A History of Aeronautics
Cover created by Transcriber and placed in the Public Domain.
A HISTORY OF AERONAUTICS
History of Aeronautics
E. CHARLES VIVIAN
WITH A SECTION ON PROGRESS IN
LIEUT.-COL. W. LOCKWOOD MARSH, O.B.E.
HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY
OCT. 21ST 1919
Although successful heavier-than-air flight is lessthan two decades old, and successful dirigible propulsionantedates it by a very short period, the mass of experimentand accomplishment renders any one-volumehistory of the subject a matter of selection. In additionto the restrictions imposed by space limits, the materialfor compilation is fragmentary, and, in many cases,scattered through periodical and other publications.Hitherto, there has been no attempt at furnishing adetailed account of how the aeroplane and the dirigibleof to-day came to being, but each author who has treatedthe subject has devoted his attention to some specialphase or section. The principal exception to this rule—Hildebrandt—wrotein 1906, and a good many ofhis statements are inaccurate, especially with regardto heavier-than-air experiment.
Such statements as are made in this work are, wherepossible, given with acknowledgment to the authoritieson which they rest. Further acknowledgment is dueto Lieut.-Col. Lockwood Marsh, not only for thesection on aeroplane development which he has contributedto the work, but also for his kindly assistanceand advice in connection with the section on aerostation.The author’s thanks are also due to the Royal AeronauticalSociety for free access to its valuable libraryof aeronautical literature, and to Mr A. Vincent Clarkeviiifor permission to make use of his notes on the developmentof the aero engine.
In this work is no claim to originality—it has beena matter mainly of compilation, and some stories, notablythose of the Wright Brothers and of Santos Dumont,are better told in the words of the men themselves thanany third party could tell them. The author claims,however, that this is the first attempt at recording thefacts of development and stating, as fully as is possiblein the compass of a single volume, how flight andaerostation have evolved. The time for a critical historyof the subject is not yet.
In the matter of illustrations, it has been found verydifficult to secure suitable material. Even the officialseries of photographs of aeroplanes in the war periodis curiously incomplete, and the methods of censorshipduring that period prevented any complete series beingprivately collected. Omissions in this respect willprobably be remedied in future editions of the work,as fresh material is constantly being located.
E. C. V.
|Part I—The Evolution of the Aeroplane|
|I.||THE PERIOD OF LEGEND||3|
|III.||SIR GEORGE CAYLEY—THOMAS WALKER||43|
|IV.||THE MIDDLE NINETEENTH CENTURY||56|
|V.||WENHAM, LE BRIS, AND SOME OTHERS||71|
|VI.||THE AGE OF THE GIANTS||83|
|VII.||LILIENTHAL AND PILCHER||95|
|VIII.||AMERICAN GLIDING EXPERIMENTS||107|
|X.||SAMUEL PIERPOINT LANGLEY||133|
|XI.||THE WRIGHT BROTHERS||145|
|XII.||THE FIRST YEARS OF CONQUEST||176|
|XIII.||FIRST FLIERS IN ENGLAND||188|
|XIV.||RHEIMS, AND AFTER||199|
|XV.||THE CHANNEL CROSSING||211|
|XVI.||LONDON TO MANCHESTER||217|
|XVII.||A SUMMARY—TO 1911||221|
|XVIII.||A SUMMARY—TO 1914||233|
|XIX.||THE WAR PERIOD—I||246|
|XX.||THE WAR PERIOD—II||259|
|Part II—1903–1920: Progress in Designx|
|II.||MULTIPLICITY OF IDEAS||289|
|III.||PROGRESS ON STANDARDISED LINES||296|
|IV.||THE WAR PERIOD||306|
|II.||THE FIRST DIRIGIBLES||331|
|IV.||THE MILITARY DIRIGIBLE||348|
|V.||BRITISH AIRSHIP DESIGN||359|
|VI.||THE AIRSHIP COMMERCIALLY||372|
|Part IV—Engine Development|
|I.||THE VERTICAL TYPE||383|
|II.||THE VEE TYPE||404|
|III.||THE RADIAL TYPE||417|
|IV.||THE ROTARY TYPE||428|
|V.||THE HORIZONTALLY-OPPOSED ENGINE||440|
|VI.||THE TWO-STROKE CYCLE ENGINE||447|
|VII.||ENGINES OF THE WAR PERIOD||458|
|A SHORT BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AERONAUTICS||504|
THE EVOLUTION OF THE AEROPLANE
THE PERIOD OF LEGEND
The blending of fact and fancy which men call legendreached its fullest and richest expression in the goldenage of Greece, and thus it is to Greek mythology thatone must turn for the best form of any legend whichforeshadows history. Yet the prevalence of legendsregarding flight, existing in the records of practicallyevery race, shows that this form of transit was a dreamof many peoples—man always wanted to fly, and imaginedmeans of flight.
In this age of steel, a very great part of the inventivegenius of man has gone into devices intended tofacilitate transport, both of men and goods, and thegrowth of civilisation is in reality the facilitation oftransit, improvement of the means of communication.He was a genius who first hoisted a sail on a boat andsaved the labour of rowing; equally, he who firstharnessed ox or dog or horse to a wheeled vehicle wasa genius—and these looked up, as men have lookedup from the earliest days of all, seeing that the birdshad solved the problem of transit far more completelythan themselves. So it must have appeared, and thereis no age in history in which some dreamers have notdreamed of the conquest of the air; if the caveman hadleft records, these would without doubt have showedthat he, too, dreamed this dream. His main aim,4probably, was self-preservation; when the dinosaurlooked round the corner, the prehistoric bird got outof the way in his usual manner, and prehistoric man—suchof him as succeeded in getting out of the wayafter his fashion—naturally envied the bird, and concludedthat as lord of creation in a doubtful sort of wayhe ought to have equal facilities. He may have tried,like Simon the Magician, and other early experimenters,to improvise those facilities; assuming that he did,there is the groundwork of much of the older legendwith regard to men who flew, since, when history began,legends would be fashioned out of attempts and eventhe desire to fly, these being compounded of somesmall ingredient of truth and much exaggeration andaddition.
In a study of the first beginnings of the art, it isworth while to mention even the earliest of the legendsand traditions, for they show the trend of men’s mindsand the constancy of this dream that has become realityin the twentieth century. In one of the oldest recordsof the world, the Indian classic Mahabarata, it is statedthat ‘Krishna’s enemies sought the aid of the demons,who built an aerial chariot with sides of iron and cladwith wings. The chariot was driven through the skytill it stood over Dwarakha, where Krishna’s followersdwelt, and from there it hurled down upon the citymissiles that destroyed everything on which they fell.’Here is pure fable, not legend, but still a curious forecastof twentieth century bombs from a rigid dirigible.It is to be noted in this case, as in many, that the powerto fly was an attribute of evil, not of good—it was thedemons who built the chariot, even as at Friedrichshavn.Mediæval legend, in nearly every case, attributes flight5to the aid of evil powers, and incites well-disposedpeople to stick to the solid earth—though, curiouslyenough, the pioneers of mediæval times were verylargely of priestly type, as witness the monk ofMalmesbury.
The legends of the dawn of history, however,distribute the power of flight with less of