Tag Archives: Rudolph William Schroeder

28 September 1920: The Gordon-Bennett Air Race

Coupe Gordon Bennett
Coupe Gordon-Bennett d’ aviation, sculpted by André Auroc (airrace.com)

28 September 1920: The fifth Gordon Bennett Aviation Trophy Races was held. The Trophy was sponsored by an American businessman, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., publisher of the New York Herald newspaper. Gordon Bennett had previously sponsored the James Gordon Bennett Cup for yachting, the Gordon Bennett Cup for automobile racing, and the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett for ballooning.

The airplane races were held annually from 1909 until 1913. In those years, the race had been one twice by France, once by the United Kingdom and twice by the United States. Like the Coupe d’Aviation Maritime Jacques Schneider (the Schneider Cup) for seaplanes, the nation which won the race three times consecutively would be permanently awarded the trophy. Because of the World War, no races were held 1914–1919.

Flight reported:

THE GORDON-BENNETT RACE

It had been anticipated that this year’s race for the Gordon-Bennett Aviation Trophy would have been a much better contest than any of the five previous competitions. Great Britain and the United States had challenged France, and the teams of each of the three countries comprised very fast machines. But disappointment followed on disappointment, and in the end only one competitor—Sadi Lacointe, on a French Nieuport—completed the full course of 300 kiloms. without trouble, and he thereby won the trophy for France for the third time.

     During the early morning of Tuesday a thick mist hung over the ground, and it was not until 1.36 p.m. that the first competitor got away, this being Kirsch on one of the French Nieuports. He was followed by de Romanet on a Spad, and the third member of the French team—the favourite—Sadi Lecointe. The American team—Rinehardt on the Dayton-Wright and Major Schroeder on the Army machine—followed a few minutes after, and then there was a long wait before Raynham, on the Martinsyde “Semiquaver,” the only British representative, got away. Kirsch did the first 100 kiloms in 21 mins. 29 secs., while de Romanet took 22 mins. 52-1/5 secs., but both had to come down soon after they completed the second lap, and Kirsch retired. The Americans did not survive long, Rinehardt having to come down after a quarter of an hour, having difficulty with his steering, while Schroeder was put out of the contest by engine trouble at the end of the first round.

     Raynham was unable to complete one lap, apparently being in trouble with the engine of his machine.

     This left Sadi Lecointe, whose time for the 100 kiloms. was 21 mins. 36 secs., for 200 kiloms. 43 mins. 42-3/5 secs., and for the full course of 300 kiloms. 1 hr. 6 mins. 17-1/5 secs., his average speed working out to 270 kiloms. (168 miles) per hour. De Romanet completed the course in 1 hr. 39 mins. 50-3/5 secs.

     The Trophy remains in France, and as she has won it three times it stays there permanently. Sadi Lecointe also won the cash prize of 10,000 francs offered by the Aero Club of France, and a similar prize offered by the Aero Club of America.

     The French team had been chosen in an eliminating trial on Sunday, when the three pilots mentioned above were selected. Barault, on a Borel-Hispano, would probably have secured the third place if he had only flown the course as it was arranged.

     The American team was reduced by one owing to the accident to Rholfs on the Curtiss. On landing at Villacoublay the chassis collapsed, and the pilot was injured, but not very seriously.

FLIGHT, The AIRCRAFT ENGINEER & AIRSHIPS, No. 614 (No. 40, Vol. XII.), 30 September 1930, at Page 1038

Course of 1920 Gordon-Bennett Race

The 1920 air race, held on Tuesday, 28 September, over a course of 300 kilometers (186.4 miles) at Villecoublay-La Marmogne, France. It was won by Nieuport-Delâge’s chief test pilot, Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, flying a Nieuport-Delâge Ni-D 29V. As France had previously won the 1912 and 1913 races, the Gordon Bennett Aviation Trophy was permanently awarded to the Aero Club of France and retired.

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe flew this Nieuport-Delage NiD-29V to win The Gordon Bennet Cup, 20 October 1920. (les avions Nieuport-Delage)
Joseph Sadi-Lecointe flew this Nieuport-Delâge Ni-D-29V to win The Gordon Bennet Cup, 20 October 1920. (les avions Nieuport-Delâge)

During the race, Sadi-Lecointe set a a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record for Speed Over 200 Kilometers 274.60 kilometers per hour (170.63 miles per hour). The FAI official time for the distance was 43 minutes, 42-3/5 seconds. (FAI Record File Number 15494)

Sadi-Lecointe’s Ni-D 29V was one of three racing variants of the highly successful single-engine, single-seat Ni-D 29C.1 biplane fighter, which was the fastest in the world at the time. The Ni-D 29V was 21 feet, 3.5 inches (6.489 meters) long, with a wing span of just 6.00 meters (19 feet, 8¼ inches), shortened from the 31 feet, 10 inch (9.703 meters) wingspan of the standard production chasseur.

Nieuport-Delâge Ni-D 29V
Nieuport-Delâge Ni-D 29V (Unattributed)

The airplane was powered by a water-cooled, normally aspirated, 18.473 liter (1,127.29-cubic-inch displacement) right-hand tractor Hispano-Suiza 8Fb single overhead cam (SOHC) 90° V-8 engine, modified to increase its output to 320 horsepower. This was a direct-drive engine, and turned a two-bladed-fixed pitch propeller. The engine was 1.32 meters (4 feet, 4 inches) long, 0.89 meters (2 feet, 11 inches) wide, and 0.88 meters (2 feet, 10½ inches) high. It weighed 256 kilograms (564 pounds).

The standard airplane had a top speed of 235 kilometers per hour (146 miles per hour), a range of 580 kilometers (360 miles) and a service ceiling of 8,500 meters (27,887 feet).

SPAD S.20 bis-5 flown by Barny de Romanet, Etampes, 25 September 1920. (Agence Rol 14625, Bibliothèque nationale de France)

Flight commented on de Romanet’s airplane:

The Spad

As regards the French Spad flown by Bernard de Romanet, this had the standard Spad fuselage of monocoque construction, but an alteration in the wing arrangement was noticeable. Instead of carrying the top plane on centre section struts from the body, the G.B. Spad had its top plane attached direct to the fuselage. Judging by its performance, this innovation did not improve the speed, and the machine was obviously slower than Lecointe’s Nieuport. In the first place, the maximum cross section of the body is much greater than the Nieuport, and the large nose radiator probably does not make matters better, although one would imagine that the two Lamlin radiators fitted to the Nieuport offer quite a lot of resistance. However, these radiators are now very extensively fitted on French machines, so perhaps their resistance is less than one would be inclined to expect.

FLIGHT The Aircraft Engineer & Airships, No. 615 (Vol. XII, No. 41, 7 October 1920, Page 1058, Column 1

The SPAD Type 20 bis (Spad-Herbemont) was a single-seat, single-engine, single-bay biplane racer based on the two-seat S.XX fighter, designed by André Herbemont. The racer was 7.50 meters (24 feet, 7.3 inches) long with a wingspan of 6.48 meters (21 feet, 3.1 inches) and height of 2.50 meters (8 feet, 2.4 inches). The wings had a surface area of 14 square meters (151 square feet). The airplane had an empty weight of 890 kilograms (1,962 pounds), and gross weight of 1,050 kilograms (2,315 pounds). The racer carried 80 kilograms (176 pounds) of fuel.

The S.20s were powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated La Société Hispano-Suiza single-overhead cam 90° V-8 engine rated at 300 horsepower. (Specific variant unknown.)

Bernard Henri Marie Léonard Barny de Romanet covered with oil, 28 September 1920. (Agence de Presse Meurisse 83837, Bibliothèque nationale de France)
The Verville-Packard R-1, A.S. 40126, flown by Major Rudolf W. Schroeder in the the Gordon Bennett Cup race, at Etampes, France, September 1920. (Tennessee State Library and Archives)
R.W. Schroeder

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe learned to fly in 1910. The Aero Club de France awarded him its license number 431 on 10 February 1910.

He joined the Service Aéronautique (the original form of the French Air Force) as a mechanic in October 1912, and was designated pilote militaire nº375, 20 September 1913. He served as a pilot during World War I, flying the Blériot XI-2, Morane LA and Nieuprt X, then in December 1915 became a flight instructor at l’Ecole de Pilotage d’Avord. Sadi-Lacointe was promoted from the enlisted ranks to sous-lieutenant, 17 September 1917, and was assigned as a test pilot at BlériotSociété Pour L’Aviation et ses Dérivés, where he worked on the development of the famous SPAD S.XIII C.1 fighter.

After the War, he was a test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge, and participated in numerous races and set a series of speed and altitude records with the company’s airplanes.

Sadi-Lecointe returned to military service in 1925 and participated in the Second Moroccan War. Then in 1927, he returned to his position as chief test pilot for Nieuport-Delâge. From 1936 to 1940, he served as Inspector General of Aviation for the French Air Ministry. With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, Lieutenant Colonel Sadi-Lecointe was again recalled to military service as Inspector of Flying Schools.

With the Fall of France, Sadi-Lacointe joined La Résistance française, and operated with the group, Rafale Andromède. He was captured and tortured by the Gestapo at Paris, and died as a result, 15 July 1944.

Joseph Sadi-Lecointe, Commandeur Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, was awarded the Croix de Guerre in three wars. He was posthumously awarded the Médaille de la Résistance. The Aéro-Club de France awarded him its Grande Médaille d’Or de l’Aéro-Club de France. During his flying career, Sadi-Lecointe set seven World Records for Speed, and three World Records for Altitude.

© 2016 Bryan R. Swopes

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18 September 1918

Captain Rudolph William Schroeder with the Bristol fighter which he flew to a world record altitude, 18 September 1918. Note the gap between to bottom of the fuselage and the lower wing. (U.S. Air Force)

18 September 1918: Captain Rudolph William Schroeder, United States Army Air Service, the Chief Test Pilot of the Engineering Division at McCook Field, Fairfield, Ohio, flew a Bristol F.2B fighter to set two Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Records.¹ ²

Aerial Age Weekly reported:

CAPTAIN SCHROEDER ESTABLISHES WORLD ALTITUDE RECORD

THE Contest Committee of the Aero Club of America has homologated the world’s altitude record made by Captain R. W. Schroeder, in a Bristol fighter equipped with a 300 H. P. Hispano-Suiza motor, of 28,900 feet above sea level, during a flight on September 18, 1918, at Wilbur Wright Field, Fairfield, Ohio, near Dayton.

      Nothing was more fitting. While the Allies’ aviators overseas are beating the Germans on the various fronts, an American aviator, Captain R. W. Schroeder, U.S. Air Service, beats the German aeroplane altitude record.

Captain Schroeder left the ground at 1:45 P. M., September 18, 1918. and reached his highest point if 105 minutes, which would have been at about 3:30 P. M. It took him about twenty minutes to descend, landing about 200 miles from where he started, at about 3:50 P. M.

     Captain Schroeder i sin charge of all Performance Tests at the Wilbur Wright Station and his duties require him to go to 21,000 and 22,000 feet quite often, and he generally goes without oxygen. In this record climb, he got well up to 25,000 feet without oxygen. He used no anti-freezing mixture and his maximum water temperature was 85 degrees centigrade at the start minimum and of 60 degrees centigrade at the highest altitude. The temperature of the air was 32 degrees centigrade below zero.

The reports, including the two barograph charts, duly calibrated and corrected: the performance curves, and the temperature record were certified to by Lieut. George B. Patterson, O. I. C. Performance Test Reports and the instruments were calibrated by the Bureau of Standards, and adjusted locally at the McCook Field Laboratory and personally installed on the aeroplane by Lieut. Patterson.

     The previous American altitude record was made by Caleb Bragg at Mineola, L. I., September 20, 1917, in a Wright Martin, Model V machine, when he reached an altitude of 20,250 feet, and the last world’s record of the International Aeronautic Federation made by G. Legagneux in France on the 28th of December, 1913, was 6,120 meters (20,258 feet). In July, 1914, a German aviator was reported as having flown to 26,200 feet, but the record was never submitted for homologation.

     This world’s record, made by Captain Ruddy W. Schroeder, is the first world’s aeroplane altitude record held by an American since the world’s altitude record made by Lincoln Beachey, at Chicago, Ill., during the International Meet, August 20, 1911, when he reached the height of 11,642 feet (3,548 meters).

     Under the rules of the International Aeronautic Federation, the international aeronautic body which controls all aeronautic sports and gives the necessary official records, a pilot must hold the International Aviator’s certificate to have his record recognized. This certificate is issued in the United State by the Aero Club of America, which is the federation’s sole representative in this country. Captain Schroeder held the the F. A. I. certificate at the time he made the record, therefore his record will be accepted by all the countries affiliated with the International Aeronautic Federation and the Pan-American Aeronautic Federation, which represents twenty Latin American republics.

Under the rules of the Federation to establish an altitude record it is necessary to best the old record by at lease 100 meters. Captain Schroeder, therefore, beat the record by a good margin and has gone higher the the highest mountain, with the exception of the highest peak in the Himalaya, which rises 29,002 feet.

     Captain Schroder is a veteran of the aeronautic movement. He is an old time member of the Aero Club of Illinois and well known for his ability as an aviator and aeronautic engineer.

AERIAL AGE WEEKLY, Vol. VIII, No. 5, 14 October 1918

Bristol F.2B C823. (BAE Systems)

The Bristol F.2B was a two-place single-engine two-bay biplane fighter, designed by Captain Frank Sowter Barnwell, O.B.E., A.F.C., and built by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co., Ltd., Filton and Brislington, Bristol, England, and several other manufacturers. More than 3,800 were produced and some considered it to be the best two-place fighter of the First World War.

The F.2B was 25 feet, 9 inches (7.849 meters) long. Both upper and lower wings had a span of 39 feet, 3 inches (11.979 meters) and a chord of 5 feet, 6 inches (1.676 meters). The total wing area was 405 square feet (37.63 square meters). Both wings had an angle of incidence of 1½°, and 3½° dihedral. There was no sweep. The lower wing was staggered 1 foot, 5 inches (0.432 meters) behind the upper wing. In order to give the gunner a better range of fire, the lower wing was not attached to the bottom of the fuselage. This had the effect of lowering the upper wing while maintaining a vertical gap of 5 foot, 5 inches (1.651 meters).

The gross weight of the F.2B was approximately 2,810 pounds (1,275 kilograms).

Bristol F.2A

The Bristol Fighters were powered by Rolls-Royce Falcon engines. The F.2B was equipped with the Falcon III. The Falcon was a water-cooled, normally-aspirated 867.080-cubic-inch-displacement (14.209 liters) single-overhead camshaft 60° V-12 engine. The Falcon III had a compression ratio of 5.3:1 and had a Sea Level rating of 288 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. The propeller gear reduction ratio was 0.589:1.

The F.2B had a maximum speed of 125 miles per hour (201 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level, and 113 miles per hour (182 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). The fighter could climb to 10,000 feet in 11.5 minutes, and to 15,000 feet (4,572 meters) in 21.5 minutes.

The United States was interested in producing its on version of the F.2B, to be powered by the American Liberty V-12 engine instead of the Rolls-Royce Falcon III V-12. The Royal Air Force sent two F.2Bs to McCook Field to be used as “pattern aircraft.” These were assigned project numbers P30 and P37.³

The Engineering Division at McCook Field found that the Liberty was too heavy to be practical when installed in the Bristol F.2, and other engine types were considered. One of the pattern aircraft was modified to accept a 300 horsepower Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine.

P37 was the project number assigned to the second of the two Bristol F.2B fighters evaluated at Wright Field in 1918.

When equipped with the Hispano-Suiza V-8 engine, the modified F.2B had an empty weight of 1,733 pounds (786 kilograms), and maximum of 2,630 pounds (1,193 kilograms). It had a maximum speed of 128 miles per hour (206 kilometers) per hour at Sea Level; 105 miles per hour (169 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet, 100½ miles per hour (162 kilometers per hour) at 13,000 feet, and 97½ miles per hour (157 kilometers per hour) at 15,000 feet. With the Hispano, the F.2B could climb to 1,000 feet in 1 minute, 10 seconds, 10,000 feet in 15 monutes, 5 seconds, 15,000 feet in 28 minutes and 50 seconds.

Three-view illustration for the Bristol F.2B. (Flight)

¹ FAI Record File Number 15463: 9,455 meters (31,020 feet)

² FAI Record File Number 15671: 9,455 meters (31,020 feet)

³ A source states that P30 carried the RAF identification number C949, and that P37, C4729.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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27 February 1920

Major Rudolph William Schroeder, Air Service, United States Army

27 February 1920: Major Rudolph William Schroeder, Chief Test Pilot of the Engineering Division, McCook Field, Ohio, flew a Packard Lepère LUSAC 11 biplane to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Record Altitude of 10,093 meters (33,114 feet).¹ The biplane was powered by a turbosupercharged Liberty L-12 aircraft engine producing 443 horsepower.

There are differing accounts of what occurred during the flight. One report is that the LUSAC 11 created the very first contrail as it flew at altitudes and temperatures never before reached. Also, there are differences in explanations of some type of problem with Major Schroeder’s oxygen supply. A valve may have frozen, the regulator did not operate correctly, or one of his tanks was empty. Another source says that he ran out of fuel. But he apparently suffered hypoxia and began to lose consciousness. He may have lost control, or intentionally dived for lower altitude. The airplane dived nearly 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) before Schroeder pulled out and safely landed. He was in immediate need of medical attention, however. Recording instruments indicated that he had been exposed to a temperature of -67 °F. (-55 °C.). His goggles had iced over, and when he raised them, his eyes were injured by the severe cold.

Schroeder’s barograph recorded a peak altitude of 37,000 feet (11,277.6 meters). When the device was calibrated after landing, it indicated that his actual maximum altitude was 36,020 feet (10,979 meters). The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) delegated responsibility for certifying the record to the Aero Club of America, whose representatives apparently felt that procedures for setting the record had not been correctly followed, and declined to accept the altitude record. The National Bureau of Standards next evaluated the data and credited Rudolph Schroeder with having reached 33,180 feet (10,113 meters). Regardless, the current official record altitude, according to FAI, remains 10,093 meters (33,114 feet).

Major Rudolph W. Schroeder, USAAC, flying a Packard Lepère LUSAC 11 over McCook Filed, Ohio, 24 September 1919. (U.S. Air Force)
Major Rudolph W. Schroeder flying a Packard Lepère LUSAC 11, A.S. 40015,  over McCook Field, Ohio, 24 September 1919. (U.S. Air Force)

The Packard Lepère LUSAC 11 was a single-engine, two-place biplane fighter which was designed by the French aeronautical engineer, Capitaine Georges Lepère, who had previously designed the Section Technique de l’Aeronautique Dorand AR.1 reconnaissance airplane for France’s military air service. The new airplane was built in the United States by the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit, Michigan. It was a two-place fighter, or chasseur, light bomber, and observation aircraft, and was armed with four machine guns.

The LUSAC 11 was 25 feet, 3-1/8 inches (7.699 meters) long. The upper and lower wings had an equal span of 41 feet, 7¼ inches (12.681 meters), and equal chord of 5 feet, 5¾ inches (1.670 meters). The vertical gap between the wings was 5 feet, 1/8-inch (1.527 meters) and the lower wing was staggered 2 feet, 15/16-inch (0.633 meters) behind the upper wing. The wings’ incidence was +1°. Upper and lower wings were equipped with ailerons, and had no sweep or dihedral. The height of the Packard Lepère, sitting on its landing gear, was 9 feet, 7 inches (2.921 meters).

Packard Lepère LUSAC 11 P53, A.S. 40015, left profile. The turbocharger is mounted above the propeller driveshaft. (U.S.. Air Force)

The fuselage was a wooden structure with a rectangular cross section. It was covered with three layers of veneer, (2 mahogany, 1 white wood) with a total thickness of 3/32-inch (2.38 millimeters). The fuselage had a maximum width of 2 feet, 10 inches (0.864 meters) and maximum depth of 4 feet, 0 inches (1.219 meters).

The wings were also of wooden construction, with two spruce spars and spruce ribs. Three layers of wood veneer covered the upper surfaces.

The Packard Lepère had an empty weight of 2,561.5 pounds (1,161.9 kilograms) and its gross weight was 3,746.0 pounds (1,699.2 kilograms).

The Packard Lepère was powered by a water-cooled, normally-aspirated, 1,649.34-cubic-inch-displacement (27.028 liter) Packard-built Liberty 12 single overhead cam (SOHC) 45° V-12 engine, which produced 408 horsepower at 1,800 r.p.m., and drove a two-bladed, fixed-pitch propeller with a diameter of 9 feet, 10 inches (2.997 meters). The Liberty 12 was 5 feet, 7.375 inches (1.711 meters) long, 2 feet, 3.0 inches (0.686 meters) wide, and 3 feet, 5.5 inches (1.054 meters) high. It weighed 844 pounds (383 kilograms).

The engine coolant radiator was positioned horizontally in the center section of the airplane’s upper wing. Water flowed through the radiator at a rate of 80 gallons (303 liters) per minute.

Packard-Lèpere LUSAC-11 P53, A.S. 40015. (U.S. Air Force)

The LUSAC 11 had a maximum speed of 130.4 miles per hour (209.9 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), 127.6 miles per hour (205.4 kilometers per hour) at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 122.4 miles per hour (197.0 kilometers per hour) at 15,000 feet (4,572 meters), 110.0 miles per hour (177.0 kilometers per hours) at 18,000 feet (5,486 meters) and 94.0 miles per hour (151.3 kilometers per hour) at 20,000 feet (6,096 meters). Its cruising speed was 112 miles per hour (180 was kilometers per hour). The airplane could climb to 5,000 feet in 4 minutes, 24 seconds, and to 20,000 feet in 36 minutes, 36 seconds. In standard configuration, the LUSAC 11 had a service ceiling of 20,200 feet (6,157 meters). Its range was 320 miles (515 kilometers).

Packard Lepère LUSAC 11, P54, S.C. 42138 (U.S. Air Force)

Armament consisted of two fixed M1918 Marlin .30-caliber machine guns mounted on the right side of the fuselage, synchronized to fire forward through the propeller arc, with 1,000 rounds of ammunition, and two M1918 Lewis .30-caliber machine guns on a flexible mount with 970 rounds of ammunition.

The Air Service had ordered 3,525 of these airplanes, but when the War ended only 28 had been built. The contract was cancelled.

The only Packard Lepère LUSAC 11 in existence, serial number A.S. 42133, is in the collection of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

 Packard Lepère LUSAC 11, S.C. 42133, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)
Packard Lepère LUSAC 11, A.S 42133, at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. (U.S. Air Force)

¹ FAI Record File Number 8229: 10 093 m (33,114 feet)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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