Monday, May 14, 2018

The Junkers J 1, the "Tin Donkey"



The J1 was the world's first practical all-metal aircraft. Built early in World War I, when aircraft designers relied largely on fabric-covered wooden structures, braced with struts and exposed rigging lines, the Junkers J 1 was a revolutionary development in aircraft design.

Hugo Junkers' experimental all-metal aircraft never received an official "A" nor an "E-series" monoplane designation because it was primarily intended as a practical demonstration of Junkers' metal-based structural ideas, and was officially only known by its Junkers factory model number of J 1. 



After the outbreak of World War I Hugo Junkers and his company's research institute began the engineering work to realize Junkers' idea of creating all-metal aircraft designs that dispensed with drag-producing exterior bracing.

In July 1915 the Junkers firm got its first aircraft construction contract from the German government, the design of what would become the Junkers J 1 and by November 1915, the completed J 1 was ready for initial testing.


Before the Junkers J 1 could fly for the first time, the aviation administration arm of the German army, required that static load tests be done on the J 1, with the usual static loading trials carried out on the J 1's structure with sand bags.



The Junkers J 1 was a mid-wing monoplane with a cantilever wing, without exterior bracing struts or wires. External bracing was only used for support of the horizontal stabilizer and the undercarriage.
The fuselage used welded strip-steel angle stock and I-beam sections along with some steel tubing to form its main internal structure with 17 in wide sheet steel panels wrapped around the fuselage to form its covering.
The single vertical tail surface was of an "all-flying" design (with no fixed fin) and the entire tail surface structure and covering also consisted of formed and sheet steel, much like the wings.
The 90 kW (120 hp) Mercedes D.II six-cylinder liquid-cooled inline engine selected for the design had a simple, clamshell-like horizontally split cowling enclosing the engine's crankcase and lower cylinder block, and an advanced engine radiator layout.

Flight testing began on 12 December and would continue into January. After minor adjustments the in-flight handling of the J 1 was deemed acceptable and it was stable in flight. On 19 January, the J 1 flew it’s only known "high performance" flight test, which consisted of a 4.3 mi course, at varying altitudes from 660–980 ft, and managed a top speed of 110 mph. The Junkers J 1 was probably not flown again after January 1916.
The J 1 was compared to the popular Rumpler C.I two-seat armed observation biplane, which was some 19 mph slower in its top speed, even though the Rumpler biplane had the more powerful Mercedes D.III engine, but due to the lighter weight of the Rumpler's wood-and-fabric structure it had a much better climb rate than the J 1 with its experimental steel structure.

Nonetheless, Junkers was given a contract to further develop his all-metal concept which would become the basis for today’s modern aircraft.



Monday, May 7, 2018

French ace René Paul Fonck


Fonch was somewhat of a shy solitary sort and overcompensated for his shyness by constantly mentioning his exploits. As a result, he was considered, by most, an arrogant braggart. He developed a reputation for studying the tactics of his opponents and conserving ammunition during a dogfight. On two separate occasions, he shot down six enemy aircraft in one day.

He received confirmation for 75 victories (72 solo and three shared) out of 142 claims. Taking into account his probable claims, his final tally could conceivably be nearer 100 or above.

Regardless of his arrogance, he was excellent pilot and superb marksman that ended the war as the top Allied fighter ace, and the highest-scoring survivor of the war...............It isn’t bragging if you can do it.






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Sunday, May 6, 2018

One of the oddest aerial combat incidents of the Great War.


 It took place when Captain Louis Strange was flying a Martin-Handasyde Scout 1 in a combat with a German two-seater aircraft. He was changing a drum on his overhead Lewis gun, when the aircraft turned over - and he fell out. However, he held on with one hand to the spade grip of the gun, and somehow managed to hook one leg into the cockpit, then the other. The plane righted itself, and he fell back in, breaking the seat! The German crew, convinced they saw their opponent fall out, claimed a kill, and were (so it was said by the ace, Bruno Loerzer, who was based in the area), ribbed afterwards, when no wreckage was found. ('The Friendless Sky' - A McKee)

The photo is a German serviceman examining a Lewis gun mounting on a captured Nieuport 11 fighter biplane. It is the only photo I could find that best illustrated the type of overhead gun mount that pilot Strange was using.


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Thursday, May 3, 2018

The P.B.31E Nighthawk


Built by the Supermarine Aviation Works Ltd., the Nighthawk, was a prototype anti-Zeppelin fighter with a crew of three to five and an intended endurance of 9–18 hours. It was first flown in February 1917 with Clifford Prodger at the controls.

The Nighthawk had six-bay swept quadraplane wings and a biplane tailplane with twin fins and rudders. The fuselage filled the gap between the second and third wings; the cockpit, which carried up to the top wing "turret", was enclosed and heated.

 For armament, a 1½-pounder (37 mm) Davis gun mounted above the top wing with 20 shells, and two .303 in (7.7 mm) Lewis guns. 

It had a trainable nose-mounted searchlight, power for the searchlight was provided by an independent petrol engine-driven generator, possibly the first instance of a recognisable airborne auxiliary power unit

Along with the intended long endurance, it was suggested it would be able to patrol at low speeds and await the Zeppelin.
Although touted as being able to reach 75 mph (121 km/h), the P.B.31E prototype only managed 60 mph (97 km/h) at 6,500 ft (1,981 m) and took an hour to climb to 10,000 ft (3,048 m), which was totally inadequate for intercepting Zeppelins. Given the Anzani engine's reputation for unreliability and overheating, it is unlikely that the aircraft would have delivered the advertised endurance either. Wikipedia






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Monday, April 30, 2018

Russian ace, Alexander Alexandrovich Kazakov



Prior to aircraft being fitted with machine guns Russia's highest scoring ace, Kazakov, made several unsuccessful attempts to bring down enemy aircraft by dangling explosives and grappling hooks beneath his plane.


He would score his first victory in the spring of 1915 by ramming his opponent. Fall of 1915 he assumed command of the 19th Corps Air Detachment In March. 

With 20 victories, he resigned his commission in January of 1918 and joined the British Joint Military forces at Murmansk in June. 


Kazakov became deeply depressed by the Russian Civil War and the upcoming withdrawal of British forces from Russia in the summer of 1919. 
 On the evening of August 1, 1919, ignoring an invitation to a farewell dinner for British pilots, he took off in a Sopwith only to crash to his death a few moments later. Having watched Kozakov pull a loop at low altitude and stall the plane, British pilot, Ira Jones concluded the Russian Ace of Aces "brought about his own death and staged it in the most dramatic manner."


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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Cockpits

Royal Aircraft Factory S.E 5



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Royal Aircraft Factory S.E 8



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Sopwith Camel


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Sopwith Dolphin


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Fokker D.Vll


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Bristol F.2B