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Racing Deperdussin Monoplane (side view)

Racing Deperdussin Monoplane (side view).jpg ThumbnailsOf the Water-Insect or GnatThumbnailsOf the Water-Insect or Gnat

In the development of speed, some remarkable craft are built. Each year there is an international air race for the possession of the Gordon-Bennett trophy, and to win this designers build special craft. In tiny monoplanes, engines of high power are installed; and the sustaining wings are so reduced, to give a maximum speed, that the machines appear more like projectiles than flying craft. A purely racing-type monoplane is seen in figure.. It represents a Deperdussin, which, with an engine of 160 horse-power, reached a speed of 130 miles an hour. How small this machine was, in relation to its engine-power, will be realised from the fact that the sustaining surface of its wings amounted to only 104 square feet—far less lifting area, in fact, than Lilienthal used in his gliders. Wires and struts are reduced to a minimum; the body is tapered and smoothed. Such a machine, although it carries speed to an extreme, and is in reality a “freak,” teaches useful lessons. But though it provides data for the construction of high-speed scouts, a monoplane of this type would be useless for cross-country flying; and for the reason that it cannot be manœuvred, prior to an ascent, upon anything save the smoothest of ground. Its wings being so small, to ensure a maximum of speed, the machine will not rise until it has run forward a long distance across the ground; and during this run it attains a speed of nearly 90 miles an hour. At such a pace, unless the ground below its wheels was level, it would leap, swerve, and probably overturn. When alighting from a flight, also, again owing to the smallness of its wings, the craft has to plane down so fast that its pilot could not land safely unless he had below him a surface that was absolutely smooth.

A. Propeller
B. Shield to lessen wind resistance
C. Sloping shield which encloses engine (also to minimise wind-pressure). Air passes between the shields B and C to cool the motor.
D. Pilot’s seat
E. Padded projection against which, when at high speed, the pilot rests his head
F. Sustaining-plane Very slightly cambered
G. Rudder
H. Elevating-plane
I. Landing wheels.

Racing Deperdussin Monoplane (front view).jpg

Racing Deperdussin Monoplane (top view).jpg

The Aeroplane
By Claude Grahame-White and Harry Harper
Published in 1914
Available from gutenberg.org