L.Opdyke French Aeroplanes Before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
Several weeks later Sommer showed a monoplane with fuselage completely covered, and a smaller, lighter undercarriage with 2 skids. It was followed by another, with the main section aft of the engine covered with a single steel plate; the skids had been taken off the undercarriage, and the masts were in the form of a small pyramid in front of the pilot. All these early monoplanes had typical 4-longeron wooden fuselages, with the longerons tapering regularly in section; all the fuselages were covered along the bottom.
Type Deperdussin: These designs were variants of the Type E, all single-seaters and the most successful and the most famous of Sommer's aircraft. The first had a bird-shaped fuselage profile, with the wheels and the upper pylon brought forward. The tanks in front of the pilot canted upward to form a windbreak, and the inboard leading edges sloped forward to the engine cowling, resembling the Deperdussin racers of the period. A second version had a much higher rudder.
On the earlier monoplanes the tail unit was fitted with the same device as on the still earlier biplanes, but on the Type E it was replaced with a Type de Securite (safe elevator): a slow push or pull on the stick controlled in the normal way. But a sudden sharp movement on the stick produced a much larger movement of the elevator: the idea was to help the pilot recover suddenly. Needless to say, it was not successful. The Type E completely covered in fabric was ordered by the Army; 20 monoplanes with serial numbers over 100 were bought and formed the Centre Sommer (Sommer School), which was not an operational unit. The Type E was fitted with a 50 or 70 hp Gnomes which gave speeds of 105 or 135 kmh, or with a 35 hp Anzani. All the military Type Es had the starboard trailing edge cut out for better visibility.
In January 1912 Bathiat achieved a top speed of 150 kmh (average speed 144 kmh) on a 70 hp Gnome-powered Type E; a little later Jules Vedrines achieved 169 kmh on a 140 hp Deperdussin.
For the Circuit d'Anjou in the summer of 1912 Sommer got ready a new 2-seater with an 80 hp engine for his friend and pilot Kimmerling. It crashed at Chalons during its first tests, killing both Kimmerling and Tonnet, Sommer's chief engineer. As a result, the warping cables were redesigned on all the Sommer monoplanes.
(Span: 8.7 m; length: 6.7 m; empty weight: 270 kg; gross weight: 440 kg; wing area: 16 sqm; 50 or 80 hp Gnome)
Type Morane: During the 1912 Salon, a new monoplane was shown on the Sommer stand. It had a cowling similar to those on the Moranes, and the top of the fuselage was slightly rounded. This may have been the Type F described by Alex Dumas, unless it was in fact another variant of the Type E. At the end of 1912 Roger Sommer suddenly announced his resignation; he noted that he had built a total of 182 aircraft. He explained that the Army had not confirmed its orders for the Type R and the automatic stabilizer monoplanes. In fact, the Army still preferred the Maurice Farmans, from which the Type R was not significantly an improvement - and the monoplanes were still inadequate in their performance. He sold his interests in 1912 to Leon Bathiat, who went into partnership with Sanchez-Besa and sold the monoplanes under the name Bathiat-Sanchez. During World War I Sommer went on to found, in association with Bathiat, one of the most important aircraft factories of the War, turning out great numbers of Spads and Caudrons. He later devoted his time to the family felt business, which became one of the main European carpet producers, the Sommer Allibert Group.
Flight, December 30, 1911.
PARIS AERO SHOW.
ROGER SOMMER was represented at the Salon by two machines, a monoplane and a biplane, the latter constructed throughout of steel. The biplane should really be termed a double monoplane, for the cellular method of bracing the main planes has disappeared in favour of the system originated by Breguet. Balancing laterally is effected by the rotation around the front spar, of the extensions of the top plane. Its chassis, supported by six steel tubes, is composed of a pair of wheels mounted on a common axle, which latter is flexibly attached by means of stout rubber bands to the short steel tubes uniting the steel chassis struts. One peculiarity about this landing gear, which is directly descended from the original Henry Farman conception, is that the radius rods have disappeared. Elevation and depression of the machine is controlled by a small monoplane surface, measuring about 2 ft. span by 1 ft. chord, supported on steel outriggers about 8 ft. in advance of the main plane, which surface works in conjunction with a flap hinged to the rear of the lifting tail. Its diminutive size makes one wonder if this surface is of any use at all as an elevator, and the only apparent advantage of the system is that the outriggers form a good point from which to brace the main planes against drift strains.
The main planes, which are double-surfaced with leaf-green fabric, for the purpose of rendering them invisible when close to the ground, are tested before they leave the works to withstand a strain of four times that they are ever likely to be called upon to bear in normal flight.
Principal dimensions, &c. :-
Length 22 ft.
Span 29 ft.
Area 176 sq. ft.
Weight 575 lbs.
Speed 65 m.p.h.
Motor 50-h.p. Gnome
Flight, November 16, 1912.
THE PARIS AERO SALON.
SOMMER is showing two machines - a 75-h.p. Renault engine biplane and a 50-h.p. Gnome-engine monoplane. In neither case, we regret to say, do the machines show any advance on the types that were shown twelve months ago. For the biplane, a good deal of steel is used in its construction, although not nearly to the same extent as was evident in the extremely neat and promising biplane with the single lank of struts between the planes, that Sommer exhibited on his stand last year. The skeletons of the main planes, the tail and the front elevator, and the strutting of the cellule are of wood. The tail outriggers, elevator outriggers and chassis are of steel tubing. Sommer has abandoned his original idea of mounting his pair of landing wheels on a long common axle. In his new form of chassis each wheel is sprung from a pair of supports in such a manner that if the machine landed in any sort of a side wind, they could do nothing but collapse. From one of each pair of supports on either side of the machine, long curved tubular skids extend forward to meet the front elevator. They, too, seem of little use, for the steel tube must be insufficiently solid to avoid a smash should the machine land nose down, a contingency for which skids of this type were originally designed.
The main novelty in the monoplane is a new system of control whereby the surface that ordinarily constitutes the fixed lifting tail, may be varied in attitude according to the degree of deflection that the rear elevating flaps are given. From the diagrammatic sketch we print can be gathered an idea of how this movement is effected. Presumably the object of this system is to provide a more powerful control, and we can but remark that, if this is indeed the case, the designer could have achieved his object without resorting to such complicated means.