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TGPLANES AVIATION DIRECTORY --
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In a review of progress such as this, it is obviously impossible, when a certain stage of development has been reached, owing to the very multiplicity of experimenters, to continue dealing in anything approaching detail with all the different types of machines; and it is proposed, therefore, from this point to deal only with tendencies, and to mention individuals merely as examples of a class of thought rather than as personalities, as it is often difficult fairly to allocate the responsibility for any particular innovation.

 

During 1907 and 1908 a new type of machine, in the monoplane, began to appear from the workshops of Louis Bleriot, Robert Esnault-Pelterie, and others, which was destined to give rise to long and bitter controversies on the relative advantages of the two types, into which it is not proposed to enter here; though the rumblings of the conflict are still to be heard by discerning ears. Bleriot's early monoplanes had certain new features, such as the location of the pilot, and in some cases the engine, below the wing; but in general his monoplanes, particularly the famous No. XI on which the first Channel crossing was made on July 25th, 1909, embodied the main principles of the Wright and Voisin types, except that the propeller was in front of instead of behind the supporting surfaces, and was, therefore, what is called a 'tractor' in

place of the then more conventional 'pusher.' Bleriot aimed at lateral balance by having the tip of each wing pivoted, though he soon fell into line with the Wrights and adopted the warping system. The main features of the design of Esnault-Pelterie's monoplane was the inverted dihedral (or kathedral as this was called in Mr S. F. Cody's British Army Biplane of 1907) on the wings, whereby the tips were considerably lower than the roots at the body. This was designed to give automatic lateral stability, but, here again, conventional practice was soon adopted and the R.E.P. monoplanes, which became well-known in this country through their adoption in the early days by Messrs Vickers, were of the ordinary monoplane design, consisting of a tractor propeller with wire-stayed wings, the pilot being in an enclosed fuselage containing the engine in front and carrying at its rear extremity fixed horizontal and vertical surfaces combined with movable elevators and rudder. Constructionally, the R.E.P. monoplane was of extreme interest as the body was constructed of steel. The Antoinette monoplane, so ably flown by Latham, was another very famous machine of the 1909-1910 period, though its performance were frequently marred by engine failure; which was indeed the bugbear of all these early experimenters, and it is difficult to say, after this lapse of time, how far in many cases the failures which occurred, both in performances and even in the actual ability to rise from the ground, were due to defects in design or merely faults in the primitive engines available. The Antoinette aroused admiration chiefly through its graceful, birdlike lines, which have probably never been equalled; but its chief interest for our present purpose lies in the novel method of wing-staying which was employed. Contemporary monoplanes

practically all had their wings stayed by wires to a post in the centre above the fuselage, and, usually, to the undercarriage below. In the Antoinette, however, a king post was introduced half-way along the wing, from which wires were carried to the ends of the wings and the body. This was intended to give increased strength and permitted of a greater wing-spread and consequently improved aspect ratio. The same system of construction was adopted in the British Martinsyde monoplanes of two or three years later.

 

This period also saw the production of the first triplane, which was built by A. V. Roe in England and was fitted with a J.A.P. engine of only 9 horse power an amazing performance which remains to this day unequalled. Mr Roe's triplane was chiefly interesting otherwise for the method of maintaining longitudinal control, which was achieved by pivoting the whole of the three main planes so that their angle of incidence could be altered. This was the direct converse of the universal practice of elevating by means of a subsidiary surface either in front or rear of the main planes.

 

Recollection of the various flying meetings and exhibitions which one attended during the years from 1909 to 1911, or even 1912 are chiefly notable for the fact that the first thought on seeing any new type of machine was not as to what its 'performance' in speed, lift, or what not would be; but speculation as to whether it would leave the ground at all when eventually tried. This is perhaps the best indication of the outstanding characteristic of that interim period between the time of the first actual flights and the later period, commencing about 1912, when ideas had become settled and it was at last becoming possible to forecast on the drawing board the performance of the completed machine in the air. Without going into details, for which there is no space here, it is difficult to convey the correct impression of the chaotic state which existed as to even the elementary principles of aeroplane design. All the exhibitions contained large numbers one had almost written a majority of machines which embodied the most unusual features and which never could, and in practice never did, leave the ground. At the same time, there were few who were sufficiently hardy to say certainly that this or that innovation was wrong; and consequently dozens of inventors in every country were conducting isolated experiments on both good and bad lines. All kinds of devices, mechanical and otherwise, were claimed as the solution of the problem of stability, and there was even controversy as to whether any measure of stability was not undesirable; one school maintaining that the only safety lay in the pilot having the sole say in the attitude of the machine at any given moment, and fearing danger from the machine having any mind of its own, so to speak. There was, as in most controversies, some right on both sides, and when we come to consider the more settled period from 1912 to the outbreak of the War in 1914 we shall find how a compromise was gradually effected.

 

At the same time, however, though it was at the time difficult to pick out, there was very real progress being made, and, though a number of 'freak' machines fell out by the wayside, the pioneer designers of those days learnt by a process of trial and error the right principles to follow and gradually succeeded in getting their ideas crystallised.

 

In connection with stability mention must be made of a machine which was evolved in the utmost secrecy by Mr J. W. Dunne in a remote part of Scotland under subsidy from the War office. This type, which was constructed in both monoplane and biplane form, showed that it was in fact possible in 1910 and 1911 to design an aeroplane which could definitely be left to fly itself in the air. One of the Dunne machines was, for example flown from Farnborough to Salisbury Plain without any control other than the rudder being touched; and on another occasion it flew a complete circle with all controls locked automatically assuming the correct bank for the radius of turn. The peculiar form of wing used, the camber of which varied from the root to the tip, gave rise however, to a certain loss in efficiency, and there was also a difficulty in the pilot assuming adequate control when desired. Other machines designed to be stable such as the German Etrich and the British Weiss gliders and Handley Page monoplanes were based on the analogy of a wing attached to a certain seed found in Nature (the 'Zanonia' leaf), on the righting effect of back-sloped wings combined with upturned (or 'negative') tips. Generally speaking, however, the machines of the 1909-1912 period relied for what automatic stability they had on the principle of the dihedral angle, or flat V, both longitudinally and laterally. Longitudinally this was obtained by setting the tail at a slightly smaller angle than the main planes.

 

The question of reducing the resistance by adopting 'stream-line' forms, along which the air could flow uninterruptedly without the formation of eddies, was not at first properly realised, though credit should be given to Edouard Nieuport, who in 1909 produced a monoplane with a very large body which almost completely enclosed the pilot and made the machine very fast, for those days, with low horse-power. On one of these machines C. T. Weyman won the Gordon-Bennett Cup for America in 1911 and another put up a fine performance in the same race with only a 30 horse power engine. The subject, was however, early taken up by the British Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, which was established by the Government in 1909, and designers began to realise the importance of streamline struts and fuselages towards the end of this transition period. These efforts were at first not always successful and showed at times a lack of understanding of the problems involved, but there was a very marked improvement during the year 1912. At the Paris Aero Salon held early in that year there was a notable variety of ideas on the subject; whereas by the time of the one held in October designs had considerably settled down, more than one exhibitor showing what were called 'monocoque' fuselages completely circular in shape and having very low resistance, while the same show saw the introduction of rotating cowls over the propeller bosses, or 'spinners,' as they came to be called during the War. A particularly fine example of stream-lining was to be found in the Deperdussin monoplane on which Vedrines won back the Gordon-Bennett Aviation Cup from America at a speed of 105.5 m.p.h.a considerable improvement on the 78 m.p.h. of the preceding year, which was by no means accounted for by the mere increase in engine power from 100 horse power to 140 horse power. This machine was the first in which the refinement of 'stream lining' the pilot's head, which became a feature of subsequent racing machines, was introduced. This consisted of a circular padded excresence above the cockpit immediately behind the pilot's head, which gradually tapered off into the top surface of the fuselage. The object was to give the air an uninterrupted flow instead of allowing it to be broken up into eddies behind the head of the pilot, and it also provided a support against the enormous wind-pressure encountered. This true stream-line form of fuselage owed its introduction to the Paulhan-Tatin 'Torpille' monoplane of the Paris Salon of early 1917. Altogether the end of the year 1912 began to see the disappearance of 'freak' machines with all sorts of original ideas for the increase of stability and performance. Designs had by then gradually become to a considerable extent standardized, and it had become unusual to find a machine built which would fail to fly. The Gnome engine held the field owing to its advantages, as the first of the rotary type, in lightness and ease of fitting into the nose of a fuselage. The majority of machines were tractors (propeller in front) although a preference, which died down subsequently, was still shown for the monoplane over the biplane. This year also saw a great increase in the number of seaplanes, although the 'flying boat' type had only appeared at intervals and the vast majority were of the ordinary aeroplane type fitted with floats in place of the land undercarriage; which type was at that time commonly called 'hydro aeroplane.' The usual horsepower was 50 that of the smallest Gnome engine although engines of 100 to 140-horse power were also fitted occasionally. The average weight per horsepower varied from 18 to 25 lbs., while the wing loading was usually in the neighborhood of 5 to 6 lbs. per square foot.

 

The average speed ranged from 65-75 miles per hour.