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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