9 September 1913 (27 August 1913, Old Style¹): At the Syretsky military airfield west of Kiev, Ukraine, Imperial Russia, Пётр Николаевич Нестеров (Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov), a military officer, flew a Nieuport IV.G into an inside loop, the first time this aerobatic maneuver had ever been performed.
Also known as “Nesterov’s Loop,” or a “dead loop,” the inside loop was completed by entering from a dive, pulling the nose up and flying in a closed curve in the vertical plane (with the top of the airplane toward the center of the loop at all times), and then returning to a dive.
This maneuver is now performed beginning and ending in straight and level flight, but airplanes of the time had insufficient power.
The airplane flown by Lieutenant Nesterov was a Nieuport IV, designed by the French aircraft company, Société Anonyme des Éstablissements Nieuport, and built in Russia by several manufacturers. The variant flown by the Imperial Russian Air Service was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 10.292 liter (628.048 cubic inch displacement Société des Moteurs Gnome Gamma seven-cylinder rotary engine, which produced 70 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m.
“. . . I sat head down for a few moments and did not feel rush of blood to the head, I was sitting tightly, and legs pressed on the pedal … Tools in the open boxes remained in their places. Gasoline and oil also keeps the centrifugal force at the bottom of the tank, ie, at the top, and normally fed to the engine, which worked perfectly the entire upper half of the loop. In general, all this proves that the airplane made regular rotation, only in the vertical plane, as all the time there was a dynamic equilibrium. With this only turning the air is defeated by man. . . . Man mistakenly forgot that in the air the support is everywhere, and he should cease to determine the direction in relation to the earth. “
—The pilot innovator Peter Nesterov, National Technical University of Ukraine, Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute
One year later, 8 September 1914 (25 August 1914, Old Style), Nesterov became the first pilot to destroy an enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Flying a Morane Saulnier Type G near Zhovkva, Ukraine, Nesterov rammed an Albatros B.II. Both aircraft were so badly damaged that they crashed. The Austrian pilot, Franz Malina, and observer, Baron Friederich von Rosenthal, were both killed. Nesterov died of injuries the following day.
¹ Imperial Russia used the Julian Calendar until the October Revolution when the Gregorian calendar was adopted.
10 August 1912: Frank McLean (later, Lieutenant Colonel Sir Francis Kennedy McLean, A.F.C.) flew his modified Short S.33 float plane, and, according to his obituary in the London Times, 12 August 1955, “. . . created a record by flying up the Thames in a seaplane, passing between the upper and lower parts of Tower Bridge and under London Bridge without touching the water.”
The vertical distance between the upper walkways and the deck of the draw bridge is 141 feet, 0 inches (42.977 meters).
Flight reported the event:
By Hydro-aeroplane up the Thames
ALTHOUGH London was deprived by the appalling weather of the sight of M. Beaumont piloting his hydro-aeroplane up the Thames, the visit of Mr. F.K. McClean more than compensated for the loss. Remembering an appointment in town on Saturday morning, Mr. McClean thought it would be a good idea to come up on his Short machine, and so at 6 a.m. he had it out of its shed at Harty Ferry, in the Isle of Sheppey, and after seeing everything in order he started off. Following the coast round Leysdown, Warden Point to Sheerness, he continued over the Thames. At Gravesend the smoke of various factories rather troubled the aviator but he made good progress. Approaching London Mr. McClean brought his machine lower down and negotiated the Tower Bridge between the lower and upper spans, but the remaining bridges to Westminster he flew underneath, the water just being touched at Blackfriars and Waterloo bridges. He reached Westminster about 8.30 and was taken ashore to Westminster Pier on a Port of London Launch.
The return journey on Sunday afternoon was not so successful—owing to restrictions as to rising from the water which had been imposed by the police. The bridges had all been safely negotiated, and when near Shadwell Basin Mr. McClean started to manœuver to get into the air at the point designated by the river authorities. He had made one circuit when the machine side-slipped, and either through hitting a barge or by sudden contact with the water one of the floats was damaged. The machine was then towed into Shadwell Dock, this operation being superintended by Mr. McClean from the driving seat, and dismantled for its return by road to Eastchurch.
—FLIGHT, No. 190. (No 33, Vol. IV.) 17 August 17 1912 at Page759, Column 1
The Short S.33 was a variant of the S.27 biplane, built specifically for McLean. It is a two-place, single-engine four-bay biplane with the engine in a pusher configuration. An elevator is forward. Although it had been fitted with two floats for operating from the water, McLean had it converted to a land plane by installing two wheels on a tube axle attached to the lower wing with four struts. Two wooden skids are also installed. The fuselage is an open rectangular framework. At the aft end is a horizontal stabilizer and elevator, and two rudders. There were two tail skids.
The Short S.33 was 36 feet, 0 inches (10.973 meters) long (following conversion) with an upper wingspan of 70 feet, 6 inches (21.488 meters). The upper wing had a maximum chord of 6 feet, 7 inches. The outer 16 feet (4.877 meters) of the upper wing was swept aft and had a slight dihedral, as did the outer panels of the lower wings. The lower wing had a shorter wingspan and narrower chord—5 feet, 9 inches (1.753 meters)—than the upper wing. The biplane had a gross weight of 1,600 pounds (725.75 kilograms)
The S.33 was powered by an air-cooled 10.292 liter (628.048-cubic-inch-displacement) Société des Moteurs Gnome Gamma 7-cylinder rotary engine producing 70 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. It turned a two-bladed, fixed-pitch wooden propeller with a diameter of 8 feet, 6 inches (2.591 meters) through direct drive.
Sir Francis was a civil engineer, astronomer, pioneering photographer and aviator. He received the Royal Aero Club’s Aviator Certificate Number 21 on 20 September 1910.
McLean served in the Royal Naval Air Service during World War I and became an officer of the Royal Air Force when RNAS and the Royal Flying Corps were combined in 1918. He is considered to be the founder of the Fleet Air Arm. McLean was decorated with the Air Force Cross in 1919.
For his services to aviation, McLean was knighted by George V, 3 July 1926 and later appointed High Sheriff of Oxfordshire.
Sir Francis McLean died 11 August 1955 at London, England, after a lengthy illness. He was 79 years old.
1 July 1915: German Luftstreitkräfte fighter pilot Leutnant Kurt Wintgens was flying a pre-production Fokker M.5K/MG, number E.5/15, (designated Eindecker III when placed in production), which was equipped with a single fixed, forward-firing machine gun. An interrupter gear driven off the engine stopped the machine gun momentarily as the propeller blades crossed the line of fire. This was known as synchronization.
At approximately 1800 hours, Leutnant Wintgens engaged a French Morane-Saulnier Type L two-place observation airplane east of Lunéville in northeastern France. The French airplane’s observer fired back with a rifle. Eventually, the Morane-Saulnier was struck by bullets in its engine and forced down.
Wintgens is believed to have achieved the first aerial victory using a synchronized machine gun, though because his victim went down inside Allied lines, the victory was not officially credited.
The Fokker prototype was armed with an air-cooled 7.9 mm Parabellum MG14 aircraft machine gun made by Deutsche Waffen und Munitionsfabriken Aktien-Gesellschaft. This gun fired ammunition from a cloth belt which was contained inside a metal drum. It had a rate of fire of 600–700 rounds per minute. The synchronization mechanism had been designed by Anton Herman Gerard Fokker, who was also the airplane’s designer.
The Fokker Aviatik GmbH M.5K/MG Eindecker III was a single-place, single-engine monoplane fighter constructed of a steel tubing fuselage with a doped fabric covering. It had a length of 6.75 meters (22.15 feet), a wingspan of 8.95 meters (29.36 feet) and height of 2.40 meters (7.87 feet). The airplane had an empty weight of 370 kilograms (815.7 pounds) and gross weight of 580 kilograms (1,278.7 pounds).
It was powered by an 11.835 liter (722.2 cubic inch) air-cooled Motorenfabrik Oberursel U.0 seven-cylinder rotary engine which produced 80 Pferdestärke (78.9 horsepower). This engine was a German-built version of the French Société des Moteurs Gnome 7 Lambda engine.
The M.5K/MG had a maximum speed of 130 kilometers per hour (80.8 miles per hour) and a service ceiling of 3,000 meters (9,843 feet). Its range was 200 kilometers (124.3 miles).
The Aéroplanes Morane-Saulnier Type L was a single-engine two-place monoplane used as a scouting aircraft. The single wing is mounted above to fuselage on struts. This type is called a “parasol wing.” The airplane is 6.88 meters (22.57 feet) long with a wingspan of 11.20 meters (36.75 feet) long and height of 3.93 meters (12.89 feet). Its empty weight is 393 kilograms (866 pounds) and gross weight is 677.5 kilograms (1,494 pounds).
The Type L was powered by a 10.91 liter (665.79 cubic inch) Société des Moteurs Le Rhône 9C nine-cylinder rotary engine which produced 83 horsepower at 1,285 r.p.m.
The Morane Salunier Type L had a maximum speed of 125 kilometers per hour (78 miles per hour). It could be armed with one .303-caliber Lewis light machine gun on a flexible mount.
Kurt Hermann Fritz Karl Wintgens was born 1 August 1894 at Neustadt in Oberschlesien, Prussia. He was the son of Lieutenant Paul Wingens, a cavlary officer, and Martha gb. Bohlmann.
Wintgens entered a military academy as an officer cadet in 1913, but with the outbreak of World War I, he was appointed a lieutenant and sent to the Eastern Front. He earned the Iron Cross.
Leutnant Wintgens was transferred to the Luftstreitkräfte as an observer, but then trained as a pilot.
Wintgens was officially credited with 19 aerial victories, with three more unconfirmed. After his eighth victory he was awarded “the Blue Max,” (Pour le Mérite).
Kurt Wintgens was shot down near Viller-Carbonnel, Somme, France, 25 September 1916. He was killed in the crash.
The Paris–Madrid Race began at Issy-les-Moulineaux, in the southwest of Paris, France, 21 May 1911. The race was sponsored by Le Petit Parisien, a French newspaper. More than 300,000 spectators had arrived to watch the event.
The first competitor, “Andre Beaumont” (a pseudonym for Lieutenant Jean Louis Conneau of the French Navy), took off at 5:10 a.m. in a Blériot-Gnome. Roland Garros, also flying a Blériot-Gnome, followed at 5:15 a.m. Several more airplanes departed, at approximately 5-minute intervals.
Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines, flying a Morane monoplane, took off at 6:20 a.m. He was unable to control the airplane and had to lay down on a wing to steer it away from the crowds. He landed but the airplane was damaged. Rather than repair the Morane, he decided to fly the race with another airplane of the same type, as the rules allowed.
At 6:30 a.m., Louis Émile Train, with a passenger, M. Bonnier, took off in an airplane of his own design. The airplane’s Gnome rotary engine was not operating properly and Train immediately turned back toward the area specified as the airfield. (This open area was surrounded by a massive crowd of spectators who continually encroached on the open space.)
As he was about to land, a troop of French cavalry (cuirrassiers) crossed directly in front of him. Train pulled up, but his engine failed. The airplane stalled and crashed just beyond the cavalry. Unseen by Train, a group of officials was on the other side of the troop, and a number of them were struck by the airplane.
M. Henri Maurice Berteaux, France’s Minister of War, was killed. Prime Minister Antoine Emmanuel Ernest Monis, Henri Deutsch de le Muerthe and several others were severely injured.
A judicial inquiry was immediately held. Train was completely exonerated. Witnesses later said that just prior to the crash, M. Berteaux had commented that the group had moved too far into the field and suggested that they should move back for safety.
Because of the accident, further flights were cancelled, with starts to resume to following day. Only Roland Garros completed the first leg of the race the first day, 400 kilometers (249 miles), with his Blériot XI, arriving at Angoulême after a flight of 4 hours, 52 minutes. Other racers stopped at intermediate points. One of these airplanes was damaged on takeoff, another delayed by weather, and a third withdrew from the race when he learned of the accident at Issy.
On the second day of the Paris-Madrid Race, Jules Védrines, flying Morane No. 14, was the first to take off. Airborne at 4:11 a.m., he arrived at Angoulême at 7:54:16 a.m. after a flight of 3 hours, 43 minutes. His official time, however, included the actual flight time for his first attempt on Sunday, and a 30 minute penalty for not successfully starting on the first day of the race. His official time was 4 hours, 24 minutes, 7 seconds, which was still faster than Garros’ time. In third place was M. Gibert, who had remained at Pont Levoy overnight. He arrived at Angoulême at 10:54:58 a.m., Monday, for an official time of 29 hours, 24 minutes, 53 seconds.
On Tuesday, Gibert took off at 5:12 a.m., with Garros following at 5:19:02 a.m. Védrines, who should have started at 5:00 a.m., waited more than two hours for mist to clear. Even so, Védrines was the first to complete the second leg, arriving at San Sebastián on the shore of the Bay of Biscay at 10:56:15 a.m., having flown the 353 kilometers (219 miles) non-stop in 3 hours, 41 minutes, 57 seconds.
Roland Garros made an intermediate fueling stop and was delayed more than two hours. He arrived at San Sebastián at 11:25:36 a.m. Gibert had been delayed by engine trouble at Bayonne, and did not land at San Sebastián until 6:52:22 p.m., Tuesday evening.
The aviators rested at San Sebastián, continuing the final leg of the race on Thursday.
The start for the third leg was scheduled for 5:00 a.m., but weather caused another delay. Gibert took off at 6:24 a.m. and crossed the start line at 6:28:35 a.m. He flew out over the Bay of Biscay and quickly disappeared from sight. Garros took off at 7:12 a.m., and Védrines at 7:17 a.m.
Védrines landed at Quintanapalla, but because of the rough field, slightly damaged his Morane. Temporary repairs were made and he flew the 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) to Burgos. He requested permission for the race committee to wait until Friday morning before continuing to allow time for permanent repairs to be made. His request was granted.
Shortly after departing San Sebastián, Garros’ Blériot-Gnome suffered engine trouble, forcing him to land at Usurbil. He took off, but was forced to land again at Andoain. He then returned to San Sebastián. He also proposed restarting the following day after obtaining a new propeller.
Gibert landed at Olasagutia, damaging his airplane. He was also delayed until Friday.
At 5:20 a.m., Friday, Védrines took off from Burgos. He crossed the Sierra de Guadarrama. one of the mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, flying through Somosierra Pass. (The pass has an elevation of 1,434 meters/4,705 feet.) It was here that his Morane was repeatedly attacked by an eagle, forcing to take evasive maneuvers. The duel in the air went of for more than five minutes before the airplane escaped. (Gibert had a similar encounter.)
At 8:06 a.m., Védrines landed at Getafe Aerodrome. He was met by representatives of the Real Aero Club de España and Señor de la Torre, Governor of Madrid. Védrines was commanded to attend King Alfonso at the Palace, where he was engaged in a lengthy conversation with the monarch. He was awarded the Cross of the Order of Alfonso XII.
Jules Védrines’ official time for the 462 kilometers (287 miles) from San Sebastián to Madrid was 27 hours, 5 minutes 41 seconds. This resulted in a race total of 37 hours, 26 minutes, 12 seconds.
The prize for the winner was 100,000 francs. The second place finisher won 30,000 francs, and third, 15,000 francs (approximately equivalent to £4,000, £1,200 and £600.)
Jules Védrines’ Morane monoplane was 22 feet, 0 inches (6.706 meters) long with a wing span of 30 feet, 8 inches (9.347 meters). Its empty weight was 440 pounds (200 kilograms), and gross weight, 770 pounds (349 kilograms). Wing warping was used for roll control. The landing gear consisted of wheels and skids, with a rubber cord suspension. The airplane was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated, 11.150 liter (680.385-cubic-inch-displacement) Société des Moteurs Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine. The direct-drive engine turned a two-blade fixed pitch Integrale propeller with diameter 9 feet, 3 inches (2.819 meters) and pitch of 5 feet, 11 inches (1.803 meters).
With the engine turning 1,200 r.p.m., the speed of the Morane was 77 miles per hour (124 kilometers per hour).
29 April 1918: Lieutenant Edward Vernon Rickenbacker, 94th Aero Squadron, Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, while flying a Nieuport 28 C.1, scored his first aerial victory when he shot down a Deutsche Luftstreitkräfte Pfalz D.III fighter near Saint-Baussant, France. He was awarded the first of eight Distinguished Service Crosses. By the end of World War I, he had destroyed 26 enemy aircraft.
The Nieuport 28 C.1¹ was a single-place, single-engine, single-bay biplane fighter built by Société Anonyme des Éstablissements Nieuport for the French military. It was rejected, however, in favor of the SPAD S.XIII C.1. The new United States’ Air Service was in great need of fighters. There were none available of American manufacture, and because the new SPAD was in great demand, 297 Nieuport 28s were acquired by the American Expeditionary Force and assigned to the 94th and 95th Aero Squadrons.
The Nieuport 28 C.1 was 6.30 meters (20 feet, 8 inches) long with an upper wingspan of 8.160 meters (26 feet, 9¼ inches), lower wingspan of 7.79 meters ( 25 feet, 6-2/3 inches) and height of 2.30 meters (7 feet, 6½ inches). The upper wing had a chord of 1.30 meters (4 feet, 3.2 inches), and the lower, which was staggered behind the upper, had a chord of 1.00 meters (3 feet, 3.4). The upper wing had very slight dihedral, while the lower wing had none. Its empty weight was 399 kilograms (880 pounds) and loaded weight was 626 kilograms (1,380 pounds).
The Nieuport 28 C.1 was powered by an air-cooled, normally-aspirated 15.892 liter (969.786-cubic-inch-displacement) Gnome Monosoupape 9 Type N nine-cylinder rotary engine with a compression ratio of 5.45:1. The Monosoupape had a single overhead exhaust valve actuated by a pushrod and rocker arm. As the pistons reached the bottom of their exhaust strokes, a series of intake ports near the bottom of the cylinder were uncovered. The intake charge was drawn from the engine crankcase. The Type N produced 160 horsepower at 1,300 r.p.m. and turned a two-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller with a diameter of 2.50 meters (8 feet, 2.4 inches). The engine weighed 330 pounds (150 kilograms).
The Nieuport 28 had a top speed of 198 kilometers per hour (123 miles per hour) at 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) and 1,380 r.p.m., a range of 290 kilometers (180 miles) and a service ceiling of 5,300 meters (17,388 feet). Duration at full power was 1 hour, 45 minutes.
Two .303-caliber Vickers machine guns were mounted on the cowling, firing forward through the propeller arc.
The Pfalz D.III was a single-seat, single-engine, single-bay biplane fighter built by Pfalz Flugzeugwerke. The fuselage was built of two layers of plywood strips laid over a mold to form one half. The two halves were glued together. This was then covered with doped fabric. The wings were made of fabric-covered wood spars and ribs, with wooden ailerons.
It was 6.95 meters (22 feet, 9½ inches) long with a wingspan of 9.4 meters (30 feet, 0 inches) and height of 2.67 meters (8 feet, 9 inches). Empty weight was 695 kilograms (1,532 pounds) and gross weight was 933 kilograms (2,057 pounds).
The fighter was powered by a 14.778 liter (901.812 cubic inches) water-cooled Mercedes D.IIIa single overhead cam inline six-cylinder engine with two valves per cylinder and a compression ratio of 4.64:1. It produced 174 horsepower at 1,400 r.p.m. The D.IIIa weighed 660.0 pounds (299.4 kilograms).
The maximum speed of the Pfalz D.III was 185 kilometers per hour (115 miles per hour) at Sea Level, and the service ceiling was 5,200 meters (17,060 feet).
It was armed with two 7.92 mm LMG 08/15 Spandau machine guns.
Approximately 1,010 Pfalz D.IIIs were built.
¹ “C.1” was the French designation for a single-place chasseur, their World War I term for what we now consider to be a fighter.