The military competition of Reims 1911
In 1910, the first maneuvers carried out at Chalons using airplanes showed that they are not adapted to a military role. These are machines conceived for sport and leisure and no to accomplish war missions. For this reason General Roques, the person in charge of military aviation, and the colonel Hirschauer, the person in charge of Army Aeronautical Technical Services, organize the meeting at Reims in 1911 as an important military competition, destined to select the machines able to complete at least minimal performance in missions. This competition is the first aerial meeting organized by the army in France. The military officers imposed rules that the machines are completely constructed in France (including the engine), are able to traverse without stop a circuit of 300 km with 300 kg of load at a speed of more than 60 km/h. The regulation stipulates that every machine must include three seats. The will have to take off and land without the use of a track laid out in the grass. Additionally, it will have to be collapsible so as to be stored easily by the army, transported by road or railroad, and simple to reassemble. An lone mechanic must be able to start up the motor.
This competition was organized for five weeks from October to November 1911 in Reims. Important prizes are offered by the army: first prize receives 100,000 francs, and an order for ten airplanes for a price of 40,000 francs each, with 500 francs for each kilometer per hour above 60 km/h average speed, and 700,000 francs for an average speed of 100 km/h. The aerial meeting was one as never before seen with seventy-one airplanes presented by thirty-two builders: Blériot, Breguet, Clément-Bayard who
presented a machine with two wings in tandem propelled by the 200 hp Clerget, Deperdussin, Henry Farman, Maurice Farman, Hanriot, Lioré and Olivier, Morane- Saulnier, Nieuport, Savary, Summon, REP.
The 100 hp 4 cylinder Clément-Bayard installed for the first time in a Deperdussin monoplane and in the two Hanriot monoplanes. The prototype of the Gnome Doubles Gamma to doubles star 14 cylinders of 140hp appears for the first time on a Breguet biplane piloted by Moine. Many of the machines use a 70 hp Gnome Gamma. All the French motor manufacturers are present: Anzani, District unné, Clément-Bayard, Gnome, Grégoire-GYP, Renault.
More than half of the machines presented are eliminated, being incapable of take off with three passengers, or having mechanical failure. Numerous accidents occur and several pilots die. Only thirty-two machines are admitted November 26 1911 to compete in the 300 km race between Reims and Amiens. Only eight succeed in achieving an average speed of 60 km/h. The slowest took almost eight hours to complete the journey. The Clément-Bayard powered Hanriot is disappointing; the well built airplane and its brilliant motor could not compete. Foch concludes: "The airplanes are done for the sport, they do not be worth nothing for the war".
The year 1912
Disappointed by the results of the military competition Hanriot restructures itself looking towards exportation. It abandons the Clément-Bayard to the benefit of Gnome. May 10 1912, it creates a new corporation in England, Hanriot Ltd, and establishes offices in London. Three totally new Hanriot machines are designed and build by the firm Hewlett & Blondeau. In June, Hanriot presents Great Britain with a machine of completely different design from their earlier ones, a multiplane with four wings, propelled by a 200hp motor. The machine is seriously damaged during testing and this costly attempt puts an end to its exportation hopes. At the second military competition in August, it presents its new two place designs, propelled by the 100hp Gnome. Pilot John Bielovucic wins the speed prize in one of them. The Parisian house prepared a hydro for the April races in Monaco. The new machine, not ready for the race, represents their last
investment. This bad fortune puts the Hanriot corporation in bankruptcy. She is purchased by Alfred Ponnier, an wealthy fan of the typical Hanriot race monoplane "Dragonfly". Marcel Hanriot is called by the army (the length of the obligatory military service is of three years), in 1912. He becomes a military pilot at 18 years of age, in June. After the summer of 1912, Hanriot father and sons retrain in the sale of the automobiles in Grégoire, France, while Alfred Pagny, Hanriot’s assistant begins the study of new machines in the design offices in Paris, keeping the Hanriot name.
The surprise of 1913
Between the summers of 1912 and 1913, the sales are reduced to only a few units. While the Hanriot firm seemed lost, an unexpected event puts back it in the saddles. September 29, 1913, the Hanriot-Ponnier D-III monoplane piloted by Emile Védrines (the brother of the pilot Julius Védrines), comes in second in the very publicized Gordon-Bennett race, with an average speed of 197km/h.
Becoming the Société de Construction de Machines pour la Navigation Aérienne (CMNA) – the Hanriot company loses its status as an aeronautical builder - the factory Ponnier of Reims produces several types of airplanes before the war, the Hanriot- Ponnier D-V biplane, then another biplane of bigger capacity, the Hanriot-Ponnier D-VIII.
The war orders boom when war begins in August 1914. The factories of Ponnier and the CMNA in Reims (formerly Hanriot) are taken by the Germans. René Hanriot
creates a new aviation factory in Levallois, on rue du Bois (currently John Jaurès street) where Aéroplanes Hanriot et Cie is founded and produces the Sopwith Strutter in 1916, subcontracting for Lioré et Olivier. In 1915, it secures the services of an excellent engineer, Pierre Dupont.
In 1916, the Hanriot-Dupont HD-1 is adopted by Belgium and Italy. 1,200 are constructed. At the end of the year, Hanriot opens a second factory at 84 rue des Moulineaux à Boulogne-Billancourt where 2 000 workers are employed during 1917. In 1917 the Hanriot-Dupont HD-2, then fighter biplane Hanriot-Dupont HD-3 that flies at 210 km/h thanks to its 250hp Salmson engine. At the end of 1917, the Hanriot firm produced more than 5 000 airplanes. After the war the Hanriot company moves to 190-196 boulevard Bineau in Paris. In 1919, a
flying school is opened at Mourmelon-le-Grand, directed by Maurice Chevillard. Hanriot creates a school of aeronautical mechanics in Courbevoie. In 1924, the Hanriot Corporation emigrates to Carrières-sur-Seine. René Hanriot dies suddenly November 7 1925. Marcel (is only 31) and his two brothers-in-law bring a third, Outhenin Chalandre, to the business as director of the factory and of papeteries. In 1937, the Hanriot firm will merge with Farman and become Société Nationale de Constructions Aéronautiques du
Centre (SNCAC), of which Marcel Hanriot will be the one of the directors. Marcel Hanriot died in Nice, March 31, 1961.