R.Mikesh, A.Shorzoe Japanese Aircraft, 1910-1941 (Putnam)
Itoh Tsurubane No.1 Aeroplane
Following the move of the company from Inage to nearby Tsudanuma after the tidal wave of 1 October, 1917, the next aeroplane was the Tsurubane No.1 Aeroplane. The aeroplane was to be flown by Toyotaro Yamagata, ltoh's assistant, who showed good qualities as an aviator and was well suited to the task.
The design evolved around the 50hp Gnome engine from the Tamai No.3 Aeroplane that crashed at Shibaura, Tokyo, in May 1917. This engine was obtained by Yamagata's uncle, Shigesaburo Torigai, with the intention of letting Yamagata design his own aeroplane around it. Eventually, Otojiro Itoh was asked to take over the project, using Yamagata's sketches of the intended design. It was a very simple single-seat two-bay tractor biplane, having as an important feature a very rugged undercarriage. It also had the inherently stable flying qualities which made ltoh's aircraft acknowledged as successful trainers. The name of the aeroplane Tsurubane (Crane's wing) came from Tsurubane Shrine to which Yamagata belonged in his hometown of Hiroshima. This name was painted on the rudder, and No.1 was painted on the sides of the fuselage.
When the aeroplane was completed on 8 May, 1918, Yamagata took the aeroplane to Hiroshima for early flying demonstrations. From there, after arrangements were made by Asahi Shimbun reporter, Soten Abe, Yamagata visited Korea for nearly the full month of November and made exhibition flights at various locations at the request of the Governor-General in Korea, also named Yamagata. After the tour, exhibition flights were made over Osaka City for an extended period in the spring of 1919. On one occasion another person straddled the fuselage behind the pilot for a low flight over the spectators.
In its later service life the Tsurubane No.1 Aeroplane served as a trainer for the Itoh flying school. Eventually it was bought by Hisayasu Sakae and donated to AkiItsukushima Shrine near Hiroshima.
Single-engine two-bay biplane. Wooden structure with fabric covering. Pilot in open cockpit.
50hp Gnome seven-cylinder aircooled rotary engine, driving a two-bladed wooden propeller.
Span 10m (32ft 9 1/2in); length 6.5m (21 ft 4in); height 2.6m ( 8ft 6 1/2in); wing area 30sq m (322.927sq ft).
Empty weight 380kg (83 7Ib); loaded weight 520kg (1,146Ib).
Maximum speed 43kt (50mph).
One built in 1918.