Kühlstein Torpedo: Fast at first sight.

These stylish monoplanes was designed in 1911 by Max Court and built in 1912 by the Max Leuchner Kuhlsteins Wagenbau company, a carriage-building firm. The Torpedo main feature was its elegantly streamlined wooden fuselage. Powered by 70-100hp Argus engines smartly equipped with a pretty spinners, these beauties were at the time one the fastest aircraft in Germany.

Magnificent side view of one of them. The crudeness of its undercarriage contrast with the sheer elegance of its tail feathers.


Papin-Rouilly Gyroptère: So sterile yet so stimulating (II).

“Will “Whirling Leaf” Revolutionize Flying?”
The people of “Popular Science” were still wondering in 1922 about a hopeless 1911-15 aircraft concept.

Lovely artwork. The Papin-Rouilly Gyroptère never flew higher.

Michel Loup’s Monoplane: Pas de Problème.

In 1853 Michel Loup published a short book “Solution Du Problème De La Locomotion Aérienne” book. In that work Loup proposed this quaint bird-form aircraft design propelled by two winged-shaped propellers. He stated “his plan of gliding through the air on four revolving wings”.

Detail of a drawing taken from Phillip Jarrett’s classic “Pioneer Aircraft: Early Aviation Before 1914”.

Butler & Edwards Steam Plane: V-ictorian ∆.

James W. Butler and Edmund Edwards registered in 1867 a patent for this sharp, delta-wing aeroplane. Based obviously in the classic “paper aircraft”, its creators even considered the addition of a sort of steam engine to produce a surprisingly modern-looking “jet” design. The patent also included a launching carriage and the description of the control system: shifting the center of gravity through the displacement of the control nacelle.

Valencian sequel(?).

Curtiss A-1 “Triad”: Past & Future.

This little aircraft had the honor of opening the history of the US Navy aviation when it was ordered in May 8th, 1911. The A-1 was a “Model E”, in essence a bigger refined variant of the previous “Model D”. As an amphibian its nickname “Triad” was quite appropriate: the A-1 operated through air, land and sea. The US Navy employed this handy aircraft, and a few of its siblings, for operational tests and training. A long way was still ahead.

The beauty of this photo is beyond me. Spellbinding, hypnotizing, mesmerizing, entrancing, …….. all very “-ing”.

Handley Page Type F: No mistaken identity here.

This graceful monoplane, with its exceptionally clean lines for the period, was designed by Frederick Handley Page to take part on a 1912 War Office prize for military aircraft. The type F was an evolution of “HP” previous models, with such gorgeous wing shape as a sort of household signature. First flown in May of the trial year, the Type F suffered lateral stability problems and was retired from the contest. Later, when its wing-warping was replaced by ailerons the problem disappeared. Sadly, it didn’t enjoy a long life. On December 1912 it crashed tragically with the lost of his two occupants due to a failure of its Gnôme rotary engine.

Hendon, Nov 1912.  A close-up from a photo of The Flight magazine archive.

Papin-Rouilly Gyroptère: So sterile yet so stimulating.

Can you imagine a huge one-bladed rotor air-jet helicopter powered by a 80hp Le Rhône rotary engine?…., well, that was precisely the idea patented in 1911 by A. Papin and D. Rouilly. This pair of French gentlemen based their idea on the sycamore seed which turns while it falls to ground.
The basic configuration of their Gyroptère is quite evident in this gorgeously clear photo. The beautifully built rotor blade at the right counterbalanced by the engine and its fan which is sightly to one side of the axis of rotation. The pilot “drum-cockpit”, over the peculiar round float, was placed on the axis of rotation and mounted on ball-bearing and centered against four horizontal rollers. The long tube near our intrepid pilot is the swiveling air-duct employed to to keep his “drum-cockpit” from moving with the blade and to provide the necessary forward thrust.
Tested in 31st March 1915 on Lake Cercey (Cote d’Or), the Gyroptère proved to be wildly unstable and sank without even achieving flight.