A woefully underpowered machine, the H.F. 20 Series planes could only be used on observation flights in France. It also served as a trainer, and in secondary theaters, notably in German East Africa where an H.F.22 variant participated in the hunt for the Konigsberg.
Visitors to Britain’s Olympia Air Show in March, 1913 had the chance to see the world’s first fighter plane; called a “Destroyer,” the Vickers Experimental Fighting Biplane (E.F.B.) was the first aircraft specifically designed to shoot down other airplanes. Continue reading
An effective response and a worthy adversary to the Fokker Eindekkers, the F.E.2b appeared in September, 1915. It was a two-seater, pusher biplane, that was quite speedy and allowed for two machine guns, one firing forward, and one (albeit awkwardly) firing rearward over the upper wing. The ‘pusher’ concept would soon be out-moded, but in late 1915 and early 1916, the F.E.s served the R.F.C. well. Continue reading
In 1915, when the British Empire forces (mostly Indians and Australians) attacked the Turks in Mesopotamia, they needed aircraft. Or wanted them; perhaps it was a matter of national pride, that every modern army ought to have air support. At any rate, the Rajah of Gwalior underwrote the expense of the air contingent – a handful of outdated bombers, among them 2 Maurice Farman M.F. 7s. The desert heat and sand were tough on the Renault engines, and the “Longhorns” spent a lot of time in the shop. Continue reading
On the morning of October, 5, 1914, French Sergeant pilot Joseph Frantz and mechanic Corporal Quenault in their Voisin biplane spotted a German Aviatik flying at about 3500 ft. He closed on until Quenault found the range and opened fire with a light machine gun. The Aviatik dove away, but Frantz followed, Quenault firing intermittently. The Voisin overshot the quarry; the Aviatik pilot banked and tried to run; Franz reversed and got behind him.
The Continental pusher biplane is one of the comparatively few machines of the pusher type turned out in this country. A pusher aeroplane is one in which the propeller is back of the planes and thrusts the machine forward instead of pulling it as in the tractor type. It will be recalled that the original Wright machine was a pusher biplane and most of the biplanes built in the three to five years succeeding its advent were similarly designed, while the French monoplanes were the forerunners of the present tractor biplanes. Continue reading
Probably the most interesting aeroplane that came out during 1910 was the small Wright “roadster,” with its miniature biplane cell, and its huge propellers spanning almost the entire machine. This speed and reliability product of the Dayton inventors has excited a lot of interest, and suggested many of the improvements that the future held. A machine of this type, but fitted with a 60 horse-power 8-cylinder motor and very much smaller in size, was to be driven in the 1910 Gordon-Bennett Race by Brookins, and there is little doubt, with the phenomenal speed it had already displayed, that it would have won this race from Grahame-White had the unfortunate failure of the engine not occurred. Continue reading
In 1903, after exhaustive experiments in gliding, Wilbur and Orville Wright finally flew a motor-driven airplane. Over the next five years they built other airplanes, which differed little from the one that first took wing at Kitty Hawk. Their first public flights, in September, 1908 (Orville Wright at Fort Meyer, and Wilbur Wright at Le Mans, France) astonished the world. Continue reading
In 1911, MM. Voisin Freres experimented with a biplane characterized by the absence of a tail and the grouping of the elevation and direction rudders at the front, carried by a long central fuselage. This fuselage was attached at the rear to the main biplane cell. But airplane design moved quite the other way, as designers found that a tail unit including both elevator and rudder was the best concept. Continue reading
The original Voisin type was soon replaced by the type “Bordeaux,” quite different from the original in controls and structure. There were several innovations on this machine, notably the Gnome rotary engine of 11 cylinders set like the spokes of a wheel. Continue reading