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1

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 […]

2

Rumpler Taube

Bird-like Taube (“dove”) monoplanes proliferated in Germany and Austria before 1914, meeting military demand for a stable two-seater reconnaissance machine. The distinctive design was the work of Austrian engineer Dr Igo Etrich. From his first glider in 1904. Etrich evolved the unique avian silhouette with its striking sweptback wingtips. Curiously, the wing shape was modelled not on birds but on the winged seed of […]

3

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 […]

4

Sikorsky Bolshoi (“Grand”)

In 1912 Igor Sikorsky, chief engineer at the Russo-Baltic Wagon Works in St Petersburg embarked on the design and construction of the world’s first four-engined aircraft. A huge machine by the standards of the time, it was appropriately named the “Bolshoi” (“Grand”) – although sceptics, convinced that it could never fly, dubbed it the “Petersburg Duck”. Sikorsky proved them wrong on 10 […]

5

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 […]

6

Ryan NYP

In 1927 airmail pilot Charles Lindbergh decided to compete for a $25.000 prize offered for the first person to fly non-stop between New York and Paris. Ryan Airlines of San Diego, California, agreed to build him an aeroplane in 60 days for $6.000 ($10,580 with the engine included). The New-York-to-Paris (NYP) aircraft was based on Ryan’s M.2 high-wing monoplane, but was specially adapted to accommodate greatly […]

7

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 […]

8

Radley-England Water Plane

Designed and built in Britain by James Rladley and Eric Gordon England, the Waterplane was the world’s first tri-motor aeroplane. Its three 50-hp rotary engines were mounted between the wings. each engine had its own controls and an independent chain drive linking it to the propeller shaft above. Together the engines drove a large fourbladed pusher propeller. The aircraft was sizeable […]

9

Avro 504

Safe and easy to handle, the modest but much-loved Avro 504 was the machine in which many housands of pilots learned to fly in the wire-and-fabric era. Developed from the smaller Avro 500, the 504 was a pleasantly proportioned two-seat biplane, initially with a square cowling around its 80-hp engine. It had a distinctive comma-shaped rudder and an ingeniously simple undercarriage with a long […]

10

Cody British army aeroplane No. I

The first powered aeroplane to fly in Britain was the brainchild of an expatriate American, S. F. “Cody”. Born in Iowa as Samuel Franklin Coudery, he had renamed himself after his gun-slinging hero, “BuffaloBill” Cody. A flamboyant personality. Cowdery/Cody ran a Wild West show before moving to Britain in 2896 and developing an interest in flight. He was employed by the British […]