P.Bowers Curtiss Aircraft 1907-1947 (Putnam)
Autoplane (Model 11)
The Autoplane, known only by that name, was a unique winged car that Curtiss developed quickly for display at the Pan-American Aeronautic Exposition of February 1917. Basically, the design consisted of a set of standard Curtiss Model L triplane wings filled to an aluminium-body three-seater motor car designed and built by Curtiss. A 100 hp Curtiss OXX engine in the standard car position turned a drive shaft to the rear; belts then turned the pusher propeller mounted on a shaft at the top of the car. The tail surfaces were carried on two wire-braced booms spaced 9 ft (2,74 m) apart to clear the propeller and a small auxiliary surface was attached at the extreme nose. The pilot-chauffeur sat in the front seat at conventional Deperdussin controls and two passengers sat side by side in the rear seat.
The unique feature of the Autoplane was that the wings and tail could he removed as a unit to permit the car component to operate as a conventional road vehicle, The Autoplane is reported to have made only a few short straight-ahead hops before development was abandoned upon US entry into the war.
Span 40 ft 6 in (12,34 m); length 27 ft (8,22 m); height 10 ft (3,04 m).
Speed range 45-65 mph (72,4-104,6 km/h).
Useful load 710 lb (322 kg).
Flight, March 15, 1917.
AT THE AMERICAN AERO SHOW - SOME NEW TYPES.
The Curtiss Autoplane.
THIS machine, one of the greatest attractions of the exhibition, constitutes a modern designer's idea of the "limousine of the air." The body is a combination of motor car and aeroplane practice, and follows very closely the lines of a modern limousine or coupe car-body. It is constructed mainly of aluminium, the windows being of celluloid. Elaborate upholstery and tapestries are employed for the interior, which accommodates two passengers at the rear and a "chauffeur" forward. Right in front is a circular radiator, through which passes a starting handle for the engine, a Curtiss OXX 100 h.p., which is located under the bonnet. From the engine, power is transmitted through a shaft, extending to the rear of the body, to the four-bladed propeller located at the top. There is a pair of wheels fore and aft, mounted in a similar way as on the Curtiss tractor triplane. The axle of the front pair, however, follows motor car practice, in that the wheels are pivoted and connected to the control so as to enable the machine to be steered on the ground. The triplane wings are also similar to the triplane tractor, except that they are staggered and the lower plane is of shorter span. The wing section is "F-2" with an angle of incidence of 4# and a dihedral angle of 3# to the lower plane. The top plane is attached to a cabane mounted on the roof of the "car," whilst the centre and lower planes are attached to the body itself. Covered-in K-shape interplane struts separate the planes, and interconnected ailerons are fitted to top and centre planes. The tail is carried by a pair of horizontal tubular outriggers attached to the centre plane. The tail surfaces consist of a rectangular horizontal stabiliser, divided elevators, rudder and triangular vertical fin. Mounted on the bonnet, just above the front wheels, is a small plane. The general dimensions are as follows :- Span (top and centre) 40 ft. 6 ins., (bottom) 23 ft. 4 ins.; chord (top and centre) 4 ft., (bottom) 3 ft. 6 ins.; gap, 3 ft. 3 ins.; stagger, 11 ins.; overall length, 27 ft.; height, 10 ft.; width of body, 3 ft. 6 ins.; speed range, 45-65 m.p.h.; useful load, 710 lbs.
Flight, May 10, 1917.
THE "TOTALLY ENCLOSED" AEROPLANE.
At the aero show held at New York early this year there was exhibited a Curtiss triplane, which aroused the greatest interest owing to the decidedly novel lines on which it was constructed. The Curtiss Autoplane as it was called was really a motor car with wings, and although there were those who, at the time of the show, were inclined to smile and regard the machine as something of a joke on the part of the Curtiss firm, or at most a machine built solely for the purpose of creating a sensation at shows and in processions, a brief consideration will suffice to show that the machine, in spite of unconventional design, is not the freak aerodynamically some critics suggest. The engine, a 100 h.p. Curtiss, is mounted in front under a bonnet, motor car fashion, and is provided with the ordinary starting handle projecting through the radiator in the nose. A four wheeled under carriage is fitted, the front wheels of which are connected up to the controls in such a manner as to allow of steering the machine on the ground at low speeds. Inside the limousine body are three seats, the pilot's in front, and two passenger seats side by side further back. The upper plane is attached to a cabane resting on the roof of the body, while the two lower planes, the bottom one of which is of shorter span than the other two, are attached to the body. The propeller is mounted approximately on a level with the centre wing, and is driven through a long shaft from the engine. In addition to the rear elevator which, with the other tail units, is mounted on two booms, there is a small front elevator projecting out from the engine bonnet, giving the impression of mud guards.
At first sight it would appear that the head resistance would be somewhat excessive, but owing to the shape of the body, a section through a plane on level with the bottom of the windows would approximate very closely to a stream line section, so that the real resistance may probably be found to be a good deal less than one would at first expect. Placed where it is, the propeller should coincide pretty well with the centre of resistance, as it must be remembered that the upper wing carries a greater load than the other two, and that, although the resistance of the body is acting fairly low down, the bottom plane is of short span and offers but little resistance. The machine would have a very low centre of gravity, certainly, but this has not proved detrimental to good flying in such machines as the Morane parasol, and the centre of side area also appears to be quite low in comparison with the centre of lift of the three wings. A constructional feature which could, we think, be improved upon is the method of mounting the tail planes, which does not impress one as being any too strong. Otherwise the machine appears to us to promise very well in many respects, and the Curtiss firm are to be congratulated on being first to produce what really seems to be the first attempt at the comfortable enclosed small machine of the future. At the moment we have not been able to ascertain whether or not the machine has been flown, but although alterations and improvements are still to be expected, it does appear to us that this machine is a step in the right direction. For a three seater the power does not impress one as being quite sufficient, but it should not be a matter of great difficulty to install a more powerful engine, if that should be found advisable, which we fancy will be the case.