A Rare French 'Bird'

Discussion in 'Aircraft & Aviation' started by Bengt F, Dec 1, 2007.

  1. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

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    Hi all,

    Perhaps some of you know by now that I have a 'faiblesse' for rare and unusual flying machines? And even more so, if there are detailed card models portraying them . . .
    One of the most graceful aeroplanes ever, in my opinion, is the long and slender French 'Antionette' VII monoplane from 1910, designed by the artist and boat builder Léon Levavasseur and realised together with his associate and manufacturing director Gastambide, who´s beautiful daughter gave her name to this canoe-like creation:

    [​IMG]

    In the picture above, the French (yes, French!) aviator Hubert Latham is seen in the air in his Antoinette VII, in which he twice tried to cross the English channel. But alas, he dipped into the channel on both attempts, due to engine failure, (on the second, a couple of days after the first successful flight, within sight of the cliffs of Dover) and that is why we today know a lot more about Louis Blériot and his 'Blériot XI' machine.
    With the Antionette, however, Latham won the altitude prize (1501 meters) at "Le Meeting" in Rheims in 1910 and went on to display his beautiful machine all over the world, for example by flying over the Golden Gate bridge in San Fransisco. Latham´s machine can now be seen in the Science Museum in London.

    In short, Levavasseur, Gastambide and Latham succeeded in establishing quite a name for the airworthy and safe (!) Antoinette machines - for example, it became the choice of many female aviators of the day. After the successful development of the Antoinette IV to VIII types from 1908 to 1910, Levavasseur and Latham started the development of a completely new monoplane design. It featured an aerodynamicallly shaped fuselage with all wooden beams and wires hidden inside the envelope. Ahead of it´s time in design, even the landing gear was enclosed in aerodynamically shaped 'spats', to further reduce the airflow. A feature that was to become very common in aeroplanes 20 years later. The design group specifically had the French military in mind in their new, sleek design. So, one can imagine that this new and very unorthodox design must have turned some heads at the Concours Militaire in Rheims in 1911:

    Oh, la la - quel monstre!
    [​IMG]

    Preparations for the Rheims air show - note the broad, Antoinette-type wings, with their pronounced dihedral, very similar to the Nieuport G.IV:
    [​IMG]

    However, although Levavasseur also was a fore-runner in engine design, with his remarkable V-8 aeroplane engine (below), it only delivered about 50 Hp, which wasn´t enough for the completely fabric-covered and rather heavy new monoplane. The plane was simply to heavy to fly. Added to this, it didn´t attract enough attention from the high-ranking militaire in Rheims and it was never developed further beyond the first prototype, which hence became known as the Antoinette 'Monobloc', or the Antoinette-Latham:

    The Antoinette V-8:
    [​IMG]

    The Antoinette-Latham 'Monobloc' at the aerodrome, with intereseted spectators:
    [​IMG]

    What is then, you might ask yourselves, the purpose of this long and tedious report? Well, I just wanted to enquire whether anyone has seen or heard of a scale card model of this remarkable plane? I haven´t found one yet, but I am still searching.
    If there isn´t, it would be an interesting subject for a scratch build, wouldn´t it? The well-respected name of Eric Goedkoop springs to mind . . .

    I Googled for the 'Antoinette Monobloc' and found this very interesting page from the Flying T Model Co, in Overland, Mo, in the US: http://www.flyingtmodels.com/page4.html On this page, number six from the top in the second row, you´ll find a photo of a part of this highly interesting 1:24 scale drawing for the 'Latham Monobloc 1911':

    [​IMG]

    I also found the photo of this happy man, Jerry, who has built a 1:4 giant scale R/C model of the 'Monobloc', which features radio-controlled internal pull-pull servo system of rudder & elevator control, and above all, wing warping!!!:

    [​IMG]

    If you like to read about his endeavors with this extraordinary and complicated model, here is a link to RC Groups: http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=264864

    He has done several flights with his large model but he ran into some trouble when he mounted the 'spats' around the landing gear - it seems they distabilized the directional orientation of the model, making it hard to keep on track with the original (minimal) rudder. He plans to enlarge the rudder in height, just as Levavasseur and Latham did on one of their experiments back in 1911.

    Here is the model at the moment of take-off - quite a futuristic design for 1911:
    [​IMG]

    To conclude, I would very much to build this amazing aeroplane in card. So, if you see it or hear about it, please let me know. Thanks.


    Best,
    Bengt :thumb:
  2. astroboy

    astroboy Member

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    Bengt,
    Thank-you for the history of a very interesting airplane. It was not at all tedious.
    I would like to point out though that one of the photographs is of a completely different plane. The photo taken from behind from ground level shows an aircraft with different horizontal and vertical tail surfaces, different wing planform and a fuselage that appears to be taller than it is wide.
    I point this out to avoid confusion if someone chooses to design a paper model of this unusual plane.

    Bill
  3. NULLMOON

    NULLMOON Member

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    mmmm slick:thumb:
  4. paperbeam

    paperbeam Member

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    Hi Bengt,

    Your threads are never tedious to me as I find the theory and history behind a model almost always as intriguing (if not more so).

    It's kind of ironic that he came up with a V8 engine so early on that didn't have enough horsepower...:rolleyes:

    Have you seen the Antionette (a different type than the VII but somewhat similar) at Fiddlers Green yet?

    Fiddlersgreen downloadable paper (card) models-Largest Collection in the world

    Terry

    Ping-Pong Ball Cannon and N/Z scale Old West paper models (free samples) at: paperbeam - virtual paper models
  5. Alcides

    Alcides Member

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    How do you manage to get always something new and interesting. Really I love your threads.

    Always some history lessons add value to a model, never are boring.

    Please keep this kind of threads coming Beng !!!
    Luis
  6. dansls1

    dansls1 Member

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    That is a cool looking plane. I must say though, this thread doesn't inspire me to do this plane in card - although a peanut scale rubber band powered version would be pretty cool...
  7. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

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    Wrong Photo - Sorry Folks . . .

    Hi Bill, Hi all,

    Sorry about that photo - I was in a hurry and picked the wrong one, before I went away for the night. You are absolutely right, Bill - the photo with the plane seen from the rear is a Blériot model.
    This is the photo that should have been there - the quality isn´t the best but I though it was interesting with all the people around it. watch, for example, the guy ducking under the spinning prop:

    The Latham-Antoinette 'Monobloc' at the aerodrome:
    [​IMG]

    And here is another nice shot that I found of Jarry and his amazing 1:4 scale flying Monobloc model, at the side of the runway:
    [​IMG]

    Isn´t that plane a beauty to look at - almost the lines of a space shuttle?
    I think I´ll order the plan from Flying T Models http://www.flyingtmodels.com/page4.html

    Best,
    Bengt :wave:
  8. Gil

    Gil Active Member

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    Bengt,

    This is a great way to introduce a subject to the membership. It's educational and may generate interest in a particular subject. Thanks for the nicely done work.

    One area that might be a problem is how to achieve the "transparent" look of doped fabric on a card model.

    One small clarification, the Golden Gate Bridge began construction in 1933 and was opened in 1937...,

    +Gil
  9. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

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    Fascinating and thoroughly researched thread as usual.

    Bengt, when you finish that wonderful Junkers flying wing, why not start on a functioning 1:1 cardstock Antoinette? :)

    Is there enough room around your home for a small private aerodrome? Think how excited your daughters would be to go for a short flight after it's assembled! Just keep a sharp eye out for rain when you're aloft, or you'll really find out about "wing warping". ;)

    Please keep up the fine work, both in building and posting!
  10. Bengt F

    Bengt F Active Member

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    Sources and Errata

    Gil,

    I have given the 'transparency issue' some thought, actually - I think it might be achieved using the same technique as in the traditional 'stick and tissue'-building, but substituting balsa with heavy card stock for the formers, spars and ribs, and the covering fabric with thin Japanese doped paper. I remember seeing a beautiful paper wing that Eric built a while back, with semi-transparent paper over spars and ribs. Very authentic and good-looking.

    Thanks for pointing out when the Golden Gate bridge was built and opened for traffic - I have checked my sources and one of them says: "07/01/1911 - Latham flies though the Golden Gate San Fransisco . . ./" whatever that means.
    (source: http://www.latham77.fsnet.co.uk/Hubert Latham.htm )

    Another errata; The model builder´s name is Jerry, not Jarry (typo).


    Art decko,

    Unfortunately, there isn´t room in our garden for even the smallest aerodrome but we are neighbours to Stockholm-Bromma International airport, where I can watch sports planes take off and land whenever I feel like it, and about a mile away, there is a small airfield with a very active EAA building and flying club. I have often thought about joining their ranks and start learning how to fly an Ultralight plane and get an UL licence. A dream I have had a long time is to build a 3/4 scale Fokker D.VIII or full-scale Fokker V.39 or V.40 monoplane. At the same airfield, there is also an active R/C flying club.
    The real problem is how to find time (and, occasionally, some money) outside the family life to do all you´d like to do. Fortunately, dreaming about it is free of charge!


    All the best,
    Bengt :thumb:
  11. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

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    As someone who lived 18 years in that wonderful city, I think I can clear this up. "The Golden Gate" does not refer to the bridge, it's the name of the opening between the Pacific Ocean and the sprawling San Francisco Bay. When the beautiful art deco bridge was built to span the Golden Gate, they naturally christened it the "Golden Gate Bridge". So Latham flying "through the Golden Gate" in 1911 is perfectly plausible.

    Ha, my joke was quite near the truth! :) I still think your daughters would prefer the Antoinette, which as you said was so popular among French aviatrixes. :)

    Equally luckily, card modeling and writing are also nearly free, so they make good companions with dreaming. I hope you will continue all three. :)
  12. Art Decko

    Art Decko Member

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    As someone who lived 18 years in that wonderful city, I think I can clear this up. "The Golden Gate" does not refer to the bridge, it's the name of the narrow opening between the Pacific Ocean and the sprawling San Francisco Bay. When the beautiful art deco bridge was built to span the Golden Gate, they naturally christened it the "Golden Gate Bridge". So Latham flying "through the Golden Gate" in 1910 is perfectly plausible.

    Ha, my joke was quite near the truth! :) I still think your daughters would prefer the Antoinette, which was so popular among French aviatrixes. :)

    Equally luckily, card modeling and writing are also nearly free, so they make good companions with dreaming, I hope you will continue all three. :)