Saturday, April 16, 2011

Monoplanes of the Early War

Monoplanes of the early were primitive compared to the designs of the middle period of World War One. They were fragile and underpowered. Maneuverability of these early aircraft was sluggish to say the least. Control was achieved through the use of wing-warping rather than ailerons.

Monoplanes of 1914

Blériot XI - 1914
Blériot XI - 1914

At the outbreak of war,the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC) brought twenty-three Blériot XI's with them into France along with its expeditionary force; they served as reconnaissance aircraft with six RFC squadrons. The French Service de l'Aviation also furnished Bleriots to eight of their escadrilles, and Italy went into action with their own previously acquired Blériot XI's in six squadrons.

A "parasol" monoplane, the Morane Type L was a fragile one or two-seat reconnaissance aircraft. It was the first aircraft armed with a fixed machine gun that fired through the propeller arc. Bullets which struck the propeller were deflected by steel plates. Armed with a Hotchkiss machine gun firing 8 mm solid copper bullets, Roland Garros tested the design in April 1915. He scored three victories in three weeks before the plane was captured by the Germans.

The Pfalz A.I and A.II unarmed scouts were copies of the Morane-Saulnier L produced under license in Germany by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke early in the First World War.

The Pfalz E.I was a sport aircraft produced under licence in Germany by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke, who built several variants including: the E.I, E.II, E.IV, E.V, and E.VI. The aircraft was armed with a single, synchronized LMG 08/15 machine gun. A single-seat derivative of the successful Morane-Saulnier G with a slightly reduced wingspan. Like the Type G, it was a successful sporting type in its day.

Monoplanes of 1915

Morane Saulnier N - 1915
Morane Saulnier N - 1915

Due to the shape of its nose, the Morane-Saulnier Type N was aptly nicknamed the “Bullet”. Built in small numbers, it was the first French aircraft specifically developed as a fighter. Armed with a fixed, forward firing machine gun, its propeller was protected by the metal deflector plates pioneered by Roland Garros on the Morane-Saulnier Type L. Although it was faster and more maneuverable than previous aircraft, the Bullet was extremely difficult to fly and unpopular with pilots.

Max Immelmann scored his first victory flying the “Eindecker.” Scourge of the air during the winter of 1915, the Fokker E.I was the first aircraft armed with a synchronized, forward firing machine gun. German pilots were ordered not to fly it across enemy lines for fear the Allies would capture the secrets of the synchronizing gear. Followed by the E.II, E.III and E.IV, the Eindecker was underpowered and slow but could out turn most of its opponents. Allied aviators who faced it called themselves “Fokker Fodder” The Eindecker ruled the skies until the Nieuports and SPADs were developed.


Greg said...

German Taube deserves mention. I believe it was the first aircraft to successfully be utilized as a bomber.

Unknown said...

I agree Greg. I do plan on posting about them. It is a matter of having completed profiles for illustration.

Taube describes a design concept where there are many different manufacturers producing competing designs. I want to deal with them as a separate topic. I also need to work up the drawings to bring them to life.

It's on my to-do list.

Please forgive the omission.