Fokker D.III: When skill & manners mattered.

The D.III was one of those barely decent biplane fighters produced by the Fokker company right after their monoplanes became hopelessly obsolete. Powered by the stunning, but dubious Oberursel U.III two-row rotary engine, the two-bay winged D.III like it’s older biplane brothers proved to be just too slow. It also still employed the already archaic wing-warping control system. And add to all that Anthony Fokker’s usual decease: poor quality control. They appeared at the frontline in the summer of 1916, but soon were relegated to the less demanding areas. More than two hundred were produced.

In this delightful artwork, the always chivalrous Oswald Boelcke meets his 20th victim, Captain R E Wilson (32 Sqn RFC), on 2 Sept. 1916. He achieved seven victories with the D.III (352/16), but was adamant in his dislike.

Western Electric type 1-A helmet: Calling Dr. Love.

The type 1-A was the first flying helmet incorporating radio-telephone equipment. It saw very limited use during the final year of WW1. The helmet was conceived to be employed with a face mask incorporating a microphone assembly. The latter’s development proved troublesome and, as we can see here, our model has resorted to a conventional hand-held mike.

A dandy and kinda avant-garde outfit. I do love it.

Salmson-Moineau S.M.2: Rien ne va plus.

Not having enough with his already clumsy S.M.1 A3, René Moineau thought maybe more was better and decided to try the bimotor formula. Like in the S.M.1, this contraction had a water-cooled Salmson 9A radial engine in the middle of the fuselage connected to outboard propellers through shafts and gears but an additional Salmson 9A was added in the nose driving a conventional tractor propeller. The two engines were now cooled by enlarged radiators placed in both side at the middle of the fuselage. All that had a price: the weight rose and the upper wing span had to be increased; undercarriage needed strengthened too. All that just for starters: we are talking about a massive modification. Named the S.M.2, a single aircraft was built in 1918 as two-seat (instead of three) intended for the ground attack role. Tested with poor results: it was even less satisfactory than the original.

Ravissant échec.

Short Type 184: It didn’t come short.

First flown in 1915, the Short Admiralty Type 184 floatplane became the workhorse of the RNAS during all WW1. Developed from previous designs, but improved and decently powered the resulting aircraft was able to fulfil at last with some confidence its recon, bombing and torpedo duties. In fact, as a torpedo-bomber, the 184 achieved a measure of fame being the first aircraft to sink a ship using such device during the Dardanelles campaign.

One of those lanky, yet somehow elegant 184’s at work here.

Blackburn Blackburd: Utterly and through & through.

The Blackburd was one of the contender conceived in 1918 to replace the Sopwith Cuckoo torpedo bomber. You can’t find the elegance of the Cuckoo in Blackburn’s intended successor. The reason for the choice of such square lines was to easy and speed up production. A single-seater like the Cuckoo, the Blackburd was powered by a trusty R-R Eagle VIII and was equipped with folding wings to easy storage aboard an aircraft carrier. Its torpedo delivery system was pretty clumsy. Due to its undercarriage spreader bar design it had to be jettisoned before the torpedo drop; steel skids were used from landing.
The first prototype flew for the first time in May 1918 and stability problems were soon observed, lost of the prototype included. Two more Blackburd followed but to no avail.

Another ugly flop by Blackburn. Anyway, what the Blackburd lacked in grace it certainly made good in impressiveness. Such a beast.

LFG Roland C.II: Flying Orca.

This sort of multi-role aircraft built by the Luft-Fahrzeug-Gesellschaft G.m.b.H was a truly advanced aircraft by the time of its first flight in 1915. Nicknamed the “Walfisch” (Whale) due to its deep all-wooden fuselage which filled the vertical gap between its two wing panels, the C.II displayed remarkable low drag and was both fast and sturdy. The model entered service in the spring of 1916 where it proved to have demanding in handling but also a success in its various operational duties, recon and escort mainly. Over four hundred were produced.

Pretty impressive artwork/cutaway appeared in the American Modeler magazine Sep. 1962 issue. Regrettably this one doesn’t display the humorous curtains some of them carried on their fuselage windows.

BFW Monoplane: Swept avant-garde.

This astonishing forward swept wing-equipped monoplane was produced by the then little known Bayerische Flugzeug-Werke in 1918. Powered by the ubiquitous 160 hp Daimler D.III, this clean monoplane employed a fuselage strapolated from the company’s unsuccessful CL.II/III. No idea about its qualities; the only single prototype built has left almost no story to tell.

Poor definition, but it’s the only photo available. Kinda cute, don’t you think so?