Centennial Perspective
Weird Wings of WWI

J.Herris - Weird Wings of WWI /Centennial Perspective/ (70)

Austria was affected with the triplane craze too; this view of Aviatik 30.24 during flight testing at Aspern in October 1917 clearly shows it used an Aviatik D.I fuselage and tailplane modified to take a new triplane wing cellule. As was generally the case with triplane conversions of biplane designs, the additional weight and drag of the third wing reduced speed and climb compared to the standard D.I biplane.
The Austrian aviation industry closely followed developments of its German ally, and the trend toward monoplane fighters was soon noted. This Aviatik (Berg) 30.40 parasol monoplane fighter prototype was powered by a 150 hp Le Rhone(St) engine. This Steyr engine was based on a French design. Derived from the earlier 30.27 biplane prototype, it was the lightest fighter built in Austria-Hungary. Intended as an interceptor, it was fairly fast and demonstrated excellent climb during testing during July and August 1918, but proposed production could not be sanctioned until sufficient supply of the required Voltol lubricant could be assured. The braced wing was not fully cantilever.
Aviatik 30.40. Heckansicht, vereinfachtes Tarnschema
Aviatik 30.40. Вид сзади, упрощенная схема камуфляжа
The Aviatik 30.07 bomber prototype was a complex aircraft with its two experimental 300 hp Daimler V-12 engines buried in the fuselage and driving the outboard propellers through drive shafts.
The Aviatik 30.17 bomber prototype was modified version of the 30.07 prototype. Its two experimental Daimler V-12 engines, buried in the fuselage and driving the outboard propellers through drive shafts, were supposed to produce 345 hp but did not meet those expectations.
The Aviatik 30.17 bomber prototype runs up its engines. The complexity of the aircraft shows the designers' lack of experience. The aircraft's flying qualities were satisfactory but the engine and propeller installation was too complex to be reliable and the aircraft had a veritable forest of bracing struts and wires.
The Lohner 10.19 was one of several prototypes of the Lohner C.II. One of its design features was lack of a fixed fin to give the gunner a better field of fire; the deep rear fuselage gave stability in place of a fin. The prototypes suffered from a number of problems including structural weaknesses and poor flying qualities and it did not go into production.
The Mickl G serial G3 trimotor flying boat was experimentally fitted with a 7 cm cannon for the anti-shipping role, perhaps focused on the troublesome Italian MAS torpedo boats. The gun had to be hand-loaded; storage for 48 rounds was provided. This was one of the largest caliber guns fitted to a WWI aircraft although it was apparently never used in combat.
The unarmed prototype Oeffag 50.14 triplane fighter in its original state with two-piece upper wing. The bulky, inelegant airplane had mediocre maneuverability. Despite having a powerful 225 hp Daimler, performance was also mediocre, so further development was cancelled.
The WKF 80.05 was a triplane of clean design and excellent workmanship powered by a 200 hp Austro-Daimler engine. The upper two wings had ailerons. The original configuration is shown here. The 80.06 was a biplane derivative of the 80.05 and offered faster speed and climb rate. After the 80.06 crashed during test it was revised, and the 80.06B went into production as the WKF D.I. Almost all prototype triplane fighters powered by inline engines offered better performance as biplanes.
The WKF 80.05 prototype in its original short-wingspan configuration photographed in the WKF factory. The upper ailerons were actuated by a strut connected to the mid-wing ailerons. The high degree of surface polish is clearly in evidence.
The WKF 80.05 was a triplane of clean design and excellent workmanship powered by a 200 hp Austro-Daimler engine. The upper two wings had ailerons. The later configuration of greater span is shown here.
WKF 80.05 second version showing the open wing struts which replaced the original, single I-strut that had proved structurally deficient in tests performed by Professor Knoller in October 1917.
The A.D. Scout, or Sparrow, was designed in 1915 as an anti-Zeppelin fighter. Powered by an 80 hp Gnome rotary and intended to be armed with a Davis recoilless quick-firing gun, it was tricky to fly and land and was quickly abandoned.
An F.K.10 built by the Phoenix Dynamo Manufacturing Co of Bradford was a quadraplane two-seater fighter powered by a 130 hp Clerget rotary. It was the production version of the F.K. 9 and had a redesigned tail with more fin area. None of the eight built were used operationally because its performance was below the Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter biplane.
Austin A.F.T.3 Osprey prototype was flown in early 1918. It was powered by the most powerful rotary engine of WWI, the 230 hp Bentley B.R.2. Likely it was a competitor to the Sopwith Snipe biplane powered by the same engine. Performance was good for a triplane but the biplane Snipe was put in production and it was abandoned.
The Bristol Scout was designed as an un-armed, high-speed single-seater for scouting. Later some aircraft were fitted with armament. Lack of a synchronizer meant Scout 1611 had to avoid firing through the propeller arc, and an oblique-firing gun was fitted. Major Lanoe Hawker downed three German aircraft with this scout to become the first fighter pilot awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain's highest award for valor in combat. Hawker's tactics were simple; "Attack Everything."
The Bristol F2b tractor biplane was the replacement for the FE.2d. Powered by the same Rolls-Royce V-12, it was much faster and more effective in combat than the FE.2d. The structural technology was essentially the same; its performance and combat advantages were due to its superior tractor configuration.
The Bristol M.1c was a fast, maneuverable fighter relegated to the Middle East and training due to lack of confidence in the strength of its braced monoplane configuration.
The British D.H.2 fighter also used Le Prieur rockets although only three were carried per side.
The de Havilland DH.2 pusher was Britain's key contribution to the second generation of fighter aircraft. The prototype flew in July 1915, just as the Fokker Scourge was getting underway, and the design owed nothing to the subsequent air combat experience - the DH.2 initially featured a flexible gun like a two-seater, and the gun was only mounted in a fixed installation later. Most were powered by a 100 hp Gnome Monosoupape engine; their Fokker E.II and E.III opponents also had 100 hp rotary engines. Its high-drag pusher configuration precluded future development.
The D.H.4 powered by the 375 hp Rolls-Royce V12 was the best Allied long-range reconnaissance plane on the Western Front due to its 143 mph top speed, faster than all fighters.
A British observer by his D.H.4 has his oxygen mask adjusted before he departs on his mission. (Greg VanWyngarden)
The American Liberty Plane was a British D.H.4 airframe powered by the 400 hp Liberty V12. lt had a top speed of 125 mph and served well both as a bomber and short-range reconnaissance plane.
Liberty Plane with 7 machine guns visible. Then was likely an 8th gun on the port side of the pilot's cockpit that is not visible. The synchronized guns for the pilot were Marlins; the rest of the guns were Lewis guns. This was likely an armament experiment. The 400 hp Liberty engine gave enough power to lift the weight of this armament.
The D.H.9a offered similar performance and bombload to the Breguet 14 due to its powerful V12 engine, either a Rolls-Royce Eagle (if available) or 400 hp American Liberty engine. The airframe was derived from the 1916 D.H.4 and was made of wood. In event of a crash, its wood airframe was much more dangerous to its crew than the metal airframe of the Breguet 14 due to the wood splittering. The crews strongly preferred the metal airframe of the Breguet 14.
The Felixstowe F.2a powered by two 375 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle V-12 engines was the best large flying boat of the war. Its most important role was anti-U-boat and anti-Zeppelin patrols over the North Sea. During these patrols these large, tough 'boats' saw frequent combat against German two-seat floatplane fighters.
A Handley-Page O/100 twin-engine heavy bomber. Used for night bombing, it has black camouflage on its large struts and under surfaces. Power was from two Rolls-Royce Eagle V-12 engines.
Powered by two 375 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, the Handley-Page O/400 was Britain's best night bomber.
Handley-Page O/1500 four-engine heavy bombers. Power was from four Rolls-Royce Eagle V-12 engines. Designed as a heavy night bomber to bomb Berlin, it was too late for operational service.
The designer of the Kennedy Giant was inspired by the success of the Ilya Mourometz when he was living in Russia before the war. The configuration of the Giant also followed the general configuration of the Ilya Mourometz. It was more fortunate in its engines, being powered by four 200 hp Salmson water-cooled radials arranged in two pusher-tractor pairs. Despite this 800 hp, the Giant did not have enough power to take off and the aircraft was never flown despite failed attempts. Wing span was 142'.
The Mann & Grimmer M.1 in original form. Construction began in September 1914 and first flight was made on 19 February 1915. The 100 hp Anzani radial was mounted backwards at the front of the fuselage and drove two wing-mounted propellers via a long drive shaft, gearbox, and chain drives. This unusual configuration was chosen to give the forward crewman a clear field of fire despite lack of a synchronizing gear. Poor performance caused the designers to replace the original 100 hp engine with a 125 hp Anzani engine, but performance was still poor and the aircraft was eventually wrecked due to a forced landing caused by gearbox failure. Further development was abandoned.
The Supermarine Night Hawk was designed by Flt.Lt. Pemberton-Billing as an anti-Zeppelin interceptor and shared many attributes with the earlier P.B.29 that was designed for the same role. Both aircraft were twin-engine quadraplanes designed for long-endurance night patrols.The Night Hawk had a flexible 1 1/2-pounder Davis gun mounted above the cabin firing forward to attack the airship and two flexible Lewis guns, one aft the Davis gun and one in the nose, for defense. A searchlight was mounted in the nose to illuminate the target at night and secondarily illuminate the landing field at night. Powered by two 100 hp Anzani engines, the aircraft had the remarkable endurance of more than 18 hours.
The P.B.31E was flown only briefly before the inadequacy of its concept was accepted.
The original FE.2 was a 1911 re-design of the FE.1 of 1910. The FE.2 was completely re-built in 1913, emerging as a completely new aircraft. This second FE.2 design is shown here and bears only a limited resemblance to the production FE.2 series.
Even the British B.E.2 two-seater used Le Prieur rockets.
B.E.2 armed with a flexible Lewis for the observer seated in the front cockpit.
100 Squadron FE2b in its night environment, Western Front 1917. Note the underwing bracket for the 'Holt' landing flare.
FE.2b in service as a night bomber. When the FE.2b became too vulnerable in daylight, it was moved to the role of night bomber.
FE.2d A6516 serving with No.20 Squadron as a day fighter/reconnaissance plane. The pilot has a fixed Lewis in addition to the two flexible Lewis guns for the observer. The FE.2b had a 160 hp Beardmore; the FE.2d had a 250 hp Rolls-Royce V-12 that gave it much better performance and enabled it to carry more weapons.
FE.2d A6516 serving with No. 20 Squadron as a day fighter/reconnaissance plane. The pilot has a fixed Lewis in addition to the two flexible Lewis guns for the observer. In the photo the observer is demonstrating how he would use the large, externally-mounted camera in flight.
FE.2d 1882 and 1882 assigned to No.78 (HD) Squadron for night fighting as part of the defense of London and the southern approaches.
Developed from the B.E.2, the B.E.9 featured the same 'pulpit' gunner's cockpit configuration as the Spad SA series. B.E.9 serial 1700 was sent for operational testing in France in September 1915; Capt Robin Rowell test flew this and said he was happy it was crashed. (Greg VanWyngarden)
B.E.12 armed with a fixed, synchronized Vickers and a flexible Lewis behind the cockpit.
Front view of a B.E.12 armed with a fixed, synchronized Vickers and a flexible Lewis behind the cockpit. The flexible Lewis must have been difficult to aim and use.
BE.12bs and BE.12s assigned to No.77 (HD) Squadron for night fighting, lined up at Penstone.
The British S.E.5a fighter was likely the best British fighter. Initially it was powered by the same Hispano-Suiza V8 engine as the Spad fighters before being replaced by a British near-copy. The S.E.5a was fast, stable, and made a good gun platform.
The first prototype N.E.1, showing its original nacelle and the nose-mounted searchlight.
The N.E.1, for Night-flying Experimental, was a 1917 night fighter design powered by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza. It mounted a searchlight in the nose for target illumination, and armament was either a Coventry Ordnance Works quick-firing gun or a Vickers rocket gun, supplemented by Lewis guns.
As might be guessed from its configuration, the Robey-Peters Gun-Carrier was designed for the same roles as the Vickers F.B.11 and Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.12, that is, escort fighter and anti-Zeppelin interceptor. Like those types, it was also powered by a 250 hp Rolls-Royce V-12. The nacelles under the wing each housed a gunner with flexible Davis recoilless gun (the 2-pounder Davis guns were not fitted) and the pilot was seated well aft of the wing. The first aircraft (serial 9498 shown here) crashed on its maiden flight in May 1917 and the second aircraft ordered was not completed.
Powered by a 100 hp Gnome rotary, the Sage Type 2 was an unusual two-seat British fighter design that first flew in August 1916. Designed before synchronizing gear was available, the gunner, located behind the pilot in an enclosed cabin, stood up through the upper wing and had an excellent field of fire upward. By the time the Sage Type 2 was flown synchronizers had become available and development was abandoned. Only a single prototype was built.
Seaplane tender Ben-my-Chree lowers a torpedo-carrying Short 184 in the Aegean in 1915. Due to its limited power and hot weather, the first Short 184 torpedo attack was launched from the water because the aircraft could not take off with its torpedo payload.
The Short Shirl was designed as a torpedo bomber.
Predecessor of the Sopwith Baby was the Sopwith Schneider seen here. A few, like this one, were supplied to the US Navy. Powered by a 100 hp Gnome, later by a 110 hp Clerget, it was frequently used from shipboard to defend against Zeppelins and for reconnaissance.
Sopwith Baby N2071 of No.229 Squadron, RAF, Great Yarmouth, carried two Lewis guns and a 65-pound bomb. Powered by a 130 hp Clerget, it was used for short-range coastal patrols.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter two-seater assigned to No.78 (HD) Squadron for night fighting as part of the defense of London.
This Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter has a Lewis gun mounted above the wing to supplement the standard synchronized Vickers for increased forward firepower.
Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter two-seaters assigned to No.78 (HD) Squadron for night fighting as part of the defense of London.
This uncovered Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter displays a structure typical of most WWI planes. It was made of wood with wires to tie the structure together. The fabric provided the aerodynamic covering for streamlining and covering the wings. The basic design was simple in concept and complex in detail.The ribs created a thin airfoil.
Despite early fears in some quarters that the type could not be used for night fighting, 44 Squadron had been the first Home Defence unit to equip with the Camel and proved that it was quite safe and effective.
B2402, a Ruston, Proctor-built F.1 Camel dedicated night fighter with twin Lewis guns on the double Foster mounting; the cockpit is in the aft position and a non-standard, faired head-rest has been added. This shot of B2402 is at Hainault Farm, which the squadron occupied from July 1917 to July 1919.
This Sopwith Camel have been converted to 'Comic' configuration for night fighting. The synchronized Vickers guns have been replaced by Lewis guns above the upper wing so their muzzle blast would be blocked from the pilot's view by the wing, preserving his night vision. The cockpit has also been moved aft.
The British Sopwith Camel was an excellent dog fighter but had very problematic handling qualities; more Camel pilots were killed in training than in combat. The casualty rate for Camel pilots was about 3 times that of S.E.5a pilots.
The Sopwith LT.R.Tr. was a triplane created as a multi-seat, long-range escort and anti-airship fighter. Designed to the same requirement as the Vickers F.B.11 and Armstrong Whitworth F.K.12, like them it was powered by a single 250 hp Rolls-Royce V-12. Also like the F.B.11 and F.K.12, the L.T.R.Tr. had two gunners with flexible Lewis guns and remained a single prototype. One gunner sat behind the pilot and the other occupied the streamlined nacelle built into the top wing. Designed before the availability of practical interrupter gear, it was too slow for its intended role.
Сопвич "Триплан" на западном фронте, май 1917 года.
The RFC suffered huge casualties during the "Bloody April" of 1917. The only British airplane that could out-perform the Albatros D.III at the time was the Sopwith Triplane shown here. Note the bracing wires needed for the thin, non-cantilever wings.
The British also experimented with carrying escort fighter by airships; here a 2F1 Sopwith Camel, N6814, of No. 212 Squadron at Great Yarmouth, is suspended from HMA R.23 at Pulham airship base.
The Sopwith Dolphin was designed as a multi-gun fighter. The photo shows the intended configuration of four guns, two synchronized Vickers mounted conventionally supplemented by two Lewis guns mounted to fire over the propeller arc. Most operational Dolphins did not carry the Lewis guns. (Greg VanWyngarden)
The Sopwith Dolphin was powered by a V8 engine and had good performance at altitude. Its design did not protect the pilot in event of turning over on landing and it was not popular for this reason.
The Sopwith Dolphin was evaluated with its fundamental armament of twin synchronized Vickers plus two Lewis guns, one on each lower wing, to fire forward outside the propeller arc. (Greg VanWyngarden)
The Sopwith Salamander used the flying surfaces and engine of the Sopwith Snipe; its flat, armored fuselage sides differentiated the Salamander from the Snipe.
Special camouflage was developed for the Salamander due to its intended low-altitude operating environment.
Photograph of the armor for the Sopwith TF2 (Trench Fighter 2), later designated the Salamander.
The Sopwith Snipe was the replacement for the Camel. It had a more powerful engine, giving it better climb and ceiling and somewhat higher speed. Its two-bay configuration limited its speed advantage and its thin airfoil could not match the handling of the Fokker D.VII.
The Vickers F.B.5 "Gun Bus" was a pre-war concept that attempted to create an aircraft to intercept enemy airplanes. Like many similar designs, it was a pusher with the gunner in the front cockpit with a flexible machine gun. Reaching the front in January 1915, it was reasonably successful against the unarmed reconnaissance aircraft of the time - if it could catch them. This one was forced down behind German lines.
The Vickers F.B.11 was designed as an escort fighter and anti-Zeppelin interceptor. Powered by a 250 hp Rolls-Royce V-12, the nacelle over the wing housed a gunner with flexible gun and another was seated behind the pilot.
F.B.26A Vampire II with 200 h.p. Bentley B.R.2 rotary engine and twin machine-guns. This machine, which is a modification of the F.B. 26, is armoured and intended for trench fighting.
Derived from the earlier Vickers F.B.26 fighter of 1917 powered by a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza, the F.B.26A of 1918 was an armored fighter prototype powered by the 230 hp B.R.2 rotary engine. With 500 pounds of armor fitted inside the nacelle, both pilot and engine were protected. Armament was two fixed Lewis guns. Despite excellent performance for an armored pusher, the F.B.26A was abandoned in favor of the Sopwith Salamander, perhaps because the Salamander shared so many components with the Snipe fighter then in mass production.
The Germans were not the only nation experimenting with multiplanes. The Wight Quadraplane Scout is seen here in its original form. Powered by a 110 Clerget rotary, it was not successful and remained a single prototype.
A.E.G. J.I of Flieger Abteilung 223 tests a flamethrower in flight.
Two of the patent drawings of the flamethrower for aircraft, PatentSchrift Nr. 325694.
Rearview of an AEG G.V showing the 'box' tail with twin rudders to better advantage.
The AGO C.I was the first C-type armed two-seater introduced into Fliegertruppe service, mainly with Bavarian units. It had some advanced construction features.
The Ago S.I was the prototype for a new category, an armored tank destroyer and ground-attack aircraft.
The massive Ago S.I was the only S-type aircraft completed before the armistice. Heavily armed and armored, it was the first of a new class of heavy ground-attack aircraft armed with a downward-firing 20mm Becker cannon to destroy tanks. It was powered by the 300 hp Basse & Selve BuS.IVa engine.
Albatros B.III B.1140/15 fitted with two fixed, forward-firing machine guns. Lack of a synchronizing gear apparently lead to this dubious attempt at forward firepower, with its additional weight and drag compared to fuselage-mounted guns. (Peter M. Grosz Collection/SDTB)
The German Heinecke parachute under testing and in use.
The single Albatros W.3 prototype was followed by a batch of five W.5 production aircraft. The W.5 was developed from the W.3 and like the W.3 was a class TMG, a torpedo bomber armed with two flexible machine guns. Here is Marine Number 845, the first aircraft of the batch, launches a practice torpedo.
Oblt.zur See Friedrich Christiansen in the W.4 prototype, MN 747, at Zeebrugge. Now operational, this aircraft has had the fuselage cross modified by over-painting and was christened with the name Mowe (Seagull). The floats are longer than the initial floats used and have been camouflaged. Christiansen went on to score 13 victories and was awarded the Pour le Merite.
The first production batch had a single machine gun, but subsequent batches had two guns. The W4 was perhaps the best German single-seat floatplane fighter and was ordered in the largest quantity, 118 being delivered.
A Lewis gun mounted on the top wing to fire over the propeller arc was a production standard for many aircraft and a unit-installed modification for many others.
Пушка Беккера устанавливалась на борту самолета на специальном кронштейне и предназначалась для обстрела наземных целей
Some Albatros J.I aircraft mounted a 20mm Becker cannon on the left side of the aircraft for ground attack, and especially destroying tanks, as shown here. The machine gun was retained as defense against fighters. These experiments were successful enough to lead to development of improved cannon mounts for the Albatros J.II and AEG J.II, and eventually to more sophisticated anti-tank designs like the AEG G.IVk and Ago S.I. Decades later anti-tank helicopters were designed to fulfill the role pioneered by these little-known aircraft.
By 1918 Allied tanks became a major problem for the German Army, and anti-tank weapons became more important. The 20mm Becker cannon was accordingly fitted to a number of Albatros J.Is on a simple mount on the side of the gunner's cockpit as shown here.
A slightly different Becker cannon mount reinforced with a U-profile stiffener mounted on Albatros J.I. To facilitate handling in the slipstream, a grip was fitted to the ammunition clip. Two types of magazines were supplied one for 10 and one for 15 rounds.
Early production Aviatik C-types, the C.I, C.II, and C.III, all had the observers in the front cockpit. The distinctive C.II shown here had a headrest for the pilot in the rear cockpit and no fixed fin. The front cockpit was fitted with side rail mounts for flexible machine guns for the observer. After one production batch of 75 C.II aircraft, Aviatik was directed to produce the superior DFW C.V, which used the same engine, under license and produced 14 batches. The DFW C.V had much better handling qualities than the Aviatik C.II and, of course, had the observer in the rear cockpit with a flexible gun plus a synchronized gun for the pilot.
The BFW monoplane was built in 1918. It may have been built to evaluate this unusual wing. The unbraced wing appears fragile.
The photo below shows the enlarged, modified elevators with horn balances; the original configuration had much smaller elevators with no balances.
The rare DFW C.IV was a streamlined, single-bay design powered by a 150 hp Benz Bz.III. It was built in very small numbers and served with Flieger-Abteilung 14 & 15 on the Russian Front.
The only prototype Euler Dr 4 was powered by a 160 hp Oberursel U.III. It was designed as a testbed to compare biplanes and triplanes.
The final Euler fighting triplane (Type 5) is seen here in its original form
The only prototype Euler Dr 9 was powered by a 110 hp Siemens Sh.I.
The only prototype Euler Triplane (Euler Dr 4) was built in December 1916 and was powered by a 220 hp Mercedes D.IV. The aircraft was unarmed and the two crewmembers were seated side by side, indicating it was perhaps intended as a trainer.
The only prototype Euler D 4 quadraplane was powered by a rotary; the upper wing acted as the ailerons.
Referred to as a quadruplane, the Euler fighter was technically of triplane form.
The German Heinecke parachute under testing and in use.
A fighter pilot demonstrating the German aviator's oxygen system; the inflatable bladder reduced pressure variations and helped conserve oxygen. The primitive "pipe stem" system was still in use that could easily fall out of the user's mouth if care was not used.
Captured Fokker D.VII of Jasta 18 on display after removal of its engine. The lack of fabric covering shows details of the aircraft's welded steel tube structure and thick airfoil wooden wings. The wing structure was less complex than typical and the welded steel tube frame for the fuselage and tail were very simple compared to typical all-wood airframes.
The second-generation cantilever wing was designed for the Fokker V4, the initial prototype of the Fokker Triplane. This wing shows the basic design of the wings for the production Dr.I, D.VI, D.VII, and D.VIII. Built around a double box spar, the wing was covered with fabric instead of plywood for lighter weight. Plywood was used to form the leading edge of the airfoil. Their strength eliminated the need for drag-producing wire bracing enabling faster speed; the thick airfoil provided exceptional handling qualities, gentle stall characteristics, and ability to fly at higher angles of attack than thin airfoils.The innovative wing was key to the success of late-war Fokker fighters, being both structurally and aerodynamically more advanced than other WWI warplanes.
The Fokker Dr.I Triplane was one of the most famous WWI airplanes. It was inspired by the success of the Sopwith Triplane. Its thick, Fokker-designed cantilever wood wings eliminated the need for wing bracing wires. Idflieg authorities thought its triplane format was key to the Sopwith's success and requested triplane fighters from German manufacturers. The only truly successful German triplane fighter was the Fokker. The Pfalz Dr.I triplane had the best climb rate of any German aircraft but its Sh.I rotary was not ready for production and only 10 were produced. Although the Fokker Triplane was inspired by the Sopwith Triplane, their design and construction were totally different in detail; only the triplane configuration and a rotary engine were the same.
The Fokker V17, work number 2147, powered by a 110 hp Oberursel UR.II participated in the First Fighter Competition. Despite its low power it was the fastest fighter at the competition. It also had a good climb rate and was very maneuverable. The V17 was the first Fokker cantilever monoplane design. The wood wings were built around a box spar covered with plywood, providing strength and torsional stiffness for effective aileron control. The wing obscured the pilot's downward view and monoplanes were structurally suspect, so the V17 remained a prototype.
Fokker explored a triplane with Mercedes engine, the V6. Heavier than the production Dr.I, it lacked both its great maneuverability and sparkling zoom climb and remained a single prototype.
The Fokker E.V/D.VIII parasol monoplane was faster than the Dr.I triplane and D.VI biplane and had a much faster rate of climb despite its lower wing area. It was slower than the Fokker V17 monoplane due to the extra drag of the struts supporting the wings. The D.VIII was the simplest, lowest power late-war fighter brought to the front. The production batch of 6 October finally had the 145 hp Oberursel Ur.III, an engine what was desperately needed to provide additional power.
This view of the Fokker V37 armored fighter prototype without wing or fabric covering clearly shows its armored front fuselage and propeller disk and its welded steel tube fuselage construction. The cooling fan blades in the plane of the propeller are visible. The back of the pilot's head was even protected by a tab of armor extending up from the back armor. The cockpit was very close to the engine to minimize the amount of armor that was needed to protect them.
German fighter design shifted to monoplanes as 1918 progressed due to their lower drag. The Fokker V29 won the Third Fighter Competition in October/November 1918, but with the D.VII biplane still very successful in combat and the end of the war in sight, there was no need to order it into production. Powered by a BMW, it was clearly a monoplane development of the D.VII biplane.
The Aviatik D.II fighter had a conventional, single-bay wing cellule. When fitted with the Geest wing cellule as shown here it was known as the Geest fighter. Neither aircraft was produced in quantity.
Gotha WD.11 Marine Number 991 plane sank a freighter with a torpedo, becoming one of the few successful torpedo bombers of the war.
The Whitehead G/125 torpedo being loaded on a Gotha WD.11, the most successful German torpedo bomber.
Halberstadt D.I fitted with rockets for anti-balloon attacks under test at Doberitz. Aileron horn balances identify it as a D.I. Less than a dozen D.I fighters (powered by the 100 hp Mercedes D.I were built before production shifted to the D.II (120 hp Mercedes D.II engine) and D.III (120 hp Argus As.II engine).The massive Staaken VGO.III is in the background. (Peter M. Grosz collection/STDB)
The 7-cm Skoda cannon fitted in the nose of a modified G.I bomber in a movable mounting. The gunner's Cellon aiming window above the cannon's barrel gave a very limited field of view. Dual wheels are now fitted.
The Brandenburg W.29 was a main antagonist of the F.2a flying boats during patrols over the North Sea. The W.12 biplane fighter was the original fighter used to intercept the F.2a boats, but was not fast enough to ensure catching the big British boats before the W.12s had to return to base due to low fuel. The monoplane W.29 was developed from the W.12 to achieve quicker interceptions. The larger W.19 biplanes and W.33 monoplanes were similarly developed to offer longer range and consequently greater radius of action with the same speed as their smaller siblings. The Brandenburg two-seat floatplane fighters were the most effective seaplane fighters used in WWI combat.
The W29 was a monoplane development of the W12 biplane for greater speed. Here W29 Marine #2532 from Norderney (indicated by the two identification stripes on the aft fuselage) on patrol over the North Sea. Like #2532, most W29s were category C3MG and had two fixed machine guns for the pilot. If a wireless transmitter and receiver were installed, the pilot had only one fixed gun to avoid over-loading the aircraft and reducing its performance. The Brandenburgs were at their most vulnerable when taking off and landing, and since they were based near the front there was always the possibility that they would be attacked by Allied land-based fighters. That was why the naval aircrews adopted the tactic of taking off and landing in formation, and maintaining a stepped Vee formation in flight with clear fields of fire for all the gunners. Without the handicap of floats British fighters, mostly Sopwith Camels, had the advantages of speed, climb, and maneuverability, so formation flying for mutual defense was a priority for the crews.
The Junkers J 2 was given the military designation Junkers E.II. Six examples were built; E.251/16 is shown here. The single synchronized LMG 098/15 machine gun was conveniently located. It was too heavy due to its steel construction; although it was fast due to streamlining it had poor climb, ceiling, and maneuverability and was not used in combat. All subsequent Junkers airplanes were built of lighter aluminum alloy.
The Junkers J 4 (factory designation)/J.I (military designation) was the world's first all-metal production aircraft. The engine, fuel tank, and crew were enclosed in an armored bath to protect against rifle and machine-gun fire in its design role as infantry cooperation aircraft. Idflieg required a sesquiplane layout in preference to the monoplane Junkers wanted. Junkers aircraft all featured corrugated metal skin; the corrugations stiffened the skin to prevent buckling.
Observer Lt. Wilhelm Paul Schreiber (at right) and his pilot, Feldwebel Ernst Schafer, on the upper wing of their Junkers J.I J.134/17 while serving with Flieger-Abteilung (A) 221 in the Spring of 1918. They had flown together as a team since March 1917. On 15 May 1918 Schreiber shot down American Charles Biddle of the 103rd Aero Squadron while he and Schafer were flying this aircraft (Biddle survived to become an ace). On May 30, 1918 Schafer was hit in the head by ground fire and J.134/17 crashed between the trench lines, killing Schreiber as well. This crew had performed excellent work for many months and Schreiber had been nominated for the Pour le Merite. Unusually, the Kaiser approved the award posthumously, a rare honor, and Schafer was posthumously awarded the Goldene Militar-Verdienstkreuz (Military Service Cross in Gold, the highest award to an enlisted man). Before their fatal flight their trusty J.134/17 had accumulated 420 hits in previous missions. (Hanns-Gerd Rabe via Peter Kilduff)
The Junkers CL.I was the two-seat fighter development of the single-seat D.I. Larger than the D.I, it was powered by a 170 hp Mercedes D.IIIa engine and was armed with two fixed, synchronized guns for the pilot and a flexible gun for the observer. Developed from the very similar J 8 prototype, the production aircraft, first ordered in March 1918, was known as the J 10 to the factory. The CL.I went into production in the second half of 1918 to supplement the existing Halberstadt and Hannover CL-types, and 44 had been delivered through March 1919. The CL.I, along with the Junkers D.I, was used by the Geschwader Sachsenberg during the postwar fighting against the Bolsheviks in the Baltic. Both the D.I and the CL.I were very robust aircraft that served successfully in severe climatic conditions. The CLS.I was a floatplane derivative of the CL.I.
Made of duralimin, an aluminum alloy, the Junkers J 7 fighter prototype as originally built with rotating wing-tip ailerons. A sturdy roll-over structure was enclosed by the streamlined headrest. The radiator was mounted over the engine to expedite flight testing while investigation into the ultimate configuration of the nose radiator mounting continued. A long exhaust pipe was fitted.
The Junkers J 7 prototype photographed on October 12, 1917, after being fitted with a new wing using conventional ailerons. The long exhaust pipe and test equipment are still fitted, and the original radiator was still mounted over the 160 hp Mercedes D.III. A neat spinner is fitted over the propeller hub.
The Junkers J 7 prototype in its third configuration photographed January 1918 while being readied for the First Fighter Competition. It now has yet another new wing with aerodynamically-balanced ailerons, and a nose-mounted radiator. The spinner and the long exhaust pipe are both gone and it has a new rudder.
The Junkers J 7 prototype photographed on February 2, 1918, in its fourth configuration after being fitted with yet another new wing of longer span. The ailerons are also longer and no longer have aerodynamic balances. Test equipment are still fitted. The test pilot was Arved Schmidt.
The Junkers J 7 prototype in its fifth configuration photographed March 23, 1918 with larger radiator for summer operation. The aircraft was accepted by Idflieg for demonstrations and training the week of March 25, 1918.
The Junkers J 7 prototype in its fifth configuration photographed March 23, 1918 with larger radiator for summer operation. The aircraft was accepted by Idflieg for demonstrations and training the week of March 25, 1918.
The Junkers J 9/1 production prototype of the Junkers D.I was photographed July 8, 1918 at the Junkers airfield at Dessau. The Junkers D.I was the first production all-metal fighter. It was actually lighter than the competing Fokker V21 and V23 monoplane fighters made of wood!
The Junkers J 9/II prototype was powered by the experimental 195 hp Benz Bz.IIIbo un-geared V-8 engine. Intended to compete at the Second Fighter Competition, the unreliable engine prevented its appearance. The under-fuselage radiator was modern for its time.
The Junkers J11 was an all-metal two-seat floatplane fighter prototype competing with the Dornier Cs.I and the Brandenburg monoplanes. Powered by a 200 hp Benz Bz.IV, it had a maximum speed of 180 kmh, faster than the Brandenburg W29. Sturdy and durable, it would have been welcomed by maintenance crews. Both Dornier and Junkers were building all-metal monoplanes by the end of the war. There were no Allied all-metal warplanes; Germany clearly led the field in structural design.
The all-metal Junkers CLS.I was a floatplane development of the CL.I two-seat fighter. The CL.I was produced for the army and used postwar. The CLS.I was powered by a 200 hp Benz Bz.IV engine.The CLS.I had a top speed of 180 km/h, which was somewhat faster than the W29. The corrugated metal skin was characteristic of early Junkers designs.
Like the Kondor D.II, the Kondor D.VI was powered by the 110 hp Oberursel Ur.II. The D.VI was an attempt to improve the pilot's field of view forward and upward by removing the center section of the upper wing. The D.VI undoubtedly created more induced drag (drag induced by lift from the wingtip vortices) than a conventional biplane because of the missing center section, which would have reduced its performance noticeably compared to its D.II predecessor. The D.VI was too late for the Second Fighter Competition and was abandoned before the Third Fighter Competition.
The Roland C.II had a fish-shaped fuselage for streamlining with oval cross section, making it faster than its competitors, due to its better streamlining. This late-production C.IIa had a larger rudder and a synchronized gun for the pilot, who sat in front. When it arrived at the front it was one of the fastest aircraft and, when fitted with a synchronized gun, served as a two-seat fighter in addition to reconnaissance airplane. A single-bay design, its I-struts reduced drag.
The Roland D.XVI powered by the production 205 hp Sh.IIIa rotary competed at the Third Fighter Competition as "an interesting type" despite not using the specified 185 hp BMW.IIIa engine. During most of 1917 Idflieg encouraged designers to try triplanes, but during 1918 monoplanes became increasingly popular for fighter designs due to their greater speed, and the last two Roland fighter designs to be built were monoplanes.
The LTG FD1 Marine Number 1518 was the first of three revised prototype floatplane fighters. The vertical tail surfaces were greatly enlarged to improve stability. By the time this aircraft appeared, the Brandenburg W.12 had proved the operational superiority of the two-seat floatplane fighter and the single-seat floatplane fighter was obsolete.
The LVG G.I was designed as a Kampfflugzeug, and a single example was built in 1915. The arrangement enabled the gunner to fire in a 360° arc above the aircraft and gave a wide field of fire forward, but the standing gunner undoubtedly created a great deal of drag, limiting the aircraft's speed. The Kampfflugzeugs (battle planes) of all types soon proved failures as interceptors and air superiority aircraft because they were simply too slow and cumbersome to intercept and engage enemy aircraft. Operational experience soon demonstrated that bombing was the true role of these aircraft, and the early operational Kampfflugzeugs were the ancestors of German twin-engine bombers of WWI.
The NFW E.II had under-wing radiators to cool its 160 hp Mercedes D.III, and a streamlined nose with spinner. The result was much improved speed and climb compared to the earlier Fokker Eindeckers. "National", for National Flugzeug-Werke, was painted on the fuselage side, and a turn-over structure protected the pilot. The wing was cantilever, requiring no bracing.
Oertz W6 Marine Number 281 in original configuration before the between-the-wings ailerons were fitted between the rear pair of wings and before wing-tip floats were added. Unsurprisingly, only one prototype was built.
This new Pfalz E.V stands ready for flight on the Speyer airfield. It was the only Pfalz E-type powered by a water-cooled engine, a 100 hp Mercedes D.I. Its streamlining made it faster than the Pfalz E.IV with 160 hp Oberursel U.III rotary, but the basic Morane-Saulnier airframe, which was designed prewar, was incapable of further development. Superior German and Allied biplane fighters were already in service, sealing the fate of the E.V, only 20 of which were built.
Pfalz test pilot Gustav Bauer proudly stands before the prototype Pfalz D.X parasol monoplane in late 1918. Like the Pfalz Dr.I triplane and D.VII/D.VIII biplanes, it was powered by the 205 hp Siemens-Halske Sh.III counter-rotary engine. Although it did not officially compete in the Second Fighter Competition, it was one of the airplanes evaluated in July 1918 by front-line fighter pilots. Unlike the thick, cantilever Fokker wings, the Pfalz wing required extensive bracing, with the associated additional weight and drag, and the Pfalz D.X was not developed further.
The German Heinecke parachute under testing and in use.
Rumpler 6B1 W4 Marine #751 is shown after being repainted in camouflage colors after assignment to Zeebrugge. The straight leading edge of the C.I-style tailplane is clearly shown. Flying from Zeebrugge, Lt.z.S. Neimeyer used Rumpler 6B1 #751 to down a Short Seaplane on 31 Aug. 1916 and a Caudron G.4 on 7 Sept. 1916.
By mid-1916 the need for single-seat seaplane fighters of good performance caused orders to be placed with various manufacturers for prototype aircraft to be powered by either the Benz or Mercedes six-cylinder engines of 150hp. The first aircraft to be delivered to the seaplane experimental and acceptance centre at Warnemunde (SVK and SAK) was the Rumpler 6B1 numbered 751 at the end of August. Following acceptance, it was sent to Zeebrugge where it is seen on its railway car with Leutnant Bucker in the cockpit.
This late production Rumpler C.III with unbalanced elevators carries the unit insignia of Flieger Abteilung 19. Other than its use of the Benz engine, from the side it looks like a Rumpler C.IV. The lower wing tip shape, difficult to see clearly from this angle, is the most visible difference between the late C.III and early C.IV.
7C1 prototype in January 1917 shows its elegant streamlining. The I-struts and tail unit without fin look too fragile for the harsh demands of front-line operational service.
Rumpler Rubild Mb 8186/17 flown by pilot Lt. Oskar Seitz. Seitz was instrumental in designing the custom observer's gun mounting that combined a captured Lewis machine gun with the standard Parabellum for additional firepower to defend against Allied fighters. The aircraft has lozenge camouflage fabric on the wings and horizontal tail with painted fuselage and late-style national insignia. The 'T' on the fin was a tactical marking.
Rumpler Rubild 8322/17 in factory camouflage and wearing the straight-sided 1918 national insignia.
The simplified struts and wire bracing of the Rumpler C.X compared to the earlier, two-bay Rumpler reconnaissance planes using the C.IV airframe gave reduced drag and higher performance. The shorter, more streamlined fuselage contributed to the lower drag and higher performance.
The Schutte-Lanz company, which primarily built airships, also designed airplanes, but none reached production. Here is the Schutte-Lanz Dr.I, their entry into the triplane craze. Powered by a 160 hp Mercedes D.III, it was out-performed by the similar Schutte-Lanz D.III biplane.
The Schutte-Lanz Dr.I used the fuselage and tail of the D.III biplane but had lower performance due to its greater weight and drag. The Dr.I was Germany's last triplane fighter and marked the final end of Germany's triplane craze.
The SSW DD 5 prototype designed by Franz Steffen was SSW's first biplane fighter design. The wing spars and I-struts were made of steel tubes, and the aircraft has a robust appearance despite the narrow I-struts. Other than the biplane wing cellule, the rest of the aircraft was derived from the E.I monoplane fighter, including its 110 hp Siemens-Halske Sh.I counter-rotary engine and single synchronized gun. The DD 5 was rejected due to poor handling qualities, probably related to its tapered wing planform that aggravated the tendency of the wing tips to stall first, which seriously reduced the pilot's ability to control aircraft roll during a critical flight regime.
The SSW DD 5 prototype biplane fighter in the foreground was a biplane development of the SSW E.I in the background. Unusually for a WWI aircraft, the DD 5 had tapered wings which likely compromised its low-speed handling.
The joint brainchild of the Steffen Brothers, Franz and Bruno, the Siemens-Schuckert Werke D 5 single seat fighter was completed in the autumn of 1915, but progressed no further than the prototype stage. Visible in the background is the same company's E I prototype, a developed version of which killed designer/pilot Franz Steffen in June 1916.
The SSW DD 5 was a clean design but the wide cabane struts near the pilot must have restricted his field of view.
The SSW DD 5 prototype biplane fighter in the foreground was a biplane development of the SSW E.I in the background. Unusually for a WWI aircraft, the DD 5 had tapered wings which likely compromised its low-speed handling.
The joint brainchild of the Steffen Brothers, Franz and Bruno, the Siemens-Schuckert Werke D 5 single seat fighter was completed in the autumn of 1915, but progressed no further than the prototype stage. Visible in the background is the same company's E I prototype, a developed version of which killed designer/pilot Franz Steffen in June 1916.
SSW torpedo-glider #2, weighing 300 kg, was successfully dropped from airship Z.XII in April 1917 after more than 75 glide-bombs were tested at Biesdorf. The cable spool is between the body and the upper wing.
SSW glide-bomb #66 on the launching track at the SSW cable works. In October 1916 the 3.5 m long torpedo was first successfully released above the water of the Spree Canal.
This advanced monoplane torpedo glider had a dynamo in the tail to power the guidance system and the control wires ran out through the hollow dynamo shaft.
Siemens-Schuckert D IV (serial D 7555/18).
The SSW D.III and D.IV (shown) were contenders for best German fighter. Both offered better climb rate and maneuverability than the Fokker D.VII. However, the D.VII had better speed, was more reliable, and much easier to fly. The SSW fighters were very difficult to land and pilots experienced many landing accidents with them. Finally, the Fokker D.VII served longer at the front and in much greater numbers than the SSW fighters, which saw service in moderate numbers.
This photo of a Zeppelin C prototype (wooden fuselage) shows Jaray's aerodynamically successful design. The aircraft was outfitted with a well-balanced elevator and rudder. Production aircraft had a metal fuselage.
The Zeppelin Rs.I on its transportation wagon in front of the hangar at Seemoos in 1915.
Zeppelin C.I after enlargement of the vertical tail surfaces. (Airbus Group).
The Zeppelin Cs.1 was a floatplane fighter design for the Navy. Its configuration was clearly inspired by the Brandenburg W.29 but the strength of its metal construction enabled simpler float bracing.
The all-metal Zeppelin D.I 1752/18, the first protoype to fly, is seen here. Zeppelin D.I 1751/18, the second prototype to fly, was entered in the Second Fighter Competition where, during an evaluation flight on July 3, 1918, the upper wing tore off. Hptm. Wilhelm Reinhard, who had succeeded Manfred von Richthofen as the commander of JGI, was killed in the subsequent crash. Oblt. Hermann Goring had flown the fighter immediately prior to Reinhard.
Drawing of the 105 mm cannon installation planned for the VGO II. The actual cannon mounted was a 130 mm gun. Ground firing trials were held on 6 and 10 October 1916 followed by an airborne firing trial on 19 October with satisfactory results. The gun was intended to penetrate the deck armor of British warships, including battleships. (Peter M. Grosz collection/STDB).
"Цеппелин-Штаакен" R-V
The Staaken R.V differed from its predecessors in its engine arrangement; the nacelle engines were mounted as tractors. Power was from five 245 hp Maybach Mb.IVa engines, one in the nose and two in each engine nacelle geared together to drive the propeller. Fitting flexible machine guns in the rear of the nacelles gave the R.V very heavy firepower to the rear. Here it is seen with dark night bomber camouflage. The aircraft, military serial R.13/15, completed 18 combat missions such as bombing London, Calais, Dunkirk, Ostende, Ypres, Abbeville, St. Omer, Dieppe, and Rouen. (Peter M. Grosz collection/STDB)
Halberstadt D.I fitted with rockets for anti-balloon attacks under test at Doberitz. Aileron horn balances identify it as a D.I. Less than a dozen D.I fighters (powered by the 100 hp Mercedes D.I were built before production shifted to the D.II (120 hp Mercedes D.II engine) and D.III (120 hp Argus As.II engine).The massive Staaken VGO.III is in the background. (Peter M. Grosz collection/STDB)
The Staaken R.IV freshly delivered to Rfa 500 on the Eastern Front. After the fuel tanks were full the aircraft sat on its front wheels. At this point the R.IV did not have its upper wing guns added later. Note the small cooling openings at the front of the nacelles. Each engine nacelle had two 220 hp Benz Bz.IV engines driving a single propeller, and the nose propeller was driven by two 160 hp Mercedes D.III engines. Gearing two engines together to drive a single propeller gave additional reliability in addition to greater power. Because the fixed pitch propellers of WWI airplanes could not be feathered, it was important to continue to power the propeller in case of engine failure, and a failed engine could be declutched from the gearbox so the operating engine could continue to power the propeller. A windmilling propeller generates about as much drag as a parachute of similar diameter. (Peter M. Grosz collection/STDB)
The Zeppelin-Staaken company received all-metal technology from its Zeppelin-Lindau sister company and built the remarkable all-metal Staaken E.4/20 monoplane as a result. Built as a transport due to the armistice, it was faster than contemporary fighter planes such as the Spad 13. The E.4/20 was the world's first all-metal 4-engine cantilever monoplane and the ancestor of all modern 4-engine transports. (PM Grosz Collection/STDB)
The Staaken E.4/20 after the cockpit was converted from an open cockpit to a cabin. The two pilots sat side by side.The Inter-Allied Control Commission insisted the E.4/20 be destroyed and this historic aircraft had to be scrapped, not even surviving as a museum exhibit. (PM Grosz Collection/STDB)
The Italian SVA 5 single-seater was an excellent long-range reconnaissance plane. With a top speed of 147 mph it was the fastest WWI aircraft to see significant service.
The Caproni trimotor bomber was converted as a torpedo bomber.
The Caproni Ca.3 three engine bomber was a strong, powerful aircraft. This aircraft is seen after crash landing at Campoformido, Italy in early 1916.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container. It could carry a large bombload but was too slow and unweildy to withstand fighter interception, so missions were limited to areas without effective fighter opposition.
Caproni Ca.4 triplane bomber with bomb container and "CAPRONI" painted under the bottom wing. This was a Ca.4 that was shipped to New York for an exhibition in early 1919.
Caproni also built a large triplane bomber that was used operationally in small numbers by Italy and Britain. It combined the twin nacelle, tri-motor configuration with a large triplane wing cellule that enabled carrying a heavy bomb load due to the large wing area. The bombs were carried in the streamlined housing below the main nacelle. The extensive struts and bracing created a lot of drag, ensuring it was slow. The triplane configuration made fighters too slow but could enable a lot of wing area for bombers and flying boats with a reasonable wing span.
The Caproni biplane was widely used and was fairly successful. Its twin-boom configuration enabled fitting of three engines, a tractor at the front of each boom and a pusher in the central nacelle. Normally fitted with wheels, a few were used as floatplanes as shown here.
The Macchi M.5 was the best flying boat fighter of the war. American Ensign George Ludlow was flying this Macchi M.5 fighter Mutt 2nd during the attack on Pola on August 21, 1918 when he was shot down by Fregattenleutnant Friedrich Lang in a Phonix D.I landplane fighter. The Macchi was faster than the Phonix but Lang had an altitude advantage.
Although the S.P.4 had tractor engines, the airframe was built like a pusher and had four rudders. The lattice tail structure, primitive for 1917, had excessive drag and the type was used by only two squadriglia. Had the S.P.4 used a conventional fuselage with less drag, the type would have been faster, better armed, and more successful.
Sikorskiy Grand twin-engine aircraft.
Sikorskiy added two more engines to the Grand to improve its performance. This created the world's first four-engine aircraft; the Grand was re-named the Great Russo-Baltic.
The Great Russo-Baltic was a civilian aircraft. It was followed by the four-engine Ilya Mourometz reconnaissance-bomber. These were built in various models and were very successful in combat.
This atrocity was a flightless 'penguin' taxi trainer equipped with hoops to prevent serious damage or injury if accidently flipped by a student. It is shown here on a training field in Texas.
Burgess-Dunne A-54 with full military markings on the beach at Pensacola.
The Army's Burgess-Dunne on floats.
Burgess-Dunne A-54 as originally submitted to the Navy. It was rejected following its tests.
This Curtiss L-2 trainer belonged to the US Army despite being a floatplane. The two crew sat side by side. The close proximity of the lower wing to the water limited its operation to very calm water. The engine was a 100 hp OXX-3 V-8. This was the sole L-2 owned by the Army; the Navy had three. The L-2 was not successful and the last Navy L-2 was never flown.
The prototype Curtiss S-3 was designed as a fast, single-seat scout using a 90 hp OX-2 engine. Cooling air entered through the propeller spinner to the radiator behind it. The aircraft was maneuverable and had good handling qualities, but only a few were built as it was unarmed and not suitable for combat.
The unusual placement of the machine guns on the Curtiss S-6 made it useless because the guns were inaccessible to the pilot. This triplane was not used in combat and only one was built.
A development of the S-3, the sole Curtiss S-6 was flown in 1917 with an unusual installation of twin Lewis guns above the cockpit.
The S-6 was slightly larger than the S-3 and was the first US Army single-seater to carry machine-guns.
Navy-Curtiss H-12 serial 767 was powered by two Liberty engines of 350 hp each mounted as tractors. It is on its step near take-off speed.
H-12Ls were US Navy production versions of the H-12 fitted with the 360 hp low-compression Liberty engine. Navy wartime colouring was grey overall.
To correct tail-heaviness, the Curtiss 18-T was given five degrees of wing sweepback soon after first flight, as illustrated here. With a speed of 163 mph, it was briefly the fastest aeroplane in the world.
The Curtiss 18T was designed as a two-seat fighter; the 18B was a similar biplane. Both landplane and floatplane variants were built. The wings were slightly swept to solve a problem with tail heaviness. Power was from a Curtiss-Kirkham 12 cylinder engine designed to produce 400 hp. The prototype was fast for a triplane but its engine was unreliable and the pilot's field of view was obstructed by the top and middle wings. The aircraft had other limitations and development was abandoned.
When fitted with longer wings as either a landplane or seaplane, the Curtiss Wasp was designated 18T-2. The short-wing version became 18T-1 retroactively.
The GS-1 of late 1917 was the last of a Navy scout order and was completed as a triplane.
The diminutive Curtiss GS-1 triplane was designed as a single-seat, unarmed shipboard reconnaissance plane. Powered by a 100 hp Gnome rotary, the bottom wing was too close to the water to operate in any but the calmest water. The only prototype was destroyed after engine failure when it crashed on landing.
The Navy-Curtiss NC-3, originally powered by three Liberty engines of 350 hp each mounted as tractors, was re-engined with four Liberty engines of 400 hp each to fly the Atlantic, the fourth engine being added to the center engine nacelle as a pusher. Horn-balanced ailerons were mounted on the upper wing only, which had a span of 126'. The biplane tail had three rudders. In May 1919 the NC-1, NC-3, and NC-4 set out to fly across the Atlantic. Only NC-4 completed the crossing, although it was not non-stop.
The Gallaudet D-1, serial A59, at Pensacola in mid-1916.
The Gallaudet D-1 two-seater had two Dusenberg engines of 150 hp buried in the fuselage in an unusual mounting. The Navy ordered it to test its unusual engine and propeller configuration. The performance was poor and it had a number of technical problems, although the structure was well-built and there were no problems with the engines or drive system.
The Sperry Flying Bomb was built by Curtiss and its control system was installed by the Sperry Gyroscope Company. It was powered by a 90 hp Curtiss OX-5 engine and was designed to carry 1,000 pounds of explosives. It was a cruise missile intended to fly a preset course, altitude, and distance before diving into its target. Cruise speed was 90 mph and the range was 50 miles. The airframe was as simple as possible, but cost of the engine seems not to have been an issue. Development of the control system was protracted and the Armistice stopped the program.
The John's Multiplane bomber prototype was a study in excess and failure. Fitted with seven mainplanes and powered by three 400 hp Liberty V-12 engines, it was not able to take off and crashed on test. A look at the photos reveals an entirely excessive number of wings and struts.
John's Multiplane after a take-off attempt. It never made a successful flight despite its three Liberty Engines and all those wings. The John's Multiplane was the ultimate excess for too many wings.
The third machine
The Lanzius 'Speed Scout' appears to be misnamed; the external truss on which its adjustable wings were mounted created a great deal of drag and made it anything but fast despite use of a 400 hp Liberty V-12 engine. The wing incidence could be varied in flight. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fragile aircraft crashed fatally on its first flight as a result of wing failure.
The Loening M-2 "Kitten" was a small single-seat scout. Intended to equip warships, it was built in both landplane (shown) and seaplane versions.
The Loening M-2 "Kitten" was a small single-seat scout. Intended to equip warships, it was built in both landplane and seaplane (shown) versions.
The Loening M-8-0 was designed as a two-seat fighter powered by a 300 hp Wright-Martin V8 for shipboard use. Its monoplane wings were heavily braced. The engine obstructed the pilot's forward field of view.
The Loening M-8-1 was designed as a floatplane version of the M-8-0 two-seat fighter powered by a 300 hp Wright-Martin V8 for shipboard use. The '1' in its designation indicated it was built by the NAF (Naval Aircraft Factory). The aircraft were not built until 1919.
The Martin Cruising Tractor was designed as a test-bed for innovative propeller drive systems. Two Liberty engines were mounted in the fuselage and geared so either or both could drive both propellers. The designer envisioned the concept developed as a bomber but this did not occur.
The Martin Cruising Tractor and the K-III "Kitten" photographed together showing their relative sizes.
The Martin K-III "Kitten" scout was was claimed to be a miniature fighter, but was a small, unarmed scout. The Army refused to let it be flown after inspection revealed how flimsy it was constructed. Power was 40 hp A.B.C. Gnat 2-cylinder and the landing gear was semi-retractable.
The Martin Cruising Tractor and the K-III "Kitten" photographed together showing their relative sizes.
The N-1 Davis Gun Carrier was designed as a seaplane to carry the Davis recoilless cannon for anti-submarine attack. It was powered by a 350 hp Liberty V12 engine. The gun mounting was successful but it was not successful as an airplane, so only four were built.
The American LUSAGH-11 was designed as an armored ground-attack aircraft, with armor protecting the crew, engine, and fuel tank. The over-size wheels were required to handle its weight. The aircraft was designed for the 475 hp Bugatti, but delay of that engine resulted in the LUSAGH-21 designed for the 400 hp Liberty. The aircraft was maneuverable despite its weight and significantly faster than German J-types that had only 200 hp.The Armistice terminated development.
The LUSAO-11 triplane was designed as a three-seat observation plane and was powered by two 400 hp Liberty V-12 engines. It was not strong enough and failed static tests. After strengthening it was over-weight and had modest performance despite its powerful engines, perhaps due to its drag-producing triplane layout and extensive bracing.
The Sperry Night Bomber was powered by a 350 hp Liberty V-12 engine. It was well built but, despite use of the Liberty engine, performance was poor due to being over-weight and its drag-producing design. Its triplane configuration gave it a lot of wing area for its span and was not uncommon for flying boats.
The sole Sturtevant B to be completed, which was destined to effect only one test flight.
Sturtevant B2 pursuit of 1916 was powered by a 140 hp Sturtevant V8 and had a steel airframe and sesquiplane configuration. Its rudder control was inadequate and it crashed before delivery. Armament was not fitted.
The Sturtevant S2 2-seater of 1917 had a steel airframe like the B2 and used the same type of engine. It had a more conventional wing cellule of much greater wing area. The S2 had very poor flying qualities and was not used in quantity.
Naval Sturtevant S2 2-seater of 1917 fitted with floats. The aircraft shown here was the only one the Navy placed in operation. The Navy accepted three more but they were not placed in service.
Photographed in February 1917, this Sturtevant AH-24 (later A76) is unpainted and bears the blue anchor insignia on rudder and under wing.
The Thomas-Morse MB-1 seen during ground trials. Note that no propeller seems to befitted.
Designed as a two-seat fighter, the Thomas-Morse MB-1 monoplane was so poorly designed that the Army's only interest was evaluating its parasol wing. Like most American designs of the time it used the Liberty V-12 of 400 hp. Its landing gear collapsed on its first take-off attempt, and it crashed on its first test flight due to being much too tail heavy. In addition, the pilot's field of view was very poor and the design was abandoned.
The Thomas-Morse MB-1 prototype during engine trials. The abnormally large wing struts would surely have reduced the pilot's downward view. Via Jack Herris
The Astoux-Vedrines triplane was powered by a 130hp Clerget and appeared to be France's response to the Fokker Triplane. Ailerons were fitted to all wings. Only one was built; fast SPAD biplane fighters powered by Hispano-Suiza V-8 engines were already in mass production.
A Besson "Alerte" triplane flying boat. This early design was probably powered by a 300 hp Renault. The center wing had longer span than the top and bottom wings and had the ailerons. The aircraft had a multitude of bracing struts.
Besson "Alerte" triplane flying boat developed from the triplane flying boat above. The engine was a 200 hp Hispano-Suiza.The bracing was very extensive, creating a lot of drag. It was used mainly for anti-submarine patrols.
Besson "Alerte" single-seat triplane flying boat perhaps intended as a fighter. The center wing had longer span than the top and bottom wings and carried the ailerons. The aircraft had a multitude of bracing struts.
The Bleriot 71 heavy bomber was powered by four 220 hp Hispano-Suiza V8 engines. It remained a prototype.
The Bleriot 73 heavy bomber was designed as a heavy night bomber. Powered by four 300 hp Hispano-Suiza engines, it had a robust undercarriage and odd upswept fuselage. No production was undertaken
The Breguet AG 4 of 1914 was a two-seat fighter; the observer had a flexible gun but there was no gun for the pilot. Despised by its crew when tried in combat, fortunately only two were built.
The Breguet 5 pusher was another design for an escort fighter fitted with a single-shot 37mm cannon. Like the BLC it was derived from the lumbering Breguet BM 4 bomber. As a result, the Breguet 5 was slow and cumbersome and its single-shot cannon was not effective in aerial combat.
The Breguet BLC pusher was an escort fighter fitted with a single-shot 37mm cannon. Derived from the lumbering Breguet BM 4 bomber, the BLC was slow and cumbersome and its single-shot cannon was not effective in aerial combat.
Breguet BLC Verite. Designed as an escort fighter instead of a battleplane, the BLC was still slow, cumbersome, and unsuccessful.
If the fast Caudron R.11 was the way to be successful as a multi-seat escort fighter; the eccentric Breguet 11 Corsaire was not. This high-drag beast had three 220 hp Renault engines, four crewmen, and was intended to be armed with a 37mm Hotchkiss cannon and three machine guns, with bombs an alternative armament. It was not chosen for production.
The Breguet R.11 Corsaire under construction.
The Breguet 14 B2 was the best day bomber of the war due to its modern, all-metal airframe, good bombload, and good performance.
Breguet 14 showing the standard observer's armament and added over-wing Lewis machine gun. No pilot armor was fitted to this aircraft.
Close-up of the ventral Lewis machine gun fitted to late-production Breguet 14s.
The Breguet 14 B2 displaying its substantial bomb-load. With good performance, good bombload, and metal frame that did not shed wood splinters during a crash, the Breguet 14 was the best day bomber of the war.
The Caudron R.11 was the best 'convoy' escort fighter of the war, and indeed it has been the only truly successful 'convoy' escort fighter in history. Here six Caudron R.11s are lined up on the airfield with some Breguet 14 B2 day bombers, the bombers they escorted, in the background.
Breguet 14 of the 96th Aero Squadron, USAS. The bulge in the bottom of the fuselage under the devil's head insignia is the location of the ventral gun.
Cockpits of the Breguet 14 showing the pilots'armor. This armor was common but not universal.
The Laboratory Eiffel LE fighter was an experimental aircraft intended to test advanced aerodynamic features. The wing spars were made of duralumin and were nearly cantilever; however, bracing struts were still needed. Powered by a 180 hp Hispano-Suiza, it crashed fatally on its second flight. Although the potential performance was estimated to be very high, this fatal crash ended development. Despite the crash being officially attributed to pilot error, the authorities seem to have reservations about its monoplane configuration.
Caudron G.4 showing the precarious position that the gunner needed to achieve to defend against fighters.
Caudron G.4 showing additional machine guns added to it. The G.4 was not a pusher but unfortunately retained a pusher configuration, making it very vulnerable to attack from behind and below.
A pilot of a Caudron G.4 with an extra flexible gun added to the aircraft.
Caudron G.4 showing addition of another extra gun. Many expedients were tried to add effective armament to the primitive aircraft.
The Caudron R.11 was the only aircraft ever truly successful as a multi-seat escort fighter.
The Caudron R.11 was the best 'convoy' escort fighter of the war, and indeed it has been the only truly successful 'convoy' escort fighter in history. Here six Caudron R.11s are lined up on the airfield with some Breguet 14 B2 day bombers, the bombers they escorted, in the background.
The Caudron C.23 night bomber could carry a heavier bomb load than the Farman F.50 but had a lower climb rate. Despite 54 being built by the Armistice, it failed to enter combat. Its 260 hp Salmson radial engines were much better than the Lorraine engines of the Farman F.50.
The De Bruyere Canard fighter had a fixed 37mm cannon and an unsynchronized machine gun. The pilot's cockpit was forward of the wings and a Hispano-Suiza V-8 of unknown type was fitted behind the wing in a pusher configuration. The ailerons were rotating wingtips. The aircraft crashed on its first test flight in April 1917; immediately after take-off it rolled inverted and crashed fatally. Over-balancing of the wingtip ailerons may have been the cause. Unfortunately, this innovative design was abandoned instead of being redesigned with conventional ailerons. Introduction of too many innovations in a new prototype offers the hope of breakthrough performance but with a much higher risk of failure.
The De Monge/Buscaylet experimental aircraft is shown here. It was powered by an engine mounted in the fuselage that drove a propeller mounted in the fuselage behind the wings. The biplane was said to have a 'living' wing; this may have meant that upper wing was fully articulated and controlled by the canard connected to it. The radiator was mounted in the nose and the aircraft had four wheels. The wing was the most unusual aspect of this aircraft that had plenty of unusual features. No further information is available.
The Deperdussin TT could be armed with a flexible machine gun able to fire over the propeller arc. This was required due to lack of an effective synchronizer.
Dorand biplane armoured interceptor (80 hp le rhone engines)
A 1913 design for an aerial cruiser, the French Dorand Armored Interceptor had two 80hp engines coupled together to power both propellers in case of an engine failure. There was a pilot in the middle with gunners fore and aft. Development of armored aircraft was abandoned because of poor performance due to the armor's weight.
The D.N.F. bomber had an interesting tri-motor configuration with unusual nacelles that gave it a very distinctive appearance. The three engines were 220 hp Renaults and gunners were stationed in the front of each nacelle.
The French method of pilot training involved the use of 'penguin' flightless trainers (airplanes with clipped wings) for familiarization with engine management and taxi training prior to flight training. The hydroplane equivalent of the 'penguni' was the Fabre trainer shown here.
Farman F.40 Brownie of the Belgian Air Service was a typical pusher biplane designed for reconnaissance. The observer, who sat in the front cockpit, had an unobstructed field of view - and field of fire - forward. The high-drag airframe limited performance and the aircraft was very vulnerable to fighter attack from behind and below, a situation that became increasingly problematic as air combat intensified. Although pushers stayed in Allied service long after they were obsolete, they were gradually replaced by more effective tractor designs.
Farman F.40 at Vadelaincourt with pilot Carpentier, observer Capt. Wiedman, and the observer's flexible machine gun. Like all pushers the F.40 was vulnerable to fighter attack from behind and below.
The Farman F.46E was designed as a trainer, which explains its extensive landing gear. Engine was an 80 hp Renault.
The Farman F.50 night bomber entered combat in August 1918. The best French night bomber of the war, it only served in small numbers. It was a good airframe but was limited by its mediocre Lorraine engines. Under-powered by its original 240 hp Lorraine 8Bb engines, later production models had improved 275 hp Lorraine 8Bd engines.
The Hanriot HD.2 was a floatplane development of the HD.1 land-based fighter. The HD.1 was used by Belgium and Italy but not France; however, both the French and USN used the HD.2 on the Channel Front to escort Allied flying boats.
A Labourdette-Halbronn triplane flying boat. Designed as a torpedo bomber, the aircraft had twin hulls, and the pilot's cockpit was in a central nacelle. Gunners with flexible machine guns were situated in the front of each hull. Ailerons were fitted to the top and middle wings. Power was from two 200 hp Hispano-Suiza engines (for the H.T.1); these were replaced by two 350 hp Lorraine engines in the H.T.2. The Armistice terminated further development and production.
The Levy-Besson "High Seas" flying boat had three 350 hp Lorraine engines and was also a triplane. Ailerons were fitted to the top and middle wings; the bottom wing was shorter for better handling on the water.
Farman MF.11 with the aft-seated observer aiming his Colt MG over the pilot's head, Luneville 2-9-15. Note how he had to stand to fire downward.
Farman MF.11bis with the aft-seated pilot aiming his added machine gun past the observer, who is manning his own machine gun, which was a standard mounting.
Отсекатели пуль, установленные на лопастях винта истребителя "Моран". Пулемет "Сент-Этьенн", установленный на Моран-Солнье, имел магазинное заряжание
Jules Vedrines in the cockpit of his Morane-Saulnier N before a sortie; the metal deflector wedge on the propeller is clearly seen together with the un-synchronized Hotchkiss machine gun.
Morane-Saulnier N with un-synchronized machine gun mounted; the metal deflector plate on the propeller blade is clearly shown.
The metal deflector plate mounted on a Morane-Saulnier propeller blade.
Jean Navarre in the cockpit of his Morane-Saulnier N.The aircraft was fitted with an un-synchronized Hotchkiss machine gun with metal deflector wedges on the propeller. The M-S N debuted in June 1914, just before the war.
Drawing of the metal bullet-deflector plates as mounted on a Morane-Saulnier propeller.
The massive Morane-Saulnier TRK heavy bomber prototype had its two 230 hp Canton-Unne watercooled radial engines buried in the fuselage; they drove the propellers via drive shafts. It was a triplane and a gunner with twin guns was situated in a cockpit behind the wings. The pilot and copilot sat side by side. Built in 1915, it remained a single prototype.
This Morane-Saulnier P was armed with two guns, one fixed to fire over the propeller arc due to lack of a synchronizer. A monoplane, it required extensive wire bracing, with their associated drag, again without the strength of a biplane configuration.
These two Morane-Saulnier MoS 26 Type P “Parasol” reconnaisance aircraft have been removed from frontline service. However, their usefulness is not yet over. They have clipped wings, for use as “Penguins.”
Throughout the war Morane-Saulnier built a lot of braced monoplanes. The AC fighter was used in small numbers.
Throughout the war Morane-Saulnier built a lot of braced monoplanes. The AE reconnaissance prototype was not produced. The extensive wing bracing of the AE needed for its monoplane wing generated almost as much drag as a biplane without the biplane's lift or inherent strength, showing clearly why biplanes were preferred to monoplanes during WWI. Only the cantilever monoplane wing, first produced in wood by Fokker, enabled the monoplane to combine the strength of the biplane with lower drag. This was a major structural design breakthrough that eventually led to the cantilever monoplane being the dominant configuration.
Morane-Saulnier AI '1543 (single-gun MoS 27 version); the type had an impressive top speed of 138 mph (222 kph) and was a potent machine.
The Morane-Saulnier AI was the final Morane-Saulnier monoplane fighter. Used at the front in small numbers in early 1918, it was soon replaced by the more robust Spad and relegated to training, where it gave good service. Like other Allied monoplane designs, its thin airfoil required extensive bracing, limiting any drag advantage it might offer compared to biplanes, which were more robust.
This well-known photo shows Cdr. Salmson, RNAS standing in front of a N.10 with gun fixed to fire above the arc of the propeller. Lack of an effective synchronizer was the reason for the awkward mounting. Salmson is holding an automatic pistol; it is not known if it was for air-to-air use or personal protection in case of being brought down.
Jean Navarre in a Nieuport 16. Using the N.11 airframe, the N.16 was fitted with the heavier and more powerful 110 hp Le Rhone instead of the 80 hp Le Rhone used in the N.11. This made the N.16 faster and gave it a better climb rate at the expense of poorer handling qualities due to being somewhat nose heavy. The tractor N.11 was developed into an entire family of fighter aircraft with higher power and better armament. The over-wing gun was a work-around due to lack of a functioning synchronizer at the time.
Lineup of eight Nieuport 16 fighters armed with Le Prieur rockets on May 22, 1916. These Nieuports were being readied for the first mass attack against German balloons in the Verdun sector. The eight fighters destroyed six balloons.
Nieuport fighter fitted with Le Prieur rockets for attacks on observation balloons.
The Nieuport 16 of Warrant Officer Henri Reservat who flew in the first mass attack of May 22 and was brought down by anti-aircraft fire.
Test of the Le Prieur rockets on May 4, 1916. The location was the Le Bourget airfield and the Nieuport was flown by Sergeant Joseph Guiguet. The test was successful and the balloon was destroyed.
Nieuport with three guns, two of them over-wing; the pilot was ace Pierre Gaudermann of Esc 68.
Above: Close-up of Gaudermann's Nieuport with three guns.
The Nieuport N1118 was the first Nieuport triplane. The narrow wings were all single-spar wings applied to a Nieuport 10 fuselage. Power was from an 80 hp Le Rhone rotary. The pilot may have occupied the rear cockpit. The middle wing had the longest span and carried the ailerons. Since the top wing provides the greatest lift in biplanes and multiplanes, this was not aerodynamically efficient.The airplane's performance and handling are unknown, but it was not produced in quantity. The photo shows the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Nieuport N1118 triplane upon completion at the factory.
Nieuport N1118 triplane upon completion at the factory.
N1388 was the first single-seat Nieuport triplane. It was powered by a 110 hp Le Rhone rotary and was armed with a synchronized Lewis. The cone de penetration did not rotate. The triplane wing cellule had the top wing to the rear. After evaluation in France it was sent to the UK at the request of the RFC.
Once it reached the UK, N1388 was given the British serial A6686. It was re-armed with a synchronized Vickers and the cone de penetration was removed. The backward stagger of the top wing gave the pilot a good view forward and upward, but the middle wing obscured the view forward and downward. It was tail heavy, had poor handling, and its performance was below that of contemporary biplane fighters.
Once Nieuport realized their traditional sesquiplane configuration had reached the limit of its potential, the search for a new configuration began. This elegant monoplane was powered by a 150 hp Gnome rotary and was armed with two synchronized guns and a single-shot 'shotgun' on the propeller. Windows in the wing roots provided downward visibility for the pilot.
The Nieuport 31 monoplane fighter was the final Nieuport wartime design. Powered by a 170 hp Le Rhone rotary, it was planned to carry the typical two synchronized guns.The wheels were covered by a large auxiliary airfoil. No further development was undertaken, perhaps due to the success of the more conventional Nieuport 29 biplane and the declining interest in rotary engines.
The French Papin-Rouilly helicopter shown here may be the most unusual design for a WWI flying machine. It had a single hollow wooden blade powered by an 80 hp Le Rhone rotary and incorporated a complex control system. Construction was started in February 1914 and was tested in March 1915; it seemed to break from the water but, unsurprisingly, was unstable during flight. Further tests were halted for safety reasons and the contraption was sold for scrap wood in 1919.
The early REP parasol reconnaissance monoplane featured excellent downward view for its crew, but had to be extensively wire-braced. These bracing wires generated considerable drag without providing the strength of the average biplane, showing why monoplanes were not popular during WWI.
The Salmson 2A2 was the best Allied short-range reconnaissance two-seater. It was strong and fairly fast, being able to match the Albatros and Pfalz D.IIIa in speed and climb. It was widely used by France and the USAS. Short-range reconnaissance airplanes were used for artillery spotting, tactical reconnaissance, and sometimes light bombing. Its engine was a water-cooled radial; technology had not yet advanced far enough to enable reliable air-cooled radials.
Seeing the success of the armored German aircraft, in 1918 France issued a requirement for a lightly armored ground-attack two-seater with T.S.F. and camera. The Vendome biplane and the Salmson 4 were designed to this requirement. The Salmson 4, powered by a 260 hp Salmson water-cooled radial, was basically an enlarged, armored derivative of the Salmson 2 reconnaissance aircraft. The Salmson 4 was selected for production in May 1918 and 12 were assigned to front-line escadrilles by the armistice. No others were built and it was withdrawn from service in 1920.
The Salmson-Moineau S.M.1 was designed as a three-seat reconnaissance plane with gunners fore and aft and the pilot in the middle. Most unusually, a single 240 hp water-cooled radial engine drove outboard propellers via drive shafts. Surprisingly, 155 S.M.1 reconnaissance planes were produced and it saw troubled operational service.
Силовая установка - двигатель "Сальмсон" 9А2с.
Close-up view of the 240 hp Salmson radial installation in a Salmson-Moineau S.M.1.
The S.M.2 was an enlarged, more powerful derivative of the S.M.1 built in 1918 for ground attack. The front gunner was replaced by a second engine; this doubled the type's power but, together with the additional strut bracing, made the aircraft far from streamlined. As can be appreciated from the photos, only one prototype was built.
The Spad SA series was another radical approach to an 'aerial cruiser' that served in modest numbers, at least 96 being built. Cooling problems limited the usable engine power and thus limited performance.
Spad SA.2 S.31 scored the only confirmed SA-series victory on the Western Front. The SA.2 and SA.4 were more successful with the IRAS on the Eastern Front, where aerial opposition was not as intense.
Стойки гондолы крепились к шасси на шарнирах. Это позволяло открывать двигательный отсек для ремонта.
The front nacelle of the Spad A.2 pivoted around its lower attachment points to the undercarriage. The upper support struts detached allowing the nacelle to be lowered for engine maintenance. The small wire screen at the rear of the cockpit was designed to protect the observer from the propeller
The Spad 7 also used Le Prieur rockets for a time.
Spad 7 with three guns, two of them on the lower wing. Although a very successful fighter, the production Spad 7 mounted only one synchronized gun, a liability in a time of frequent gun jams. The wing-mounted Lewis guns used ammunition drums that could not be reloaded in combat.
The first Belgian SPAD XI, Sp 1, preparing for a flight.
Spad S.11 of the Belgian Air Service was a typical tractor biplane designed for reconnaissance. The observer, who resided in the rear cockpit, had a good field of fire to the sides and rear except directly astern. The more streamlined airframe gave much better performance than pusher designs and the aircraft was far less vulnerable to fighter attack from behind and below. The handsome S.11 had good speed but its handling qualities were mediocre at best. Due to their improved performance and defensive capability, tractor designs replaced pushers as frontline combat aircraft and were the most successful, and therefore popular, configuration of the war.
The cannon-armed S.XII never equipped a complete escadrille of the Aviation Militaire.
The Spad 13 was the best French fighter in widespread use and a contender for the best operational WWI fighter. It was strong and faster than the Fokker D.VII, but not as maneuverable. Its powerful Hispano-Suiza V8 gave it excellent performance but was a maintenance headache and was never as reliable as the engines in the Fokker D.VII. The Spad 13 was the main French fighter in 1918 and it also equipped the USAS when it became available after the USAS had bad experiences with the more fragile Nieuport 28. Spad 13 fighters were also supplied in small numbers to Italy, Belgium, and the British Royal Air Force.
The SPAD S XIII of the 22nd Aero Squadron, seen here, was an early production example of 893 S XIIIs purchased by the American Expeditionary Force and used a 200hp Hispano-Suiza 8B, rather than the 235hp 8 Bec of later aircraft. Contracts for another 6.000 Curtiss-built machines were cancelled in the wake of the Armistice, but 435 existing S XIIIs were shipped back to the US after the war, being used as fighter trainers, following re-engining with the de-rated 180hp Wright-Hispano. Incidentally, the 22nd Aero was declared operational on 22 August 1918 and was one of the few units to survive the immediate post-war run-down to become the 22nd Pursuit Squadron.
The Spad 14 was the fastest floatplane fighter to see combat. A floatplane development of the unusual Spad 12, 47 were built. Like the Spad 12, the Spad 14 was armed with a single synchronized machine gun and a single-shot, hand-loaded 37mm cannon mounted in the 'V' of the Hispano-Suiza V-8 and firing through the propeller hub of the geared propeller. The Spad 14 served primarily on the Channel Front opposing German seaplanes.
The Vendome A3 biplane was built in 1916 to satisfy a French army specification for infantry cooperation and ground attack. It was powered by a pair of 120 hp Gnome rotary engines that each drove a propeller via a bevel gear. Like the similar Salmson S.M.1, the pilot occupied the center cockpit with gunners fore and aft. It was not selected for production.
Many Voisin pushers were fitted with a single-shot 37mm cannon. The Voisin 4 shown here was intended as a fighter but proved much too slow. Furthermore, the single-shot cannon was not effective in air combat because hitting a moving target with a single-shot weapon was extremely difficult. However, the cannon Voisins were useful for ground attack and were also used to attack observation balloons.
The Voisin Triplane was a 1915 design for a heavy bomber, hence the large wing area for lift. The aircraft was powered by four 270 hp Salmson radial engines mounted in tractor-pusher pairs on the center wings. Ailerons were fitted to the top and middle wings; these ailerons operated separately, with those on the middle wings used for trim. The extensive wire and strut bracing contributed to its slow speed and the prototype was scrapped, but the wings were retained for the Voisin E.28 Triplane heavy bomber of 1916.
The Voisin E.28 triplane heavy bomber prototype of 1916 used the wings from the 1915 Voisin heavy bomber. Using four 220 hp Hispano-Suiza engines, it had less power than its predecessor. It is unclear how it was supposed to have adequate performance with less power. The rudder was suspended between the fuselage and an auxilliary boom. The E.28 was another high-drag, low-performance design that was also a failure.
France's main, but not best, night bombers were primitive Voisin pushers. The final versions were the Voisin 8 powered by a 220 hp Peugeot and the Voisin 10 powered by the more reliable 280 hp Renault engine shown here. The quadracycle landing gear and row of landing lights were intended for safer night landings.
The Weymann W.1 pusher fighter of 1915 was an innovative French attempt to create a low-drag pusher fighter without the need for synchronizing gear. Powered by an 80 hp Clerget in the middle of the fuselage driving the tail-mounted propeller via a transmission and extension shaft, it carried two fixed, un-synchronized guns and had a metal airframe. Flight testing is thought to have been abandoned in late 1915.
The Dufaux C1 fighter was a 1915 French attempt to create a fighter without the need for synchronizing gear. The pilot's cockpit in the nose was equipped with a single unsynchronized Lewis machine gun. Powered by an 110 hp Le Rhone in the middle of the fuselage near the center of gravity, it was actually evaluated in combat by N 95, which was assigned to the C.R.P (the air defense of Paris) in December 1915.