Antoinette Monobloc

French aviation pioneers often favoured elegance and ingenuity over plain practicality. The Société Antoinette produced a series of aesthetically satisfying, technically advanced monoplanes designed by engineer and former artist Léon Levavasseur. Sadly, they did not  always fulfil their promise.
The Antoinette IV, the company’s first monoplane, famously failed to cross the Channel in July 1909, ditching instead in the sea. It was the pilot on that occasion, wealthy biggame hunter Hubert Latham, who laid down the specification for the Antoinette Monobloe three-seater, shown here. In 1911 it was entered into t the Concours Militaire. an Army competition to evaluate potential military aeroplanes.
Streamlined to maximize performance, the wooden wing was
braced internally: the warp control wires, used for lateral control, were also run inside the wing. Long “petticoats” enclosed the main wheels, and the crew compartment was covered by a transparent fairing, so that occupants entered via a door under the fuselage. Alas, for all its streamlined ingenuity, the Monobloc proved underpowered for its weight, and was ultimately a non-flyer.

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