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Aircraft Topics related to WWI aircraft, aircraft engines and armament

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Old 29 May 2002, 11:39 AM   #1
Vigilant
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I know that the Luftstreitkräfte used armoured aircraft in 1918 (the Junkers CL.1?) for ground attack operations, but did the RFC/RAF ever develop anything similar for that role and contact patrols? If prototypes were developed, why did they never get into service?

The advantage of some crew/engine/tank protection on low flying aircraft over the concentration of small arms that was the Western Front seems obvious and well worth trading for performance or range!

What's the story?

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Old 29 May 2002, 12:07 PM   #2
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The only ground attack aircraft (British)with that comes to mind that had any armour was the Sopwith T.F.2 Salamander
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Old 29 May 2002, 06:37 PM   #3
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Vig,

>What's the story?

I think I recall reading some 1 Sqn AFC pilots flattened infantry helmets and sat on them, I will have a dig and try to confirm that. 3 Sqn AFC used to fill the secondary fuel tank in the RE8 with water as it was in a position that was prone to fire should it be hit.

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Old 30 May 2002, 12:03 AM   #4
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Not only Junkers on the German side ! Some other planes had also armoured plating to protect the pilot and observer-gunner in the Schlasta's. Sometimes just an armoured plate on the bottom of the fuselage, sometimes on the side of the fuselage for protection of both crew members. Schlasta crews also wore the regular German helmet in most cases when they were active for groundattacks.

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Old 30 May 2002, 04:47 AM   #5
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Quote:
I know that the Luftstreitkräfte used armoured aircraft in 1918 (the Junkers CL.1?) for ground attack operations, but did the RFC/RAF ever develop anything similar for that role and contact patrols? If prototypes were developed, why did they never get into service?

The advantage of some crew/engine/tank protection on low flying aircraft over the concentration of small arms that was the Western Front seems obvious and well worth trading for performance or range!

What's the story?

Vigilant
To start with the last question, "the story" of British armoured aicraft is told in great detail by the late Jack M Bruce (what a loss...) in "The first British Armoured Brigade" in Air International vol 16 no 2, 3 and 4, February to April 1979.

The story seems to be one of negligence to me: There were always some trials during the war, but never a really concerted effort to get armoured aircraft into service.

The main types identified by Bruce are:

- The RE 1: No success due to it´s armour to thin
- The Bristols SSA: A single seat fighter similar to the Salamander, but 3 yearsearlier
- A number of armoured BE 2C´s, not a success due to their late arrival and clumsy handling.
- The prototype 0/100 and disastrous AD Type 1, none of which progressed anywhere in it´s armoured version
- The RAF AE 3 Ram two seat ground attack fighter, prototype only.
- The Sopwith TF 1 Camel version and the TF 2 Salamander, the only true production armoured aircraft in British service
- The Vickers FB 26 A Vamppire II armoured pusgher g/a fighter
- The Sopwith Buffalo twoseater, the only British design to fly that was designed specifically for contact patrol duties. 2 prototypes only, a rather shapely aircraft, but both aircraft crashed early in their career (but the design anyway came to late)

As for the German side, the Cl types used to equip the Schlachtstaffeln were actually also not armoured. The armoured aircraft were either the contact patrol J series aircraft, with 5 types in large scale series production (the Alb J I and J II, the AEG J I and J II and the Junkers J I) or the later Schlachtflugzeuge, which were heavily armoured and armed ground attack aircraft, but did not make it into service. As Schlachtflugzeuge, there were the AGO S I and the AEG G IVk, which were both build in prototype form (the AEG in a kind of preseries); Too, Albatros records show and detail a Albatros S I, but I have never seen a photo of that aircraft, and it is neither clear whether it was really build, nor whether it really fitted into the same class.

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Old 30 May 2002, 11:47 AM   #6
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Thanks for the great information, guys.

I'll start hunting on the web for back issues of Air International.

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Old 30 May 2002, 02:14 PM   #7
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>The Sopwith Buffalo twoseater

As a note on this, one example of the Sopwith Buffalo was attached to 4 Sqn AFC for evaluation. This was while the squadron was equipped with Snipes. Apparently one of the pilots remarked that the Buffalo was, "a thorn between roses". Dont know who said it though.


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Old 1 June 2002, 05:07 AM   #8
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Cam

The reference to the flattened infantry helmets is from George Jones' essay to the RAF College.

He was injured in the lower back by ground fire during the March 1918 offensives.
 
Old 3 June 2002, 01:57 PM   #9
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Gordon,

>The reference to the flattened infantry helmets is
>from George Jones' essay to the RAF College.

Thanks, I would have been looking in the totally wrong spot then!



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Old 3 June 2002, 07:04 PM   #10
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Greetings Forumites:

Just a note on the armoured end of single seat fighter aircraft. *Ltn. des Res. J. Jacobs of Jasta 7 told the late Neal O'Connor that he employed plate metal in small sections on his Triplane (450/17.) *We have no more than this- he had a section under his seatchute on top of the wooden base to the seat. *Also a section attached to the rear cockpit 'bulkhead' (for lack of a better word,) from the top longeron to just below the lower attachment for the seat support frame work. *Pesumably this save his life on more than one occasion. *One can only wonder if the 10 - 20 extra hp of the captured Clerget was actually was needed to keep this aircraft at optimal operation standards.
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