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The worst aircraft of WW1 - nominations


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#1 centurion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:14 PM

This is a spin off from the RE8 thread.

Opening nominations for the worst aircraft of WW1. Two classes 1] aircraft built and flown (no matter how briefly) but didn't enter service and 2] aircraft that actually saw service. I suggest excluding originally good aircraft used in inappropriate circumstances or retained in service long after they had become outclassed. To win this one the aircraft has to have been baaaaaad from the word go.

To kick off with a nomination for category 1 I give you Sopwith's unsung triplane.
The Sopwith L.R.T.Tr was a huge triplane powered by a single Rolls Royce 250 hp inline engine . Its nickname in the company was ‘the eggbox’. It has been described as being the ugliest single engined fighter (despite considerable competition for this title). It was intended as a long range escort fighter. The very deep fuselage contained a fuel tank bigger than that carried by the day bombers of the day so one must wonder what it was supposed to escort that had such a long range. One possible explanation is that it was also intended to be another anti Zeppelin fighter, perhaps with a Davis gun in the above wing position. Its large fuel tank would allow it to loiter in the night sky awaiting an airship raid. It has also been suggested that it might also have doubled as a long range reconnaissance aircraft. The top gunner was housed in a large tear drop shaped housing (that also contained a large gravity feed petrol tank) high up on the upper wing and was isolated from other crew members . In his very elevated position he was also even more at risk from a nose over (especially if night landings were to be attempted) and to try to protect against this eventuality the aircraft was fitted with a cumbersome four wheeled under carriage. This must have produced considerable extra drag and would adversely affect performance whilst being unlikely to be completely effective. Sharing his pulpit with a petrol tank cannot have done much for the gunner’s chances of surviving such any accident. In the days before self sealing fuel tanks the very large internal main petrol tank might also have been viewed as a significant hazard in the case of a take off crash (let alone from combat damage). Sopwith were very reticent about the L.R.T.Tr (possibly out of embarrassment) and there are no official reports on its performance and handling. A number of sources do suggest that it was a dangerous aircraft (for its crew rather than to the enemy).
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#2 centurion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 01:21 PM

And to open category 2

The French company SPAD (Société Pour Aviation et ses Derives) was the successor to the Société Provisoire des Aeroplanes Deperdussin after the owner of the latter was convicted of massive fraud. It produced some of France’s most famous fighters of the First World War but before it created the hawks it first produced a real turkey. The SPAD A series (SA1, SA2, SA3 and SA4) introduced in 1915 were tractor biplanes powered by a rotary engine mounted slightly behind the wing leading edges (part of which were cut away to allow the propeller to rotate). Struts projected forwards from the undercarriage and the top wing to support a gun pulpit in front of the propeller. In the SA1 and SA2 a gunner occupied the pulpit and manned a Lewis gun on a rather complex mounting. The pulpit could create a problem for the air cooled rotary and scoops were fitted in its side to divert air back to the engine. The connection to the top wing could be disengaged and the pulpit swung down from the undercarriage to permit access to the engine for maintenance.

With the engine and propeller between the pilot and the gunner there was no way at all that they could communicate. Any form of crash landing was almost certain death for the gunner, if the engine was still running on impact he would be chopped and diced by the propeller, if it was off he would be merely crushed. If enemy fire hit the connection to the top wing the pulpit fell forward and the aircraft became uncontrollable and crashed killing both pilot and gunner.

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The SPAD SA1 and SA2 were mainly distinguished from each other by the engine horsepower (the SA1 had 100 hp and the SA2 110 hp). About 100 were built and issued to French escadrilles where they immediately became extremely unpopular for the reasons described above. Their performance was in any case barely adequate and the Nieuport fighters fitted with an over wing gun were proving adequate to deal with the German Fokker Monoplanes. The French government applied what was a fairly consistent policy for dealing with French warplanes that the French forces did not want to the SPAD SA pulpit fighters and sold them to one of their allies, in this case the Russians. The Russian aircraft industry was incapable of supplying the needs of the Imperial Flying Corps for fighters and the Tsar’s government would accept almost anything with an engine, wings and a gun. The pilots and observers who had to fly them may have been less sanguine and the aircraft seem to have been no more popular than they had been with the French escadrilles. Nevertheless the Russian aircrew seem to have been more stoic and tried to make some use of the SPADs; a number were fitted with skis for operation from snow and ice. The SPAD A4 was a version produced specifically for the Russians and incorporated some improvements to improve the flow of air over the engine; only 10 of these were built. However there is only one instance on record of a Russian SPAD SA shooting down an enemy aircraft. As soon as Russian licence production of Nieuport fighters reached a viable level the SPADs were retired.

The SPAD SA3 variant replaced the pilot’s position with another gunner’s position and provided duplicated controls in both gunners’ cockpits so that either could fly the plane when the other was using his gun. One has to assume that they agreed before take off who would actually act as pilot in the case of being attacked from the front and rear at the same time! Only one was built.

The SPAD SG.1 variant replaced the gunner in the pulpit with three fixed forward firing machine guns, turning the aircraft into a single seat fighter with a powerful punch. French synchronised guns were becoming available by the time this had been done and the SG.1 was built only as a prototype, this was also sold to the Russians. What they did with it remains a mystery.

#3 centurion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 02:14 PM

And another for category 1

Produced in 1916 to meet the same basic requirements as the Vickers FB 11 and the Sopwith L.R.T.Tr, the FK 12 was an unequal span triplane (the middle wing was much longer than the bottom and top planes) with pulpits mounted under the port and starboard middle wing putting two gunners well forward. The pilot sat in an extremely commodious fuselage well behind the wings (presumably to prevent any possibility of fraternisation with the gunners). None of the aircrew could have had any effective means of communication with any other! There was no rear gunner which must have made this large and ponderous machine a sitting duck for a single seat fighter. Two prototypes were built both with the same general configuration.

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In the second aircraft the gunners’ pulpits were repositioned which brought each occupant within two feet of the of the engine’s exhausts thus adding carbon monoxide poisoning to all the other hazards of air warfare. Looking at the aircraft one wonders how the gunners accessed their isolated pulpits, ladders must have been necessary. The pilot sat in a very deep fuselage but the gunners’ pulpits appear to be very shallow so that the occupants must have been very exposed to the elements. The second prototype FK 12 made a small number of test flights, trundling around a few circuits of the airfield but it must have been obvious to all that there was no future for this portly warplane and no further development was undertaken.

#4 ScottM

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:01 PM

Hi,

The Russians implemented the Sopwith LTR style design in this http://www.century-o.../Anadwa VKh.htm

For category 2 the Quadraplane is certainly one: http://www.century-o...Quadriplane.htm

as is the Caproni Ca.4 http://www.century-o...Ca.4 Series.htm

#5 munster

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:12 PM

Very good post's Centurion look forward to more. Hindsight would be a great advantage to designers some faults/problems look so obvious after the event it makes you wonder how things got off the drawing boards let alone the ground.john

#6 centurion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 04:08 PM

Hi,

The Russians implemented the Sopwith LTR style design in this http://www.century-o.../Anadwa VKh.htm

For category 2 the Quadraplane is certainly one: http://www.century-o...Quadriplane.htm

as is the Caproni Ca.4 http://www.century-o...Ca.4 Series.htm


As the CA 4 proved to be a highly effective bomber I don't think it qualifies. The 2nd link doesn't work - which quadruplane had you in mind? there were a number.

Possibly the FK 10?
Small numbers were manufactured and supplied to both the RFC and the RNAS. This was a dainty machine and was unlikely to have been able to stand up to the rigors of operational service in France.

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Although it was a quadruplane the aircraft was braced as a biplane and doubt was expressed over its ability to withstand the strains of combat maneuvers. The under carriage was entirely reliant on a series of bracing wires and a hard landing (or minor battle damage) could have caused a collapse. The observer/gunner’s position was cramped and as there wasn’t room for a gun ring the gun had to be mounted on a pillar. The traverse was therefore limited. There certainly wasn’t room for the various items of equipment that usually occupied the rear cockpit of two seater fighters; this severely constrained the roles that the aircraft could undertake. The Sopwith ‘One and a Half Strutter’ two seat fighter was already in service and had a better performance. The aircraft was only used within Britain and flown very little. Eventually the aircraft were parked and used as targets for machine gun practice.

#7 centurion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 04:50 PM

And another Cat 1

In the first part of 1916 design work began on the Vickers FB 11 that was intended as a multi seat escort fighter to protect bomber formations; its fuselage was much like that of a conventional two seat fighter, albeit a somewhat large one, with a gunner sitting just behind the pilot and armed with a Lewis gun on a ring mounting. Synchronised guns were becoming available but instead of the usual fixed forward firing gun a pulpit was fixed to the top wing, protruding out beyond the leading edge. In this was seated a gunner armed with a second Lewis gun. This arrangement was intended to give the top gunner a 180-degree arc of fire that covered the entire front of the aircraft without the propeller getting in the way. A 250 hp. Rolls Royce engine provided the power.

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The top gunner was at considerable risk if the aircraft nosed over during landing and ended upside down (a not infrequent event for the aircraft of the time with rough grass landing strips predominating). The FB 11’s undercarriage was fitted with a skid, presumably to reduce this possibility, however with the weight of a gunner, gun and ammunition so high up and forward in the structure a summersault landing would have always been a risk. In his lofty pulpit the top gunner was totally isolated from the other crewmembers and any coordination would have been impossible. Given the shallowness of the top gunner’s pulpit standing up to operate the gun would put him at some risk if the aircraft had to undertake violent combat manoeuvres. The start of flight testing of the prototype was held up until the summer of 1916 because of delays in the delivery of the engine and by the time this had been completed new DH 4 bombers were entering service. These aircraft began a De Havilland tradition of building very fast day bombers (culminating in the Mosquito of the Second World War) and were the fastest operational bomber of the period As such they were over 40 mph faster than the FB 11 that was intended to escort them; and when armed with twin Lewis guns and a forward firing Vickers machine gun they were also more heavily armed. The DH 4 was able to out pace most if not all German fighters opposing it and was deemed eminently able to take care of itself (indeed on at least one occasion DH 4s provided top cover for Sopwith Camel fighters engaged in dive bombing attacks). No further development of the FB 11 was undertaken. The single prototype crashed sometime in 1917 and was written off.

#8 Adrian Roberts

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:06 AM

The BE12 must have been among the worst in Category 2. A fighter produced by taking a 2-seater, that although more maligned than it deserves was certainly not especially manouverable, giving it a more powerful engine and hoping for the best. It lasted a month in service on the Western Front, a little longer in the Middle East.

#9 Adrian Roberts

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:41 AM

In Category 1, how about the Tarrant Tabor (though its first and only attempt at a flight was not until May 26th 1919)?

Its problem was not only that the position of the upper engines, well above the thrust line, made the fatal nose-over almost inevitable. Another flaw was that the fuselage of the prototype was beautifully crafted from a series of circular wooden frames. If they had inserted gun positions in later examples, they would have had to cut into these frames, compromising the structure unless they provided massive and weighty reinforcement. The streamlined nose would have gone if a gun was mounted there. One hopes they didn't have any ideas about putting a gunner in a top wing nacelle! And where were the bombs going to go? The only possible position would have been under the lower wing, as on the Caproni CA4, which wouldn't have done anything for the streamlining.

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#10 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 10:10 AM

The BE12 must have been among the worst in Category 2. A fighter produced by taking a 2-seater, that although more maligned than it deserves was certainly not especially manouverable, giving it a more powerful engine and hoping for the best. It lasted a month in service on the Western Front, a little longer in the Middle East.


It would be if true. The Be12 was NOT originally a fighter having been designed before synchronised machine guns and it was a single seat long range photo recce aircraft and bomber. When used in this role it did the job it was designed for, although hampered by the dreadful RAF4a engine. and lasted longer than a month on the WF. It was a poor fighter but then it was never intended to be used as such. The Hispano Suiza engined BE12b proved to be a potent fighter bomber (and an impressive night fighter) but use was limited due to a shortage of engines (most going to SE5as)

#11 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 10:26 AM

In Category 1, how about the Tarrant Tabor (though its first and only attempt at a flight was not until May 26th 1919)?

Its problem was not only that the position of the upper engines, well above the thrust line, made the fatal nose-over almost inevitable. Another flaw was that the fuselage of the prototype was beautifully crafted from a series of circular wooden frames. If they had inserted gun positions in later examples, they would have had to cut into these frames, compromising the structure unless they provided massive and weighty reinforcement. The streamlined nose would have gone if a gun was mounted there. One hopes they didn't have any ideas about putting a gunner in a top wing nacelle! And where were the bombs going to go? The only possible position would have been under the lower wing, as on the Caproni CA4, which wouldn't have done anything for the streamlining.


The Tabor in the form you show it was not a bomber but a transatlantic transport hence no need for a bomb bay

The story is as follows
The Tabor was originally intended as another Berlin bomber, it was to be capable of carrying an even heavier bomb load than the Handley Page V/1500. The Tabor was originally to be a biplane powered by four 600 hp Siddley Tiger engines but, as with much else associated with Siddley at the time more was promised than delivered and it became apparent that these engines would not be available in the near future. Instead it was decided to use the available 450hp Napier Lion engine and fit six to the Tabor. This necessitated a radical design change in which a third wing was added to mount two of these engines high up above the centre of gravity. This was the first contributing factor to disaster. The machine was not ready until 1919 by when a Berlin bomber was no longer needed but it was decided to continue development possibly with an eye to using the Tabor as a transatlantic transport. The prototype was assembled at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough. At this point the second element in the tragedy emerges. Both the National Physics Laboratory and the RAE had tested models of the Tabor in wind tunnels. The RAE concluded that the Tabor would be tail heavy and the National Physics Laboratory that it would not. The Tabor design team agreed with the latter judgement and rejected an RAE recommendation that 1,000 lb of lead ballast be added to the nose. Nevertheless the RAE took it upon themselves to add the ballast in any case probably without notifying the test pilots. It is certainly suggestive that the accident report was officially suppressed. Cover-ups are not a new phenomena

As the plane was in the process of its takeoff run the pilots increased power in the two high mounted engines. This sudden surge caused the Tabor (which unbeknown to the pilots may well have been nose heavy as a result of the ballast) to tilt violently forward crushing the nose and killing both pilots. There were no funds or enthusiasm available for further Tabor development.

#12 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 10:35 AM

Whilst the Tabor was very much post war the Kennedy Giant was not

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In 1916 the Tsar granted formal permission for Britain to build copies of the Ilya Muromets. That the British government did not take this up is due to the success of the new Handley Page 0/100 and 0/400 heavy bombers. However one private attempt was made to produce an aircraft based on Ilya Muromets. This took the substantial shape of the Kennedy Giant, built by the Gramophone Company with assistance from Fairy Aviation. In 1909 C.J.H.Mackenzie-Kennedy had formed an aviation company in Russia and two years later he met Sikorsky with whom he collaborated and had had some involvement with the production of the Russian Grand. Mackenzie-Kennedy returned to Britain in 1914 and started an aviation company in London. He obviously drew on his experiences in Russia when designing his giant aircraft. It had a wingspan of 142 feet and four engines, a pair in a push/pull arrangement on each wing. The general look of the machine was very like the Ilya Muromets.

Unfortunately the key feature of the Sikorsky aeroplane, the excellent lifting characteristics of its wing design, seems to have escaped Mackenzie-Kennedy. The British version of the Giant was ready for testing in 1917 at Northolt. An experienced RFC pilot had been seconded to act as the test pilot. Government money for further development had been promised if the flight was successful. At this point a basic problem emerged; the aircraft was too big to go through the doors of the hanger in which it had been assembled. The floor had to be dug away on either side of the doorway to allow the aircraft to be pulled clear. This was not an auspicious start. A flight was then attempted. Attempted was the operative word, the test pilot just could not coax the Giant into the air. Eventually its wheels encountered a patch of mud and the aircraft simply stuck there effectively ending the trial. Observers who checked the wheel and tailskid marks on the ground concluded that for a brief moment in the take off run both had left the earth and so the Giant had officially become airborne even if the altitude achieved would have been measured in inches. This was not good enough to constitute a successful flight as far as government investment was concerned. It was decided not to attempt a second flight. This saved the test pilot the need to refuse to attempt one for, as he stated later, in the brief period when the Giant had ‘flown’ the controls had been so heavy that he could not have managed it in the air. No attempt was made even to push the plane back into its hanger and it was left to rot at the side of the airfield.

#13 squirrel

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 11:05 AM

Excellent thread and posts Centurian - thanks for your comments and superb drawings.

#14 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 11:25 AM

On the German side there is the Seimens R Plane of 1916

In Germany Seimens AG had decided to produce an aircraft based on the Russian bomber without the need for permission from the Tsar. Despite being a firm that had made its name by designing and manufacturing heavy electrical generating equipment Seimens were a significant force in German aircraft design and production in this period. At the end of 1915 the Seimens Forssman bomber made its appearance. Although it bore a superficial resemblance to Sikorsky’s design it lacked one essential attribute. Sikorsky had introduced wings that were long and narrow (high aspect). This provided both extra lift and reduced drag. The German aircraft industry during World War One did not fully appreciate the role that wing design played in aircraft performance (some German aircraft had exceptionally streamlined fuselages married to wings that had very high drag). The Seimens Forssman did not have the Ilya Muromets’ relatively efficient wings so that despite having engines of similar power it appeared underpowered and lacking in speed and lifting capability. Beefing up the engines made some difference but still produced an aircraft that was barely adequate as a trainer.

Seimens decided to have another attempt at producing a heavy bomber, this time using an original design. This resulted in the first of the Seimens R series. One characteristic common to many German very heavy bomber designs of the time was the use of engines buried inside the fuselage to drive propellers, mounted on fuselage mounted struts between the wings, via gearboxes and transmission shafts. The first Seimens R planes shared this design approach and had an engine room containing three large engines supervised by flight engineers. This was seen as conferring a number of advantages; it removed the need for reinforced mountings to handle the weight and vibrations of wing mounted engines, it enabled the aircraft to continue to fly with one engine shut down without asymmetrical flight characteristics and it allowed in flight maintenance and minor repairs to be carried out. This latter was essential as there was a problem with the type of engine being used in the German giant bombers, power plants designed for airships were being used to drive aeroplanes. In an airship, which uses the lifting effect of gases lighter than the surrounding air, there is no need for sudden loads to be put on the engines when taking off or climbing. Engines used in these aircraft were designed for constant level of power output without sudden and extreme variations. They could not take the strains imposed by the needs of aeroplanes, especially in a combat environment, and were subject to breakdown. As a result they needed constant nursing when in the air. This arrangement was almost ship like and one can imagine the captain on the flight deck at the intercom calling urgently to the engine room for more power (and no doubt the chief engineer replying that she could not take any more).Seimens adopted an unusual forked tail configuration with two vertical booms each triangular in cross section. This complex configuration was intended to allow the waist gunners to also cover the tail.

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Only seven such aircraft were built and only four were used operationally. Speeds ranged from as low as 60 mph (for the first aircraft built) to an unimpressive best performance of 81 mph. Escort fighters had problems keeping station because their charges were so much slower than them. All seven Siemens giants were seriously underpowered (the three engines were just not enough) and suffered from engine failures in flight. The four operational aircraft were based in Vilna on the eastern front where there where fewer enemy fighter aircraft, even so they did not remain in service for long.

#15 David Filsell

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 12:27 PM

While concentrating on dead end designs - I guess in terms of flying incidents a number of other 'successful' aircraft could be included. For instande those caused by the tricky characteristics of the Sopwith Camel. It would be interesting to know how many accidents this aircraft suffered as a consequence.

#16 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:03 PM

While concentrating on dead end designs - I guess in terms of flying incidents a number of other 'successful' aircraft could be included. For instande those caused by the tricky characteristics of the Sopwith Camel. It would be interesting to know how many accidents this aircraft suffered as a consequence.


One needs to be careful as many problems subsequently proved to be as much to do with inadequate training as with the aircraft itself.. This was not confined to WW1. For example the early Spitfires were regarded as difficult until appropriate conversion training was introduced and the US Navy initially classed the Corsair as too difficult for use on aircraft carriers and then found that he RN with minor changes to the canopy and pilots seat and a special training regime was flying them from escort carriers. Conversely the docile Dh 6 trainer of WW1 was criticised for its forgiving nature lulling trainees into developing fatally lax flying habits. Many a novice Camel pilot would have come straight from a Dh 6 or Avro 504.

#17 centurion

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 02:31 PM

The German company Linke-Hofmann has been internationally famous for more than a century as a builder of railway engines and rolling stock. They were already well established in this business in 1915 when they became another builder of giant aircraft. It seems a strange diversion but then Gotha, the firm that built the very successful range of German twin engined bombers, was also primarily a manufacturer of rolling stock. Linke-Hofmann’s first essay into the world of giant aircraft was a four engined bomber. Like the Seimens R planes the engines were buried in the fuselage and drove two huge wing propellers via drive shafts and gearboxes. These Linke-Hofmann giants had a very distinctive (and one might even say even bizarre) appearance. It is difficult to see what advantage, if any, this delivered. Elongated egg shaped fuselages can offer significantly reduced drag but only at near supersonic speeds and even then special allowances have to me made to compensate for the wings by deviating from a pure ovoid shape. None of this could have applied to this huge lumbering fabric covered biplane.

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As a result the pilot and navigator sat very high up with an engine room on the deck below them. The bottom deck housed the bomb aimer and waist gunners. This made it very difficult for the pilot to judge just how far the wheels were off the ground when coming in to land. The original prototype was extensively covered in a transparent Cellon fabric, presumably in an attempt to produce an ‘invisible’ aircraft (an early attempt at a stealth bomber). Both Britain and Germany had already carried out experiments with such ‘see through’ aircraft albeit with much smaller aeroplanes. In ideal circumstances the transparent covering did indeed reduce the visibility of the aircraft but such conditions were rare. It took only quite minor factors (such as condensation on the material) to make the Cellon highly reflective thus rendering the aircraft extremely visible, especially in any kind of sunlight (or even bright moonlight). With such a huge aircraft as the Linke-Hofmann the area of Cellon would have created a vast airborne mirror flashing ‘here I am’ signals to the world at large. Subsequent Linke-Hofmann R 1 prototypes modestly covered up their structures with pre printed camouflage fabric.

Testing was initially delayed as the wheels on the undercarriage collapsed during taxiing. These were replaced with some very railway like steel wheels (with padded leather tyres). In an attempt to solve the power weight problems experienced by previous giants the Linke-Hofmann R I was designed to have as light a structure as possible. In the first prototype this was taken too far and the wings eventually collapsed during a take off run (the crew were lucky that the failure occurred before the aircraft was airborne). Three more prototypes were built with a strengthened framework.

Pilots’ reports did comment favourably on the manoeuvrability of the Linke-Hofmann R I but overall performance was not spectacular with speeds being very similar to some of the Seimens aircraft in an earlier post. When the pilot misjudged a touch down in the second prototype and the aircraft nosed over it was not thought worthwhile to attempt any repairs and the whole programme was abandoned.

#18 centurion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:30 PM

It's interesting to consider the damage that the successful Sopwith Triplane did to the Central Powers aircraft industry just by existing.
In the autumn of 1916 the Sopwith Company began production of a rotary engined triplane fighter. As a result of various bureaucratic bumblings and inter service rivalries production was limited to about 120 aircraft, most of which went to the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). Even in such limited numbers it had a dramatic effect. The use of narrow cord staggered wings of relatively short span allowed Sopwith to produce a fighter with a remarkably tight turn and an impressive climb whilst retaining an overall performance as good as or even better that most contemporary fighters. Between May and July 1917 the B Flight of Naval Ten (containing five triplanes Black Death, Black Maria, Black prince, Black Roger & Black Sheep lead by Sub Lt. Raymond Collishaw flying the all black Black Maria) alone destroyed 87 German aircraft. As a success this aircraft in itself has no place in this thread but it did sow the seeds of a great many misconceived aircraft designs in Germany and elsewhere. A captured Sopwith Triplane was displayed to the German aircraft industry on. 27th July 1917. They were asked to develop aircraft that were capable of competing with the British aircraft (a similar approach had been taken with the Nieuport 17 and spawned a number of imitations and near copies of which only the Siemens-Schuckert D1 saw any service). Some manufacturers had already started to produce their own triplane designs. Austro Hungarian designers had also taken notice. The effect was startling as almost every German aircraft manufacturer devoted (and wasted) time and resources in producing their own triplane fighter. By the end of 1917 triplanes had been produced by AEG, Albatross, Aviatik Berg (Austro Hungary), Brandenberg, Euler, Kondor, LFG Roland, Pfalz, Sablatnig, Schutte-Lanz, Siemens-Schuckert, W.K.F (Austro Hungary) and, of course Fokker. Many designs seemed to assume that there was some intrinsic virtue on having three wings and merely took an existing biplane fighter and replaced the wings with a clumsy triplane configuration.
LFG Roland DR I


DFW DR I


In many cases manufacturers hedged their bets by developing a biplane and triplane version of the same aircraft. In some cases the biplane version saw orders placed but other than Fokker's and to a limited extent the Pfalz none of the triplanes were successful and merely wasted resources at a time when Germany and Austro Hungary were loosing the aircraft manufacturing battle to the greater capacity of Britain, France and Italy whose output to their own forces was growing rapidly (even with the drain of outfitting the fledgling US air corps).

#19 Will I Davies

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 01:43 PM

Hi to all the contributers,

A very good thread to read through and very very interesting. Great drawings by the way Centurion, just how were they generated?.

It somehow reminds me of Clunks unusual flying contraptions in the "Catch the Pigeon" cartoon series starring Dastardly and Mutley. Could the writer of the series had inspiration from the same sources I wonder??.

Regards
Will

#20 centurion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:04 PM

A very good thread to read through and very very interesting. Great drawings by the way Centurion, just how were they generated?.



Originally drawn as vector drawings (mainly using Powerpoint) as illustrations for an unpublished book. Vector allows scalability to be maintained. Converted to JPG using the save as picture facility in Powerpoint.

#21 Will I Davies

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 02:19 PM

Originally drawn as vector drawings (mainly using Powerpoint) as illustrations for an unpublished book. Vector allows scalability to be maintained. Converted to JPG using the save as picture facility in Powerpoint.


Thanks for the feedback, I have tried using powerpoint for some occasional technical drawings over the years, I'm really impressed with the final results that you obtained.

Signed Jealous!!

#22 centurion

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 06:09 PM

After the Tripes the Quads

If three wings were good perhaps even more wings would be better. Fredrick Koolhoven obviously thought so for in late 1916 he designed the Armstrong Whitworth FK 10 two seat quadruplane fighter. Small numbers were manufactured and supplied to both the RFC and the RNAS.

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This has been described in an earlier post

The Wight Quadruplane single seat fighter (confusingly built by a firm called Wright founded by a mister White and based in the Isle of Wight) first appeared in August 1916 and was initially regarded as unsafe to fly and as a result was the subject of several redesigns and rebuilds before flight testing could be attempted This finally took place took place in February 1917.

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Despite the rebuilds it was still remained a dangerous aircraft. The wings were very short and spaced in such a way as to make it necessary to have a very tall relatively narrow undercarriage which in turn resulted in the aircraft being at a very steep angle when taxiing and taking off. It would have been at risk of ground looping on landing. Its performance figures are not recorded but with only a 110 hp Le Clerget rotary as the power plant they are unlikely to have been spectacular and there were certainly fighters already in production that would have surpassed them. Because of the delays in getting an airframe that was considered as safe to fly, by the time the aircraft could be tested it was already obsolete. The RNAS, for whom it had originally been intended, showed little interest and never even allocated it an official serial number. The aircraft was returned to Wright’s in August 1917 and finally scrapped in February 1918.

In Germany the Euler Vierdecker appeared in December 1917using the fuselage from a Eurler copy of the Nieuport 17. Purists might argue that this was technically a triplane rather than a quadruplane as the top wing acted as two moveable control surfaces. Nevertheless the Euler Company, which had already produced several prototype triplanes, defined it as a quadruplane and it certainly looked like one.

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Two prototypes were built and tested by the Germany military but pilots were not impressed with its performance that was well below other fighters that p were already available for service. Euler returned to producing triplanes (none of which reached production either).


In 1918 the small German aircraft manufacturer Naglo also tried its hand at producing a quadruplane. They took an existing Albatross DV fuselage and fitted it with four wings. It appears that it had originally been intended to produce a triplane but the designer added an extra wing on a spine under the fuselage at the last minute. Albatross had already tried fitting three wings to the DV with no improvement in performance over the standard biplane version and Naglo’s four winged variant was no more successful. It turned out that the designer was drawing a salary from Albatross whilst moonlighting for Naglo.

#23 mickdavis

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:38 PM

Living in the North East, I'm interested in local aviation. What's referred to as the AW FK12 seems to have been the FK6, for which Contract 87/A/328 was issued in 1916 for four machines, to be numbered 7838-7841. Only the first was built and it was an ugly machine. 7839 and 7841 were listed as being for transfer to the RNAS as FK12s 3684-3685 but that, obviously, didn't happen. There had been an earlier triplane (FK5?? - in which the gunner's nacelles were above the centre mainplanes, not below, as on the FK6/12 - it met a nasty end).

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#24 mickdavis

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:43 PM

FK6 in flight + FK5 (??)

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#25 Adrian Roberts

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 12:39 AM

Hope there was no-one in the nacelles...