Angelica: Would you like to hear one of my poems?
Joe Banks: Sure.
Angelica: Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair… covered the emptiness of my hand… Would you like to hear it again?
Joe Banks: Ok.
Angelica: Long ago, the delicate tangles of his hair… covered the emptiness of my hand.
I remember the first time I met another human being who liked Joe Versus the Volcano (besides Melisa). I even remember who it was. Well, enough of that; on to the rest of the Museum of Flight’s photographs.
The Caproni Ca.20 is the world’s first fighter plane. I say ‘is’ because this is it . . . the original, the one, and only one ever made. It’s presented as made, without any alterations or repairs, showing almost a century of wear and tear.
Designed as a fighter, a Lewis machine gun was installed above the pilot, placed above the propeller disc, with a false eye level sight. The Caproni Ca.20 has all its original parts with the exception of the rubber of the tires, which was chewed by rodents while stored in a monastery.
It did not take long for humans to realize the potential of the airplane to inflict damage from above.
From rocks, to flechettes, to grenades, to bullets to many bullets from a machine gun, to bombs . . . once you are above the enemy, you have a wide array of choices for inflicting death.
The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5a pictured above is a reproduction.
From the description webpage:
“One of the best Allied fighters of World War I, the S.E.5 was considered fast, strong, and simple to fly. Flyers who commonly had nothing good to say about the designs of the Royal Aircraft Factory, had to admit that the S.E. was pleasantly different.”
It goes on to say:
“In the improved version, the S.E.5a, designers continued to amend annoyances and create one of the war’s most venerable fighting machines. Many of Britain’s most famous aces, including Mannock, Bishop, and McCudden, flew the S.E.5a into combat.”
Sad to say, but none of those names are familiar to me . . . unless Joey Bishop was a British WW I ace, and I never knew it (he wasn’t).
The Albatross was not a good plane, but they were quickly constructed. “The Albatros factory was willing and capable of producing large numbers of planes and the war was raging. The result was that, when an Allied pilot encountered a German fighter, it was usually an Albatros. Pilots were instructed not to dive too steeply with this plane”
. . . that must have been a real booster for the ole confidence meter, I tell you.
The Nieuport 24bis reproduction was also flown by the same aces as mentioned above. And here I thought aces only flew one machine during their service.
Tell me the front of the plane doesn’t look like a face; a surprised one, at that. I’m thinking Pixar got the idea for their Planes movie from seeing the above.
“The Aviatik (Berg) D.I at the Museum of Flight is an extremely rare original. Part of series 101, the fighter was built by Thöne and Fiala, in Vienna — one of five manufactures that made the aircraft during the war.”
Maybe the surprised look stems from what it saw humans are capable of.
The plane above, the one showing us its tail, is a Sopwith Camel F.1 Reproduction. All I knew about this plane was that it was one of the choices for planes in Atari’s Combat cartridge (which I still have, and still works). The name sounded as strange to me then as it does now.
“With a Camel, a pilot would become an esteemed and experienced combat flyer, or he’d die trying. The agile featherweight could run rings around many German fighters and was murder in the hands of a flyer who knew how to handle it.”
“Casualties among those learning to fly this notorious fighter were very high. The torque effect from the Camel’s rotary engine could cause the plane to snap into an uncontrollable spin and then crash during a tight turn. If the fuel/air mixture was not adjusted after takeoff, the Camel often dropped into a stall, followed by a spin.”
I can attest to dying many time while playing those games. Of course, my deaths were less permanent than those flying the actual planes.
The plane it’s going after is the Fokker D.VII Reproduction.
“Most experts agree that the Fokker D.VII was the finest single-seat fighter plane of the war.
Allied aviators began to dread the appearance of the angular fighters with their “coffin noses.” Because the Fokker stayed very controllable at high altitudes, pilots often were able to make the D.VII “hang on its prop” and blast away at higher-flying Allied machines as they tried to escape. Many British flyers said those “straight wings” seemed to be everywhere.
At the end of the war, the feared Fokker D.VII was the only airplane mentioned specifically by name in the Armistice Agreements.”
Now, this next plane . . . ‘The Phantom of the skies’?
That’s the Fokker Dr.I (reproduction), and at first, German airmen weren’t too impressed with the odd-looking airplane.
One, however, made a name for himself while flying a Dr.I . . . “Werner Voss and Manfred von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron, were very pleased with the fighter’s high rate of climb and remarkable agility. They soon racked up many victories over Allied machines in the Triplane.
Even though most of the men in his squadron had switched to newer biplanes, 19 of von Richthofen’s final 21 combat victories came while he was flying his trusty all-red Dr.I.”
The Nieuport 28 C.1 looks odd, perhaps because of the paint job, but I liked the design of it, especially the mounting of the machine guns.
“The first airplane Americans flew into combat, it was loved by some and feared by others. Flying 28s, Douglas Campbell and Alan Winslow each shot down a German fighter on April 14, 1918, becoming the first U.S. airmen to destroy a plane in combat. Famous ace Eddie Rickenbacker scored many of his twenty-six victories flying his Nieuport.
On the other side of the coin, Rickenbacker, America’s beloved hero, was almost killed when the upper wing fabric on his 28 tore apart in flight. Teddy Roosevelt’s son, Quentin, and ace Raoul Lufbery were also killed while flying Nieuport 28s.”
The famous SPAD XIII . . . reproduction.
“After the experiencing the characteristics of their delicate Nieuports, French pilots couldn’t help but notice that their new SPADs were solid as rocks. The SPAD had other rock-like features too — they were slow climbers and not particularly maneuverable. But, at least, they could dive away from most German fighters with ease.”
I swear . . . I’ll not make a crack about one of the most loved feature was the ability to run away. Mostly because I see it as a viable option to fighting to the death.
The Curtiss JN-4D Jenny (Reproduction).
“The Jenny’s second life had begun as Americans of the 1920s used the readily available craft as “Barnstormers.” The Jenny was used to sell the many Americans “their first airplane ride.” While others were used in wild flying stunts and appeared in scores of movies”.
It’s good, after looking at all these reminders from one hundred of years ago, to see what we accomplished in a relatively short amount of time.
. . . I wonder if there’s any wood making up the structure of the Blackbird?
I’ll pick this up in the next post. Meanwhile, you can see larger versions of these photos in the SmugMug gallery HERE.
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. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.