M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
LIWENTAAL glider, the Dittisham Aerostat (Albert or Alexander Liwentaal, Snail Cottage, Dittisham, Dartmouth, Devon)
Liwentaal was a Swiss who worked in the shipyard of Simpson and Strickland at Noss, Dartmouth. Between 1891 and 1911, a number of patents were taken out in the name of Alexander Liwentaal relating to flying machines.
His first attempt at flight seems to have been in February 1894, from a hill above Dittisham Mill Creek. Although the machine lifted six or seven feet for several yards, it was damaged when hit by a gust of wind. A further attempt was made in April from slopes at Bozamzeal, Dittisham which resulted in severe damage and injury to Liwentaal needing treatment in Dartmouth hospital.
The pilot sat on a bicycle saddle astride a single steel tube fuselage, mounted on an undercarriage consisting of a single bicycle wheel and a tail skid. The wing, shaped like that of a gull, comprised a straight main spar and curved leading edge member, and ribs of pine and a wire trailing edge. The tailplane was 'all moving' and there was a rudder for directional control.
After the accident with his glider, Lt. Liwentaal proposed, in a letter to the Press, to build a two-seater powered machine with flapping wings, which was said to be in course of construction in December 1894. Nothing further was heard of this and Liwentaal moved to London. His use of military rank probably stemmed from service in the Swiss Army, a largely part-time organization.
Power: 30hp and 5hp. The small engine presumably to operate the wing flapping at a maximum of forty strokes per minute.
Area 475 sq ft
Area tailplane 125sqft
Weight 300 lb
Weight allup 600 lb
Speed 70mph est.
LIWENTAAL monoplane (Alexander Liwentaal, 92 High St., Islington, London N)
Some years later, when he was living in London, Liwentaal took out patent No.11784/1911. This was for a tractor monoplane with a control system consisting solely of air under pressure directed to valves at the extremities of the machine, where it emerged as jets. The operation of the valves was to be controlled by pendulums. This machine remained as a project only, but the control by air jets was remarkably similar to the reaction control system used in the 1960s in the Harrier jet fighter.
In 1909, back in Switzerland, Liwentaal constructed the unsuccessful Libellan monoplane at Vernier, Geneva and was involved in the promotion of an airship, to be named 'Vdle de Geneve', which failed to materialize due to lack of funds. In wartime he is reported to have had an aircraft factory at Courbevoie, near Paris, which was bombed by a Zeppelin and in 1919 he emigrated to Canada.