Saturday, April 16, 2011

Triplane Madness During 1917

A Trio of Failed Triplanes

German Empire - 1917

Albatros Dr.I - 1917
Albatros Dr.I - 1917

The profile started life about a year ago as a line drawing of an Albatros DVa. I used a couple of photographs to guide me when I added the wings and struts. I also saw another color profile of the Dr.I which matched my best guess on the finish.

The Albatros Dr.I is one of those planes that should have been good but wasn't. During the First World War, aviation was in its infancy and a number of interesting designs were flown, but never accepted for service. The Albatros Dr.I was one of those designs.

After the appearance of the Sopwith Triplane, manufacturers in Germany were requested to give thought to the triplane format. Built to try to improve climb performance, the Albatros Dr I had a DVa fuselage and power plant, serial D 1573/17 with wings of equal cord and span. All three wings had ailerons connected by vertical steel struts.

British Commonwealth - 1917

Blackburn Triplane - 1917
Blackburn Triplane - 1917

The first time I saw the Blackburn Triplane was over a year ago in a small color picture. It got me started looking for references to do a better job of it. I fund some photos and a line drawing for guidance. This current version is a year old and it is ripe for a replacement.

The Triplane was the third unsuccessful attempt at an anti-Zeppelin fighter that involved Blackburn. The first was Blackburn's own Twin Blackburn and the second the AD Scout, Blackburn building two of the four machines of this type to an Air Department of the Admiralty design. In 1916, the Scout's designer, Harris Booth moved to Blackburn where he created a heavily-revised aircraft, the Triplane.

The layout of both Scout and Triplane was determined largely by the Admiralty requirement to carry a quick-firing, recoilless Davis gun that used 2 lb (1 kg) shells. At the time, there was no way of synchronizing such a weapon with the propeller, or of mounting it elsewhere than the fuselage, so a pusher configuration was necessary, the pilot sitting in a nacelle with the gun in its nose.

United States of America - 1917

Curtiss Model S-3 - 1917
Curtiss Model S-3 - 1917

Sometimes I get in too big of a hurry. That was the case with this profile. I had the line drawings, I had the photographs, I just did not have the patience to nail it. There are a lot of parts which need refinement. The process is a matter of creating te new, and reinventing the old.

The Model S was Curtiss' first attempt at a fast and maneuverable single-seat fighter. The first variant, S-1, had disappointing performance. In March 1917, new wings were attached to the S-1 fuselage and the project was redesignated S-2. In 1917, the S-3 became the first triplane in service in the United States. In 1918 and 1919, Curtiss experimented with seaplane versions of the S-3, designated S-4 and S-5. The S-6 was intended to be an improved S-3, but performance was poor and of the 12 ordered by the USASC, only 1 was delivered.


Paul´s Bods said...

To be honest is it any wonder the blackburn failed? I mean...even for a pusher it looks grot ugly...I wouldn´t ever dare to go up in it for fun let alone for the serious business of fighting.
That Fokker D.VII in yellow looks great...I´ve done a Fokker E.III in yellow, looks great...the banana plane :-D

W. I. Boucher said...

@Paul It was an ungainly beast, but so were many of the Vickers pusher-craft which continued to be designed well into 1918. Part of the blame had to be the specifications laid out by the Admiralty. Yes it was doomed to fail, but it is a good addition to the ranks of aviation oddities.

I knew you would like the big yellow bird. I remembered your banana plane when drawing and posting it and got a chuckle.