K.Molson, H.Taylor Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (Putnam)
Bell Cygnet II and III
Dr Alexander Graham Bell had a great interest in the tetrahedral cell and its application to kites and while recognizing its high drag he felt that the possibility of building large banks of cells with low weight and good aerodynamic stability would outweigh the disadvantage. Following the successful flying of the Cygnet I as a man-carrying kite Bell decided to proceed with the construction of a powered tetrahedral kite, the Cygnet II, his Drome No.5 in 1908.
The Cygnet II was a large aircraft spanning 52 ft 6 in (16 m) at the top of its massive bank of 2,152 cells which tapered to 40 ft (12 m) at the bottom. A biplane forward elevator and rear rudder were fitted in a similar manner to those used on the aircraft of the Aerial Experiment Association. The machine was mounted on three steel-tube skids for flying off the ice at Baddeck, Nova Scotia. The Curtiss engine from the Silver Dart was borrowed and mounted as a pusher and the aircraft was completed on 19 February, 1909.
J. A. D. McCurdy attempted to fly the Cygnet II on 22 February but the engine was not running well and the trial was stopped. The engine was then transferred to the Silver Dart and then back again following the Silver Dart's successful flight of 23 February, the first in Canada.
New trials were made by McCurdy on 24 February but the machine did not rise. After modifications a further trial was made on 15 March which was again unsuccessful. Dr Bell felt that the engine was not powerful enough for the large aircraft, and he hoped to install the Kirkham engine from the Canadian Aerodrome Baddeck No. 1 later but this was not done and no further trials were made.
Both the Cygnet II and III were built by Beinn Breagh Laboratory. Beinn Breagh. Gaelic for Mountain Beautiful and pronounced similarly to Ben Vreeah, was the name of Dr Alexander Graham Bell's estate at Baddeck.
One 50 hp Curtiss eight-cylinder. Span at top 16 m (52 ft 6 in), span at bottom 12 m (40 ft). Number of cells 2,152. Loaded weight 9501b (430 kg).
Both aircraft were designed to metric dimensions.
Jane's All The World Aircraft 1913
GRAHAM-BELL II. Flights were made by Dr. Graham-Bell in a tetrahedal type, similar to one described in the 1911 edition.
Flight, February 27, 1909
A Tetrahedral Aeroplane.
DR. GRAHAM BELL is continuing his experiments at Nova-Scotia, whither he has removed his machines from New York, and last Monday he made the first trials with his tetrahedral apparatus. This contains 3,690 tetrahedral cells, and, including the aeronaut and the 50-h.p. motor, weighs 950 lbs. Unfortunately, very shortly after the machine had risen in the air, the propeller-shaft sheered and the propeller dropped off, but the machine glided slowly down without sustaining any serious damage. The trial was made over the frozen Bras d'Or lake at Baddeck, the aeroplane being mounted upon sledge runners. The machine is known as "Cygnet II," and the operator was Mr. Douglas McCurdy.
Flight, March 20, 1909
Graham-Bell Tetrahedral Machine.
ON Monday last, Dr. Graham-Bell's tetrahedral aeroplane "Cygnet II" was again tried over the ice at Baddeck, N.S., and although a speed of 15 miles per hour was attained, the machine failed to rise. Dr. Graham-Bell will now overhaul the apparatus and embody one or two improvements which have been worked out as a result of the experiments. It will be remembered that we published some particulars of this machine in our issue of February 27th.