Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Nieuport Triplanes

Gustave Delage, the main Nieuport designer, produced at least two triplane designs. The first was a modified Nieuport 10 with a set of triplane wings in an unusual fore-aft-fore stagger for testing, this design was later patented in 1916. This arrangement was meant to improve the pilot's view, but the aircraft was unstable and didn't enter production.

Further development of this design led to an even more unorthodox triplane arrangement in which the middle wing, attached to the forward ends of the upper fuselage longerons, and was foremost and the upper wing rearmost.

Utilising a Nieuport 17 fuselage, powered by an 110 hp Le Rhône 9J engine fitted with a large cône de pénétration ' (ie spinner) on the propeller and armed with a single synchronized Lewis gun, this triplane, designated Nieport 11C (or 11.000) was officially tested by the S.T.Aé (Section Technique de l'Aéronautique) late in 1916, but the unusual configuration proved to offer poor handling and was not ordered for the Aviation Militaire.

A second example was acquired for evaluation by the RFC on January 26, 1917, but its flying characteristics were found to be unacceptable.

A third variant, this differing in having a Nieuport 17bis fuselage and an 130 hp Clerget engine and with more streamlined fairings on the side, went to the RNAS in March 1917. It went to the No.11 (Naval) Squadron. The triplane underwent tests against a Nieuport 17bis while with the squadron, and was judged to be slightly faster near the ground, but it was unserviceable by May 3rd 1917.

The unusual wing layout wasn't a success, and gave the aircraft poor flying characteristics (including making it very unstable in flight), explaining the lack of production orders.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

French Ace, Maurice Jean Paul Boyau

Boyau was born in Mustapha, Algeria on May 8th 1888.
He first served in the 144th Infantry Regiment before the war. Boyau was already known to the public when war began in 1914, having led the French rugby team. He served as an Army Service Corps driver for the first year or so of the conflict, then was accepted for pilot training.

He acquired his Pilot's Brevet on November 28th, 1915. In late 1915, he was assigned as a flight instructor at Buc but arranged to join a combat unit as a Caporal in September 1916.

He spent the rest of his career with Escadrille 77, known as "Les Sportifs" for the great number of athletes in its ranks.

Boyau originally flew Nieuports with them. His Nieuport paint scheme featured a rather flamboyant serpentine dragon writhing the length of a white fuselage.

As an enlisted pilot, Boyau was soon promoted to Sergeant. He scored his first ten victories between March and September 1917, including six balloons. He was then commissioned and continued his exceptional record flying SPADs.

Specialising as something of a balloon buster, i.e. as one of those pilots who chiefly engaged in the notably dangerous practice of bringing down enemy observation balloons (invariably heavily protected by anti-aircraft artillery and patrol flights) Boyau quickly established himself as an ace.

In the spring of 1918, He pioneered the use of air-to-air rockets; he had rocket tubes affixed to the inner set of interplane struts of his Spad XIII.

He made his mark with repeated successes in the summer of 1918, scoring four victories in June; nine in July; and three in August. He burned his last four balloons in three days of September, but was killed in action on September 16th, 1918, while attempting to down yet another German balloon, Boyau - then aged 30 - had to that date attained a total of some 35 air successes of which 21 were comprised of enemy balloons.

He was the recipient of the Medaille Militaire, the prestigious Legion d'Honneur and the 
Croix de Guerre for his aerial activities in 1917 and 1918.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Phönix C.I

The Austro-Hungarian Phönix Flugzeug-Werke turned out 1,084 aeroplanes of 22 different types during World War I, starting with licence-built Albatros two-seaters, passing next to Brandenburg types and ending with aircraft of its own design.
Their first design was the Phönix C.I. It was based on the Hansa-Brandenburg C.II that Phönix was building under licence.
The C.I was an ugly but functional two-seat armed-reconnaissance and general-purpose biplane with a rear fuselage/tailplane similar to aircraft designed by Ernst Heinkel. It had a fixed tail-skid landing gear and was powered by a 171.51 kW (230 hp) Hiero 6-cylinder inline piston engine, it had two tandem open cockpits for the pilot and observer/gunner.

Around 110 were built, and the first delivered on 2 March 1917 and the last on 1 October 1918. Armament comprised one forward-firing and one rear-mounted Schwarzlose machine-guns.
The C.I became standardised equipment of the Austro-Hungarian air arm. In addition to reconnaissance it undertook artillery directing by wireless and, in an emergency, contour fighting and bombing (four 12kg or two 25kg bombs). It was on a C.I that the observer Leut Barwig brought down the leading Italian fighter pilot Major Baracca.

After the war 30 aircraft were built by the Swedish Army engineering department fitted with 220 hp (164 kW) Benz Bz.IV inline engines.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

German Ace, Wilhelm Frankl

Frankl was born December 20th, 1893 in Hamburg, Germany.
After he graduated from school, he pursued an interest in flying by attending Germany's hotbed of prewar aviation at Johannisthal and on July 20th, 1913 he earned his pilot's license.

Frankl wasn’t like most pilots from the time. He wasn’t a Prussian noble, nor from a long line of German officers stretching back generations. No, he was just a German Jew who had grown up with a love of airplanes.
The outbreak of World War I sparked Frankl's volunteering to fly for his country. His flying ability and his personality both commended him to his superiors.

He began his career of aerial victories early in the war, before the concept of the synchronized machine gun firing safely through the plane's propeller became a practical reality. On May 10th, 1915, while flying as an observer in Feldflieger Abteilung 40 (FFA 40), he used a carbine to shoot down a French Voisin, a feat that earned him an Iron Cross First Class.

It took exactly eight months for his second triumph while flying a Fokker Eindekker with KEK Vaux, 

He was a naturally skilled pilot, was ahead in this game of skill and guts. And on May 4th, 1916, he became an ace, having downed a total of five enemy aircraft. This achievement earned him high praise, promotion to Lieutenant, and a string of awards.
At the time, he was one of only eight fighter aces in the German army and had gained a certain amount of fame.

In September 1916, he was transferred to Prussian Jagdstaffel 4 (Jasta 4) as it was formed from KEK Vaux, to fly Halberstadt D.Vs. On 1 January 1917, he succeeded to command of the squadron.
Four wins in September and two in October made him a triple ace. In late December 1916, Frankl succeeded to command of Jasta 4. Then, after a six-month hiatus, he scored a quadruple victory on April 6th, 1917, and his twentieth win on the following day.

He continued to have a successful flying career, earning a total of 20 victories. But sadly, his plane wasn’t strong enough to handle what Frankl wanted to do with it. While fighting a Bristol F.2 Fighter, the lower wing of his Albatross D.III failed, and both he and his craft plummeted 800 feet to his death.

Frankl’s awards were; the Iron Cross, the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern, the Hanseatic Cross and the Pour le Merite.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

German Ace, Julius Buckler

Buckler was born March 28th, 1894 in Mainz-Mombach, Germany.
At 18 years of age Buckler joined the Infantry Life Regiment in October, 1912. Shortly after the Great War began he suffered a bad wound on the Western Front. While recuperating he applied for, and received, a transfer to the German Army Air Service (Luftstreitkräfte).
He trained in FEA 6 (Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung 6), and by the summer of 1915 was flying artillery direction missions over Verdun as an Observer in FA(A) 209 before training as a pilot.

Jasta 17

In November 1916 he transferred to Jasta 17 as a founding member, and shortly afterwards. Jasta 17 received the new Albatros D.II.
December 1916 saw the start of his 36 victories by downing a French Caudron over Bras, France.
Buckler proved himself to be not only an outstanding pilot but also a most resilient one. On November 30th,1917, he was wounded for the fourth time. Wounded in both his arms and chest his subsequent crash broke both arms. He lay under his smashed aircraft for hours before counter-attacking German infantry overran the wreckage and rescued him.
The injuries kept him out of action for months and he would not rejoined Jasta 17 until April 1918. Upon returning he was issued two airplanes for his personal use, these he named Mops and Lilly, and added to his victory count flying them.
Buckler was wounded for the fifth time in May of 1918. Five months later, after recovery, he was back in form and added three more victories in the final days of the war bring his total to 36.

Buckler’s awards were; the Wound Badge, the Iron Cross, the Military Merit Cross and the Pour le Mérite.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The Junkers J.I (manufacturer's designation J 4) was a German "J-class" armored sesquiplane.

Developed for low-level ground attack, observation and Army cooperation. It is especially noteworthy as being the first all-metal aircraft to enter mass production; the aircraft's metal construction and heavy armour was an effective shield against small arms fire over the battlefield.
It was an extremely advanced design for the period, with a single-unit steel "bathtub" running from just behind the propeller to the rear crew position acting not only as armour, but also as both the main fuselage structure and engine mounting in one unit. Engine access was provided by armored steel panels, one on either side of the nose. The armour was 5 millimetres (0.20 in) thick and weighed 470 kilograms (1,040 lb). It protected the crew, the engine, the fuel tanks, and radio equipment, when fitted. The flight control surfaces were connected to the aircraft's controls by push-rods and bellcranks – not with the usual steel cable control connections of the era as push-rods were less likely to be severed by ground fire.

There was a significant size difference between the upper and lower wings – the upper wing had a total area of 386.3 sq ft, over double the total area of the lower wing – 147.3 sq ft. This is a form of biplane known as a Sesquiplane.

The aircraft had two fuel tanks with a total capacity of around 32 US gal. The main tank (divided into two parts for redundancy) was supplemented by a smaller, 7.9 US gal "gravity tank". This was intended to supply fuel to the engine by gravity feed in the event of an engine fuel pump failure; it contained enough fuel for thirty minutes on full power. There was a manual fuel pump for use when the gravity tank became exhausted.

The aircraft could be disassembled into its main components: wings, fuselage, undercarriage, and tail, to make it easier to transport by rail or road. A ground crew of six to eight could reassemble the aircraft and have it ready for flight within four to six hours. The wings were covered with 0.0075 inch aluminum skin which could be easily dented, so great care had to be taken when handling the aircraft on the ground.

The J.I was well liked by its crews, although its ponderous handling earned it the nickname "furniture van". The aircraft first entered front service in August 1917. They were used on the Western Front during the German Spring Offensive of 1918.

The aircraft could be fitted with two downward-firing machine guns for ground attack, but they were found to be of limited use because of the difficulty of aiming them. The J-Is were mainly used for army co-operation and low-level reconnaissance. They were also used for dropping ammunition and rations on isolated or cut-off outposts that could not be easily supplied by other means.

The production at Junkers works was quite slow, because of poor organization. Only 227 J.4s were manufactured before production ceased in January 1919. At least one was lost to ground fire, shot down by a French anti-aircraft machine gun that was firing armour-piercing rounds, although this was apparently an isolated event as some sources claim none were lost in combat. Some were lost in landing accidents and other mishaps.

Only one relatively complete aircraft survived, bearing German military serial number J.I 586/17. It is preserved at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

American made Handley-Page bombers to be flown across the Atlantic.

The following is a copy (as written) of an article printed in the AERIAL AGE WEEKLY, July 15th, 1918.

Titled: Flying Bombing Planes Across the Atlantic.(editorial in the New York Times)

The shortcut to acceptance by the War Department of Mr. William H. Workman’s plan to build 10,000 Handley-Page bombing aeroplanes and fly them over the Atlantic to the Western Front is to take across at once, or as soon as arrangements can be made, one of the most powerful standard planes made by the British company. An exhibition plane (of British design American in construction) made its debut with striking success at the Elizabeth N. J. on Saturday in the presence of Assistant Secretary Crowell and Mr. John D. Ryan, head of the Aircraft Production Board. With a wing spread of 100 feet and driven twin Liberty motors of 400 horsepower, this great machine, carrying six persons, one of them Major General William L. Kinly, Chief of the Department of Military Aeronautics, functioned as smoothly as a scout plane and attained a speed of 90 to 100 miles per hour. Well might Assistant Secretary Crowell call it “ a magnificent performance.” And it was particularly a triumph for the Liberty motor, which is so well thought of in England that the makers, it is said, will never be able to deliver enough of these engines to our ally. But the question remains could the Handley-Page bombing machines be flown across the Atlantic--let us say, in flocks? And if that were practicable, would it pay? Every hour of life of an aeroplane motor on the Western Front is precious, It has been said, that while some motors have lasted 300 hours in operation, the average is much lower. Mr. Gutzon Borglum says that “the life of an engine is somewhere between 50 and 150 hours.” The wear and tear of forty-odd hours’ flight from America to France should not be disregarded by the enthusiasts. Whatever it was, it would not be saved by transportation in the usual way. A ship carrying planes and engines might be torpedoed, it is true: on the other hand, some of the bombing machines attempting the Atlantic passage would never reach the other side.
Mr. Workman is indiginet because the War Department is cool toward his project. It cannot be indifferent to his bombing plane as a terrible war weapon: certainly not after the exhibition given at Elizabeth…………..