Saturday, April 30, 2011

Germany - 1918 Aviatik D.VII

German Experimental Aircraft 1918 Aviatik D.VII

German aircraft experimentation reached a fever pitch in the final years of the war. Many of the designs never went beyond the prototype stage of development. I was looking through my unfinished profiles and found this plane waiting for me and figured it was time to complete the drawing.

The D.VII, which was intended to participate in the third D-type Contest of October 1918, was essentially similar to the D.VI apart from having completely redesigned vertical and horizontal tail surfaces. Like its predecessor it was powered by a geared Benz Bz Illbm eight-cylinder Vee engine driving a four-bladed propeller. Armament comprised the standard twin 7.92mm synchronized machine guns, and only one prototype was completed.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

USA - 1915 Curtiss JN-4

Jenny Taught a Generation of Americans How to Fly

When we think of the rise of flight in the United States the much loved Curtiss JN-4 is at the top of the list. It ws the primary trainer aircraft and had a lifespan which extended long after the Great War ended.

The Curtiss JN-4 "Jenny" is a series of biplane aircraft built by the Curtiss Aeroplane Company of Hammondsport, New York, later the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company. The Curtiss JN series (the common nickname was derived from "JN") was produced as a training aircraft for the U.S. Army although the "Jenny" became the "backbone of American post-war aviation."

Curtiss combined the best features of the model J and model N trainers, built for the Army and Navy, and began producing the JN or "Jenny" series of aircraft in 1915. Curtiss only built a limited number of the JN-1 and JN-2 biplanes. The design was commissioned by Glenn Curtiss from Englishman Benjamin D. Thomas, formerly of the Sopwith Aviation Company.

The JN-2, was a poor performer, particularly when climbing, because of its excessive weight. The JN-2 was an equal-span biplane with ailerons controlled by a shoulder yoke located in the aft cockpit. The improved JN-3 incorporated unequal spans with ailerons only on the upper wings, controlled by a wheel. In addition, a foot bar was added to control the rudder.

The Curtiss JN-4 is possibly North America's most famous World War I aircraft. It was widely used during World War I to train beginning pilots. The Canadian version was the JN-4 (Can), also known as the "Canuck", and was built with a control stick instead of the Deperdussin control wheel used in the regular JN-4 model, as well as usually having a somewhat more rounded rudder outline than the American version. The U.S. version was called "Jenny". It was a twin-seat (student in front of instructor) dual control biplane. Its tractor prop and maneuverability made it ideal for initial pilot training with a 90 horsepower (67 kW) Curtiss OX-5 V8 engine giving a top speed of 75 miles per hour (121 km/h) and a service ceiling of 6,500 feet (2,000 m). The Curtiss factory in Buffalo, NY was the largest airplane factory in the world.

The British used the JN-4 (along with the Avro 504) for their primary World War I trainer; Canadian Aeroplanes Ltd. produced them in Canada. Many Royal Flying Corps pilots earned their wings on the JN-4, both in Ontario and in Texas.

Most of the 6,813 built were unarmed, although some had machine guns and bomb racks for advanced training. None saw active service. After World War I, hundreds were sold on the civilian market, one to Charles Lindbergh as his first aircraft. The plane's slow speed and stability made it ideal for stunt flying and aerobatic displays in the barnstorming era between the world wars, with the nearly-identical Standard J-1 aircraft often used alongside it. Some were still flying into the 1930s.

Britain - 1916 Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.10

It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time...

The year 1916 marked the silly season of aircraft design. More failed designs were built that year than any other. Many odd ideas were tried and cast aside. This was the beginning of triplane and quadruplane experimentation, external gunner nacelles and other bizarre methods to find a way to fire into the forward arc. Today is a look at a failed quadruplane design. Compared to some other planes of the era the Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.10 was relatively normal, and in fact it did fly. However it did not fly well enough to go beyond the prototype stage.

The Armstrong-Whitworth F.K.10 was a two-seat quadruplane built for fighting and bombing. Like its predecessor, the F.K.9, it was a poor performer with serious design flaws. Of the fifty aircraft ordered by the Royal Naval Air Service, only eight were delivered.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Germany 1916-1917 Gotha Bombers

The Iconic Gotha Bomber

When the subject of German World War One bombers comes up, most people think of the Gotha series of bombers. The reputation of this type aircraft may a bit more impressive than the actual operational record. Even though it had many flaws the aircraft has become legendary. When I drew this series of profiles I became aware of the subtle changes in the airframe and control surfaces as the type evolved to meet problems discovered in operational use. I plan on revisiting the subject with more examples of a fascinating plane.

Gotha Bombers of 1916

Gotha G.II - 1916
Gotha G.II - 1916

The Gotha G.II series was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I.

The Gotha G.II was an entirely new biplane designed by Hans Burkhard, who had previously reworked Oskar Ursinus's design for the G.I to make it suitable for mass-production. Burkhard abandoned the G.I's unorthodox configuration in favor of a more conventional design with the fuselage mounted on the bottom wing rather than the top.

The Gotha G.III was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. It succeeded the G.II in production and differed primarily in the choice of power plant. The eight-cylinder Mercedes D.IV, which had proven highly susceptible to crankshaft failure, was replaced by the new six-cylinder 260 hp (190 kW) Mercedes D.IVa engine. The G.III also featured a reinforced fuselage with an extra 0.312 in (7.92 mm) Parabellum MG14 machine gun firing through a ventral trapdoor. The G.III was also the first bomber to have a tail gun with a potential 360° arc of fire.

Most of the 25 G.III aircraft produced were delivered to Kagohl 1, operating in the Balkans out of Hudova. Combat service of the G.III was limited but effective. Its most notable accomplishment came in September 1916, when a formation of G.III aircraft destroyed the railway bridge over the Danube River at Cernavoda(, Romania. It also saw use by Kagohl 2 on the Western Front, operating from Freiburg. Following the delivery of the G.IIIs to this unit, its commander complained to Berlin about the performance of the aircraft, not because they were too slow, but because they were outrunning their escort fighters. In September 1917, all surviving aircraft were withdrawn from combat and relegated to training units.

Gotha Bombers of 1917

Gotha G.IV - 1917
Gotha G.IV - 1917

The Gotha G.IV was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during World War I. Experience with the G.III showed that the rear gunner could not efficiently operate both the dorsal and ventral positions. Hans Burkhard's ultimate solution was the "Gotha tunnel," a trough connecting an aperture in the upper decking with a large opening extending across the bottom of the rear fuselage. The Gotha tunnel allowed a gunner at the dorsal position to depress his gun into the aperture and fire through the fuselage at targets below and behind the bomber. A ventral 0.312 in (7.92 mm) machine gun could still be mounted, and there was even a provision for a fourth machine gun on a post between the pilot's and bombardier's cockpits, although this was rarely carried due to the weight penalty it imposed on the bomb load.

The G.IV introduced other changes. The fuselage was fully skinned in plywood, eliminating the partial fabric covering of the G.III. Although it was not the reason for this modification, it was noted at the time that the plywood skinning enabled the fuselage to float for some time in the event of a water landing. Furthermore, complaints of poor lateral control, particularly on landing, led to the addition of ailerons on the lower wing.

The Gotha Bomber was produced in the autumn of 1916 when the limitations of the Zeppelin as a raider had become obvious. The German High Command ordered that 30 Gotha bombers were to be ready for a daylight raid on London on February 1st, 1917, but the machines were not ready until May. The first daylight raid on London was carried out by 14 Gothas on June 13th, 1917. On July 7th, 22 Gothas raided London. Night raids began in August of 1917 and continued until May 1918 when they were abandoned because of the increasingly heavy losses. At peak employment, in April 1918, 36 G.Vs were in service.

Operational use of the G.IV demonstrated that the incorporation of the fuel tanks into the engine nacelles was a mistake. In a crash landing the tanks could rupture and spill fuel onto the hot engines. This posed a serious problem because landing accidents caused 75% of operational losses. Gothaer produced the G.V, which housed its fuel tanks in the center of the fuselage. The smaller engine nacelles were mounted on struts above the lower wing.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

France - 1917 Nieuport 23

Evolution of The Nieuport Fighter

The Nieuport 23 in French Service

French Nieuport 23 - 1917
French Nieuport 23 - 1917

The Nieuport 23 in Belgian

Belgian Nieuport 23 - 1917 Edmond Thieffry
Belgian Nieuport 23 - 1917 Edmond Thieffry

The Nieuport 23 was a fighter aircraft produced in France during the First World War. It was a development of the Nieuport 17 intended to address structural weakness of the earlier type, and most were produced with a lighter version of the Le Rhône 9J engine that powered the Nieuport 17, offering a better power-to-weight ratio. Internally, the main difference between the Types 17 and 23 was a redesigned wing spar in the upper wing. This, however, did not prove satisfactory, and when the fighter displayed an unacceptably high accident rate due to shedding its wings in flight, the Général chef du service aéronautique ordered that either additional reinforcement be added to the wings or that the type be withdrawn from service. One hundred and fifty new sets of wings were ordered to keep the type flying.

External differences included better streamlining of the forward fuselage and a synchronized machine gun mounted on the upper fuselage and firing through the propeller disc. Nieuport 23s ordered for Britain's Royal Flying Corps nevertheless were fitted with machine guns that fired over the top of the upper wing, in the way that the Nieuport 17 had been armed.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Germany 1916 - 1917 Friedrichshafen G.III

The Friedrichshafen G-Type Bomber

The Friedrichshafen G.III (factory designation FF.45) was a medium bomber was designed and manufactured by Flugzeugbau Friedrichshafen. They were used by the German Imperial Air Service (the Luftstreitkräfte) during World War I for tactical and limited strategic bombing operations. After the end of the war a number of Friedrichshafen bombers were converted into transport aircraft while a small number also saw service as dedicated airliners.

The success of the G.II paved the way for the larger and more powerful G.III, which entered service in early 1917. While it looked somewhat similar to the G.II, the G.III was longer and had a greater wingspan which caused its designers to increase the number of interplane struts to three pairs on each side of the fuselage. Operational experience with the G.II had revealed a tendency for the aircraft to "nose over" during landings with deadly consequences for the nose gunner and possibly also the pilot. Friedrichshafen engineers solved this problem by equipping the G.III with an auxiliary wheel mounted under the nose gunner's position. The G.III also used the more powerful six-cylinder 190 kW (260 hp) Mercedes D.IVa engines. The extra power increased the bomb carrying capability enabling the aircraft to carry a bomb load of up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), though this severely reduced operational range. In practice, the heaviest bomb load rarely exceeded 600 kg (1,320 lb). Some of the bomb load could be carried internally but most of it was carried on removable external bomb-racks and usually consisted of streamlined P.u.W bombs but specialized munitions such as air-mines could also be carried. As production continued further modifications were made to the G.III series that resulted in two sub-variants:

Friedrichshafen G.IIIa

Friedrichshafen G.IIIa - 1917
Friedrichshafen G.IIIa - 1917

This sub-variant reintroduced a box-shaped biplane unit which improved the aircraft's control response when it was being flown on one engine. Another modification was the installation of a third 7.92 mm (.312 in) machine gun to combat British night fighters, which often attacked German bombers from below where they were hard to spot but the bomber's silhouette was easy to see against the night sky. This gun was mounted on a tubular, sliding mounting bolted to the floor of the rear gunner's position and was fired downward through a small sloping gun-tunnel cut into the bottom of the rear fuselage. By the last year of the war, the G.IIIa had replaced the G.III in production.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Painted Warbirds 1915-1918

A Splash of Color For Easter

I am feeling festive and colorful today, so my choices will be just as bright. Today's theme is a mixed bag of aviation eye candy. The only reason I chose them is they were colorful and fairly new. I tried to refrain from posting the canned history for the planes I have posted before.

The Estonians captured several abandoned aircraft. this is one of them. It sported the original German camouflage pattern. The subject was a good change of pace for me. I had done several versions of the DFW C.V in German schemes. This example allowed me to do a version without the fairing over the engine.

The D.V and its related designs were used as a multi-role combat aircraft, for reconnaissance, observation, bombing by Germany and Austro-Hungary during World War I. They were also used by the Ottoman Empire in Palestine. In the hands of a skilled pilot it could outmaneuver most allied fighters of the period. It remained in service until early 1918 though 600 were still in use by the Armistice of 11 November 1918. Most were scrapped according to Versailles Treaty in 1919.

Yes, I know it is another Fokker D.VII, but I have always liked this paint scheme. I had an obsessive moment a couple days ago and I had to knock out this profile. The interplay between the bright solid color sections and the streaked under painting is satisfying.

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, I hate repeating myself. However in this case I will make an exception. I had procrastinated for a long time on this profile. I was lazy and it took me a while to draw up the anchor. I could have posted a brighter colored Dr.I but this one has been less covered by other profilers.

Another very cheery paint scheme on this Nieuport 11. Bold tricolor stripes and wheels. What's not to like? So many examples are plain varnished linen. I was glad I saw an example of this long ago and made my own version.

The small Nieuport 11 biplane was affectionately known as the "Bébé" (baby). Originally designed for racing, this light plane was fast and extremely maneuverable. Its only major problem was in the design of its wing struts. In a steep dive, the struts allowed the wings to twist, sometimes with disastrous results. Used by the British and French to counter the Fokker E.III, the Nieuport 11 was disadvantaged by its lack of a synchronized machine gun.

This is another favorite of mine. I like the silver and blue paint scheme and the white origami bird insignia. Top it off with the Belgian colors on the rudder and it is a pleasing combination of colors.

The Hanriot HD.1 was a French World War I single seat fighter. Rejected for service with French squadrons in favor of the SPAD S.7, the type was supplied to the Belgians and the Italians who used it very successfully.

Britain - 1914 Early Biplanes

Death Comes to the Sky: Early War British Aircraft

In the early days of the war it became quickly apparent that new aircraft designs would be needed to enter the fight for the sky. Gone were the flying kites. In their place were machines that would evolve in the coming years into deadly weapons of war.

Fairly sturdy and easy to fly, the Avro 504 was used by the Royal Naval Air Service to conduct bombing raids into German territory at the beginning of the war. The first plane to strafe troops on the ground, it was also the first British plane to be shot down by enemy ground fire. Better aircraft soon replaced the Avro 504 in combat, but it remained the standard British trainer for the duration of the war.

The Martinsyde Scout 1 was a British single-seat biplane aircraft built by Martinsyde Limited and deployed in the early part of the First World War. The S.1 was powered by a Gnome engine mounted in a tractor configuration.

Sixty of the S.1 were built and these were used for about 6 months on the Western Front by the Royal Flying Corps before it was relegated to training. Although initially intended for use in Home Defense operating from the UK, it was found to be inadequate for that too.

The B.E.2 was designed by Geoffrey de Havilland as a development of the B.E.1, and first flew in February 1912 with de Havilland as the test pilot. On 12 August 1912 it set a British altitude record of 10,560 ft (3,219 m). It started production as a reconnaissance machine, and two years later formed part of the equipment of three squadrons - squadrons equipped with a single type of airplane were still to come. These were all sent to France shortly after the outbreak of war. The early B.E.2a and b aircraft were replaced during 1915 by the B.E.2c, so extensively modified as to be virtually a new type, based on research by Edward Teshmaker Busk to develop an inherently stable airplane. The c began to be superseded by the final version, the B.E.2e, nicknamed the "Quirk", in 1916.

Introduced toward the end of 1913, the Sopwith Tabloid won the Schneider Trophy at Monaco in 1914. An unarmed single-seater, it was one of the first British biplanes to be used in combat.

On the afternoon of 9 October 1914, in the first successful bombing mission of the war, the Royal Naval Air Service sent two Tabloids to attack the Zeppelin sheds at Dusseldorf and Cologne. Only one of them reached its target but Zeppelin Z-9 was destroyed in its shed at Dusseldorf when the Tabloid pilot released two 20 pound bombs from a height of about 600 feet.

Friday, April 22, 2011

France 1915-1918 SPAD Two Seaters

The Other SPAD Aircraft

When people think of the SPAD most think about the two most well known designs, the single seat S.VII and S. XIII fighters. THe SPAD (Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés ) built several less known biplanes. Today I am concentrating on their two seat aircraft. Most of the designs were not particularly successful, and some were extremely poor performers. Even though they were not the greatest aircraft they are fun to draw.

SPAD Two Seat Aircraft - 1915

SPAD A-II 1915
SPAD A-II 1915

One of the more outlandish attempts to design an aircraft with forward firing capabilities. The gunner/observer sat in a small cabin that was attached in front of the prop of the engine. There were many problems with this design, ranging from lack of communication between crew members, to a safety issue for the observer. Many of these planes were exported to Russia where they received no praise from the Russian aviators. Some one once said that flying the A-II was a waste of ammunition for both sides of the conflict.

SPAD Two Seat Aircraft - 1917

SPAD S.XI - 1917
SPAD S.XI - 1917

The SPAD S.XI or SPAD 11 was a French two-seat biplane reconnaissance aircraft of the First World War. The SPAD 11 was the work of Louis Béchereau, chief designer of the Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD), who also designed the highly successful SPAD 7 and SPAD 13 single-seat fighter aircraft. It was developed under military specification C2, which called for a two-seat fighter aircraft. As a result of its failure to meet the levels of performance and agility demanded by the C2 specification, the SPAD 11 was used, along with the more successful Salmson 2 and Breguet 14, to replace aging Sopwith 1½ Strutter and Dorand AR reconnaissance aircraft. Persistent problems with the SPAD 11 led to its early replacement by the SPAD S.XVI or SPAD 16 variant.

SPAD Two Seat Aircraft - 1918


The Spad XVI was a two-seat version of the very successful single-seat Spad fighters of World War I, the Spad VII and the Spad XIII. The first Spad two-seat design to see front-line service was the Spad XI. The Spad XVI was an attempt to improve upon it by replacing the Spad XI's 220-horsepower Hispano-Suiza engine with a 240-horsepower Lorraine-Dietrich 8Bb. The Spad XVI appeared in January 1918. It was slightly faster than the Spad XI, but had a lower ceiling and the same poor handling qualities. It offered no overall improvement. Nevertheless, approximately 1,000 Spad XVIs were built, ultimately equipping 32 French escadrilles.

Germany - 1917 Three Pfalz D.III

Flashy Friday

My how time flys... It is another rainy Friday and I think it is time for a little color to cheer me up. Since I have already written about the Pfalz D.III on an earlier post I will skip repeating it.

I know this particular plane gets drawn often, however it was still fun to do. Voss flew many different airplanes ranging from the Albatros D.III to the Fokker Triplane in which he was killed during a legendary dogfight..

I always liked the man in the moon personal insignia on this D.III. It was fun to draw. This example was flown by two different pilots including Walther F. Kleffel.

The winged sword has become an iconic insignia. This was the personal insignia for Rudolf Berthold who also flew a Fokker D.VII.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Britain - 1917 Beardmore W.B.IV

Another Strange Design

Beardmore W.B.IV-1917
Beardmore W.B.IV-1917

There have been numerous times when design specifications set by the Admiralty led to the construction of very odd aircraft. The Beardmore W.B.IV is a good example of this statement. It is a hybrid land or carrier based fighter and flying boat which looks like it was designed by committee. It did have interesting lines and a distinctive appearance making it a good subject for drawing. I was in luck, there are line drawings and photographs available for reference.

The Beardmore W.B.IV was a British single-engine biplane ship-based fighter of World War I developed by William Beardmore and Company. Only one was built.

The W.B.IV was designed to meet Admiralty Specification N.1A for a naval land or ship based fighter aircraft. The design was dominated by the demands of safely ditching and remaining afloat, with a large permanent flotation chamber built into the fuselage under the nose. The pilot was in a watertight cockpit over the propeller shaft, with the Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine behind him over the center of gravity of the aircraft. The entire undercarriage could be released from the plane for water landings. The wing tips were fitted with additional floats, while the aircraft's two-bay wings could fold for storage on board ship.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Britain: 1914-1917 Some Early War Float Planes

Early British Float Planes

Avro 510 - 1914

Avro 510 - 1914
Avro 510 - 1914

The Avro 510 was a two-seat racing seaplane designed by Avro to compete in the 1914 Circuit of Britain Race. It was a conventional two-bay biplane of greatly uneven span equipped with two large central floats and two outriggers. The race was called off at the outbreak of the First World War, but the British Admiralty was aware of the type and ordered five examples, with modified floats and tail. In service, these proved completely unsuitable, and it was discovered that with a second person aboard the aircraft could barely fly. In October 1915, the 510s in service were sent to Supermarine for modification and improvement, but by March the following year all were removed from service.

Short Admiralty Type 166 - 1914

Short Admiralty Type 166 - 1914
Short Admiralty Type 166 - 1914

The Short Type 166 was a British two-seat seaplane designed by Short Brothers designed as a "folder" aircraft to operate from the Ark Royal as a torpedo-bomber. Six aircraft, known within Shorts as the Type A, were originally ordered before the outbreak of World War I and assigned the Admiralty serial numbers 161 to 166. As was normal at the time, the type was designated the Admiralty Type 166 after the naval serial number of the last aircraft in the batch. Sometimes the aircraft are referred to as the Short S.90 (S.90 was the manufacturer's serial number of the first aircraft, naval serial 161).

Similar to the earlier Short Type 136 but slightly larger, the 166 was designed from the start as a torpedo carrier, although it was never used in this role. The Type 166 was a two-bay biplane with twin wooden pontoon floats, with a water rudder fitted to the tail float and a stabilizing float mounted near the wing-tip under each lower wing. The 166 was powered by a nose-mounted 200hp (149kW) Salmson engine.

Sopwith Baby - 1915

Sopwith Baby - 1915
Sopwith Baby - 1915

The Sopwith Baby was a development of the two-seat Sopwith Schneider. Although the Schneider had won the Schneider trophy in 1914, the RNAS did not place a formal order until January 1915. The production version of the Baby differed little from the Schneider Trophy winner. The design was also built by Blackburn Aircraft, Fairey, and Parnall in the United Kingdom. In Italy licensed manufacture was undertaken by SA Aeronautica Gio Ansaldo of Turin.

The Baby was used as a shipborne scout and bomber aircraft operating from larger ships such as seaplane carriers and cruisers, and smaller vessels such as naval trawlers and mine layers. It was even considered for operation from submarines. The main role of the Baby was to intercept German Zeppelin raids as far from Britain as possible.

Fairey Campania - 1917

Fairey Campania - 1917
Fairey Campania - 1917

The Fairey Campania two-seat seaplane got its name from the ex-Cunard ocean liner Campania which the Admiralty had converted into a seaplane carrier during the winter of 1914-15. Fairey designed the Campania float plane in response to the Royal Navy's specification for a purpose-built, two-seat patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. The initial prototype first flew on 16 February 1917. This was the first of two prototypes, designated F.16 which was powered by a 250 hp (190 kW) Rolls-Royce Eagle IV. The second prototype was powered by a 275 hp (205 kW) Eagle V engine, it was designated F.17. Both prototypes would later see active service operating from Scapa Flow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Bombers of the Western Front - 1915

Three Visions of Bomber Design.

On the Eastern Front, Russia and Italy had a head start in the race to develop effective Bomber aircraft. On the Western Front, practical bombers did not appear until 1915. Germany, Britain and France all approached the design problem in completely different ways. In spite of the radically different design philosophies involved; all three proved to be effective in their role as a bomber aircraft.

Germany - 1915 Gotha Ursinus G.I

Gotha G.I - 1915
Gotha G.I - 1915

The Gotha G.I was a heavy bomber used by the Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) during early years of World War I.

Ursinus was conscripted into the army on 1 August 1914 and little over a week later, presented his commanding officer, Major Helmut Friedel, with the seaplane design adapted into a Kampfflugzeug ("battle aircraft") intended for ground attack duties. Apart from the aerodynamic benefits claimed by Ursinus, the aircraft's unorthodox layout provided excellent views for the three crewmen and broad fields of fire for the gunner. The design also matched the specifications that the Idflieg had issued in March that year for a "Type III" large military aircraft, and Friedel ordered the construction of a prototype.

Britain - 1915 Short Bomber

Short Bomber - 1915
Short Bomber - 1915

The Short Bomber was a British two-seat long-range reconnaissance, bombing and torpedo carrying aircraft designed by Short Brothers as a land-based development of the very successful Short Type 184 (of which more than 900 were built and many exported).

The Bomber was a three-bay biplane of wooden structure with fabric covering, originally developed from the Short 184 seaplane's fuselage combined with wings developed from those on the Short Admiralty Type 166 seaplane. The fuselage was of box section with curved upper decking mounted on the lower wing. The tailplane included a split elevator with a single fin and rudder. The undercarriage consisted of a four-wheeled assembly under the nose and a skid under the tail.

France - 1915 Caudron G.IV

Caudron G.IV - 1915
Caudron G.IV - 1915

The Caudron G.4 was a French biplane with twin engines, widely used during World War I as a bomber aircraft. It was designed by René and Gaston Caudron as an improvement over their Caudron G.3. The aircraft was no delight for the eye with its massive, open construction. The aircraft employed wing warping for banking. The first G.4 was manufactured in 1915, both in France, England and in Italy.

Following several production delays, the Caudron G.4 entered service with the French Aviation militarie in 1915 and was soon in use by the British, Russian and Italian air services. In 1916 and early 1917, the G.4 was extensively used by the Royal Flying Corps to bomb the German seaplane and Zeppelin bases in Belgium. Despite its lack of defensive armament, the twin-engine biplane quickly established a reputation as a reliable performer with a good rate of climb.

While the Caudron G.3 was a reliable reconnaissance aircraft, it could not carry a useful bomb load, and owing to its design, was difficult to fit with useful defensive armament. In order to solve these problems, the Caudron G4 was designed as a twin engined development of the G.3, first flying in March 1915. While the G.4 had a similar pod and boom layout to the G.3, it has two Le Rhône rotary or Anzani 10 radial engines mounted on struts between the wings instead of a single similar engine at the front of the crew nacelle, while wingspan was increased and the tailplane had four rudders instead of two. This allowed an observer/gunner position to be fitted in the nose of the nacelle, while the additional power allowed it to carry a bombload of 100 kg.

Assorted Flying Boats

Wings Over the Water

Naval aviation required unique solutions to the problem of launching and landing. Carrier launched aircraft were in their infancy. Most of the ships used to deploy aircraft were tenders which winched float planes and flying boats into and out of the water. Flying boats allowed aircraft to operate away from the tender and move on the water as if it was a boat.

Flying boats were some of the largest aircraft of the first half of the 20th century, dwarfed in size only by bombers developed during World War II. Their advantage lay in using water for take-offs and landings instead of expensive land-based runways. Several examples of flying boats could be transported and launched by the usage of specially designed separate wheeled carriages.

American Flying Boat - 1918

Curtiss NC - 1918
Curtiss NC - 1918

The Curtiss NC (Navy Curtiss, nicknamed "Nancy boat" or "Nancy") was a flying boat built by Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and used by the United States Navy from 1918 through the early 1920s. Ten of these aircraft were built, the most famous of which is the NC-4, the first airplane to make a transatlantic flight. The NC-4 is preserved in the National Museum of Naval Aviation, at NAS Pensacola, Florida.

Austrian Flying Boat - 1918

Hansa-Brandenburg CC - 1915
Hansa-Brandenburg CC - 1915

The first Brandenburg flying-boat was the 3-seat flying boat developed by Ernst Heinkel from a Lohner design and built in small numbers for the German and Austro-Hungarian Navies in 1915. In 1916 Heinkel produced an original design for a single-seat wooden-hulled fighter flying-boat, which he named CC after Camillo Castiglioni, financial controller of the Brandenburg company. The CC was characterized by 'starstrut' interplane bracing like that used for the D.II.

British Flying Boat - 1918

Felixstowe F.5 - 1918
Felixstowe F.5 - 1918

The Felixstowe F.5 was a British First World War flying boat designed by Lieutenant Commander John Cyril Porte RN of the Seaplane Experimental Station, Felixstowe.

The Felixstowe F5 was intended to combine the good qualities of the F2 and F3, with the prototype first flying in May 1918. The prototype showed superior qualities to its predecessors but the production version was modified to make extensive use of components from the F.3, in order to ease production, giving lower performance than either the F.2a or F.3.

German Flying Boat - 1918

Hansa-Brandenburg W.20 - 1918
Hansa-Brandenburg W.20 - 1918

The Hansa-Brandenburg W.20 was a German submarine-launched reconnaissance flying boat of the World War I era, Ernst Heinkel designed and Hansa-Brandenburg began construction sometime late 1917, early 1918.Only three W.20s were built.

Due to the need to be stored in a water tight container which could be mounted on the deck of a submarine the W.20 was a small single-seat biplane flying boat that was designed to be assembled and dismantled quickly. It had a slender hull on which was mounted a biplane wing and a conventional braced tailplane.

Italian Flying Boat - 1917

Macchi M.5 - 1917
Macchi M.5 - 1917

The Macchi M.5 was an Italian single-seat fighter flying boat designed and built by Macchi-Nieuport at Varese. It was extremely manoeuvrable and agile and matched the land-based aircraft it had to fight.

The production aircraft was designated the M.5 and like the prototypes were powered by a single Isotta-Fraschini V.4B engine in pusher configuration. Deliveries soon commenced in the summer of 1917 to the Aviazone per la Regia Marina (Italian Navy Aviation). Late production aircraft had a more powerful Isotta-Fraschini V.6 engine and redesigned wingtip floats, they were designated M.5 mod. Macchi produced 200 aircraft and another 44 were built by Societa Aeronautica Italiana.

Russian Flying Boat - 1915

Grigorovich M-5 - 1915
Grigorovich M-5 - 1915

Grigorovich M-5 (alternative designation Shch M-5, sometimes also Shchetinin M-5) was a successful Russian World War I-era two-bay unequal-span biplane flying boat with a single step hull, designed by Grigorovich. It was the first mass production flying boat built in Russia.

The aircraft designer Dmitry Pavlovich Grigorovich completed his first flying boat (the model M-1) in late 1913, and produced a series of prototypes, gradually improving the design, until the M-5 appeared in the spring of 1915, which was to be his first aircraft to enter series production, with at least 100 being produced, primarily to replace foreign built aircraft, including Curtiss Model K and FBA flying boats.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Italy 1914-1918 Caproni Bombers

Gianni Caproni's Heavy Hitters

The Italian designer Gianni Caproni produced arguably the most influential bombers of the war. They were the standard others were measured by. They were powerful, versatile, reliable and structurally tough.

Italian Heavy Bomber Development

Italian Bombers - 1918

Caproni Ca.3 - 1914
Caproni Ca.3 - 1914

The Caproni three-engined Italian heavy bomber of World War and the post-war era. The Caproni Ca.3 was the definitive version of the series of aircraft that began with the Caproni Ca.1 in 1914. The production version, equipped with three 100 hp fixed in-line Fiat A 10 engines entered service in the summer of 1915, and it was the most effective bomber of any air force, except for the Russian Sikorsky.Ilya Mourometz.

Italian Bombers - 1918

Caproni Ca.4 - 1918
Caproni Ca.4 - 1918

Caproni Ca.4 Series was patterned along the lines of the Caproni Ca.3 series of biplane bombers, the larger triplanes of the Ca.4 series were designed to be more effective in combat. Sometimes armed with up to eight machine guns, these cumbersome bombers were capable of accurately delivering large payloads of bombs to distant enemy targets. Although mainly used at night, they took part in daylight raids towards the end of the war. Of thirty-two Ca.42s manufactured in 1918, six of them were used by the Royal Naval Air Service.

The Caproni Ca.5 was an Italian heavy bomber of the World War I and post-war era. It was the final version of the series of aircraft that began with the Caproni Ca.1 in 1914.

By late in World War I, developments in aircraft technology made older bomber designs unable to penetrate targets defended by modern fighters. Caproni's response to this problem was to significantly uprate the power on the existing Ca.3 design, with some versions of the Ca.5 eventually carrying engines with nearly five times the total power that the first Ca.1 had.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

France - 1916 Nieuport 17

A Nimble Answer to the Albatros Threat

Nieuport 17 1916
French Nieuport 17 1916

Most examples of Charles Nungesser show his silver Ni-17 serial number N1895. There are several of another Nieuport-17 which he had piloted serial number N1490. The plane is depicted in a brown and green camouflage pattern and cone de penetration mounted forward of the prop.

British Nieuport 17 - 1916
British Nieuport 17 - 1916

The British also flew the Nieuport-17. This example is painted in standard British colors. This plane also sports a red cone de penetration mounted forward of the prop. This was not used on many Nieuports.

Estonian Nieuport 17 - DUK - 1917
Estonian Nieuport 17 - DUK - 1917

The Estonian Air Force used this Russian Nieuport 17 which was built by DUKS.

Many of the French and British aces began their careers flying the Nieuport 17. The highly maneuverable "Superbébé" was a larger, improved version of the Nieuport 11. Like its predecessor, it was initially equipped with a Lewis gun but was upgraded to a synchronized Vickers machine gun. Helping end Germany's domination of the air war, the Nieuport 17 easily out-climbed and outperformed the Fokker E.III. The superior design was so successful that German high command ordered it copied.

Britain - 1916 AD-1 Seaplane

First off, Let me say this:

I received a comment the other day from Roger Moss pointing out I had rode the sleep deprivation train off the track and I had posted rubbish. And I quote:

The AD.1 (aka Navyplane) and the AD Seaplane Type 1000 were VERY different beasts. The description is that of the Type 1000, being a 5 seat, 3 engined torpedo carrying floatplane built in 1915.. The illustration is that of the AD.1, a 2 seat, 1 engine pusher biplane floatplane, the prototype of which was built in 1916 and was designed by Harold Bolas after Booth left the Admiralty. See British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)

Yes you are correct sir. Thanks for pointing that out and keeping me honest. I should have slept first, reread my post and fixed it at the time of posting. It is much preferable to wiping the egg off my face. Instead of leaving a post filled with struck out old text I chose to rewrite it in hopefully more accurate manner.

The First Attempt to Build a Ship Killer-Take Two

Air Department A.D.I Navyplane 1916
Air Department A.D.I Navyplane 1916

This was a fun profile to do. I liked the looks of the AD1 and its place in the evolution of technology and naval tactics. The development of an airborne ship killer began here.

A Brief Overview of the Air Department A.D.I Navyplane

The AD.1 was designed as a reconnaissance/bombing seaplane by Harris Booth of the Admiralty's Air Department early in 1916. Although officially designated the A.D.I, it was generally referred to as the Navyplane. The initial A.D.I design was presented to the Supermarine Aviation Works at Woolston, Southampton, for the detail design to be completed and construction of a prototype. Bolas worked in close collaboration with
Reginald Mitchell to finish the manufacturing drawings needed to construct the prototype, No 9095. The prototype was completed and flown for the first time by Cdr. John Seddon in August of 1916.

The A.D.I was a compact two-bay biplane whose two-man crew was accommodated in a finely-contoured lightweight monocoque nacelle located in the wing gap, the experimental air-cooled 150hp Smith Static radial engine driving a four-blade pusher propeller. Twin pontoon-type floats were braced to the nacelle and to the lower wings immediately below the inboard interplane struts. Twin fins and rudders were carried between two pairs of steel tubular tail booms, and the tailplane was mounted above the vertical surfaces. Twin tail floats, each with a water rudder, were attached beneath the lower pair of tail booms. The pilot occupied the rear cockpit, with the observer in the bow position. Two 100 lb bombs were to be carried under the center section of the lower wing.

The tests revealed several design flaws. It was found that the recoilless Davis 12-pounder gun (approximately 76 mm caliber) would project a blast rearwards so the weapon was changed for a conventional 12-pounder "Naval Landing Gun" though in practice a gun was never installed in the AD.1. The performance of the A.D.I fell short of the Admiralty's expectations, and the remaining six aircraft originally ordered were never built.


  1. British Bomber Since 1914, Francis K. Mason (Putnam 1994)
  2. The Air Department of the Admiralty - Roger Moss Retrieved September 30 2012, 06:20 from
  3. Air Department A.D.1 Navyplane 1916 Virtual Aircraft Museum Retrieved Feb 19, 03:00 from
  4. Air Department A.D.1 Navyplane (England) (1916) Retrieved August 36, 2010 09:40 from

Britain - 1916 RAF R.E.8

The Virtues of Simplicity

RAF RE.8 - 1916
RAF RE.8 - 1916

Today's post is not flashy. Sometimes it is a good thing it makes you focus on details and form that make a particular aircraft distinctive. The R.E.8. has a swayback look and large air intake that is easy to remember.

During World War I, the R.E.8 was the most widely used British two-seat biplane on the Western Front. A descendant of the R.E.7, it was initially developed for reconnaissance work but also saw service as a bomber and ground attack aircraft. Nicknamed "Harry Tate," it provided a stable platform for photographic missions but suffered from poor maneuverability, leaving it vulnerable to attack by enemy fighters.

The Royal Aircraft Factory Reconnaissance Experimental 8 (R.E.8) was a lumbering British two-seat biplane reconnaissance and bomber aircraft of the First World War. Intended as a replacement for the vulnerable B.E.2, the R.E.8 was much more difficult to fly, and was regarded with great suspicion at first in the Royal Flying Corps.


  1. From Wikipedia Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8, ""
  2. Bruce, J.M. "The R.E.8: Historic Military Aircraft: No. 8". Flight. 15 October 1954, pp. 575-581.
  3. Cheesman, E.F. (ed.) "Reconnaissance & Bomber Aircraft of the 1914-1918 War. Letchworth, UK: Harleyford, 1962.
  4. Gerdessen, F. "Estonian Air Power 1918-1945". Air Enthusiast No 18, April -July 1982, pp. 61-76. ISSN 0143-5450.
  5. Mason, Francis K. "The British Bomber since 1914". London:Putnam, 1994. ISBN 0-85177-861-5.
  6. Munson, Kenneth. "Bombers, Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft 1914-1919". London: Blandford, 1968. ISBN 0-71370-484-5.
  7. Taylor, John W.R. "Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8." Combat Aircraft of the World from 1909 to the present. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1969. ISBN 0-425-03633-2.