Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Caproni Ca.4 Series Bomber


A number of these sizeable triplane bombers flew operationally over northern Italy during 1918. They were impressive not only in flight - with their three equal-span wings and their multiplicity of struts and wires - but also in the construction techniques employed. Power was supplied by three engines, early aircraft having 223.6kW Fiat A.12s or Isotta Fraschini V.5s, while later machines had 298kW American Liberties. One engine was mounted to drive a pusher propeller at the rear of the central crew nacelle; the other two were tractor-mounted in front of the middle wing leading edge in the noses of the twin booms (each with a midships gunner's cockpit) which extended to the rear to support the tailplane.




The prototype and the first three production Ca.4s had angular crew nacelles, but all later examples of the Ca.1000HP (its initial designation arising from the total horsepower provided by the prototype's engines) had carefully contoured rounded nacelles. A third gunner's cockpit was located at the front of the nacelle forward of the side-by-side cockpits for the pilot and co-pilot. Max bomb load was 1000kg. Total production of all versions of the Ca.4 was 42. Six of the 23 Liberty-powered Ca.4s built were sold to Britain and used briefly, though not operationally, by the Royal Naval Air Service.


Post war the Ca.4 gave life to the Ca.48. passenger aircraft. The intense promotional use - the Ca.48 flew as far as Holland - was not met by a comparable commercial success. Then disaster struck: on August 2, 1919 a Ca.48 fell near Verona killing the seventeen people on board.




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Monday, June 26, 2017

Rudolf Berthold


Born on 24 March 1891 near Bamberg, Germany. 
Berthold joined the German Army in 1909, serving with the infantry. He turned his attention to the fledgling air technology three years later, learning to fly in 1913. He was thus well-placed to request (and receive) a transfer to the German Air Service once war broke out in August 1914. 
He was one of the pioneer aviators of World War I, flying crucial reconnaissance missions, as an observer, during his nation's 1914 invasion of France.
In 1915, he began flying single-seat fighters and was credited with five victories before crashing a Pfalz E.IV on April 25, 1916. Injured and wounded several times throughout the war, Berthold earned a reputation as a ruthless, fearless and very patriotic fighter. His perseverance, bravery, and willingness to return to combat while still wounded made him one of the most famous German pilots of  the war.



He rose to command one of the first dedicated fighter units in 1916, Jasta 4, before turning command over to Hans Buddecke. He then assumed command of Jasta 14 and later Jasta 18.
On August 10, 1918, he shot down his final two victims on his final flight before being downed when his Fokker D.VII crashed into a house after colliding with an enemy aircraft.
After two days in the hospital, he would once again flee treatment and return to combat. Only a direct order from Kaiser Wilhelm II returned him to medical care for the rest of the war.
Between 1916 and 1918, he shot down 44 enemy planes—16 of them while flying one-handed.









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Thursday, June 22, 2017

The "Monstrosity", the Fokker V.8


fokker_v-8.jpg

This aircraft would fall into the category of quintrupriplane. If there is such a word?
Historians debate why Fokker built such a craft and even one source, I’ve read, feels it may have been built on a bet to prove that five wings were no better than three.
Reinhold Platz, chief engineer for Fokker, most likely was involved in the design but it appears it may have been reluctantly. He would later refer to the V.8 as a monstrosity.

Regardless of the who, what and why of the crafts being it was/is an interesting “one of a kind”.
Using the successful Fokker Vl (prototype for the famous Dr.1 Triplane) fuselage as a platform Platz designed it with three wings at the extreme front of the aircraft and a pair of wings midway along the fuselage. As you can see from the picture the upper mid-fuselage wing is notched at the cockpit and the leading edges are in front of the rear of the cockpit.
Control surfaces were fitted to the upper wings, those at the front acting as conventional ailerons and those in the rear working with the elevators.
The V.8 was powdered by a water-cooled Mercedes engine, either a 120 hp or a 160 hp. I’ve seen both mentioned.

In October 1917 it made a short flight manned by Anthony Fokker himself. Evidently, corrections were in order, modifications were made and two weeks later another short flight was made. This was to be the V.8's last flight and the project was abandoned and the craft scrapped.

Unfortunately, like so many experimental prototypes the real reason behind the design has been lost in history.





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Monday, June 19, 2017

Hans Adam


Born, Hans Adam on 24 May 1886, in Bavaria. Prior to WW1 he saw brief service in the Royal Bavarian Army. Adam returned to service as a lieutenant in the Bavarian 15th Reserve Infantry Regiment. He fought in the Battle of the Frontiers where he was wounded. After recuperating, he returned to the front in late 1915, but then chose to enter pilot training (despite his age (29), which made him much older than most pilot trainees). He received his Observer's Badge on 15 May 1916 and began service as an aerial observer.


  

On 2 March 1917, he joined Jasta 34 and scored his first three victories in an Albatros D.III.
He then transferred to Jasta 6. Here he continued to score, totaling 12 confirmed victories by the end of August. 

He rose to become commanding officer of Jasta 6 on 30 August 1917 and scored the following day, he then ran off seven more victories in September. He scored his 21st and final victory on 6 November 1917.






Adam was shot down and killed on 15 November 1917 near Langemarck, Belgian, in his Albatros D.V. He was 28 years old. 

By the time of his death, Adam had already won the Iron Cross First Class and the Military Merit Order of Bavaria. 


Adam would posthumously receive the Knight's Cross with Swords of the Royal House Order of Hohenzollern.


He would also posthumously receive, Bavaria's highest military decoration, the Military Order of Max Joseph


This last decoration raised him to nobility which was signified by the title "Ritter von" and he became Hans Ritter von Adam.







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Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Roland D.VI


The Roland D.VI was designed by the Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft (L.F.G.) and built at the end of the Great War. It first flew in November 1917.

Constructed as a single bay biplane which discarded the L.F.G.-Roland patented Wickelrumpf (literally "wrapped body"), used in previous L.F.G aircraft such as the Roland C.II, D.I and D.II in favour of the equally unusual (for aircraft use) Klinkerrumpf (or clinker-built) construction where the fuselage was built of overlapping thin strips of spruce over a light wooden framework. Visibility for the pilot was good, while the aircraft had above average manoeuvrability.

In January 1918, two D.VIs were entered into the first fighter competition held by Idflieg at Adlershof, one powered by a 160 hp (119 kW) Mercedes D.III engine and the other by a Benz Bz.IIIa which was of similar power and, like the Mercedes, an upright, inline, six cylinder engine . Although the winner of the competition was the cheaper Fokker D.VII, orders were placed for the Roland as insurance against production problems with the Fokker.

A total of 350 were built, 150 D.VIas powered by the Mercedes, while the remaining 200 were powered by the Benz and were called D.VIb.


Delivery started in May 1918, a month after the 'balkenkreuz' (straight-armed cross) had been adopted by the Luftwaffe in place of the earlier Imperial German cross. A total of 350 were built, with 70 in service on the front by August 1918. 





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Monday, June 12, 2017

Frank Luke Jr., the "Arizona Balloon-Buster" was born May 19, 1897, in Phoenix, Arizona.


Following America's entry into World War I, Luke enlisted in the Aviation Section, U.S. Signal Corps. He received pilot training in Texas and California and aerial combat training at Issoudun, France.
Commissioned a Second Lieutenant he was assigned to the 27th Aero Squadron.

Luke was somewhat of a free spirit, he would often fly alone and disobey orders. His arrogance created disliked by some of his peers and superiors. But the 27th was under standing orders to destroy German observation balloons. 

Because of this, Luke, along with his close friend Lt. Joseph Frank Wehner, continually volunteered to attack these important targets although they were heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns on the ground. The two pilots began a remarkable string of victories together, with Luke attacking the balloons and Wehner flying protective cover. 
Wehner was killed in action on September 18, 1918, in a dogfight with Fokker D.VIIs which were attacking Luke. Luke then shot down two of these D.VIIs and two balloons, thereby achieving his 13th official kill.




Between September 12 and September 29, Luke was credited with shooting down 14 German balloons and four airplanes: Luke achieved these 18 victories during just 10 sorties in eight days, a feat unsurpassed by any pilot in World War 1.

After flaming three German balloons on 29 September 1918, Luke's SPAD XIII was shot down by ground fire. Resisting capture, he shot it out with approaching German soldiers and was killed near the crash site. He was 21 years old.

On  May 1919, Luke was awarded a posthumous Medal of Honor. 


"Man, how that kid could fly! No one, mind you, no one, had the sheer contemptuous courage that boy possessed. I know he's been criticized for being such a lone-hander, but, good Lord, he won us priceless victories by those very tactics. He was an excellent pilot and probably the best flying marksman on the Western Front. We had any number of expert pilots and there was no shortage of good shots, but the perfect combination, like the perfect specimen of anything in the world, was scarce. Frank Luke was the perfect combination." Harold Hartney, Commanding Officer, 1st Pursuit Group


"He was the most daring aviator and greatest fighter pilot of the entire war. His life is one of the brightest glories of our Air Service. He went on a rampage and shot down fourteen enemy aircraft, including ten balloons, in eight days. No other ace Britain's Bishop from Canada, France's Fonck or even the dreaded Richthofen had ever come close to that." Edward Rickenbacker


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Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Breguet 14 was a French biplane bomber and reconnaissance aircraft of World War I, it is often considered to have been one of the best aircraft of the war.





The Breguet 14 was built in very large numbers and production continued for many years after the end of the war. 







Apart from its widespread usage, it is known for being the first mass-produced aircraft to use large amounts of metal rather than wood in its structure. This allowed the airframe to be lighter than a wooden airframe of the same strength, in turn making the aircraft very fast and agile for its size, able to outrun many of the fighters of the day. Its strong construction was able to sustain much damage, it was easy to handle and had good performance. Following successful deployment by the French, the Breguet was also ordered by the Belgian Army (40 aircraft) and the United States Army Air Service (over 600 aircraft). Around half the Belgian and U.S. aircraft were fitted with Fiat A.12 engines due to shortages of the original Renault 12F. By the end of World War I, some 5,500 Breguet 14s had been produced.

Postwar, Breguet had also begun to manufacture dedicated civil versions. The 14 T.2 Salon carried two passengers in a specially modified fuselage. An improved version of this was the 14 Tbis, manufactured as both a land-plane and seaplane. 




The 14 Tbis also formed the basis of the improved 14 Tbis Sanitaire air ambulance version.


100 custom-built 14 Tbis mail planes were built for Pierre Latécoère's fledgling airline, Lignes Aeriennes Latécoère. 


When production finally ceased in 1928, the total of all versions built had reached 7,800 (according to other sources, 8,000 or even 8,370).




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Monday, June 5, 2017

Leutnant Otto Brauneck


Little has been written about Brauneck’s background and aero training. It seems that he joined the air service sometime in 1916 and was posted to FFA 69 in Macedonia. Flying an Albatros C.lll he scored his first victory in September of the same year. His second victory, over an observation balloon in December, earned him the Iron Cross First Class.
After an unconfirmed victory on Christmas Day, he shot down two balloons on January 5th, 1917.



His skills must have been apparent as on January 14th, 1917 he was promptly transferred to single seaters at Jasta 25. Here he flew a Fokker D-II.
Between 19 January and 6 April 1917, he claimed seven triumphs, only three of which were confirmed.

On April, 20th, 1917, he was once again transferred, this time to Jasta 11 on the Western Front, here he would serve under Manfred von Richthofen. He scored twice in early June. On July 22nd, he claimed his tenth and final victory. He was shot down three days later and died in the crash. He was twenty-one years old.
Brauneck's personal Jasta 11 Albatros D.III was reportedly painted red overall with a blue nose and spinner.

Brauneck was decorated with the Iron Cross, (1st and 2nd class) and the Knight's Cross of the House Order of Hohenzollern, which he received on 19 January.






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Saturday, June 3, 2017

SE5a cockpit.



From The Vintage Aviator Collection

One aspect of aircraft construction that is often overlooked are all of the “accessories” and minor details that make these aircraft so special. In the case of the SE.5a we rebuilt a starting magneto that protrudes through the side of the cockpit for an engineer to operate and assist in starting the original Hispano engines. We also built our own water temperature gauges, and almost every other cockpit instrument. Starting with our own aluminum bezels and laser cut pointers we fitted many modern reliable instruments and made them appear identical to the originals. We also fabricate hand air pumps to pressurize the fuel tank and made our own Aldis sights. The cockpit is also adorned with several spare Lewis magazines and accurate replica radiator shutter bowden controls and a proper Sutton harness.
We are lucky to have access to an original SE.5 propeller, which we scanned into a computer and machined exact copies from laminated mahogany for each aircraft. The wire spoke wheels, the Palmer wheel covers, the windscreen and even clear inspection windows in the fabric surfaces, all had to be made. The SE.5a is a fighter and as such, it could be said the guns are the heart of the airplane. The Lewis gun and the Foster mount are highly visible above the center section. Foster gun mounts are impossible to find, and real Lewis Guns create legal problems - so we decided to manufacture our own. We made operating Foster mounts from original drawings and retained the option of fitting a real blank-firing gun for airshows. However, we also worked out an effective technique for replicating aircraft guns, and these reproduction Lewis and Vickers machine guns decorate our SE.5a's.
“If I had any doubts about the reliability of the Hispano Suiza engine, I would not have flown the SE.5a across the Cook Strait to attend the Classic Fighters Airshow”



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Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Austin AFT3 Osprey Triplane


This aircraft was designed in 1917 and was intended to compete with the Sopwith Snipe. 
The Osprey was of wooden construction with fabric skinning, the six wings were interchangeable. A 230hp Bentley BR2 nine-cylinder rotary engine supplied the power. 



The armament comprised two fixed 7.7mm Vickers machine guns which are synchronised to fire when the blades of the revolving airscrew are not in line with the gun barrels. Also a one semi-free Lewis gun of similar calibre is mounted to the centre-section of the middle wing, to fire upwards over the top wing. 
The Osprey was flown for the first time in February 1918, but performance proved to be inferior to that of the Snipe, and construction of the other two prototypes was abandoned.







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