aeroplane: how it has developed

aeroplane: how it has developed defined in 1939 year

aeroplane: how it has developed - Aeroplane: how it has developed;
aeroplane: how it has developed - This article tells in detail the story of the origin of heavier-than-air machines in 1903 and their development in size, stability, and power through half a century of peace and war.

The word "aeroplane" was not standardised immediately the motor-propelled heavier-than-air flying machine was produced. Wilbur and Orville Wright, the brothers who first flew a power-driven aeroplane, called their machine a "flyer." Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, in an address given before the Washington Academy of Sciences on Dec. 13, 1906, used the then alternative name "aerodrome." which had been adopted by Professor- S. P. Langley, the secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, U.S.A. But subsequently, "aeroplane" denoted the machine, and "aerodrome" the prepared surface area used by aircraft for starting and alighting. The Americans shortened the word aeroplane to airplane; aerodrome, they usually call airfield (or even field); the R.A.F. calls military aerodromes air stations; commercial transport aerodromes are frequently called airports. But the noun aeroplane/airplane is a standard word meaning a heavier-than-air flying machine with fixed wings, usually to be found with all the prerequisites for starting, maintaining flight, and alighting contained within its own structure. Italians use almost the same word "aeroplane." French and Spanish speaking peoples use the word avion. Germans call the aeroplane Flugzeug.

The Wright "flyer" of 1903 was the first successful aeroplane (for a description of this aeroplane and its power unit, see Aero-Engines). Their use of three axis air controls assured the Wrights' success, for these enabled them to balance their unstable craft; all other experimenters had attempted to fly with not more than two axis controls, frequently a disastrous experiment with unstable aeroplanes. In 1904 the Wrights made 105 landings, some resulting in breakages. In Sept. of that year in a new machine they made their first curved flights. They then made circular flights, the two longest of nearly three miles in five minutes; in these flights they carried iron bars as ballast, first of 50 lb, and then of 70 lb. weight.

In 1905, in their third aeroplane, they made 49 flights; seven ended in breakages. By Sept. they could make 10-mile flights, succeeded by flights of 11, 12, 15, 21, and 24 miles. Then, to keep their secrets, they ceased to fly, dismantled the aeroplane, and in 1906 made no flights, while they negotiated with possible purchasers. While the Wrights were power flying, Captain F. Ferber was experimenting in France with gliders, and in 1904 gave a lecture in Lyons on his work. Gabriel Voisin came on the platform, dedicated his life to aviation, and next day left for Paris, where he founded the first aeroplane factory in France. Their earliest experiments were conducted with man-carrying box kites towed on the Seine by fast motor-boats. Bleriot began his experiments with the Voisin brothers; he was also an enthusiastic pioneer cinematographer, and his cinematograph records of those early experiments are the best pictorial record of that period. The Voisins made biplanes. Bleriot broke away from them and began to make monoplanes in 1908.

Meanwhile Ferber met Levavasseur, the inventor of the Antoinette, a light V8-cylinder engine named after the daughter of M. Gastambide, who supplied Levavasseur with funds for his experiments. Ferber joined the Antoinette company in 1906 and by 1908 was flying in an aeroplane of his own design; he was killed in Sept., 1909, when landing on rough ground near Boulogne.

In 1908 Wilbur Wright visited France alone, while Orville demonstrated their invention in America. The Wright machine had two control sticks. The left-hand stick moved fore and aft to work the elevator. The right-hand stick moved fore and aft to work the rudder and sideways to the wings. The Wrights had to use both hands to fly. The French quickly seized the principle of the three air controls, and Robert Esnault-Pelterie invented the control method which became standard; he used one central stick which controlled the elevator when moved fore and aft and the wings when moved sideways, and operated the rudder with his feet. This control was more natural and it left one hand free for control of the engine. B-eriot is believed to have been first to suggest the use of ailerons instead of warping flexible wing-tips.

The French also broke away from the Wright design. Some French designers placed both elevator and rudder controls at the tail, although in those days there were always a dozen different general arrangements of wings, stabilising surfaces, and air controls to be seen whenever a flying Sneering was held.

British Pioneers

Although the U.S.A. and France then led the world in aeroplane construction, experimenters were at work elsewhere. Among the earliest designers and constructors in Great Britain after Pilcher and Maxim were Weiss, A. V. Roe, the Short brothers, Dunne, S. F. Cody, T. Howard Wright, and Howard Flanders. After Lilienthal, Schelies had been at work in Germany, Ellehammer in Denmark, and Fokker in Holland, and in Amerisa Curtiss had become prominent. In 1908 T. Howard Wright opened the first aeroplane factory in Great Britain under the railway arches in Battersea, London.

A. V. Roe claimed a flight of 60 yds. at a height of two ft. on June 8, 1908, in a biplane of his own construction fitted with an Antoinette engine, but the first officially observed flight in Britain was made by J. T. C. Moore-Brabazou (Lord Brabazon of Tara) on Feb. 27, 1909, in a Voisin biplane at the Isle of Sheppey. On Dec. 18, 1910, T.O.M. Sopwith flew 169 miles from East-church to Tirlemont (Belgium) in a Howard Wright biplane with a 60 h.p. E.N.V. engine and won the Baron de Forest £4,000 prize. This aircraft was all-British.

In Jan., 1909, the French Aero Club issued its first list of pilots' certificates with eight names. These were Delagrange (who made a straight flight of 60 yds. in an aeroplane of his own design in the spring of 1907), Dumont, Esnault-Pelterie, Farman, Wilbur and Orville Wright, Ferber, and Bleriot. The first eight British pilots certificated by the Royal Aero Club—J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon, Hon. C. S. Rolls, Alfred Rawlinson, Cecil S. Grace, G. B. Cockburu, C. Grahame-White, Alec Ogilvie, A. Mortimer Singer— were better known for their skill as pilots than for any renown as designers. In 1910 G. de Havillaud (later Sir Geoffrey) built his first aeroplane, and crashed it on his first attempt to fly it, fortunately without injury to himself.

Early war machines

In 1909 Mr. Haldane, then secretary for War, instituted the advisory committee for aeronautics, composed of army, navy, and scientific members, and a department was opened at the National Physical Laboratory to investigate aviation problems. It worked closely with the Balloon 'Factory, later the Royal Aircraft Factory, and still later the Royal Aircraft Establishment. In this factory under Mr. (later Lt.-Col.) Mervyn O'Gorman as superintendent, a brilliant team worked, which included de Havilland, Polland, Busk, and Irving. Here were designed the Factory series of army aeroplanes, the B.E., F.E., R.E., and S.E., which were widely used in the First Great War. The B.E. aeroplanes were designed to be, and were, extremely stable; some alleged they were too stable for war aeroplanes. All were biplanes, for a series of accidents with monoplanes in the Royal Flying Corps in 1912 led to a War Office ban on monoplanes.

The First Great War was largely fought in the air with biplanes. But there were certain notable exceptions. The Germans used the Etrich and Fokker monoplanes, and the Fokker triplane. The British used the French Bleriot and Morane monoplanes, and the Sopwith triplane. The biplane continued to hold first place during the decade succeeding the First Great War: exceptions were the German Junkers, Dornier, and Messer-schmitt transport aircraft; the Dutch Fokker transport aircraft; the Supermarine and Macchi Schneider Trophy racing seaplanes; occasional experimental military aircraft, and a few civil aeroplanes. One or two triplanes persisted in the years immediately following the end of the First Great War, notably the Bristol Pullman and the Parnall Postal.

Before the First Great War there was little distinction between civil and military aeroplanes, and in many instances, none. During that war the military aeroplane was developed to the exclusion of the civil type, and the first transport aeroplanes of the post-war period were conversions from military designs. The great trans-oceanic and transcontinental flights that succeeded the end of the First Great War—the first direct Atlantic flight (q.v.), the first England to Australia and England to South Africa flights—were all made in converted British Vimy bombers. Soon, however, the needs of civil air lines required the production of specialist aeroplanes, and to meet the demand a developing branch of the aircraft industry was devoted to the production of civil aircraft. In Britain were produced the D.H.14, D.H.16, and D.H.18 single-en-gined; the Handley Page W.8 and W.10. the D.H.84 and 89 two-engined; the Armstrong Whit-worth Argosy and D.H. Hercules, three-engined; and the Handley Page Hannibal and Heracles, the Short Scylla, and D.H.86 four-engined air-liners. Among the early civil transport flying boats were the Supermarine Sea Eagle, the Short Calcutta and Kent(Scipio class). All these civil aeroplanes were biplanes; they were the commercial pioneers of the Commonwealth air routes.

design and construction

Simultaneous advances are recorded in design and construction. The earliest aeroplanes, built of wood members braced with piano wire, with fabric-covered wings, and often open or partly open fuselages, were replaced by superior structures using swaged wire bracing, streamlined where exposed to the air. During the First Great War. Junkers -developed all-metal aeroplanes. In 1920 Short Bros, in England produced an experimental all-metal biplane, the Silver Streak. Plywood was often used instead of fabric. Fokker developed plywood-covered wings. D.H.9 fuselages were plywood-covered. Plywood monocoque fuselages were developed; these dispensed with struts; the bending and torsional stresses were taken through the plywood skin of the hollow tubular structure. Stressed-skin fuselages were also made in metal, as in the Silver Streak, the first example. During the decade succeeding the First Great War, most British aeronautical engineers developed composite metal and wood airframes before producing all-metal airframes; these they covered partly with detachable metal panels and partly with fabric.

Aerodynamic theory was then developing rapidly, and unerringly it pointed towards the adoption of the monoplane. The earlier theory of resistance, based on the parasitic drag, was augmented by Prandtl's mathematical solutions of induced drag and his boundary layer theory of streamline bodies which established that laminar flow (i.e. the flow of air close to the surfaces of the aeroplane body and wings) was a factor of importance in stability and relative resistance. The stability provided by the Handley Page slotted wing was due to its control over laminar flow at large wing angles, preventing wing tip stall. During the Second Great War, American heavy day bombers dispensed with paint camouflage because a smooth polished metal surface gave them a gain of several m.p.h. in speed. The introduction of the monoplane with a retractable under aeroplane dated from about 1930. It is noteworthy that its earliest application was to civil aircraft, for the prejudice against the monoplane for military purposes died slowly. The use of the American Lockheed Orion, Vega, and 14, the Douglas DC-2 transport monoplanes, and the French Wibault, and German Junkers 52/3m, marked the beginning of air transport schedules that reduced air travel time between cities; the previous 90-120 m.p.h. cruising speed range was increased by these aeroplanes to 145-170 m.p.h. America introduced the DC-3, a 21-passenger monoplane cruising at 180 m.p.h. France brought out the Bloch 220, Britain the Atalanta, Ensign, Albatross, and Flamingo; Germany produced the Junkers 86 and Heinkel 111, and Italy the Fiat B.R.22 and the Savoia Mar-chetti 83. Britain introduced the Short Empire flying boats, and from America came the Boeing Clipper. All these commercial aircraft appeared between 1930 and 1939. In the period 1938-1945 characteristics of military and civil aeroplanes (whether the latter were converted war -planes, as in the York and Lancastrian, or new designs, as in the Brabazon) were improved aerodynamic design and better stream line; higher speed, climb, and ceiling; higher landing speed; increased structure weight and disposable load; the employment of greater horsepower and, sometimes, as in the Airacobra, shaft drive from a buried engine to its airscrew.

The Mosquito flew at over 400 m.p.h., the Spitfire XIV and P-51 Mustang at 450 m.p.h., and jet-propelled aircraft (Messerschmitt 262, Arado 234, Meteor, and Aira-comet) in excess of 500 m.p.h.

The Liberator bomber stalled at 80 m.p.h., the Whirlwind fighter at 83 m.p.h., and the Mosquito and Fw. 190 landed at over 100 m.p.h.

After 1938, wing loading sometimes reached new records—Halifax 50 lb. sq. ft.; Liberator over 54 lb.; Lancaster over 55 lb. Almost all aeroplanes incorporated flaps. The Halifax had slotted Zap flap was a split flap, of which the hinge line moved backward to increase the area of the lifting surface. The Fowler flap. was a curved aerofoil which moved back and down until it was clear of the trailing edge. The Gouge flap (Stirling bomber) was similar.

Depression of the Handley Page flap opened a leading edge slot. The Junkers flap was a variable angle aerofoil permanently fixed below the main wing trailing edge. The Fairey-Youngman flap (Barracuda) could be set like the Fowler flap for landing or like the Junkers flap for taking off, or could be set as an airbrake. Flaps were usually operated hydraulically or electrically, and only at reduced flying speed. Aeroplanes were trimmed in flight by adjustable trimming tabs hinged to the trailing edges of the air controls.

During this period only fighter aeroplanes were fitted with jet reaction prime movers; heavy bombers had attained maximum speeds of about 300 m.p.h., and medium bombers about 400 m.p.h. A few military and civil aircraft had pressurised cabins, notably the Superfortress and Mosquito XVI.

This period saw the introduction of towed gliders for military transportation. Germany was the first to put this method into use, in 1940. Britain subsequently employed larger and better gliders, and by 1944 could transport small tanks by air in the Hamilcar glider towed by Stirling or Halifax tugs. The American glider (Waco) was smaller, carrying only 2 tons load, the British Horsa carried 3 tons, and the Hamilcar 8 tons. (See Glider.)

The scientific use of light alloy structures for monoplane metal wings solved the problems of bending moments with their resulting compression and tension loads, also the formerly feared wing tip torsion. Nevertheless, wood structures, or composite metal and wood, were not everywhere surpassed, as the de Havilland Albatross and the subsequent Mosquito amply proved. The universal advance in aerodynamic knowledge was revealed in the external form, but various means were employed by different aeronautical engineers to secure ease of manufacture and adequate strength within the essential external characteristics which governed the aerodynamic qualities of the clean monoplane, notable among these being B. N. Wallis's geodetic "basketwork" airframe and wing design.

New developments begat others. Variable pitch airscrews were followed by constant speed and fully feathering airscrews. As translational speed and flying height increased, more blade area was required to transmit into thrust the torque of the more powerful engines, and so came airscrews with five blades rotating in one direction, and contra-rotating airscrews with four and six blades Retractable tricycle undercarriages were developed; these gave greater latitude in speed when alighting, because all wing lift was destroyed when the three wheels touched ground. Devices for de-icing the leading edges of wings were produced, mainly in the form of rubber sleeves through which compressed air was passed to break up ice crustation. Automatic pilots and visual instruments were invented to enable pilots to fly blind through all weathers. High-frequency radio beams were developed to provide an invisible guide line to a safe landing on a fog-bound aerodrome. Radar (q.v.) provided aircraft with anti-collision apparatus, and means to navigate when flying blind. Wireless telegraphy and radio telephony gave continuous contact between ground and air and between airborne aircraft.

Military and civil aeroplane developments have always been scientifically interlinked, and it is certain that another great advance will be made in transport aeroplanes during the decade succeeding the Second Great War, following the preceding period of insatiable demand for military aeroplanes. mg:a_002k.jpg size:2 title:Aeroplane history, Alcock and Brown. Alcock and Brown in their Vickers Vimy biplane at the start of their pioneer Atlantic flight (1919).]

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