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Thomas-Morse MB-1

Страна: США

Год: 1918


Thomas-Morse - S.5 - 1917 - США<– –>Thomas-Morse - MB-2 - 1918 - США

J.Wegg General Dynamics Aircraft and Their Predecessors Since 1912 (Putnam)


   After concentrating on trainers, attention was turned to an experimental two-seat, high-wing parasol monoplane (Mono-Biplane) fighter, powered by a 400hp Liberty 12. Faired struts offered additional lifting area and in an effort to make the airframe as light as possible, all metal parts were given holes and the plywood bulkheads had cut-out sections. Even the control column was perforated.
   Two aircraft were ordered (including one for static tests only) in 1918 and built at the Center Street building. But by the time the prototype had reached the flying field, towed behind a truck, the undercarriage had already been weakened and repairs had to be made. When the aircraft sat in the hangar, the tailskid fittings failed and the skid was pushed through the tail. Taxi-ing and flight tests were begun on the ice of Cayuga Lake but the undercarriage failed on take-off on its first flight. The MB-1 was repaired and flown only once more, then abandoned.

Span 37ft; length 22ft.

W.Green, G.Swanborough The Complete Book of Fighters


   The Thomas-Morse Aircraft Corporation, formed in January 1917 by a merger of the Thomas Brothers Aeroplane Company with the Morse Chain Works, established itself with the S-4, the first aircraft specifically designed for fighter pilot training. Late in 1917, the designer of the S-4, B Douglas Thomas (unrelated to the founding brothers), initiated design of a two-seat fighter, the MB-1. A parasol monoplane primarily of wooden construction and powered by a 400 hp Liberty 12 water-cooled 12-cylinder Vee-type engine, the MB-1 represented an exercise in achieving minimum structural weight in order to enhance performance. All metal parts were provided with lightening holes - even the control column being perforated - and plywood bulkheads featured large cut-outs, the result being inadequate strength. The undercarriage of the first of two MB-1s collapsed during the first attempted take-off early in 1918, and although it has been alleged that the MB-1 was never flown, repairs were performed on the first prototype and the aircraft was flown once, crashing following take-off. The two airframes were delivered to McCook Field, but all further testing was prudently abandoned in favour of the more orthodox MB-2.

Loaded weight, 2,375 lb (1077 kg).
Span, 37 ft 0 in (11,28 m).
Length, 22 ft 0 in (6,70m).

J.Forsgren The Thomas-Morse MB-3 (A Centennial Perspective on Great War Airplanes 60)

The Thomas-Morse MB-1

  The MB-1 was a two-seat parasol-wing pursuit of mixed wood and metal construction, powered by a 400 h.p. geared Liberty 12 engine. The engine was transported to Ithaca in a guarded wagon. Work on the MB-1 was initiated in late 1917 by the British designer Benjamin Douglas Thomas. Although sharing the same last name, B D Thomas was not related to the Thomas brothers. Incidentally, B D Thomas' previous work included the Curtiss JN two-seat tractor biplane, better known as the 'Jenny'.
  Two MB-1 prototypes were ordered, one of which was to be used for static tests. In order to achieve the lowest possible airframe structural weight, lightening holes were cut into the plywood bulkheads and various metal components. Amazingly, lightening holes were also included in the metal control column! This made the MB-1 airframe prone to structural failure. Nevertheless, the empty weight of the airframe amounted to 2,000 lb (908 kg), to which the 900 lb (408,6 kg) heavy engine was added. Presumably, this caused some problems with the centre of gravity. According to aviation historian R.L. Bliss, the MB-1 "resembled a dragonfly on steroids".
  The armament consisted of four machine guns, including two synchronized forward-firing guns and two Lewis guns in a scarff mounting in the rear seat. Uniquely, a downwards-firing Winchester rifle was also carried. Even before the start of the flight trials, one of the two MB-1 prototypes suffered damage when the tail skid fitting broke off when the aircraft was parked in a hangar. The first flight attempt at the icy surface of Lake Cayuga near Ithaca in early 1918 ended in disaster when the undercarriage collapsed prior to take-off. Subsequently repaired, the prototype managed to struggle into the air but crashed moments after taking off. The two prototypes were then transferred to McCook Field, where they remained firmly grounded. Following arrival at McCook Field, the pair of MB-1s were not allotted serial numbers in the sequential numeric 'P' test series. MB-1 development was quickly abandoned in favour of the two-seat MB-2.

Thomas-Morse MB-1 Technical Data
   Wingspan: 37 ft (11,28 m)
   Length: 22 ft (6,7 m)
   Loaded weight: 2,375 lb (1,077 kg)

J.Herris - Weird Wings of WWI /Centennial Perspective/ (70)
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.
W.Green, G.Swanborough - The Complete Book of Fighters
Constructed in such a fashion as to save as much weight as possible, the MB-1 proved structurally inadequate and was only flown twice.
J.Herris - Weird Wings of WWI /Centennial Perspective/ (70)
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
J.Forsgren - The Thomas-Morse MB-3 /Centennial Perspective/ (60)
A three-quarter view of the Thomas-Morse MB-1. Via Jack Herris
W.Green, G.Swanborough - The Complete Book of Fighters
Over-zealous lightening of the airframe made the MB-1 structurally unsound.
J.Forsgren - The Thomas-Morse MB-3 /Centennial Perspective/ (60)
A front view of the Thomas-Morse MB-1. Via Jack Herris
W.Green, G.Swanborough - The Complete Book of Fighters