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1999 Closed threads from 1999 (read only)

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Old 29 December 1999, 09:43 AM   #1
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Were the cockpit controls designed for use by either a right- or left-handed person? Were there any modifications needed to be made to accomodate which hand the pilots were dominant with? Where were the throttle/magneto on/off switch usually located in scouting/fighter aircraft?

Also, from what I have read and seen pictures of, most fighter aircraft (post 1916) fired their guns from a switch on the control stick. Seems as though there was a story about the Fokker Dr1 development in which Fokker had put a lever or some sort to fire the guns but MvR demanded a switch. He said he wanted it like a trigger. Anyway, in the movie "The Blue Max," the pilots of the German aircraft are always pulling a lever outside the cockpit to fire the guns. Any truth to the Fokker Dr1 development story? How did most of the aircrafts fire their guns?

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Old 29 December 1999, 10:32 AM   #2
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There is an interesting chapter in "War Birds" by Elliott White Springs where John Grider (the Unknown Aviator of the book's sub-title} has his mechanics revamp his cockpit in his SE-5a. He tells of replacing the stick with the stick from a Camel, from which he can fire both guns via a bowden cable setup. Some levers looked like an old fashioned emergency brake handle and others activated the bowden cable (like a choke cable) through a simple rotating lever like the ones shown in Blue Max.
I dunno about the DR-I. I never landed on that side of the lines.
Old 29 December 1999, 10:46 AM   #3
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Amy, the Germans seem to have adopted a standard fighter control column quite early on, an example of which is beautifully illustrated on the opening page of Charles Goss's new site. Although it depicts a column taken from an Albatros the Dr1 had the identical fitment. Note that it is designed for two hands, as was the standard Sopwith stick and that fitted to the SE, though neither was as sophisticated as the German product.


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Old 29 December 1999, 03:18 PM   #4
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The method of firing the machine guns by pulling a lever on the gun itself was a bit of "artistic licence" on the part of movie-makers, beginning with "The Dawn Patrol" I think. Reality is that the guns were fired from the control column; problem is that if you film this from outside the cockpit you don't see anything happening. So Hollywood decided that having the pilot pull on a lever would at least make it LOOK interesting...

The only pulling on the gun involved charging the first round with the loading lever or using it to try to clear a jam.
Old 29 December 1999, 06:11 PM   #5
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I can't tell you whether MvR had Fokker install the extra firing lever but the Dr1 had three firing levers. It had two push levers that fired the guns left or right independently. Then they added also a pull lever that fired the guns together. This was more like a trigger.
Just a extra note, MvR had his kill button moved from it's standard location in the middle to his right hand side of the stick.
Also if anyone is interested I have a very good blueprint of the stick from the Dr1.

Old 30 December 1999, 03:48 AM   #6
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Hi Amy

I have seen the sticks in several planes the most interesting is the DR1 it has really two handles on the top side by side. this one has two throttles one on the left side of the cockpit wall and one on the stick as the engine isn't original in this one I can't say for sure that it belongs there, But attention to detail on this plane is very good. The guns are right where you would normally expect the instrument panal and could be easily serviced or fired manually. the compass is mounted by your right knee. Frank Talman did not like these big handles on the stick claiming the banged his knees in manouvers. His book has several cockpit pic's.

The Se5 has two flat pushbuttons in a ring on top of the stick which can be fired independently or together with one thumb. The top gun can be brought back on a track and serviced but I doubt that one could reach the lower gun at all.

On the Neiuport 28 the guns are on the left side of the fusalage and easily reached from the cockpit there is a big lever there that I believe is only for charging. This replica is not so good that I would believe the details hope this helped VBR Brad

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Old 30 December 1999, 07:53 AM   #7
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Some vintage books refer to "Dep" control columns and "Joysticks." I know that Dep (and double dep)comes from the Deperdussin (sp?)and consists of a column with a wheel (or 2 in tandem), but where did the term "joystick" originate?
Old 30 December 1999, 10:59 AM   #8
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where did the term "joystick" originate?
Here goes. <Will the ladies please leave the room for a second? Thanks.>
The position of the joystick....a control column positioned between the pilot's knees, gripped (usually) with the right hand....the phallic implications are obvious.
Hope this helps without getting in trouble with the guardians of public decency.
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Old 30 December 1999, 02:42 PM   #9
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Hi Amy,

The Fokker Eindekker had mixture controls etc on the left.

Avro 504 had all engine controls on the left cockpit wall.

The Sopwith Pup had all engine controls, except the fuel preasure hand pump and ignition 'blip', on the left. The pp was on the right. It had the ignition 'blip' switch on the column.

The Camel had mixture levers etc on the left wall, mags on the left of the panel, 'blip' on the column, fuel preasure hand pump on the right of the cockpit floor next to the seat.

The SPAD XIII seems to have had a similar arrangement to the Sopwith Pup.

The Bristol Fighter had engine control levers on the left, fuel switches on right of panel. Radiator shutters on right cocpit wall below the fuel preasure hand pump, Mags on right of panel under fuel selectors etc.

Through to the thirties this type of arrangement seems to have been almost universal. My guess would be that as many of these aircraft required fine fuel adjustments at critical times during takeoff and they were not 'trim and forget' aircraft, it was deemed prudent to have a strong right hand on the control column!!

This is pure guess work on my part but remember that at that time children who tended towards being left handed were still being beaten for it and forced to change!

best regards

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Old 30 December 1999, 05:50 PM   #10
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Tese are two pictures of a Bristol Fighter instrument panel on display at the Planes of Fame Museum, Valle, AZ.

There are two pics, unfortunately Xoom wont let me link to them directly, but if you scroll down to the "Planes of Fame Air Museum - Grand Canyon, Arizona" section, they are the Biff007 and Biff008 photographs on the WWI Museum Aircraft Website.

The large centre slot at the top is where the rear part of the gun pokes through. The top of the panel doesnt reach to the top of the fuselage either, plenty of heat from the engine must have drafted through. The Valle museum also had a replica Bristol Fighter there.




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