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Curtiss Reims Racer

In August 1909 most of the adventurous pioneers then flying aeroplanes gathered at Reims in  France for the world’s first air show. The sole American present was Glenn Curtiss. His Reims Racer, the second aeroplane he had built  was a small,  light pusher biplane built for speed. Its pilot sat over the leading edge of the lower wing, using a wheellopped […]

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Curtiss CR-3

Cheated for the 1923 Schneider Trophy contest, the Curtiss CR-3 proved itself the fastest seaplane racer of its day. In the early 1920s American Glenn Curtiss had developed sleek landplane racers, powered by his outstanding CD-12 in-line engine. The US Navy converted two of these beauties into floatplanes, which were entered as CR-3s for the Schneider race, held that year in England, […]

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Curtiss JN-4

The Curtiss JN-4 “Jenny” was the first aircraft to be massproduced in the United States, and was described as an aerial equivalent of the Model T Ford – cheap, reliable, and ubiquitous. A two-seat primary trainer, it evolved from the Type J, designed for the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Corporation by British engineer B.D.Thomas in 1914. The Curtiss Type J was melded with the Type […]

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Farman III Biplane

The slow but dependable Farma III was the classic pre-World War I biplane,sold around the world. Its creator, Henry (or Henri) Farman, was of English parentage but lived all his life in France. He began his aviation career flying a Voisin hox-kite biplane. After modifying this machine extensively, including fitting ailerons, he used it to make the world’s first true crosscountry flight, […]

5

Deperdussin Seaplane Racer

Founded in 1910, French businessman Armand Deperdussin’s company was famed for its racing monoplanes, which were then the fastest aeroplanes in the world. The key to their success was the use of the monococque (“single shell”) method for buildingu light yet strong fuselage. Originally devised by Swedish engineer Ruchonnet, the technique was adopted by Deperdussin’s designer, Louis Béchereau, in 1911. Layers of  plywood […]

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Sopwith Tabloid

First built in 1913 when all speed records were held by monoplanes, the Sopwith Aviation Company’s triumphant Tabloid racer proved that a biplane could be first as well as robust. Originally a two-seat landplane powered by an 80-hp Gnome engine, the Tabloid’s performance proved so promising that Tom Sopwith decided to enter it for the 1914 Schneider Trophy seaplane race. However, the necessary […]

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Felixstowe F.2A

The Felixstowe F.2A was a first-rate flying boat that gave sterling service to Britain’s Royal Naval Air Service on anti-submarine and maritime patrol missions. It derived from the Curtiss H2 “Large America” flying boats supplied to the Royal Navy in early 1917. These American aeroplanes were excellent flyers, but the hull was structurally weak. Squadron Commander John Porte of the Royal Naval Air […]

8

Gee Bee Super Sportster

The ultimate 1930s American racing aircraft, the extraordinary Gee Bee R-1 and R-2 Super Sportsters were essentially engines with wings, offering a perilous but adrenaline-pumping ride to any pilot plucky enough to fly them. Created by the Granville Brothers (hence Gee Bee) of Springfield, Massachusetts, the racers had rotund fuselages and massive Pratt & Whitney Wasp air-cooled radial engines. The cockpit was set far […]

9

Macchi MC.72

Designed by Mario Castoldi, the MC.72 was the fastest piston-driven seaplane ever built, although it endured many setbacks before proving itself a world-beater. Macchi built this lean and deadly racer as Italy’s entry for the 1931 Schneider Trophy contest. It was powered by a supercharged Fiat AS.6 engine, comprising two lightweight 12-cylinder Fiat AS.5s combined in tandem on a common […]

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De Havilland D.H.88 Comet Racer

The D.H.88 Comet was a long-range racing aircraft designed specifically to win the 1934 MacRobertson race for Britain.This was the longest air race ever staged, requiring aircraft to fly 111,300 miles from Mildenhall, England, to Melbourne, Australia. De Havilland built three Comets for the race; the first made its initial test flight only six weeks before the event. The aircraft […]