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1

Henson’s aerial steam carriage

In the mid-1 800s the belief  in flight without the assistance of a balloon was dismissed as completely mad. So when Somerset lace manufacturer William Samuel Henson floated a bold scheme to found the world’s first intercontinental airline in 1843, he faced considerable  ridicule. Formed with his friend John Stringfellow, the Aerial Transit Company was intended “for conveying letters, goods and passengers from place […]

2

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 […]

3

Handley Page H.P.42

If any aeroplane Could be described as a stately galleon of the airways, it was Handle Page’s H.P.42.This extraordinary biplane was the first four-engine airliner in the world to go into regular passenger service. First Flown in 1931, it was used exclusively by Britain’s Imperial Airwais. The 38-passenger H.P. 42W (Western) version operated to Europe from Croydon Airport in Surrey, while the 24-passenger H.P.42E (Eastern) model […]

4

Maxim Multiplane

In the 1890s English-domiciled American millionaire Hiram Maxim was in the forefront of inventors convinced that the key to flighl was engine power. He spent £20,000 a substantial part of the fortune he had made out of the Maxim machine-gan-buildings a massive 8,000lb aircraft. With its welded steel – tube airefraime and biplane wings spanning over 100ft, this behemoth was powered […]

5

Consolidated B-24 Liberator

More Consulidated B-24 Liberator bombers were built during World War II than any other American aircraft. The Liberator’s most striking feature was a high-mounted, high-speed wing that reduced drag and contributed to the aircraft’s exceptional range. Also,  the two-section bomb bay in its fuselage accommodated an 8000lb bombload – double that of a B-17. The Liberator was used for reconnaissance, transport, and maritime […]

6

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 […]

7

Handley Page V/1500

The V/1500 was Britain’s first four-engine strategic bomber. It was built in response to an Air Ministry request for a long-range aircraft to “seriously worry Germany in centres where she felt herself perfectly safe from aerial attack”. The aircraft was specifically designed to be capable of bombing Berlin from bases in East Anglia. Hundley page responded with the largest British aeroplane produced during […]

8

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka

Used as “aerial artillery to support fast-moving armoured columns, the Ju 87 “Stuka” dive-bomber played a memorable part in Germany’s Blitzkrieg offensives of 1939-40. The two-seat, all-metal aircraft with its distinctive “inverted-gull” wing and fixed undercarriage first made its appearance in 1935. A handful of first-production Ju 87 As were given a trial run during the Spanish Civil War, but it was […]

9

Sopwith Pup

Awell-proportioned single-seater with delightful handling qualities, the Sopwith Pup was a “pilot’s aeroplane”, loved and remembered with fondness by all who flew it. Formally called the Sopwith Scout by the Royal Flying Corps and t he Type 9901 by the Royal Naval Air Service, the Pup acquired its familiar name because it gave the appearance of being a diminutive offspring of Sopwith’s larger […]

10

Caproni Ca.90

The Italian grandissimo six-engine Ca.90 bomber, first flown in 1929, was almost certainly the largest biplane ever built. Designed to carry a 33.000lb bombload and armed with six machine-gun positions for defence against attacking aircraft, the Ca.90 was the closet anyone came to producing the “aerial battleship” envisioned by the controversial Italian military aviation strategist Giulio Douhet. He had imagined bomber fleets attacking […]