Classic History Books


William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

In the illustration of the Bleriot monoplane here given you will notice that there is one main plane,
consisting of a pair of highly-cambered wings; hence the name "MONOplane". At the rear of the

machine there is a much smaller plane, which is slightly cambered; this is the elevating plane, and it can

be tilted up or down in order to raise or lower the machine. Remember that the elevating plane of a

biplane is to the front of the machine and in the monoplane at the rear. The small, upright plane G is the

rudder, and is used for steering the machine to the right or left. The long narrow body or framework of

the monoplaneis known as the FUSELAGE.

By a close study of the illustration, and the description which accompanies it, you will understand how
the machine is driven. The main plane is twisted, or warped, when banking, much in the same way that

the Wright biplane is warped.

Far greater speed can be obtained from the monoplane than from the biplane, chiefly because in the
former machine there is much less resistance to the air. Both height and speed records stand to the credit

of the monoplane.

The enormous difference in the speeds of monoplanes and biplanes can be best seen at a race meeting at
some aerodrome. Thus at Hendon, when a speed handicap is in progress, the slow biplanes have a start of

one or two laps over the rapid little monoplanes in a six-lap contest, and it is most amusing to see the

latter dart under, or over, the more cumbersome biplane. Recently however, much faster biplanes have

been built, and they bid fair to rival the swiftest monoplanes in speed.

There is, however, one serious drawback to the use of the monoplane: it is far more dangerous to the
pilot than is the biplane. Most of the fatal accidents in aviation have been caused through mishaps to

monoplanes or their engines, and chiefly for this reason the biplane has to a large extent supplanted the

monoplane in warfare. The biplane, too, is better adapted for observation work, which is, after all, the

chief use of air-craft.

In a later chapter some account will be givcn of the three types of aeroplane which the war has evolved -
the general-purposes machine, the single-seater "fighter", and those big bomb-droppers, the British

Handley Page and the German Gotha.

 

CHAPTER XXIX. Henri Farman and the Voisin Biplane

The coming of the motor engine made events move rapidly in the world of aviation. About the year 1906
people's attention was drawn to France, where Santos Dumont was carrying out the wonderful

experiments which we have already described. Then came Henri Farman, who piloted the famous biplane

built by the Voisin brothers in 1907; an aeroplane destined to bring world-wide renown to its clever

constructors and its equally clever and daring pilot.

There were notable points of distinction between the Voisin biplane and that built by the Wrights. The
latter, as we have seen, had two propellers; the former only one. The launching skids of the Wright

biplane gave place to wheels on Farman's machine. One great advantage, however, possessed by the

early Wright biplane over its French rivals, was in its greater general efficiency. The power of the engine

was only about one-half of the power required in certain of the French designs. This was chiefly due to

the use of the launching rail, for it needed much greater motor power to make a machine rise from the

ground by its own motor engine than when it received a starting lift from a falling weight. Even in our

modern aeroplanes less engine power is required to drive the craft through the air than to start from the

ground.

 

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