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“Sky Birds, August 1934″ by C.B. Mayshark

Link - Posted by David on May 7, 2018 @ 6:00 am in

THIS May we’re celebrating the genius that is C.B. Mayshark! Mayshark took over the covers duties for Sky Birds with the July 1934 and would paint all the remaining covers until it’s last issue in December 1935. At the start of his run, Sky Birds started featuring a different combat maneuver of the war-time pilots. The lower corner presenting a play-by-play of that month’s maneuver with the remainder of the cover illustrating it. For August 1934 issue Mayshark gives us “Triplane Trickery!”

Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots:
Triplane Trickery

PROBABLY no more interesting bit th_SB_3408 of air action could ever be seen on any front than that involving two triplanes, one a Sopwith, the other, of course, the much discussed Fokker. Both were fast on the controls, almost equally powered and remarkable climbing ships.

The most amazing feature about this triplane business is that even today, with all the publicity that has been given to World War planes, few realize that the greatest triplane on the Front was the Sopwith—not the Fokker.

The Fokker triplane has drawn an unusual amount of regard mainly because von Richthofen flew it for a considerable period. Voss, the great German sportsman, also won twenty-two victories in three weeks in a triplane. The German triplane has attracted attention also because of the garish designs that have been credited to various noted German Staffels. A German triplane decked out in fantastic colors and diced designs looks more offensive than a Sopwith which had to retain its factory colors. The triplanes used by Ray Collishaw and his Black Gang when they were ordered to keep every German observation plane out of the air over Messines, in 1917, were the only British ships used on the Front during the daytime which were daubed up with unorthodox coloring. Our readers will recall that they were all painted black.

The Sopwith triplane was finished and first delivered on May 28th, 1916. The Fokker triplane came out several months later, and had many of the interesting features of the British ship. Except for the Fokker cantilever wing, which made it a stronger ship than the Sopwith, the Fokker was generally considered a steal.

Be that as it may, both were fine ships. The Sopwith triplane was first used by the Royal Naval Air Service and did fine work, but after several months of front-line and coastal action, it was practically superseded by the Camel, which came out in December, 1916. The one fault with the Sopwith was its unusually high landing speed, which frankly made it unsuitable for the temporary airdromes in vogue in France in those days. For this reason, it was practically abandoned. However, when Ray Collishaw, given the unenviable job of clearing the air for a period of three months over Messines, was asked what ship he preferred for the work, he practically stunned everyone by stating that the Sopwith triplane would be his selection.

They gave him five and let him daub them up as he liked. He selected four other young hellions like himself and went to work clearing the air over Messines while the British sunk their memorable mine under the German lines. In two months Collishaw shot down 29 German planes. His Black Gang accounted for nearly forty, altogether, and eventually Messines went up without a German’s knowing what had been going on.

Where the British triplane had it all over the German was in climbing. In the first place, it was much lighter and better powered. In our cover drawing this month, we show a typical maneuver during a raid on a German drome. The British ship had broken out of a patrol to give a line of hangars a dose of Vickers. A German had been taking off just as the Sopwith pilot reached his lowest point. Naturally the Fokker had the early edge in height, but the Sopwith pilot was taught to fake a dive on his enemy at the first opportunity he got. If he hit, okay. If not, he continued on under the Fokker yanked up hard and, with this added momentum, the Sopwith shot into the sky like a high-speed elevator. From that point on, the Fokker was completely outclassed, for while a pilot is struggling to climb, he has little chance to get his nose on an enemy.

Of course, if the Sopwith had tried to out-dive the Hun—that would have been different. But these are the tricks of the triplanes.

The Story of The Cover
Sky Birds, August 1934 by C.B. Mayshark
(Combat Maneuvers of War-Time Pilots: The Story Behind This Month’s Cover)

“The Sopwith Triplane” by Robert H. Rankin

Link - Posted by David on September 28, 2015 @ 6:00 am in

Frederick Blakeslee painted all the covers for the entire run of Dare-Devil Aces. And each of those covers had a story behind it. This time, we have more of the approach he used for the covers he painted for Battle Aces—telling us about the ship on cover. But, instead of Mr Blakeslee telling us about the ship on the cover, we have Mr. Robert H. Rankin, formerly a draughtsman for the Fokker Aircraft Corp telling the story of the Sopwith Triplane—featured on the cover of the July 1935 cover of Dare-Devil Aces. . . .

th_DDA_3507Editor’s Note: This month’s cover shows what would happen if a certain invention, had been perfected during the War. The rear-pit man in the all metal Junkers is operating a huge, highly magnified tense, so constructed as to concentrate a powerful percentage of the sun’s rays. When focused on the fabric covering of an airplane, this sunlight beam would cause a tiny burn. It is based on the same principle as that of lighting a fire by focusing sunlight on a small glass dial. The Allied ships on the cover are Sopwith triplanes.

The Sopwith Triplane
By ROBERT H. RANKIN
Formerly draughtsman, Fokker Aircraft Corporation

OF THE various Sopwith planes, all of which attained great fame, none is more interesting and characteristic than the Triplane—or as it was better known by the German and British pursuit pilots, the “Tripe” or “Tripe-hound.”

The Triplane was the ninth type produced by the Sopwith works, being accepted by the Experimental Board about four months after the Sopwith Pup. The principal object aimed at in the design of the Triplane was the attainment of an extra high degree of visibility, or in other words, the reduction to minimum of the pilot’s blind angle.

With his eyes on a level with the intermediate plane the pilot had practically an junrestricted arc of vision through some 120 degrees, while a section cut out of the intermediate wing enabled him to have a rather good view of the ground while landing the ship, the position of the cockpit being such that the bottom wing had no restricting effect on the vision.

The narrowness of the chord made possible by the use of three main planes also enabled the pilot to have an exceptional view upward and to either side—a most important consideration in any pursuit ship. Another object aimed at in the “Tripehound” was an increase in maneuverbility.

It will be seen that due to the narrow; chord the shifts in the center of pressure with varying angles of incidence is smaller than in a biplane, and consequently a much shorter fuselage can be used to suport the tail surfaces. In addition to this, the small span of the triplane reduces the moments of inertia in the horizontal plane and an airplane is thus obtained which is very sensitive to its controls, which fact adds to its ability to dodge to various strategic positions in a fight.

The factor of the movement of the center of pressure enabled single I-struts to be used instead of the usual pairs, one springing from each spar. This simplified construction by permitting a simplification of inter-plane wire bracing system. Ailerons of the unbalanced type were fitted to each of the three wings.

The “Tripehound” was armed with a single machine gun mounted on the forward top side of the fuselage. In the hands of experienced pilots the ship gave a splendid account of itself and coped favorably with the Fokkers then in use on the Western Front.

The dimensions of the Triplane follow:

Sweepback None
Stagger 1 ft. 6 in.
Dihedral (same for each wing) 2.5 degrees
Total wing area 231 sq.ft.
Length over all 18 ft. 10 in.
Overall span 26 ft. 6 in.
Wing span (same for each wing) 26 ft. 6 in.
Chord (same for each wing) 3 ft. 3in.
Wing areas—
    Top 84 sq. ft.
    Intermediate 72 sq. ft.
    Bottom 75 sq. ft.
    Gap 3 ft.
Areas—
    Aileron 34 sq. ft.
    Tail plane 14.0 sq. ft.
    Elevators 9.6 sq. ft.
    Total 23.6 sq.ft.
    Fin 2.5 sq. ft.
    Rudder 4.5 sq. ft.
    Total 6.5 sq. ft.

 

Powered with a 130 h.p. Clerget engine the Sopwith Triplane had a high speed of 112.5 miles an hour (at 6,500 feet). The landing speed was 35 m.p.h. and it would climb to 6,500 feet in 6.5 minutes and to 15,000 feet in 22.3 minutes.

The plane had a fuel capacity of 180 pounds and a flight range of 310 miles. The ceiling was 20,500 feet. The “Tripehound” weighed 1,103 pounds empty and 1,543 pounds loaded which made a loading of 6 pounds per square foot or 12.4 pounds per horse power.

Although judged by present standards the Triplane was low-powered and rather slow, its speed, ease of handling and general performance were outstanding at the time of its introduction into the Royal Flying Corps.

The Story Behind The Cover
“The Sopwith Triplane” by Frederick Blakeslee (July 1935, Dare-Devil Aces)