Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Vickers F.B.26 Vampire



"Curiously retrogressive in design when built in May 1917, the pusher fighter with boom-carried empennage being decidedly passé at that stage in World War I, the F.B.26 single-seat fighter had its nacelle attached directly to the upper wing. 
The original concept provided for a single 7.7mm Lewis gun, but an additional Lewis had been introduced by the time that the F.B.26 reached Martlesham Heath for official testing in July 1917. Power was provided by a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine, but inadequate cooling led to the original single flat radiator being replaced by two separate radiator blocks. 
On 25 August 1917, the prototype was spun into the ground by Vickers' test pilot Harold Barnwell. Nonetheless, a month later, on 19 September, a contract was placed for six examples of a modified version of the F.B.26. The wing structure was completely revised, radiator blocks were attached to the nacelle sides and a larger vertical tail was introduced. Interest in the F.B.26 centered on its potential as a Home Defense fighter, and it was proposed that armament would consist of two Lewis guns coupled with an Aldis sight and capable of several degrees of elevation and depression. However, in order to obtain greater firepower, the nacelle of the F.B.26 was modified to permit installation of an Eeman three-gun universal mounting. The first two F.B.26s had the trio of Lewis guns fixed to fire horizontally, but it was intended that the next four aircraft would have a modified Eeman mounting capable of 45° of elevation. 


The first of the modified F.B.26s was flown in December 1917 with a 200hp Hispano-Suiza engine. After testing at Martlesham Heath, this aircraft was assigned to No 141 Sqn in February 1918 for service evaluation. 
It was concluded that the F.B.26 was unsuited for Home Defense duties and work on the incomplete machines was halted, although the second and third examples had been completed and flown meanwhile. 
As the basic design was considered to possess potential in the close air support role, the second of the modified F.B.26s was fitted with a redesigned nacelle incorporating amour protection for the pilot and a 230 hp Bentley B.R.2 nine-cylinder rotary. This armored "trench-strafer" was assigned the designation F.B.26A, and, under the official nomenclature scheme introduced in the spring of 1918, became the Vampire II, the F.B.26 being the Vampire I. In the event, the Vampire II had still to be completed by the end of June 1918, and thus came too late on the wartime scene."
(Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War I)


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Monday, April 24, 2017

Alexander Alexandrovich Kazakov


Russia's highest scoring ace was educated in military schools and entered the army in 1908. After serving in the cavalry, he transferred to aviation in 1913 and by the following year was assigned to the 4th Corps Air Detachment in Poland where he flew reconnaissance and bombing missions in a Morane-Saulnier.



Having made several unsuccessful attempts to bring down enemy aircraft by dangling explosives and grappling hooks beneath his plane, Kozakov scored his first victory in the spring of 1915 by ramming his opponent.

In September of 1915, he assumed command of the 19th Corps Air Detachment but scored no additional victories that year and only 2 more by August of 1916 when he assumed command of the 1st Combat Air Group. In February of 1917, his Corps was ordered to Romania where Kozakov scored eight more victories before being wounded in action on 27 June 1917.


With 20 victories, he resigned his commission in January of 1918 and joined the British Joint Military forces at Murmansk in June. Promoted to the rank of Major, he commanded the Slavo-British air detachment at Benezniky and continued flying combat missions until he was again wounded in January of 1919.
In March, he returned to duty but 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."


Among his honours and awards were;
Order of St. George, Order of St. Vladimir, Order of St. Anne, and Order of St. Stanislaus (Russian Empire). 

Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross (UK). 
Chevalier of the Legion of Honour and Croix de guerre (France)




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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Voisin Type 5 Bomber



The Type 5 was basically a revised Type 3, the Type 3 had proved a successful bomber, but its payload was limited by the air cooled Salmson M9 engine, which produced only 120-hp. The Aviation Militaire wished to obtain a more powerful airplane and it was decided to produce a Type 3 with a new engine.

A Voisin Type 3 airframe was fitted with a Salmson (Canton-Unne) 9-cyl. liquid-cooled radial, 150 hp engine, and the airframe was strengthened and the central nacelle streamlined. The new engine was placed on a raised platform to provide clearance for the larger propeller and was angled to provide downward thrust. The landing gear was strengthened and the wing chord was increased from the roots to the wing tips. Armament options of 1 machine gun or a Avion 37mm cannon.


The new aircraft was given the STAé designation Voisin Type 5, while the factory designation was LAS. The S stood for surélevé (raised) which indicated the raised engine mount.

The first Voisin Type 5 reached escadrille VB 101 in 1915 and soon replaced the Voisin Type 3 on the front lines. However, the Voisins 150hp (as they were referred to at the front) were held in low regard by their crews. Despite the more powerful engine, the Voisin Type 5s' payload was only marginally better and the maximum speed was only 13 km/h faster. Approximately 300 Voisin Type 5s were built, and these served alongside the Voisin Type 3s in front-line escadrilles during 1915 and well into 1916.






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Monday, April 17, 2017

Donald R. MacLaren


Born in Ottawa, Ontario on 28 May 1893 MacLaren briefly attended McGill University in Montreal. He returned to Vancouver, his family’s home, completed a surveyor's course and worked as a fur trapper for several years with his father. In 1917 he joined the Royal Flying Corps.

He did his initial training at 90 Central Training School at Armour Heights and then at Camp Borden in Ontario, then finally received further training in England at No. 43 Training School, Ternhill. 

He was then transferred into No. 34 Training School for final fighter orientation on the Bristol Scout and Sopwith Camel, completing 9 hours solo on the Camel. 

On 23 November 1917 he was sent to France where he joined No. 46 Squadron.
He proved a natural fighter pilot and had amassed an impressive 54 victories, 43 within the space of four and a half months. He would be the highest scoring ace while flying the Sopwith Camel.


His combat career came to an end the day after his 54 victory when he broke his leg while wrestling with a friend in October 1918.

He was the third most successful Canadian ace of the war, recipient of the Military Cross with bar, Distinguished Flying Cross and the Distinguished Service Order. He was also awarded the French Legion of Honour and Croix de guerre.


Following the Armistice, he helped form the Royal Canadian Air Force before retiring to begin a career in civil aviation. He was also the founding father of the Air Cadet League of Canada and was invested into Canada's aviation hall of fame in 1977. 





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Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Austin Greyhound


In 1918, Britain's Royal Air Force issued the Type III specification for a replacement for the Bristol F.2 Fighter. The replacement was to be powered by the new nine-cylinder, 320hp, ABC Dragonfly radial engine. Armament requirement was two fixed synchronised 7.7mm Vickers guns and a single 7.7mm Lewis gun on a Scarff ring in the rear cockpit.

The Austin Motor Company had produced large numbers of aircraft, including 800 Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5s, for the war effort and they promptly submitted a design by J. Kenworthy, formerly of the Royal Aircraft Factory. Kenworthy’s design was named the Austin Greyhound.
An order for three prototypes was placed on 18 May 1918.

The Greyhound was a two-bay biplane of all-wooden construction. The craft had a wingspan of 39 feet with wing area of 400 feet and a Gross weight of 3,032 pounds.



The Greyhound's engine was covered by a conical cowling, with the cylinder heads protruding. The circular shape of the cowling continued down the fuselage. The upper and lower wings were almost the same size.

While the first prototype was quickly built, problems with the Dragonfly engine, which was found to be 66 pounds over its designed weight and was subject to severe overheating. The copper-plated cooling fins proved useless; the cylinder heads tended to glow a dull red at operational speeds. Developed power fell far short of estimates and it showed much poorer fuel consumption than expected. Attempts to improve cooling with cylinder redesign were marginally successful. All this meant that testing was delayed. 




The second prototype being delivered to the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Martlesham Heath in January 1919, being followed by the reworked first prototype in May and the third in February 1920. 
Although performance was deemed good, no production was ordered of any of the competitors, with the Bristol Fighter remaining in service until 1932. The last Greyhound remained in use as a flying test bed at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough until June 1922.




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Monday, April 10, 2017

Hans-Joachim Buddecke



At the age of 14, Buddecke followed his father's footsteps into the Army. He started as a Cadet and in 1910, he received his commission as Leutnant. 

Somewhat a free spirit he left the army in 1913 and he moved to America to start a new life. Here, he worked as a mechanic in an automobile factory. His enthusiasm for flying turned into a passion and saving his earnings, he purchased a Nieuport monoplane and taught himself fly. 
His dreams were to start his own business in the aviation field but when war was declared he returned to Germany and immediately joined the German Flying Service.
When Buddecke first arrived at the Western Front in September 1914 and flew as an observer but because of his previous civilian experience on monoplanes he was transferred to a single-seater fighter pilot with FFA 23.

It was soon apparent that Buddecke was a natural pilot and gained the respect of those around him. When the first Fokker Eindecker aircraft delivered at the unit. His good friend, Rudolph Berthold, suggested that he should fly the first Eindecker and the two of them, Buddecke and Berthold, flying the Eindecker and an AEG G.II, respectively, formed a small Kampfstaffel (fighter squadron) within the unit, intercepting British reconnaissance aircraft.

Buddecke scored his and the new unit's first victory on 19 September 1915 and followed this up with confirmed claims on 23 October and 11 November and an unconfirmed victory on 6 December 1915.



He was then sent to Gallipoli to fly the Halberstadt D.II and Fokker E.III with Ottoman FA 6 against the Royal Naval Air Service. The Turkish campaign was successful, with four confirmed victories and seven unconfirmed.
He was recalled to the Western Front in late August 1916 as leader of the newly formed Royal Prussian Jagdstaffel 4. During September he had three more victories bringing his total to 13 confirmed.
He once again was sent back to Turkey to fly with Ottoman FA 5, here he spent most of 1917.

Early 1918 saw him back in France and on March 10 he fell victim to Sopwith Camels of 3 Naval Squadron RNAS and was killed during an aerial combat above Lens, France on 10 March 1918.

Buddecke saw combat in three theaters during the war: Bulgaria, Turkey, and the Western Front and was the third German ace to earn the Pour le Méritein (Blue Max). 


Related image

He is officially credited with thirteen victories but historians estimate that figure is well below actual victories. In the early days of the war no records were kept of aircraft destroyed and records from the Ottoman campaigns are it question.



Buddecke.jpg



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Thursday, April 6, 2017

The first production all metal aircraft, the Junkers J.l.


Developed for low-level, front-line observation, the Junkers J.I (mfg's designation J 4) was the first all-metal aircraft to go into series production anywhere in the world, the aircraft's metal construction and heavy armour was an effective shield against small arms fire over the battlefield.

Of sesquiplane design the main fuselage was a steel nose-capsule that ran from just behind the propeller to the rear crew position. It was covered with 0.20 inch thick chrome-nickel sheet-steel and weighed 1,040 pounds. It protected the crew, the engine and the two fuel tanks. Engine access was provided by two hinged, 3 ply armor-steel panels. All this provided effective protection against the small arms fire encountered by low flying aircraft.


The flight control surfaces were connected to the aircraft's controls by pushrods and bellcranks rather than the usual steel cable control connections. Push-rods being less likely to be severed by ground fire.

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 thick Duralumin skin which could be easily dented, so great care had to be taken when handling the aircraft on the ground.



Although this unique design resulted in a strong and durable aircraft capable of surviving the effects of enemy ground fire, it was heavy, cumbersome and took forever to get off the ground. Regardless it was well liked by its crews and got 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.


Only 227 J.Is were manufactured before production ceased in January 1919.
The only surviving example of the J.I biplane was sent to Canada in 1919 and is now part of the National Aviation Museum's collection.






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Monday, April 3, 2017

William S. Stephenson



was born on January 23, 1897 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada). 
In January 1916 while serving as a sergeant in the Canadian Engineers he was badly wounded during a gas attack. Upon his recovery, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps on 16 August 1917 and was posted to 73 Squadron on 9 February 1918.



Flying the Sopwith Camel Stephenson scored 12 victories before being shot down and made prisoner by German troops, managing to escape in October 1918.
By the end of the war, he had reached the rank of Captain and had been awarded the Military Cross and Distinguished Flying Cross. 




His Military Cross citation read; 
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When flying low and observing an open staff car on a road, he attacked it with such success that later it was seen lying in the ditch upside down. During the same flight he caused a stampede amongst some enemy transport horses on a road. Previous to this he had destroyed a hostile scout and a two-seater plane. His work has been of the highest order, and he has shown the greatest courage and energy in engaging every kind of target.
His Distinguished Flying Cross citation read;
This officer has shown conspicuous gallantry and skill in attacking enemy troops and transports from low altitudes, causing heavy casualties. His reports, also, have contained valuable and accurate information. He has further proved himself a keen antagonist in the air, having, during recent operations, accounted for six enemy aeroplanes.


During World War II, Stephenson would play a prominent role as the senior representative of British intelligence for the entire western hemisphere and was best known by his wartime intelligence codename Intrepid. He is considered to be one of the main real-life inspirations of James Bond. Ian Fleming himself once wrote, "James Bond is a highly romanticized version of a true spy. The real thing is ... William Stephenson." Stephenson passed away on January 31, 1989 at age 92.




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