Entries by Cayley

Ader avion III

Whenever a sceptic wants to cast doubt on the Wright brothers’ claim to be “firsl to fly”. he is likely to cite the experiments of French engineer Clément Ader. Where most aviation pioneers studied the flight of birds, Ader perversely, modelled his flying machines on bats. His weirdly gothic steam-powered monoplanes were sufficiently impressive to attract financial hacking from the French army, but whether they […]

Short 184

The Short 184 was one of Ihe major seaplane types of World War I. It was designed in response to a British Admiralty specification, issued in September 1914, for a torpedo-carrying seaplane with a 225-hp Sunbeam engine. The resulting aircraft, produced by the Short Brothers’ company, was designated Admiralty Type 184. after the serial number allocated to the first prototype. From the spring […]

Mignet HM.14 Flying Flea

Frenchman Henri Mignet wanted everyone to have the chance to own and fly an aeroplane. Mignet claimed that anyone who could assemble a packing case could build his diminutive HM.14 Pou du Ciel – affectionately known as the “Sky Louse” or “Flying Flea” – and teach himself to fly it. For a time Flea fever raged, as hundreds of amateurs started building […]

Junkers J.4

In 1917-18 the German Army’s “stormfliers” were a potent element in warfare in the Western Front. These death-defying aircrews flew in close support of infantry, descending low over the trenches during heavy ground-fighting to attack enemy troops with strafing, fragmentation bombs, and grenades. The armoured, all-metal Junkers biplane was their favourite mount; although heavy and cumbersome, it could carry them unscathed through a […]

Albatros D.V

Entering service in May 1917, the Alhatros D.V was Germany’s answer to the British S.E.5 and French SPAD fighters, which were dominating the air war on the Western Front. Broadly similar to its forebear, The Albatros D.III, the D.V had an elegantly streamlined monocoque fuselage with a cowled Mercedes water-cooled engine and a large spinner over the propeller boss. It was an […]

Boeing 707

The Boeing 707 was the aircraft that ushered in the age of mass air travel. The first US commercial jet, it could carry many more passengers than the largest propeller-driven airliners while halving long-distance journey times. Pan Am boss JuanTrippe said of the introduction of the 707: “In one fell swoop we have shrunken the earth.” Boeing spread the […]

Fokker E. III

Germany’s Fokker monoplanes dominated the skies over the Western Front from July 1915 to early 1916. The key to their success was a synchronisation mechanism that allowed the pilot to fire a machine gun trought he propeller arc. The first “point-and-shoot” aeroplane was French – a Morane monoplane with crude bullet deflectors on its propeller blades. It was only after examining a […]

De Havilland Comet

The D.H.106 Comet was the world’s first jet airliner,offering for a brief and glorioui moment – the fastest, most stylish passenger travel on the planet. Designed to appeal to a select clientele, it carried just passengers. The first jet passenger services, from London to Johannesburg and Colombo, were inaugurated by Comet 1s of BOAC in 1952. The heavier and longer-range Comet 1A followed, […]

Pemberton-Billing P.B.31E Nighthawk

The extraordinary four-winged P.B.31E Nighthawk proved a spectacularly futile attempt to contribute to Britain’s defence against night -time raids by German airships. The idea of a night-flying quadruplane Zeppelin-hunter was the brainchild of the eccentric British avintiou pioneer Noe Pemberton Billing. It was first embodied in  the short-lived P.B.29E, which appeared in early 1916. Powered by two 90-hp Austro-Daimler engines, it had […]