Tag Archives: Société des Moteurs Gnome

1 July 1915

Leutnant Kurt Wintgens, Luftstreitkräfte, wearing the Pour le Mérite (the “Blue Max”) (Postkartenvertrieb W. Sanke)

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.

Leutnant Wintgens' Fokker M.5K/MG Endecker fighter, E.5/15.
Leutnant Wintgens’ Fokker M.5K/MG Eindecker fighter, E.5/15. (Peter M. Grosz Collection)

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.

Closeup of a Fokker E.I’s Oberursel U.0 seven cylinder rotary engine, and Stangensteuerung synchronizer gear drive cam/rod unit behind engine crankcase.

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.

A Fokker advertisement in Motor, 1917.

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).

Type L
Morane Saulnier Type L (Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

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.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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21 May–27 May 1911

An illustration depicts Jules Védrines flying his Morane monoplane across the Pyrenees. (Bibliothèque nationale de France)

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.

Wreckage of the Train monoplane at Issy-de-Moulineax, France, 21 May 1911. (Leo Lefebvre/L’Illustration)

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.

Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines at San Sebastián, Spain, 23 May 1911. (NASM)

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.

Védrines flies through the Pyrenees Mountains. (FLIGHT, No. 127 (Vol. III, No. 22), 3 June 1911, Page 477, Column 2)

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).

Jules Charles Toussaint Védrines, 1916

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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29 April 1918

Lieutenant Edward V. Rickenbacker, 94th Aero Squadron, with a Nieuport 28 C.1 fighter. (U.S. Air Force)

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.

1st Lieutenant Edward V. Rickenbacker in the cockpit of a Nieuport 28 C.1 fighter, France, 1918. (U.S. Air Force)
1st Lieutenant Edward V. Rickenbacker in the cockpit of a Nieuport 28 C.1 fighter, France, 1918. (U.S. Air Force)

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.

U.S. Air Service Nieuport 28 C.1, N6215. (U.S. Air Force)
U.S. Air Service Nieuport 28 C.1, N6215. (U.S. Air Force)

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).

Nieuport 28 C.1, serial number 6215.

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.

Pfalz D.III (SDASM)
Pfalz D.IIIa 8413/17
Pfalz D.IIIa 8413/17

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.

Pfalz D.IIIa 8413/17

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.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 April 1912

Dennis Corbett-Wilson at Fishguard, Wales, 22 April 1912. (VisitWexford)

22 April 1912: Departing at 5:47 a.m., Denys Corbett-Wilson flew his Blériot XI from Fishguard and Goodwick, Pembrokeshire, Wales, across St. George’s Channel and landed at Crane, near Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland, 1 hour, 40 minutes later. This was the first crossing of the Irish Sea from England to Ireland by air.

Lieutenant Denys Corbett-Wilson

Corbett-Wilson, having flown in heavy rain for the final half hour, with an erratic compass and misfiring engine, saw a field at Crane that he thought was suitable for landing his airplane. The area was too small, though, and he ran into heavy brush, slightly damaging the Blériot.

The damaged airplane was stored at the stables of Lord Donoughmore’s Estate. Many years later the estate was sold and the wreck was purchased. It was later donated to a museum in Kilkenny.

Denys Corbett-Wilson was born at Thames Ditton, Surrey, England, on Christmas Eve, 24 December 1882. He was the son of W.H.C. Wilson, Esq., Barrister-at-Law, and Ada Caroline Corbett-Wilson.

Corbett-Wilson learned to fly at Pau, France in 1911. A sportsman and “an intrepid rider to hounds,” he joined the Royal Flying Corps at the beginning of World War I and was commissioned a second lieutenant, Special Reserve, Royal Flying Corps. He served with No. 3 Squadron at Béthune, France, and was promoted to lieutenant in November 1914.

Lieutenant Denys Corbett-Wilson was killed in action while on a reconnaissance flight along the Western Front, 10 May 1915. His airplane, a Morane-Saulnier Type L, was struck by an artillery shell. He was buried with full military honors at Fournes-en-Weppes by the German Army.

Denys Corbett Wilson's Blériot XI was slightly damaged after running out of room for landing at Crane, Wexford, ireland, 22 April 1912. (Corbett Wilson collection)
Denys Corbett-Wilson’s Blériot XI was slightly damaged after running out of room for landing at Crane, Wexford, Ireland, 22 April 1912. (Corbett-Wilson collection)

The Blériot XI was a single-seat, single-engine monoplane, designed by Raymond Saulnier and built by Louis Charles Joseph Blériot. It was 24 feet, 11 inches (7.595 meters) long with a wingspan of 27 feet, 11 inches (8.509 meters) and overall height of 8 feet, 10 inches (2.692 meters). The wings had a chord of 6 feet (1.829 meters). The airplane had an empty weight of 507 pounds (229.9 kilograms).

In its original configuration, the airplane was powered by an air-cooled, 3.774 liter (230.273 cubic inches) R.E.P.  two-row, seven-cylinder fan engine (or “semi-radial”) which produced 30 horsepower at 1,500 r.p.m., driving a four-bladed paddle-type propeller. The R.E.P. engine weighed 54 kilograms (119 pounds). This engine was unreliable and was soon replaced by an air-cooled 3.534 liter (215.676 cubic inch) Alessandro Anzani & Co., 60° (some sources state 55°) three-cylinder “fan”-type radial engine (or W-3) and a highly-efficient Hélice Intégrale Chauvière two-bladed fixed-pitch propeller, which had a diameter of 6 feet, 8 inches (2.032 meters).

The Anzani W-3 was a direct-drive, right-hand tractor engine which produced 25 horsepower at 1,400 r.p.m. It was 1.130 meters (3 feet, 8.49 inches) long, 1.500 meters (4 feet, 11.01 inches) high, and 0.720 meters (2 feet, 4.35 inches) wide. The engine weighed 66 kilograms (145.5 pounds).

After 1910, the Blériot XI was often equipped with a Gnome rotary engine. This was a normally-aspirated, air-cooled, 7.983 liter (487.140-cubic-inch-displacement) Société des Moteurs Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine which produced 50 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. The direct-drive engine turned a two-bladed wooden propeller in a left-hand, pusher configuration. The Omega 7 is 79.2 centimeters (2 feet, 7.2 inches) long, 83.8 centimeters (2 feet, 9.0 inches) in diameter, and weighs 75.6 kilograms (166.7 pounds). The prototype of this engine is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum.

The Blériot XI had a maximum speed of 47 miles per hour (76 kilometers per hour) and the service ceiling was (3,280 feet) 1,000 meters.

Denys Corbett Wilson with a Bleriot XI-2 at Highcliffe, near Christchurch, New Zealand, 18 June 1913. This version o fteh airplane is powered by an air-cooled Gnome 7 cylinder rotary engine producing 80 horsepower.
Denys Corbett-Wilson with a Blériot XI-2 at Highcliffe, near Christchurch, Dorset, 18 June 1913. This version of the airplane is powered by an air-cooled 487.140-cubic-inch (7.983 liter) Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine, producing 50 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. (Christchurch History Society)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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28 March 1910

Henri Fabre flying his Hydroavian, 28 March 1910 (Monash University)
A restored image of Henri Fabre flying his Hydroavian, le Canard, at Étang de Berre on the Mediterranean coast of France, 28 March 1910 (CTIE Monash University)

28 March 1910: Henri Marie Léonce Fabre (29 November 1882 – 30 June 1984) flew his Hydroavian, the first seaplane, at Étang de Berre, a lagoon about 25 kilometers (15½ miles) west of Marseille, on the Mediterranean coast of France. The airplane, named Le Canard, flew 457 meters (1,499 feet).

Henri Fabre standing beside the 50-horsepower Gnome engine used to power the Hydroavian. (Fabre Family/AFP via Times of Malta)
Henri Fabre standing beside the 50-horsepower Gnome Omega 7 engine  and propeller used to power the Hydroavian. (Fabre Family/AFP via Times of Malta)

The Hydroavian is 8.45 meters (27 feet, 8.67 inches) long with a wingspan of 14 meters (45 feet, 11.18 inches) and height of 3.70 meters (12 feet, 1.67 inches). It has an empty weight of 380 kilograms (838 pounds) and the gross weight is 475 kilograms (1,047 pounds).

Fabre’s airplane was powered by a normally-aspirated, air-cooled, 7.983 liter (487.140-cubic-inch-displacement) Société des Moteurs Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine which produced 50 horsepower at 1,200 r.p.m. The direct-drive engine turned a two-bladed wooden propeller in a left-hand, pusher configuration. The Omega 7 is 79.2 centimeters (2 feet, 7.2 inches) long, 83.8 centimeters (2 feet, 9.0 inches) in diameter, and weighs 75.6 kilograms (166.7 pounds). The prototype of this engine is in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution National Air & Space Museum.

Though it was damaged in a crash in 1911, Le Canard was restored and is in the collection of Musée de l’air et de l’espace.

Fabre Hydroavian at Monaco, April 1911 (CTIE Monash University)
Fabre Hydroavian at Monaco, April 1911 (CTIE Monash University)

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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