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Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane

Although never mainstream, the notion of making an aeroplane with a circular wing has merit and has intermittently attracted serious flight innovators. British experimenters, Cedric Lee and George Tilghman Richards, designed their first powered annular-winged aeroplane in 1913. The aircraft was built amid great secrecy at Shoreham Aerodrome in Sussex, by Gordon England. Based on two concentric steel-tube hoops, the wing was braced to […]

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Chanute biplane glider

In the summer of 1896 French-born  American Octave Chanute, a wealthy railroad engineer who had published a history of flight experiments, camped out on the windswept shore of Lake Michigan, determined to turn his theory into practice. In his mid-60s, Chanute was too old to fly himself, but he was accompanied by young engineer August Moore Herring, who served as his assistant […]

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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, […]

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Focke-Wulf Fw 190

Designed by Kurt Tank, the Fw 190 is considered Germany’s best single-seat fighter of World War II. When the first production model, the Fw 109A-1, entered Luftwaffe service in mid-1941, it took Allied intelligence completely by surprise because its air-cooled BMW radial engine gave il the appearance of an American fighter rather than a German one. Disturbingly for the RAF, the Fw […]

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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 […]

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Vickers Gunbus

While it did not remotely resemble the modern idea of a fighter aircraft, the Vickers F.B.5 Gunbus(F.B. stood lor Fighting Biplane) was nevertheless one of the first machines to be purpose-built for air-to-air combat. Initially ordered by the British Admiralty, the biplane eventually served with both the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. Viekcrs needed to find a way of […]

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Tarrant Tabor

The enormousTabor biplane was the first and last aeroplane made by W.G. Tarrant of Byfleet, Surrey, whose normal business was building houses. Designed by Walter Barling, it was intended for British bombing raids on Berlin but it was still under construction by the time World War I ended. The aircraft’s name, meaning a type of small drum, probably alluded to […]

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Voisin Biplane

French brothers Gabriel and Charles Voisin were Europe’s flrst commercial aeroplane manufacturers, making aircraft for customers as early as 1906. By 1909 the typical aircraft emerging from their Paris factory was a large pusher biplane based on the principle of the box-kite, as developed by Australian Lawrence Hargrave. Voisin biplanes had an elevator mounted on the front of the fabric-covered nacelle that housed the […]

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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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Dunne Tailless Aeroplane

In the early years of the 20th century British army officer Lieutenant John William Dunne developed a theoretical interest in aircraft stability, which led him to design the first practical tailless aeroplane. His machines achieved stability through the shaping of their wings. These were sharply swept hack and incorporated “washout” a change, from root to tip. of the angle at which the wings […]