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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

Coming to the Lebaudy brothers and their work


increase in power of the engines fitted to airships has made steady progress from the outset; Haenlein's engine developed about 6 horse-power; the Santos-Dumont airship of 1898 was propelled by a motor of 4 horse-power; in 1902 the Lebaudy airship was fitted with an engine of 40 horse-power, while, in 1910, the Lebaudy brothers fitted an engine of nearly 300 horsepower to the airship they were then constructing--1,400 horse-power was common in the airships of the War period, and the later British rigids developed yet more.

Before passing on to consideration of the petrol-driven type of engine, it is necessary to accord brief mention to the dirigible constructed in 1884 by Gaston and Albert Tissandier, who at Grenelle, France, achieved a directed flight in a wind of 8 miles an hour, obtaining their power for the propeller from 1 1/3 horse-power Siemens electric motor, which weighed 121 lbs. and took its current from a bichromate battery weighing 496 lbs. A two-bladed propeller, 9 feet in diameter, was used, and the horse-power output was estimated to have run up to 1 1/2 as the dirigible successfully described a semicircle in a wind of 8 miles an hour, subsequently making headway transversely to a wind of 7 miles an hour. The dirigible with which this motor was used was of the conventional pointed-end type, with a length of 92 feet, diameter of 30 feet, and capacity of 37,440 cubic feet of gas. Commandant Renard, of the French army balloon corps,

followed up Tissandier's attempt in the next year--1885--making a trip from Chalais-Meudon to Paris and returning to the point of departure quite successfully. In this case the motive power was derived from an electric plant of the type used by the Tissandiers, weighing altogether 1,174 lbs., and developing 9 horsepower. A speed of 14 miles an hour was attained with this dirigible, which had a length of 165 feet, diameter of 27 feet, and capacity of 65,836 cubic feet of gas.

Reverting to the petrol-fed type again, it is to be noted that Santos-Dumont was practically the first to develop the use of the ordinary automobile engine for air work--his work is of such importance that it has been considered best to treat of it as one whole, and details of the power plants are included in the account of his experiments. Coming to the Lebaudy brothers and their work, their engine of 1902 was a 40 horse-power Daimler, four-cylindered; it was virtually a large edition of the Daimler car engine, the arrangement of the various details being on the lines usually adopted for the standard Daimler type of that period. The cylinders were fully water-jacketed, and no special attempt toward securing lightness for air work appears to have been made.

The fining down of detail that brought weight to such limits as would fit the engine for work with heavier-than-air craft appears to have waited for the brothers Wright. Toward the end of 1903 they fitted to their first practicable flying machine the engine which made the historic first aeroplane flight; this engine developed 30 horse-power, and weighed only about 7 lbs. per horse-power developed, its design and workmanship being far ahead of any previous design in this respect, with the exception of the remarkable engine, designed by Manly, installed in Langley's ill-fated aeroplane--or 'aerodrome,' as he preferred to call it--tried in 1903.

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