Thursday, March 30, 2017

The AGO C.l Doppeldekker



Late in 1914 the German aircraft company, Ago, was asked to develop an armed observation aircraft with a good field of fire. Ago responded with a Gustav Otto designed twin-boom pusher aircraft, which allowed the gun to be carried in the nose.

Twin boom pushers were a common sight during the First World War, but the French Farman pushers and British F.E. types were flimsy looking models, with open lattice works on their booms.





In contrast the Ago C.I was a more robust looking aircraft. The crew of two sat in a short central nacelle, with the pilot in the rear cockpit (mounted in the middle of the nacelle) and the observer in the nose. The engine was mounted at the rear of the nacelle, with a large part of it exposed above the structure. The nacelle was mounted on the lower wing, and was connected to the upper wing by vertical struts. The prototype had a rounded front on the nacelle, production aircraft had a pointed tip with four sides. A hot water heating system was installed, feeding hot water from the engine to the front of the nacelle.

The two tail booms were long and thin, with a streamlined shape. They were made of two moulded plywood halves joined at the centre line. They were carried between the wings, close to the bottom wing than the top, and connected to the wings by four long spars above and four shorter spars below. The wings had a wooden framework and fabric covering.



This aircraft became the first machine to receive the C designation, meaning that it was the first armed two-seater, being equipped with a Parabellum machine gun on a ring mounting in the front cockpit. This left the observer had a good field of fire, although to fire downwards he had to stand up in his cockpit. The aircraft could also carry a small number of bombs.


Both the army and the navy ordered land planes in early 1915, and the first CI airframe was delivered to the Army in April of that year. 
Production machines, were powered by a single 220 hp Benz Bz.IV 6-cylinder inline engine.
Ago was a relatively small company and the total number of CI machines produced was probably only around 64. Nevertheless it was a type that proved to be robust and had a long active service on both the western and eastern fronts, the last machines being recorded in service with front line units in April in 1917 thereafter they were used by training units.

The craft was popular with crews as it was relatively easy to fly and could withstand damage and still return to an airfield. 


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Monday, March 27, 2017

Leutnant Walter Göttsch


was born in Altour, Germany on 10 June 1896. Volunteering for service on 1 July 1915, Göttsch transferred to the German Air Force in 1916. After serving with FA 33 at Flanders, he was trained on single-seat fighters. After training as a fighter pilot, Göttsch was assigned to Royal Prussian Jasta 8 on 10 September 1916.
Two months later he would record his first victory, a Belgian observation balloon.
In February of 1917 he was shot down and wounded in action for the first time. His recovery was rapid and by May of the same year he had doubled his victory total to twelve.

The following month was once again downed. Again his recovery proved quick and by mid September he had pushed his tally to 17 only to be wounded for the third time before the month was out.
Once again proving his resiliency, Göttsch returned to duty, only to be wounded for the fourth time on 25 November 1917.


Göttsch would not return to action until January 1918. On 14 February, he was given command of Royal Prussian Jasta 19. The new Commander would score only twice before his end, with back to back triumphs on 31 March and 1 April.

Göttsch was killed in action on April 10, 1918, over Gentelles, France, apparently by return fire from the observer of an RE-8 (his final victim). 
This final victory would have qualified him for the Pour le Mérite (Blue Max) had he survived.
Prior to his death Göttsch had received the Iron Cross, Second and First class and the Knight's Cross with Swords of the House Order of Hohenzollern.





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Thursday, March 23, 2017

The LFG Roland C.II



A World War 1 German aircraft that you don’t read much about is the LFG Roland C.II. It was an advanced German reconnaissance/fighter.
It had much lower drag than comparable aircraft of its time. It featured a monocoque fuselage built with an outer skin of two layers of thin plywood strips at an angle to each other. This had both lower drag and better strength per weight than typical of the time, but it was relatively slow and expensive to build. The deep fuselage completely filled the vertical gap between the wing panel center sections, eliminating any need for cabane struts commonly used in biplanes, and gave the aircraft its "whale" nickname. There was even some attempt to flair the wings into the fuselage, to eliminate dead air space decade. 



It was powered by a single 160 hp (120 kW) Mercedes D III, providing a top speed of 165 km/h (103 mph), a ceiling of 4,000 metres (13,000 ft) and an endurance of four hours.
The C.II entered service in the spring of 1916. Operationally, handling was reported as difficult but performance was relatively good. Due to the crew positions with eyes above the upper wing, upward visibility was excellent, but downward visibility was poor. It was also used in a fighter escort role and had a crew of two, pilot and observer/gunner.
Because of its speed, when it was first introduced, it could be intercepted only from above. Because of the lack of downward visibility, it was best attacked by diving below and coming up at it.
British ace, Albert Ball, whose first victim was a C.II, said in the latter half of 1916 that it was "the best German machine now". Wikipedia








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Monday, March 20, 2017

Erich Lowenhardt


Was one of the German Air Service's highest-scoring fighter pilots of the First World War. Born on 7 April 1897 in Breslau, Germany.
At the age of 17 Lowenhardt began his military service with a German Army infantry regiment. Twice wounded he received the Iron Cross 2nd class in late 1914 and in early 1915 the Iron Cross 1st class for saving the lives of five wounded men.
Having successfully negotiating a transfer to the German Air Service, he then completed pilot training in 1916. Served in two-seaters with Flieger-Abteilung until January 1917, when he underwent conversion training for fighters. He joined Jasta 10 in March 1917 and that same month he scored his first confirmed aerial victory, destroying an enemy observation balloon over Recicourt, Belgium.



Flying Albatros and Pfalz planes, Lowenhardt rapidly established a reputation as a fearless and aggressive skilled fighter whose victories grew steadily. By the end of September he became an ace and in that same month he was wounded, for the third time.

On 1 April, just before his 21st birthday, he was appointed to command Jasta 10. The following month, Jasta 10 was re-equipped with new Fokker D.VIIs. Löwenhardt would have his new Fokker painted yellow.



In May of 1918 he scored his 24th victory and was awarded the prestigious Pour le Merite the same month. He would go on to amass 54 victories by the summer of 1918.


His death came in a mid-air collision near Chaulnes, in August of 1918. Following the collision with fellow Jasta pilot Alfred Wenz, both men jumped from their planes, but Löwenhardt was killed when his parachute failed to open.

His loss proved a blow to the German Air Service.




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Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Curtiss Wanamaker Triplane


In 1915, Curtiss was commissioned to develop a new large flying boat to perform the first ever transatlantic flight. Curtiss would develop a massive triplane, designated the Model T, with each successive wing being larger than the one below it. The six-bay wings had a maximum span of 133 feet, and the design was projected to have a loaded weight of about 10 tons. 


The impressive projected endurance and payload capacity of the design caught the attention of the British Royal Navy Air Service, who placed an order for 20 examples. Original plans called for six engines to drive three propellers, but the planned engines were not ready when the prototype was completed, so the aircraft was shipped across the Atlantic for testing by the British. There, it was fitted with four Renault 240hp engines, (only to be refitted with four 250 hp Rolls-Royce Eagle engines), making it the first ever American-built four-engined aircraft. 


When the Model T took flight for the first time in 1916, it was the largest flying boat in the world. Unfortunately, this flight would be its last. It was damaged beyond repair during its maiden flight, and the RNAS decided to cancel the order for 19 more aircraft.




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Monday, March 13, 2017

Ernst Udet


Ernst Udet 1.jpg

Udet started his military career as a motorcycle messenger with the Württemberg Reserve Division in 1914. He learned to fly by taking private lessons and entered the German Air Force in September 1915. 


Ernst Udet left to right Pfälzer, Weingärtner, Udet, Glinkermann.jpg
 left to right Pfälzer, Weingärtner, Udet, Glinkermann
 Udet started his military career as a motorcycle messenger with the Württemberg Reserve Division in 1914. He learned to fly by taking private lessons and entered the German Air Force in September 1915. 

Udet at first flew in an observation unit as an non-commissioned pilot with observer Leutnant Justinius. He and his observer won the Iron Cross (2nd class for Udet and 1st class for his lieutenant)for nursing their damaged Aviatik B.I two-seater back to German lines after a shackle on a wing-cable snapped. Justinius had climbed out to hold the wing and balance it rather than landing behind the enemy lines and being captured.


Ernst Udet 3.jpg

At one point, Udet was court-martialed for losing an aircraft in an incident the flying corps considered a result of bad judgement. Overloaded with fuel and bombs, the aircraft stalled after a sharp bank and plunged to the ground. Miraculously, both Udet and Justinius survived with only minor injuries.

Udet was placed under arrest in the guardhouse for seven days. Upon his release from the guardhouse, he was asked to fly Leutnant Hartmann to observe a bombing raid on Belfort. A bomb thrown by hand by the leutnant became stuck in the landing gear, but Udet performed aerobatics and managed to shake it loose. As soon as the Air Staff Officer heard about Udet's performance during the incident, he ordered Udet transferred to the fighter command.


Ernst Udet 2.jpg

Flying a Fokker D.III, he scored his first victory on 18 March 1916 in a lone attack against 22 French aircraft. He scored five more victories with Jasta 15 and reportedly dueled with Georges Guynemer in June 1917. Udet would later write that during the dogfight, his guns jammed and the French ace broke off his attack when he saw Udet pounding on the breech of his machine gun. On 26 July 1917, he transferred to Jasta 37 where he scored fifteen victories. From there he transferred to Jasta 11 in March 1918 and Jasta 4 in May 1918. On 26 September 1918 he was wounded in the thigh. All of the aircraft he flew in combat were marked with "LO!" on the fuselage in honor of his fiancée, Eleonore Zink. Udet was the highest scoring German ace to survive World War I. Scoring 62 confirmed victories.

Ernst Udet 4.jpg


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Hucks Aircraft Starters



Starting a de Havilland DH10

A Hucks starter is an auxiliary power unit, almost always a motortruck, were commonly used in the 1920s and 1930s, when aircraft engines had become too large to be easily started by hand.




The device was named after its inventor Bentfield Hucks, who was a captain in the Royal Flying Corps at the time. Hucks Starters were based on Ford Model T trucks, which were in widespread use and familiar to ground crew.


The power is transmitted to the aircraft via a power take-off shaft, much like those found on the drive trains of some rear-wheel drive vehicles. The shaft of the starter fits into a special protruding hub incorporating a simple projecting claw clutch on the center of the airplane's propeller assembly. When engaged, the power of the truck's engine is transmitted to the aircraft engine until start up, whereupon the faster speed of the now-running engine disengages the clutch, and then the starter truck clears the area prior for takeoff.

Starting a Bristol F.2

Russian R-5 being started with their version of a Hucks starter.

A Russian Polikarpov I-153 being started with the help of a Starter Hucks type mounted on a Gaz AAA Truck

Starting an Avro 504N


Some starters were used into the 1940s as the below picture attests.  
Advance parties of R.A.A.F. mobile works units were among the first to land on Noemfoor Island, in North-western New Guinea. Airmen having lunch, using the bonnet of a Japanese aircraft starter truck as a table.


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Monday, March 6, 2017

Walter Blume



Blume originally began his WWl service in the 5th Silesian Jaeger Battalion where became wounded in September 1914. After recuperating, June 1915, he began pilot training. His flying career started in two-seater Aviatik reconnaissance aircraft with Field Flier Detachment 65 from 18 June 1916 through 20 January 1917.
During this time he would receive the Iron Cross Second Class and in August of 1916, he was promoted to Vizefeldwebel (non-commissioned officer).

In January of the following year he successfully asked for a transfer to flying single-seat fighters. He was commissioned a leutnant, and joined Jasta 26 and he scored his first victory for Jasta 26 on 10 May 1917.
Blume was a natural fighter pilot. In August, he received the Iron Cross First Class and became an ace in October of 1917.

In November he would receive a serious chest wound in combat and was hospitalized for over 3 months.
After a spell with Fliegerersatz-Abteilung (Replacement Detachment) 3, Blume returned to active duty, commanding Jasta 9 in March of 1918.

He scored a further 22 victories, all with his new unit. With the exception of two double scores he accumulated his successes singly, mostly fighters. Only four of his victories were over two-seater aircraft. He flew in both Albatros fighters and the Fokker D.VII.






Blume was awarded the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern in August 1918 followed by the German Empire's most prestigious medal, the Pour le Merite on 2 October 1918. 


Blume finished the war with 28 victories. He resigned from military service on 15 January 1919.



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Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Bleriot’s Naval Launching Device




Louis Blériot is best known for making a working, powered, piloted monoplane and 1909 he became world-famous for making the first flight across the English Channel in the craft. The Bleriot monoplane would go on to be one of France’s first military aircraft.

The constant inventor/engineer also developed a system for launching aircraft from the decks of the naval ships, the innovation was revealed in a rather short article appeared in the August 2, 1913, issue of Flight, the newsletter of the Royal Aero Club. 

The British War Office and Admiralty proved to be very interested in the development — all the more so because it might mean that the French were racing ahead of Britain in naval air power. And Blériot, ever the entrepreneur, was eager to find a market for his latest invention.


 The final design was a double claw arrangement mounted above the cabane. The pilot steers his machine under the cable and then elevates, the cable being guided down to the claws by a pair of curved horns. In starting, the machine runs along the cable until the flying speed is attained, when the claws are released and the machine, after just dipping slightly, flies off in the ordinary manner.

Adolphe Pégoud in a Blériot XI equipped with the cable launching device — at the top can be seen its distinctive pair of horns and the launching cable.

Well maybe not ”flies off in the ordinary manner”. In fact, the line, just 80 meters long, was mounted between two towers — once unhooked, the pilot had to quickly turn to avoid hitting the second tower. Despite the shortcomings of the system, the French flyers at Buc had developed something of interest and with Adolphe Pégoud flying a trusty Blériot XI variant clearly demonstrated it could be done and it appeared to be a reasonable for naval use.

The device is intended for use on warships, in which case the cable would be suspended over the side of the vessel by means of booms. The French naval authorities are taking a great deal of interest in the device, and experiments are shortly to be carried out on a French battleship.
The French used booms mounted sideways off the side of the vessel. This overcame the natural difficulties that resulted from the two tower system that had been demonstrated. With the booms, no obstacle forward or behind would limit the pilot’s approach and departure.
While it might well have worked, like many other early efforts at pioneering new solutions for naval aviation, it would soon be forgotten and sadly for Louis Blériot, none of the systems were ever sold.


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