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Wonders of World Aviation

Part 27


Part 27 of Wonders of World Aviation was published on Tuesday 6th September 1938, price 7d.


This part included a colour plate showing Lunardi’s second balloon. This was one of the illustrations in the article on Britain’s First Aerial Voyages.






The Cover


Our cover picture this week shows the Savoia-Marchetti S-74, an Italian four-engined long-distance commercial monoplane, which accommodates 20-27 passengers and has a cruising speed of 180 miles an hour at 5,250 feet. Savoia-Marchetti machines were used in massed flights led by General Balbo across the South and North Atlantic in 1930 and 1933. The S-74 is one of the latest types produced by the company.

The Savoia-Marchetti S-74, an Italian four-engined long-distance commercial monoplane


Contents of Part 27


Great Air Experiments (Part 2)

Reconnaissance Aircraft

Famous German Airship Flights

Lunardi’s Second Balloon (colour plate)

Britain’s First Aerial Voyages

Aeroplane Endurance

RAF Operations Overseas (Part 1)






Reconnaissance Aircraft


Reconnaissance aeroplanes were used also for fighting, bombing and artillery and infantry cooperation. There were two main types of reconnaissance aeroplanes, fighter-reconnaissance types attached to armies, and corps-reconnaissance types attached to army corps. Fighter-reconnaissance aeroplanes were the eyes of the H.Q. Staffs; corps-reconnaissance types were mainly used for artillery and infantry cooperation. In this chapter, Captain Norman Macmillan describes the various reconnaissance machines which flew singly or in formation according to their particular duties. This is the fourth article in the series on Aeroplanes of the Great War.

(Pages 723-726)


Britain’s First Aerial Voyages


The beginnings of practical aeronautics in Paris in 1783 have already been described in this work; the repercussions in Great Britain are the subject of this chapter by P. R. Bird. Londoners had their first sight of a balloon on November 4, 1783; but this was a small balloon incapable of carrying an aeronaut. It ascended from Cheapside and came down at Waltham Abbey, Essex, some thirteen miles away.


It was not until the following year that James Tytler, a courageous Edinburgh experimenter, gained the distinction of being the first man in the United Kingdom to make an ascent. Tytler’s success was limited, but in September 1784 Vincent Lunardi ascended from the Artillery Ground at Moorfields, London, and made a voyage of some twenty-four miles to Standon, near Ware, Hertfordshire. Lunardi was in the air on this occasion for over two hours and he estimated that his balloon reached a height of four miles.


After this success Lunardi made other ascents in Great Britain from Liverpool, Edinburgh, Kelso, Glasgow and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Lunardi returned to his native Italy in 1787 and made several notable ascents there. Later he went to Spain and on one occasion his arrival by air convinced some peasants that he was a saint from heaven; so he was carried in triumph to the local church. His resourcefulness and his courage have given Lunardi an unassailable place in the record of pioneer aeronauts.

(Pages 733-737)


The Transjordan Frontier Force

COOPERATION WITH GROUND FORCES is included in the duties of the Royal Air Force overseas. The assistance of the pilots is most valuable in the suppression of bandits in desert regions and mountainous country. This photograph shows two men of the Transjordan Frontier Force bringing a report to a waiting Air Force Patrol near Haifa, Palestine.

(Page 741)



An Early “Autogiro” Aircraft

AN EARLY “AUTOGIRO” AIRCRAFT, a class of machine which has been used for numerous experiments including deck take-offs and landings on a warship. This feat was accomplished by a British pilot, R. A. C. Brie, in an Italian warship in an Italian harbour. The experiments were made with the ship at anchor so that there was no relative airstream to help the pilot.

(Page 721)


Great Air Experiments (Part 2)



Among the experiments dealt with in this chapter are those connected with attempts to solve the problem of landing an aeroplane within a restricted area, slow flying tests, tests with the free parachute and experiments with the free parachute. This chapter is by Major Oliver Stewart and is concluded from part 26.

(Pages 721-722)



Lunardi’s Second Balloon


THE COLOURS OF THE NATIONAL FLAG of Great Britain were used effectively on Lunardi’s second balloon, the largest hydrogen balloon in existence in 1785. With something of the showman’s instinct, Lunardi decided that his balloon should appeal to the eye and also express a compliment to the country of his adoption. Most of the early aeronauts carried a large flag, with which they waved reassurance to spectators below. The contemporary illustrations of early balloons generally show light oars of various kinds; but experience was to prove that the attempts at propulsion by such means were fruitless and oars were discarded by the balloonists of a later date.


(Facing page 733)


RAF Operations Overseas (Part 1)


Earlier chapters dealing with the Royal Air Force and its work today have brought me many letters and many inquiries from young men who are considering a career in Service aviation. An interesting aspect of such a career is recorded in this chapter dealing with the overseas operations of the Royal Air Force. The organization is an extensive one, with stations in many lands. The work, too, is varied, embracing such widely different activities as routine and long-distance flights, location of lost aeroplanes, assistance to villages cut off from ordinary communications, and survey work, including the taking of air photographs. The importance of the work done by the Royal Air Force overseas is not generally appreciated, but this chapter, which is by Peter Duff, gives some fascinating details of its wide scope and interest.

This article is concluded in part 28.

(Pages 741-744)


Zambeccari’s Balloon of 1783

THE FIRST HYDROGEN BALLOON to be launched publicly in Great Britain was sent up by Count Francesco Zambeccari in 1783 from Moorfields, London. The balloon came down two and a half hours later near Petworth, Sussex, forty-eight miles away. The old woodcut illustrates the balloon being cut free.

(Page 733)


The De Havilland DH-4

THE DE HAVILLAND D.H.4 was a two-seater fighter-reconnaissance day-bomber. Three different types of engines were fitted to this aircraft. With the most powerful one, a 360 horse-power Rolls-Royce Eagle, the aircraft had a higher ceiling than any other British aeroplane of 1918, except the Le Rhone Camel and the Martinsyde F.4, both of which were single-seater fighters.

(Page 723)


Famous German Airship Flights


Of all the controversial aspects of aviation one of the most keenly debated is the airship. Those in favour of this form of aerial transport can cite some remarkable achievements, and point to the great promise for the future which these successes imply; on the other hand, there are the reasons which brought airship development in Great Britain to a virtual standstill.


Whatever attitude is taken to airship development, there is no question but that some of the famous airship voyages of the past have added spectacular interest to the story of aeronautics. In this chapter, Captain J. A. Sinclair recounts some memorable airship voyages. He recalls that the Graf Zeppelin, which was completed almost exactly ten years ago, made nearly 150 transoceanic crossings. Her flight round the world, carrying freight, mail and a complement of sixty-one, remains an outstanding event.


Those readers who do not, in general, favour the idea of extensive airship development will be as interested in this chapter as those who take a different view. The Graf Zeppelin is now in honourable retirement, but the fact that she had flown more than 16,000 hours, covered 1,060,000 miles and carried 13,000 passengers entitles her to her place in Wonders of World Aviation.

(Pages 727-732)


The Graf Zeppelin

BUILT IN 1928, the Graf Zeppelin is now in retirement, having flown more than 16,000 hours, covered 1,060,000 miles and carried 13,000 passengers. The Graf Zeppelin made 148 transoceanic crossings, and was at one time used on a regular service across the Atlantic. The airship is 772 feet long and has a maximum diameter of 100 feet..

(Page 727)



The Graf Zeppelin


THE CONTROL ROOM was in the front part of the car of the Graf Zeppelin, with the passenger cabin behind it. This photograph, taken at Friedrichshafen, shows the method of handling the airship when near the ground. Rope spiders enable groups of men to apply their pull to various parts of the airship.


FIFTEEN TONS OF EXTRA EQUIPMENT were taken on board the Graf Zeppelin for her North Polar exploration trip. Among this equipment were tents, sleeping bags, kitchen utensils, provisions for three months, sleds, skis, guns and ammunition and fishing tackle. Several cameras were built into the ship and were operated by photographic experts who were among the scientists on board.


(Page 728)


Aeroplane Endurance


In some ways the measure of success obtained in aviation is best shown by the increasing lengths of time that machines have been able to remain in flight. When Bleriot flew the Channel in 1909, one of his greatest fears was that his engine might overheat. The failure of Latham to cross before Bleriot was largely due to the overheating of the engine. So narrow was the margin between success and failure that even a shower of rain at the critical moment might have been decisive.


Long-range flights are now commonplace, and nothing shows more clearly the advance in every department of aeroplane design than this ability to keep flying. The extraordinary progress in endurance without refuelling is vividly set out in this account, which is written by Miles Henslow.

(Pages 738-740)


The First Official Flight of More Than an Hour

THE FIRST OFFICIAL FLIGHT OF MORE THAN ONE HOUR was made by the American Wilbur Wright at Le Mans, France, on September 21, 1908. This photograph shows his machine in flight during the making of the record. He remained in the air for 1 hour 31 minutes 25 seconds. Previously, his brother Orville had made flights of more than an hour; but they had not been officially timed.

(Page 738)



Above Cairo


VICKERS VALENTIA TROOP CARRIERS flying above the citadel at Cairo. These aircraft are a development of the Vickers Victoria and carry twenty-two men, in addition to a crew of two. Lockers are provided for the men’s equipment and rifle racks are provided. Apart from their use for carrying troops, these aeroplanes may be used as bombers for for the evacuation of civilians from danger areas.


(Page 743)

AN EARLY “AUTOGIRO” AIRCRAFTTHE DE HAVILLAND D.H.4 was a two-seater fighter-reconnaissance day-bomberBUILT IN 1928, the Graf Zeppelin is now in retirementThe Graf ZeppelinLunardi’s second balloon, the largest hydrogen balloon in existence in 1785THE FIRST HYDROGEN BALLOON to be launched publicly in Great Britain was sent up by Count Francesco Zambeccari in 1783THE FIRST OFFICIAL FLIGHT OF MORE THAN ONE HOUR was made by the American Wilbur Wright at Le Mans, France, on September 21, 1908COOPERATION WITH GROUND FORCES is included in the duties of the Royal Air Force overseasVICKERS VALENTIA TROOP CARRIERS flying above the citadel at Cairo