Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Skies Of 1914

We grew up with images and stories of Great War dogfights and fighter pilots, but in 1914 the airplane was still in its infancy. The Germans flew the Taube until 1916, mostly for reconnaissance missions.  It used wing warping rather than hinged control surfaces, but it had a 6 cylinder, 120 HP Mercedes up front.  Its maximum speed was only 62.5 mph, and of course it did not have an electric starter like this reproduction airplane has.

I was first exposed to the Taube in an old Geographic magazine from the Great War era, and it is a picture that sticks in your mind with its bird-like wings. Robert Service even mentioned it in the afterword to his book Rhymes Of A Red Cross Man.

Once more within the sky's deep sapphire hollow
I sight a swimming Taube, a fairy thing;
I watch the angry shell flame flash and follow
In feather puffs that flick a tilted wing;
And then it fades, with shrapnel mirror's flashing;
The flashes bloom to blossoms lily gold;
The batteries are rancorously crashing,
And life is just as full as it can hold.

4 comments:

Merle Morrison said...

I wonder what that motor is? I always thought it was difficult to get an automobile engine approved for aircraft use.

Merle

David aka True Blue Sam said...

From the Owl's Head website:
Specifications: Span 46 ft. 8 in., length 32 ft. 4 in., takeoff weight 1750 lbs., engine 100/120 hp.

Mercedes water-cooled six-cylinder in-line (original); 200 hp Ranger water-cooled six- cylinder upright conversion (representation); maximum speed 60 mph.

David aka True Blue Sam said...

According to Wikipedia, Ranger engines were built during the 1930's: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranger_L-440

Merle Morrison said...

OK, thanks. I was thinking that a modern Mercedes would be pretty complicated to switch over.

Merle