Aircraft 1903-1918

At the beginning of the First World War, aircraft were frail machines, unarmed and suitable only for reconnaissance duties. By its end,  pilots in swift, heavily armed fighters were shooting each other out of the sky over the Western Front, bombers were showering high-explosive and incendiary bombs on battlefield and town alike; the first dive bombers had attacked pin-point targets; at sea, torpedo-planes had scored their first victories.

The pictures—all types of aircraft from all countries—provide a unique guide to the way aircraft have developed, and clearly show the big impetus to development given by the two world wars. The book also shows how many of the best and most important aircraft produced over the last half century were developed by Britain. This fact should be remembered when people discuss whether or not Britain should have a strong aircraft industry.

LANDMARKS

  • 1783: First manned balloon ascent made by Pilatre de Rozier and Marquis d’Arlandes
  • 1784: First balloon ascent in Britain made by James Tyler, at Edinburgh
  • 1802: First parachute descent made by Garnerin (in England) from a balloon over London
  • 1809: Sir George Cayley experimented with a glider in England
  • 1842: W.S. Henson designed the first powered aeroplane-the Aerial steam carriage
  • 1852: Giffard made a flight in an elongated balloon steered by a rudder and propelled by a steam-engine driving a propeller
  • 1873: Joystick designed
  • 1896: Otto Lilienthal known as ‘father of the aeroplane’, killed in an accident after a series of gliding experiments
  • 1900: Zeppelin’s first airship made its trial flight
  • 1903; Orville Wright made the world’s first controlled, power-driven aeroplane flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina
  • 1905: First officially recorded flight was made by Wilbur Wright at Dayton Ohio. He flew 11-12 miles in 18 minutes 9 seconds
  • 1906: Santos-Dumont, in France, made the first officially recorded aeroplane flight in Europe
  • 1909: J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon of Tara) made first officially observed aeroplane flight in the British Isles.
  • 1909: Louis Bleriot,a Frenchman, flew the Channel from La Baraques, near Calais, to a point near Dover Castle, a distance of 32 miles.
  • 1910: Zeppelin completed first passenger airship. E.T. Willows, in his airship ‘Willows III’, made the first airship flight from England to the Continent.
  • 1911: First airmail in the United States. Experimental airmail service operated between Hendon and Windsor in United Kingdom
  • 1918: Handley Page V/1500 biplane flew over London carrying 40 passengers and sufficient fuel and oil for a six-hour flight. Handley Page biplane completed flight from Cairo to Delhi in 57 hours ‘flying time.

Aircraft 1903-1918

 

flyer-1-1903

FLYER 1, 1903

Flyer 1, 1903: was the first powered, heavier-than-air aircraft to make a successful sustained and controlled flight. The historic flight was made on 17 December, 1903, at Kitty Hawk, with  Orville Wright at the controls.

  • BUILT BY: Wilbur & Orville Wright
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 21’ (6.4 m.); Wing span 40’ (12.2 m.) ; Empty Weight 605 lb. (275 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 30 m.p.h. (48 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 10’ (3m.) fully loaded
  • RANGE: 852’. (260 m.); ENGINE(S): One 12 h.p. Wright

 

flyer-3-1905-copy

FLYER 3, 1905

Flyer 3, 1905: this was the first fully practical powered aeroplane. It made 59 flights, including one lasting over 38 minutes. In 1908 it was modified to carry a passenger, sitting on the leading edge of the wing.

  • BUILT BY: Wilbur & Orville Wright;
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 28’ (8.5 m.); Wing span 40’ (12.2 m.); Empty Weight 710 lb. (322 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 pax.
  • SPEED: 35 m.p.h. (56 km. p.h.)
  • RANGE: 24 miles (38 km.)
  • ENGINE(S) One 20 h.p. Wright

 

14-bis-1906-copy

 14-bis, 1906

 14-bis, 1906: this grotesque machine is famous and remembered only because it made the first official aeroplane flights in Europe in 1906. This aircraft was a freak, and did not help the development of practical aeroplanes. The peculiar name “14-bis” was given to it because Alberto Santos-Dumont first tested the machine slung under the dirigible airship number 14.

  • BUILT BY: Santos-Dumont
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 38’ (11.5 m.); Wing span 40’ (12.2 m.); Empty Weight 660 lb. (322 kg.) PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 25 m.p.h. (40 km. p.h.)
  • ENDURANCE: 21 sec.
  • ENGINE(S):One 50 h.p. Antoinette

 

voisin-farman-1-1907

VOISIN-FARMAN 1, 1907

Voisin-Farman 1, 1907: made by Voisin, this machine was modified by Henry Farman. In this form it became the first aeroplane after the Wright Flyer number 2, 1904, to remain airborne for over a minute and turn a complete circle. The latter flight, made on 13 January, 1908, won Farman the Deutsch-Archdeacon prize of 50,000 francs for completing the first official circle of one kilometre in diameter.

  • BUILT BY: Voisin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 33’ (10.2 m.); Wing span 40’ (12.2 m.); Empty Weight 115 lb. (520 kg.) PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 40 m.p.h. (64 km. p.h.)RANGE:1,640 yds. (1,500 m.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 50 h.p. Antoinette

 

roe-1-1908

ROE 1, 1908

Roe 1, 1908: tested initially by being towed behind a car at Brooklands, this purposeful biplane made short hops in 1908, including one believed to be 150 ft. (46 m.) in June.The flight was not officially observed, however, and did not allow Alliot Verdon Roe to claim he was the first Briton to fly a powered aeroplane in Britain.

  • BUILT BY: A.V. Roe
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 23’ (7 m.); Wing span 30’ (9 m.); Empty Weight 600 lb. (520 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • RANGE:150 ft. (46 m.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 24 h.p. Antoinette

 

antoinette-1909-copy

ANTOINETTE 1909

Antoinette 1909: considered the best of the early monoplanes, the Antoinette was a beautifully made machine and of modern configuration. An Antoinette just failed to become the first aeroplane to cross the English Channel when, during an attempt, its engine stopped a few miles from the coast. Latham, the pilot, ditched safely and was rescued by a destroyer.

  • BUILT BY: M. Levavasseur;
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 37’ (11.5 m.); Wing span 42’ (912.8 m.); Empty Weight 992 lb. (450 kg.) PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot
  • SPEED: 43 m.p.h. (70 km. p.h.)
  • RANGE/ENDURANCE: 96 miles (155 km.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 50 h.p. Antoinette

 

bleriot-xi-1909-copy

BLERIOT XI, 1909

Bleriot XI, 1909: flown by M. Louis Bleriot, the model XI was the first aircraft to cross the English Channel, doing so on 25 July, 1909. The venture nearly ended in disaster as, mid-channel, the engine began to overheat. Fortunately a providential rain shower cooled it just in time. An improved version of this aircraft was used for reconnaissance.

  • BUILT BY: M. Bleriot
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 26’ (8 m.); Wing span 25’ (7.8 m.); Empty Weight 460 lb. (210 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot
  • SPEED: 36 m.p.h. (58  km. p.h.)
  • RANGE: 25 + miles (40 +  km.) at 100% maximum power
  • ENGINE(S): One 25 h.p. Anzani

 

golden-flyer-1909

GOLDEN FLYER 1909

 Golden Flyer, 1909: developed from the earlier June Bug, the Golden Flyer represented an important compromise between stability and controllability. It started the rival biplane tradition to the Wright Flyer in the United States.

  • BUILT BY: G. Curtiss
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 28’ (8.5 m.); Wing span 29’ (8.8 m.); Empty Weight 550 lb. (250 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 45 m.p.h. (72 km.p.h.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 50 h.p. Curtiss

 

voisin-1909

VOISIN 1903

Voisin, 1909:  type used for the first officially recognized flight by a British pilot in Britain, which was made in April 1909 by J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon (later Lord Brabazon of Tara),  flying his own Voisin named Bird of Passage.

  • BUILT BY: M. Voisin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 39’ (12 m.); Wing span 33’ (10 m.); Empty Weight 1,100 lb. (500 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 34 m.p.h. (55 km. p.h.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 50 h.p. Antoinette

 

henry-farman-iii-1909

HENRY FARMAN III, 1909

Henry Farman III, 1909: relatively easy to fly, the aircraft popular as a safe, sporting machine. It won the prize for the longest distance flown during the great air show at Rheims in 1909, which was attended by a quarter of a million people

  • BUILT BY: Henry Farman
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 39’ (12 m.); Wing span 33’ (10 m.); Empty Weight 990 lb. (450 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 37 m.p.h. (60 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 360’ (110 m.(fully loaded)
  • RANGE: 112 + miles (180 + km.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 50 h.p. Gnome

 

maurice-farman-longhorn-1911-copy

MAURICE FARMAN ‘LONGHORN’, 1911

Maurice Farman “Longhorn”, 1911: in spite of its Wright-type forward elevator, which made it unstable and tricky to fly, the Longhorn was used extensively for training purposes, particularly in Britain. French squadrons used Longhorns for reconnaissance duties until 1915. A development of the Longhorn, with elevator located behind the rudders, was appropriately known as the ‘Shorthorn’.

  • BUILT BY: Henry and Maurice Farman Billancourt
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 32’ (9.7 m.); Wing span 51’ (15.5 m.); Empty Weight 1280 lb. (580 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: Rifles or duck guns carried by the observer
  • MAX. SPEED: 59 m.p.h. (95 km.p.h.)
  • RANGE:350 miles (560 km.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 70 h.p. Renault, or one 100 h.p. Sunbeam

 

avro-504-1914

AVRO 504, 1914

Avro 504, 1914: over 8,000 of this two-seat trainer were built; it is generally considered to be the greatest training machine of all time. Many versions were produced, one of the best known being the 504J. Nearly 300 504s were fitted with machine-guns and served with Home Defence Units for use against Zeppelins and Gothas attempting to bomb London.

  • BUILT BY: A.V. Roe Manchester
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 29.5’ (9 m.); Wing span 36’ (11.0 m.); Empty Weight 1,100 lb. (500 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot & 1 pax
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed Lewis machine-gun (Home Defence aircraft)
  • MAX. SPEED: 82 m.p.h. (132 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 13,000 ‘ (4,000 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 3 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 80 h.p. Gnome, 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape, 110 h.p. Clerget, 110 h.p. Le Rhone, 75 h.p. Rolls Royce Hawk, 130 h.p. Clerget

 

morane-saulnier-scout-1914-copy

MORANE SAULNIER SCOUT 1914

Morane-Saulnier Scout, 1914: this fighter, one of the best of its time, was in service when the First World War started. One was fitted with a crude ‘bullet deflector’ gear enabling a forward firing machine-gun to be fitted, but was shot down and captured. Antony Fokker examined the gear, and realising its importance, designed and fitted a more efficient system to his Eindekker monoplanes, giving them superiority over Allied aircraft during 1915.

  • BUILT BY: Morane-Saulnier, Paris
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 22.5’ (6.85 m.); Wing span 27.25’ (8.4 m.); Empty Weight 735 lb. (333 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed machine-gun firing forward
  • MAX. SPEED: 102 m.p.h. (164 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 13,000’ (4,000 m.) fully loaded
  • RANGE: 150 miles (240 km.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 80 h.p. Le Rhone, or one 110 h.p. Le Rhone

 

jn-4-jenny-1914

JN.4 JENNY, 1914

 JN.4 Jenny, 1914: a two-seat trainer, the JN.4 was one of the most widely used training aeroplanes, being used throughout the 1914-18 war period in America, Canada, Britain and France. Many pupils crashed., however, when attempting aerobatics, for which the aircraft had not been designed.

  • BUILY BY: Curtis Airplane and Motors Corporation
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 27’ (8.2 m.); Wing span 44’ (13.4 m.); Empty Weight 1,580 lb. (716 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot & 1 pupil;
  • SPEED: 70 m.p.h. (113 km.p.h.)
  • RANGE: 200 miles (320 km.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 90 h.p. Curtiss OX-5 or one Hispano-Suiza
endekker-scout-1914-copy

Eindekker Scout, 1914

Eindekker Scout, 1914: known as the ‘Fokker monoplane’, this aircraft ushered in the era of air combat, being fitted with Fokker’s interrupter gear, which ‘timed’ bullets so that they passed between the propeller blades, enabling the pilots to aim by simply pointing the complete aircraft. Although only about 200 were built they were effective enough to gain supremacy over the Western Front in 1915 and early 1916.

  • BUILT BY: Fokker Flugzeugwerke, Schwerin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 24’ (7.3 m.); Wing span 31.25’ (9.5 m.); Empty Weight 878 lb. (398 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One or two fixed machine-guns, firing forward
  • MAX. SPEED: 87 m.p.h. (140 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 12,000’ (3,650 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 1 ½ hours
  • ENGINE(S): One  100 h.p. Oberusel U-1

 

gunbus-1915

Gunbus, 1915

 Gunbus, 1915: this two-seater fighter reconnaissance aircraft helped to overcome the menace of the Fokker monoplanes. Although it was relatively slow, its forward mounted machine-gun proved very effective. When the aircraft went into service in 1914, it was the only one with provision for mounting a machine-gun-hence the name ‘Gunbus’.

  • BUILT BY: Vickers London; DIMENSIONS: Length 27.1’ (8.25 m.); Wing span 36.5’ (11.1 m.); Empty Weight 1,220 lb. (553 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot & 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: One free machine-gun, plus small bombs
  • SPEED: 70 m.p.h. (113 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 9,000’ (2,700 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE:4 ½ hour
  • ENGINE(S): One 100 h.p. Gnome Monosoupape
nieuport-17-scout-1915-copy

Nieuport 17 Scout, 1915

Nieuport 17 Scout, 1915: this single-seater fighter helped end the ‘Fokker Scourge’ of the Eindekker Scout. The improved model 17 entered service in 1916 and proved to be one of the best fighters of the First World War. When used for attacks on German observation balloons, four Le Prieur ‘firework-type’ rockets were attached to each interplane strut, and were fired electrically.

  • BUILT BY: Soc. Anonyme des Establissements Nieuport, Issy le Molineux
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 19.5’ (5.9 m.); Wing span 27.25’ (8.3 m.); Empty Weight 825 lb. (374 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One machine-gun, and eight Le Prieur rockets
  • MAX. SPEED: 107 m.p.h. (172 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 17,400’ (5,300 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE:2  hours;
  • ENGINE(S): One 110 h.p. Le Rhone

 

short-225-seaplane-1915

SHORT 225 SEAPLANE, 1915

Short 225 Seaplane, 1915: Known popularly as the ‘225’but officially as the Short Type 184, this naval aircraft was the only floatplane to take part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, when one was used for reconnaissance. The 225 was also the first aircraft to sink a ship by torpedo when it attacked a Turkish troopship during the Gallipoli campaign.

  • BUILT BY: Short Brothers, Rochester
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 40.6’ (12.37 m.); Wing span 63.5’ (19.35 m.); Empty Weight 3,703 lb. (1,679 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: One machine-gun in rear cockpit, one 14-in: (35 c.m.) torpedo, or 520 lb (240 k.g.) bombs
  • MAX. SPEED: 88 m.p.h. (142 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 9,000’ (2,740 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 2 3/4  hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 225 h.p. Sunbeam

 

l-v-g-bomber-1915-copy

L.V.G. BOMBER 1915

L.V.G. Bomber, 1915: used for reconnaissance and bombing, a small number of L.V.G.s were in the German air force at the outbreak of war in 1914. Like their British counterparts, they were unarmed and suffered heavy losses. This resulted in the much improved C.V, armed with machine-guns, which proved formidable adversary, in spite of the pilot’s exceptionally poor view forward.

  • BUILT BY: Luft Veherhs Gesellschaft Johannistal
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 26.5’ (8.07 m.); Wing span 42.75’ (13.02 m.); Empty Weight 1,860 lb. (843 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed  machine-gun firing forward, one free gun;
  • MAX. SPEED: 102 m.p.h. (164 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 16,500’ (5,000 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 31/2  hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 200 h.p. Benz BzlV
pup-1916

Pup, 1916

Pup, 1916: A single-seat scout, the Pup is considered by many pilots to be the most pleasant aircraft to fly ever built. In combat it was so manoeuvrable that it could out-fly the formidable German Albatros fighter. Pups were used in pioneer carrier operations, an aircraft of this type making the first-ever landing on a ship under way.

  • BUILT BY: Sopwith Aviation Co. Kingston –on-Thames
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 19.25’ (5.9 m.); Wing span 26.5’ (8.1 m.); Empty Weight 787 lb. (357 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed  machine-gun firing forward, four 25 lb. (11 k.g.) bombs;
  • MAX. SPEED: 112 m.p.h. (180 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 17,500’ (5,300 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 3 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 80 h.p. Le Rhone

 

spad-scout-1916

Spad Scout, 1916

Spad Scout, 1916: This single-seat fighter was one of the more successful aircraft of the First World War; 8,472 were built. It was used extensively by French, Italian and American air units and, on the Western Front, two British squadrons who flew machines ‘swopped’ from the R.N.A.S. for Sopwith Triplanes. SPADS equipped the French ‘Cigognes’ whose insignia was a symbolic stork, and who used the machine’s ability to dive steeply without falling to bits to good effect in dog fights.

  • BUILT BY: Societe Pour Aviation et des Denives, Paris; DIMENSIONS: Length 20.7’ (6.34 m.); Wing span 27’ (8.23 m.); Empty Weight 1,255 lb. (570 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed machine-gun firing forward
  • SPEED: 130 m.p.h. (210 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 22,000’ (6,700 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 2 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 200 h.p. Hispano-Suiza

 

boeing-b-w-seaplane-1916-copy

BOEING B & W SEAPLANE, 1916

Boeing B & W Seaplane, 1916: When this little seaplane took off for the first time nobody could have foreseen that the 21 men who built it in an old-boat-house would become the world’s biggest aeroplane company. From the B & W developed both the Flying Fortress bombers of the Second World War and the Boeing jet airliners. The picture shows a flying scale replica of the original, built to commemorate Boeing’s 50th anniversary. It has a good rate of climb- it can get up to 5,000 ft. (1,500 m.) in half an hour!

  • BUILT BY: Boeing Airplane Co. Seattle
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 27.5’ (8.38 m.); Wing span 52’ (15.85.m.); Empty Weight 2,800 lb. (1,270 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • SPEED: 78 m.p.h. (125 km. p.h.)
  • RANGE:120 miles (190 k.m.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 125 h.p. Hall-Scott

 

bristol-fighter-1916-copy (1).jpg

Bristol Fighter 1916

Bristol Fighter 1916: Known affectionately as the ‘Brisfit’, this was one of the war’s outstanding combat aircraft, although it got off to a bad start when four were shot down by von Richthofen, because the pilots adopted the usual 2-seater defensive technique of letting their observer do most of the shooting. However, when pilots learned to fly the manoeuvrable Brisfit fighter like a single-seater, front guns as the main weapon, observer’s gun sting-in-the-tail, it won both victories and respect from the enemy.

  • BUILT BY: British & Colonial Aeroplane Co. Bristol
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 26’ (7.92 m.); Wing span 39.25’ (12.m.); Empty Weight 1,934 lb. (877 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed machine-gun firing forward, One or two free machine-guns in the rear cockpit, Bomb load 240 lb (110 k.g.)
  • MAX. SPEED: 123 m.p.h. (200 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 21,500’ (6,500 m.)
  • ENDURANCE:3 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 275 h.p. Rolls-Royce Falcon III.

 

d-h-4-1917-copy

D.H.4, 1917

D.H.4, 1917: A day bomber, the D.H.4 was fast enough to outfly enemy fighters, as did its successor, the Mosquito in the Second World War. The wide gap between the two cockpits made communication between the pilot and the observer difficult, but this handicap did not prevent the D.H.4 from becoming the outstanding day bomber of the First World War. Altogether 1,449 were built.

  • BUILT BY: Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Hendon
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 30.7’ (9.23 m.); Wing span 42.3’ (12.9 m.); Empty Weight 2,303 lb. (1,044 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed machine-gun firing forward (standard version), two fixed machine-guns firing forward (R.N.A.S. aircraft), one or two free guns in the rear cockpit, max. Bomb load 460 lb (210 kg)
  • SPEED: 119 m.p.h. (190 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 16,000’ (4,900 m.)
  • ENGINE(S): One 250 h.p. Rolls-Royce Eagle III.

 

albatros-scout-1917-copy

Albatros Scout, 1917

Albatros Scout, 1917: To regain supremacy after the ‘Fokker Scourge’ had been overcome, the Germans put the Albatros series into production. The D.III, in units of 14 and led by aces, proved a formidable adversary, shooting down many British B.E.2c’s. The Albatros had an unusually smooth and ‘streamlined’ fuselage for its day and this undoubtedly contributed to its fine performance.

  • BUILT BY: Albatros Werke, Berlin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 24’ (7.32 m.); Wing span 29.7’ (9.4 m.); Empty Weight 1,457 lb. (660 kg.) PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed machine-guns firing forward
  • MAXIMUM SPEED: 103 m.p.h. (165 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 18000’ (5,500 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 2 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 170 h.p. Mercedes D.IIIa

 

sopwith-triplane

Sopwith Triplane, 1917:

Sopwith Triplane, 1917: The basic advantage claimed for this single-seater fighter was its wing arrangement; this obscured the pilot’s view less than the broader chord wings of biplanes and monoplanes, and gave it a rapid rate of climb and a high degree of manoeuvrability. Although not so famous as its Fokker counterpart, the Sopwith Triplane achieved impressive success in its brief career, which lasted from early 1917 until the autumn of that year, when it was superseded by the Camel.

  • BUILT BY: Sopwith Aviation Co. Kingston
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 18.8’ (5.72 m.); Wing span 26.5’ (8.07 m.); Empty Weight 1,100 lb. (500 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One fixed machine-gun firing forward
  • MAXIMUM SPEED: 117 m.p.h. (190 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 20,500’ (6,250 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 2 ¾ hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 130 h.p. Clerget.

 

s-e-5a

S.E.5a , 1917

S.E.5a , 1917: This single-seater fighter, was, in combat efficiency, second only to the Sopwith Camel. Designed around the new Hispano-Suiza engine it was slightly less manoeuvrable than the Camel, but steadier, making it a better gun platform for aerial fighting. Some famous British fighter aces scored many of their victories while flying the S.E.5a’s, including V.C winners Mannock (73 victories), Bishop (72), McCudden (57).

  • BUILT BY: Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 21’ (6.4 m.); Wing span 26.6’ (8.1 m.); Empty Weight 1,400 lb. (635 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed machine-guns firing forward, one on top of the fuselage, one above the wing centre section
  • CRUISING SPEED: 138 m.p.h. (220 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 17000’ (5,200 m.) fully loaded
  • ENGINE(S): One 200 h.p. Hispano Suiza

 

camel-1917

Camel, 1917

 Camel, 1917: The camel which destroyed 1294 enemy aircraft, is considered the greatest fighter of the First World War. It was designed as a more powerful successor to the Pup and although not so pleasant to fly, it was even more manoeuvrable, and has been described as the most manoeuvrable ever built, being particularly fast on right hand turns, owing to the gyroscopic force produced by the rotary motor and the short fuselage. It was a tricky aircraft for novices, and many were killed attempting to make their first flight in one.

  • BUILT BY: Sopwith Aviation Co. Kingston
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 18.75’ (15.7 m.); Wing span 28’ (8.53 m.); Empty Weight 929 lb. (422 kg.) PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed machine-guns firing forward, 4 x 25 lb. (11 k.g.) bomb
  • MAX. SPEED: 115 m.p.h. (185 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 19,000’ (5,800 m.) fully loaded
  • ENGINE(S): One 130 h.p. Clerget, or 150 h.p. Bentley  B.R.1.

 

gotha-1917

Gotha, 1917

 Gotha, 1917: This was the most successful of several long-range bombers designed by Germany. Gothas flew over London in daylight and dropped bombs with impunity on a surprised city only recently relieved of the threat of Zeppelin attacks. The Gotha threat, finally overcome by Bristols and Sopwith Camels, was on a scale out of all proportion to the small number of bombs dropped

  • BUILT BY: Gothaer Waggonfabrik,, Berlin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 39’ (11.89 m.); Wing span 77.5’ (23.67 m.); Empty Weight 6,040 lb. (2,730 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: crew 3
  • ARMAMENT: Two machine-guns, one  in nose and one in fuselage. Max. Bomb load 1,100 lb (500 kg.); MAX. SPEED: 87 m.p.h. (140 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 20,500’ (6,250 m.)
  • RANGE: 520 miles (840 k.m.)
  • ENGINE(S): 2 x 260 h.p. Mercedes DIVa.

 

handley-page-0400-1917-copy

Handley Page 0/400, 1917

 Handley Page 0/400, 1917: Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service, the first air force to appreciate the damage that could be caused by bombing on a large scale, used the 0/400 to bomb Ostend, Zerbrugge and the aerodromes used by the Gotha which were attacking London. In 1918 0/400s were used for the first-ever sustained strategic night bombing offensive, dropping ;blockbusters’ weighing 1,650 lb. (750 kg.)

  • BUILT BY: Handley Page Ltd, Cricklewood
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 62.8’ (19.1 m.); Wing span 100’ (30.48 m.); Empty Weight 8,502 lb. (3,855 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: crew 3 or 4
  • ARMAMENT: Two or four machine-guns in nose and rear cockpits
  • SPEED: max. speed: 97 m.p.h. (156 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 8,500’ (2,600 m.) fully loaded
  • RANGE: 770 miles (1240 k.m.)
  • ENGINE(S): 2 x 250 h.p. Rolls Royce Eagle IV.

 

large-america-1917-copy

Large America, 1917

Large America, 1917: the reconnaissance flying boat is officially known as the H.12, but is better known as the ‘Large America’ to distinguish it from its predecessor, the ‘Small America’. Although the lightly constructed hull was easily damaged in rough seas, the Large America was extensively used by the R.N.A.S. for anti-submarine, anti-Zeppelin and general reconnaissance duties.

  • BUILT BY: Curtis Aeroplane and Motors Corporation, Hammondsport
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 46.1’ (14.03 m.); Wing span 95’ (28.96 m.); Empty Weight 7,360 lb. (3,340 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: crew 4
  • ARMAMENT: Five or six machine-guns, bomb load 4 x 230 lb (100 kg.)
  • SPEED: max. cruising speed: 100 m.p.h. (160 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 12,500’ (3,800 m.) fully loaded
  • ENGINE(S): 2 x 345 h.p. Rolls Royce Eagle.

 

 

fokker-triplane-1917

Fokker Triplane, 1917

 

Fokker Triplane, 1917: this is the aircraft used in von Richthofen’s circus. The Fokker’s effectiveness was due to its rapid rate of climb, good manoeuvrability plus Allied confusion caused by its resemblance to the Sopwith Triplane, which is believed to have inspired it. Its weak structure, which caused several to break up in the air, quickly ended its spectacular career.

  • BUILT BY: Fokker Flugzeugwerke, Schwerin
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 19’ (5.79 m.); Wing span 23.6’ (7.19 m.); Empty Weight 893 lb. (405 kg.); PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: two fixed machine-gun, firing forward;
  • SPEED: max. cruising speed: 115 m.p.h. (185 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 19,600’ (6,000 m.) fully loaded
  • Endurance: 1 1/2 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 110 h.p. Oberusel.

 

salmson-1917

 Salmson, 1917

 Salmson, 1917: a two-seat reconnaissance aircraft, the Salmson was used as standard equipment in the American Expeditionary Force as well as with the French Air Force. In spite of its relatively large size, it could be a formidable adversary—one pilot shot down eight aircraft ising his fixed, forward firing machine-gun. The total number of Salmsons built was 3,200.

  • BUILT BY: Societes des Moteurs, Salmson, Billancourt
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 28’ (8.53 m.); Wing span 38.6’ (11.76 m.); Empty Weight 1,676 lb. (760 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot and 1 observer
  • ARMAMENT: one fixed machine-gun, firing forward; one or two free guns in the rear cockpit; Bomb load 500 lb (225 kg.)
  • SPEED: max. cruising speed: 115 m.p.h. (185 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 20,500’ (6,250 m.) fully loaded
  • ENGINE(S): One 260 h.p. Saimson

 

fokker-d-vii-1918-copy

Fokker D.VII, 1918

Fokker D.VII, 1918: this outstanding fighter helped to end the period of complete Allied superiority. Easy to fly, with a good rate of climb and a high ceiling, its main advantage was that it retained good control at heights where other aircraft were difficult to fly, and its performance was such that it was specifically named in the Armistice Agreement to be handed over to the Allies.

  • BUILT BY: Fokker Flugzeugwerke
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 23’ (7.01 m.); Wing span 29.25’ (8.91 m.); Empty Weight 1,513 lb. (686 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed forward firing machine-guns
  • SPEED: 124 m.p.h. (200 km. P.h.)
  • CEILING: 22,900’ (7,000 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 1 1/2 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 160 h.p. Mercedes D.III

 

dolphin-1918-copy

Dolphin, 1918

Dolphin, 1918: A single-seat fighter, the Dolphin is noteworthy for the unusual back-stagger of its wings. In spite of a troublesome engine it proved itself effective for ground attack work, as well as aerial combat. A total of 1,532 Dolphins were built, and they remained in front-line service until the end of the war.

  • BUILT BY: Sopwith Aviation Co. Kingston
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 22.25’ (6.77 m.); Wing span 32.5’ (9.9 m.); Empty Weight 1,406 lb. (638 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO:1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: Two fixed forward firing machine-guns (standard); Two additional guns could be mounted in the wing.  Bomb load: 100 lb (45 kg.)
  • SPEED: 128 m.p.h. (206 km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 21,000’ (6,400 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE:1 ¾ hours

 

cuckoo-1918-copy

Cuckoo, 1918

 Cuckoo, 1918: a single-seat torpedo bomber, the Cuckoo was so named because it was intended to lay its ‘egg’ in other peoples’ nests! The first squadron embarked on the carrier H.M.S. Argus in October 1918, but the war ended before it could go into action. The aircraft is, however, credited with pioneering the techniques which were used so successfully during the Second World War.

  • BUILT BY: Sopwith Aviation Co. Kingston
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 28.5’ (8.68 m.); Wing span 46.75’ (14.24 m.); Empty Weight 2,199 lb. (997 kg.
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: 1 pilot
  • ARMAMENT: One 18 in. (145 cm.) torpedo
  • SPEED: 103 m.p.h. (166 km.p.h.)
  • CEILING: 12,100 ft. (3,700 m.) fully loaded
  • ENDURANCE: 4 hours
  • ENGINE(S): One 200 h.p. Sunbeam Arab

 

vimy-1918 (1)

VIMY 1918

 

 

VIMY, 1918: this twin-engined bomber, too late for operational service in the First World War, achieved fame with a series of post-war long distance flights, most notably the first non-stop transatlantic flight by Alcock & Brown in June 1919. Another, flown by the Smith Brothers and two mechanics, left Britain on 12 November, 1919 and reached Port Darwin Australia, 11,000 miles (17,700 km.) away, on 10 December. The Eagle was the most widely used of the various Vimy engines.

  • BUILT BY: Vickers, London
  • DIMENSIONS: Length 43.5’ (13.2 m.); Wing span 67.1’ (20.5 m.); Empty Weight 7,100 lb. (3,220 kg.)
  • PASSENGER/CARGO: Crew 4
  • ARMAMENT: Two machine-guns, one each in nose and aft cockpits Bomb load: 18 x 112 lb (50 kg.) bombs, 2x 230 lb (104 kg.) bombs
  • SPEED: 103 m.p.h. (166  km. p.h.)
  • CEILING: 7,000’ (2,100 m.); RANGE: 1,000 miles  (1,600 km.)
  • ENGINE(S): 2 x 360 h.p. Rolls-Royce VIII.

Courtesy: A Source Book of Aircraft compiled by Maurice Allward;  Series Editor: V.C. Wall, T.D., C.Eng., M.I. Mech.E., FRAS; Ward Lock Limited,  London  1970

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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