G.Swanborough, P.Bowers United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911 (Putnam)
While the Wright Brothers had invented the first practical aeroplane and were able to maintain a lead over other fliers for nearly seven years, they clung stubbornly to their original aerodynamic and structural concepts and soon found themselves passed by competitors who had adopted more advanced ideas. Orville Wright carried on the business after the death of Wilbur in 1912 and was able to sell three two-seat Model C-H seaplanes to the Navy, which identified them as B-1 to B-3 (later AH-4 to AH-6). These were similar to the open Model B of 1911, with chain-drive to two pusher propellers from a single 60 hp Wright engine, and were sometimes flown as landplanes to improve their marginal performance. C-H data: span, 38 ft; length, 29 ft 9 in; gross weight, 1,610 lb; max speed approx 50 mph.
H.King Aeromarine Origins (Putnam)
Reverting to the development of 'conventional' marine aircraft, we are confronted with some remarkably unconventional engineering, and in illustrious company, for during 1907 the Wright brothers were themselves occupied with the problem of flying an aeroplane off the water, using not only floats but hydrofoils also. The story was later told in a letter from Orville to Commander Holden C. Richardson. Thus:
'In 1906 after our Government and some of the European governments had shown little inclination to take our invention seriously we thought a way to impress them of its importance would be to make a flight over the parade of battleships to be held at the Jamestown Exhibition in 1907. At that time we contemplated assembling a new machine at our old camp at Kitty Hawk, flying it from there to Jamestown, and after taking an unexpected part in the parade, flying it back... As such a project could not be carried out safely in a single flight we decided to put hydroplanes and floats on the machine so that starts and landings could be made from the water.
'As soon as the weather permitted in 1907 we began experiments with the hydroplane on the Miami River at Dayton... The cambered steel hydroplanes, located a few inches beneath the forward and rear ends of the floats, and extending between them, do not show in the picture [in the Dayton Herald of March 21, 1907] as they are under water... In these tests on the river we used the motor, transmission and propellers from our 1905 aeroplane... That motor when functioning properly developed a little over 20 horsepower. But the experiments ... terminated before we succeeded in getting more than two thirds of that power.
'With 14 horsepower the apparatus quickly raised until only the bottom of the floats dragged on the water. But we failed with this power to get the front edges of the planes entirely out of water and thus let the planes skim on their rear edges as we had expected. Just as the front edges reached the surface the planes seemed to lose a part of their lift with a consequent sinking back into the water. This was due to the loss of the lift on the upper side when the water ceased to flow over the top, but we did not understand the cause of it at the time...
'Immediately following these experiments negotiations with a foreign syndicate called us to Europe, so that the project of flying at Jamestown had to be given up.'
I present with particular relish a contemporary report of the trials which appeared in the Dayton Daily News:
'The balustrades of the Third Street Bridge were lined Thursday morning with curious spectators... The object of interest was the hydroplane which Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the airship, were tampering with in preparation for its initial experimental run.
'Although the inventors, who are being branded as geniuses, would not state the exact purpose of the hydroplane it was intimated that it is to be used in connection with their airship...
'The present machine which is uniquely constructed from water boilers, an old gasoline engine and numerous strips of wood and sheet iron, with the water planes of copper, made its sail down the Miami River amid the encouraging cheers of the assembled spectators.'
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1913
WRIGHT BROS. Biplanes. The Wright Co., Dayton, Ohio. The original type of Wright machine was mounted on skids only, and started along a rail. Its special features were a biplane elevator forward, main planes with warpable tips to trailing edge, small keel in gap, 2 propellers, chain driven in rear of planes, double rudder in rear and no tail. Wilbur Wright flew a machine of this type for 2 h. 20 m. 23? s. in 1908. (Details of early Wrights see previous editions of this book.)
Model and date. B. C. EX. E.
Length......feet(m.) 31 (9.45) 29? (9) ... ...
Span........feet(m.) 39 (11.90) 38 (ll.58) 32 (9.75) 32 (9.75)
Area...sq. feet(m?.) 500 (47) 500 (47) ... ...
total...lbs.(kgs.) 1250 (567) ... ... ...
useful..lbs.(kgs.) ... ... ... ...
Motor..........h.p. 30-35 Wright. 30-35 Wright. 30 or 50 30 or 50
Speed....m.p.h.(km.) 45 (75) 45 (75) ... ...
1913 standard. For exhibition 1913
This machine work only. For
as a hydro is Single seater exhibition
fitted with small duplicate work
two 3 step of B. only.
floats. Single seater
fitted with a
Flight, September 6, 1913.
THE MODEL "C.H." WRIGHT WATERPLANE.
IN the United States the development, of the waterplane has followed somewhat different lines from those pursued over here, owing, no doubt, mainly to the geographical differences between the two countries. A waterplane intended for use on inland lakes and rivers, or even "creeks," as the smaller rivers in the States are called, should obviously be differently designed from one whose field of operation is the coast or open sea. Whilst in this country and on the continent waterplanes with single floats are comparatively few, this type of craft seems to be the more popular in America.
The waterplane illustrated in this issue has been designed for use on small lakes, and is of special interest on account of the fact that it has been evolved at the Wright works, at Dayton, Ohio. With the exception of a few alterations this machine is exactly similar to the well-known standard-type Wright biplane. Two alterations will be noticed at once on inspection of the accompanying scale drawings, i.e. the extension of the rudders above the tail booms and the new position of the blinkers, which, in the standard-type machine are of triangular shape, and placed between the skid and the front down corner strut. Both alterations have doubtless been made with a view to neutralising the effect of the side area of the float. This member, it will be seen, is of comparatively great width, and is of the plain or non-stepped type. Great care has been exercised in determining the shape of the float, and the result has evidently repaid the time and money spent in evolving it, for we are told that it gets off the water in 10 secs., a performance which is little short of marvellous, but it must be admitted that it was under the expert handling of Mr. Orville Wright that this was achieved, a fact which no doubt was contributory to the excellent "get-off."
That the machine not only is quick in rising but also a good weight carrier is proved by the fact that on one occasion Mr. Wright carried three passengers besides a considerable amount of fuel, so that the load earned must have been in the vicinity of 800 lbs. The test flights were made on the Miami River, which is very narrow, and on both sides the banks are very high and covered with trees, so that it will be understood that it was by no means an ideal place for testing a new machine. Mr. Wright, however, was of the opinion that it represented the average conditions that would have to be met if the machine is to be of any use for the purpose for which it was designed - the navigation of small lakes and shallow streams, inaccessible for other types of aircraft.
The weight of the machine empty is 920 lbs. without the float, the weight of which is 240 lbs. The power plant consists of one of the new Wright 6-cyl. 60 h.p. water-cooled engines, driving through a chain and sprocket reduction gear two propellers of 8 ft. 6 in. diameter.