disengages the clutch, and then the starter truck clears the area prior to take-off.
In Royal Air Force service, Hucks Starters were based on Ford Model T trucks, which were in widespread use and familiar to ground crew. One original Hucks Starter built in 1920 by de Havilland is known to survive at the Shuttleworth Collection in Bedfordshire where it is regularly used to start the vintage aircraft based there, and a number of working reproductions have been built, based on original Ford Model T chassis.
- Aeroplane Monthly One good turn article in the March 1979 issue. p. 125.
- "The Moment - First Hucks Start in 70 Years". Vintage Wings of Canada. Retrieved 30 June 2015.
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