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1

Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI

The Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI was the most successful of the German Riesenflugzeuge (“giant aeroplanes”). This extraordinary heavy bomber certainly justified its name; its wingspan was vast for its day and it had an impressive maximum bombload of 4,400lb. There was nothing rovnlutionary about the aircraft’s structure, however like most of its humblersized contemporaries, it was made largely of wood and fabric. The engines […]

2

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 […]

3

Fabre Hydravion

Looking at aeroplanes from the pioneering era of flight, it sometimes seems almost incredible that such machines actually flew. The freakish Hydravion is certainly a case in point. Yet this odd-looking aircrafl enjoys the distinction of being; the first seaplane to make a successful flight – and it did so with a pilot who had never flown before. Frenchman Henri Fabre, […]

4

Avro Lancaster

When i he first Lancasters appeared at RAF Bomber Command bases in the spring of 1942, they were greeted with relief and enthusiasm by aircrews. Here at last was an aircraft truly fitted for the role of night-time heavy bomber. Designed by Roy Chadwick and powered by four Merlin engines, the Lancaster could carry a standard bombload more than double that of the Boeing B-17. […]

5

Santos-Dumont Demoiselle

Alberto Santos Dumont’s delicate Demoiselle (“damselfly”) monoplane was the true ancestor of all ultralights. A Brazilian-born Parisian dandy, Santos-Dumont was renowned for airship flights before he turned to creating heavier-than-air machines in 1905. His public demonstration flights in his first powered aircraft during October 1906 – the first in Europe caused a sensation. But this was a clumsy box-kite biplane that, at best, managed […]

6

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 […]

7

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 […]

8

Northrop YB-49

Throughout his career, imaginative American designer Jack Northrop believed that the ultimate in aircraft development would be a “flying wing”, with neither fuselage nor tail. DuringWorldWar II his company developed the massive XB-35 all-wing piston-engined bomber, but by the lime it flew in 1946 the jet era had arrived. Northrop then built two jet – powered versions of the bomber, designated YB- […]

9

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 […]

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 […]