ISSUE NUMBER 10

HISTORICAL MINIATURES BY GEORGE GRASSE
HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL

NOVEMBER 2010

HISTORICAL MINIATURES JOURNAL ISSUE NUMBER 10

PUBLISHED BY GEORGE GRASSE

PHOTO TOUR OF THE SAN DIEGO AIR & SPACE MUSEUM

Focus on World War I Aircraft

By George Grasse

 

#1:  Balboa Park, San Diego, California, September 2010.

 

#2: Entrance to the  San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, San Diego, California.  Aircraft on the left is a Convair YF2-1 Seadart and aircraft on the right is a Lockheed A-12.

 

#3: Layout of the Museum.  This photo tour will concentrate in area "C".

 

#4:  This is one of the aircraft in the Rotunda and marked "5" on the layout map.  It is a Curtiss A-1 "Triad" floatplane (reproduction) built for the U. S. Navy in 1911.

 

#5a: Fokker E.III Eindecker (reproduction), left front view.  The Eindecker was powered by a rotary engine of about 100 hp.  This aircraft introduced the revolutionary forward-firing machine that could fire through the propeller arc using a cam-driven interrupter device.   It led to the famous "Fokker Scourge" of 1915 even though few of these aircraft were actually deployed on the Western Front. 

 

#5b: Fokker E.III Eindecker (reproduction), right rea view.  Maneuverability was poor largely due to its under-powered engine, wing-warping control, and small "comma" rudder without vertical stabilizer.   Many Allied aircraft could simply outrun it.  SPAD VII tail unit in the left foreground. 

 

#6a: Sopwith Pup (original but substantially reworked), left front view.  White metal container under the top deck Vickers machine gun is the fuel tank.   This was a rotary-powered single-seat fighter that preceded the more famous Sopwith Camel.  The propeller was fixed to the rotary engine, the whole thing turning on a shaft.  Castor oil was added to the fuel mixture on the intake stroke and most of it burned off as exhaust gases spraying particles all over the front of the fuselage including the pilot.

 

#6b: Sopwith Pup (original but substantially reworked), right front view.  The white metal pipe jutting out just below the fuel tank is the carburetor air intake.   The smaller white metal rectangular object is the spent cartridge ejection chute. 

 

#7a: Albatros D.Va (reproduction) suspended from the ceiling.  Note the machined scrolls on the cowling of the Fokker E.III Eindecker.  The Allatros fighters (D.I thru D.Va) were all powered by six-cylinder in-line engines.

 

#7a: Albatros D.Va (reproduction) suspended from the ceiling with tail unit painted in the markings of Jagdstaffel 5.  The long pipe over the top of the engine is one of the circulating water parts from the front of the engine to the stream-lined upper wing radiator.  The other circulating pipe is just visible between the forward "N" struts.

 

#8a: SPAD VII C.1 in British markings.  This was the predecessor to the more famous SPAD XIII C.1 which was plagued with Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine problems but still a formidable fighter that equipped all French, some British, and nearly all American fighter units 1918.

 

#8b: SPAD VII C.1 in British markings.  Note the typical British camouflage color known as PC-10, olive drab brown, which covered all upper and side fabric-covered surfaces.  Metal coverings, panels, and access doors were painted a light "battleship" gray.  Under surfaces were finished clear doped linen (CDL).

 

#9a: The Nieuport 28 C.1 was "America's first fighter" and equipped all U. S. pursuit squadrons deployed on the Western Front in the Spring of 1918.  It was rejected by the French Aviation Militaire to replace its aging Nieuport 24 and 27 fighters.  Instead, the SPAD XIII was adopted leaving over 600 brand new Nieuport 28 fighters in excess inventory.   As was typical of all Nieuport aircraft, the Nieuport 28 was powered by a rotary engine. 

 

#9b: Nieuport 28, right front underside view.  America's aviation industry, despite promises of huge aircraft and engine production, did not produce a single acceptable aircraft of the then deploying U. S. units on the Western Front in early 1918.  The Nieuport 28 was available and the U.S. purchased it among other types to outfit in growing aviation arm.  This aircraft had a tendency to shed fabric from the upper surface of the top wing in certain aerial maneuvers but pilots overcame this problem.  By the summer of 1918, sufficient SPAD XIII fighters were becoming available and all U. S. pursuit squadrons turned in their Nieuport 28s.

 

#10a: 1:48 scale model of the Zeppelin L.31.  Note the 1:48 scale British aircraft attacking this monster at its tail.  Note the machine gun defense module at the top front of the Zeppelin.  Used as strategic "bombers" filled with hydrogen for lift were extremely costly to the German war effort and many historians criticize such vast expenditures on vulnerable "gas bags".  Their importance is largely derived from their terror effect on Allied civilian population centers under the guise that these places housed war material production facilities. 

 

#10b: Gondola of the 1:48 scale Zeppelin L.31.  Originally intended as long range strategic reconnaissance vehicles, they were intermittingly deployed due to weather problems especially wind and thunder storms.  The first "bombing" raids against England began during daylight hours in 1915 and British defenses were insignificant.  This encouraged the Germans to step up production.  In the meantime, Allied technology developed the incendiary bullet for aircraft machine guns and deployed hundreds of relatively accurate anti-aircraft guns and searchlights against night raids.  Losses mounted and the raids were suspended and then replaced entirely by twin-engined bombers attacking at night.

 

#11: This is a French Z-9 Salmson air-cooled radial engine and not a rotary.  France and Italy made large use of this type of aircraft engine.  This particular engine equipped a French two-seat reconnaissance aircraft flown by U.S. Aero Observation Squadrons.  This type of engine supplanted the rotary engine just after World War I. #12 Ground transportation which seemed primitive was in fact highly developed for its time.  All modern armies depended on motor transport, in this case medical transport.  Trucks hauled supplies from railheads to places with a couple of miles of the front where the cargo was unloaded onto horse-driven limbers or mules that could traverse the apocalyptic front line moonscape of craters and mud.

 

#13: The balloon was the mainstay of artillery spotting and reconnaissance during the course of World War I.  Most operated at a height from 1200 to 2000 feet and used this vantage point to direct artillery fire by phoning the observed barrage fire to the ground and then to the battery where adjustments were made.  The process was repeated until the target was destroyed.  Ballons became the favorite target of a strange breed of fighter pilot who dared the heavily defended area on the ground around the balloon's ascent.  If attacked, the observer had seconds to jump over the side and deploy his parachute.

 

I TOOK THESE PHOTOS IN SEPTEMBER 2010

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REFERENCE

San Diego Air & Space Museum, 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, California 92101 (619 234-8291)

 

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