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Rowdy

Please id this WW1 aircraft

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Rowdy

Hi, the attached photo shows the pusher-type plane which my grand-stepfather (or step-grandfather) flew in the RFC, probably in India and/or Palestine. He's a bit of a mystery figure, so I can't even help by telling you what squadron he was in. I've had a look on the Interweb and can find nothing like it; was it common to modify planes back then? Anyway, all help gratefully received.

Mike Gooding

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post-74466-0-02869000-1309435504.jpg

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centurion

Either an early Breguet or Voisin. From the shape of the fuselage and the positioning of the forward undercarriage I'd say a Breguet. However of British forces only the RNAS used these - for bombing in Flanders. Voisins were used by both forces (RFC and RNAS) but not in Palestine or India and the front fuselage was differently shaped, the front undercarriage struts fitted to the very front of the fuselage and the radiators were positioned differently. Voisins were used by the RNAS in the Med (Mudros) and in Africa, the RFC used them in France and Meopotamia.

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Rowdy

Thanks, General. He now seems an even more mysterious character than I thought!

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John-B-Rooks

Hi Rowdy and Centurion.

Voisin - certainly - but I suspect this hasn't come from the French factory but is a licence built British or Italian one. The illustrations I have of 'factory fresh' Voisins (the three major marques) show an inverted 'V' cabane strut configuration with the radiators mounted on those struts rather than on the fuselage. The undercart is a dead giveaway for it being a Voisin though. The British bought 50 Mk 3s from the French and built 50 more under licence. The Italians built 112 of them with a variety of locally sourced engines.

Hope this helps.

John

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centurion

Hi Rowdy and Centurion.

Voisin - certainly - but I suspect this hasn't come from the French factory but is a licence built British or Italian one. The illustrations I have of 'factory fresh' Voisins (the three major marques) show an inverted 'V' cabane strut configuration with the radiators mounted on those struts rather than on the fuselage. The undercart is a dead giveaway for it being a Voisin though. The British bought 50 Mk 3s from the French and built 50 more under licence. The Italians built 112 of them with a variety of locally sourced engines.

Hope this helps.

John

If its a Voisin it aint British (RFC or RNAS) as the fuselage, the attachment points for the front undercarriage struts and the radiators are dead wrong

British Voisins still not used in Palestine and/or India

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centurion

Hi Rowdy and Centurion.

Voisin - certainly - but I suspect this hasn't come from the French factory but is a licence built British or Italian one. The illustrations I have of 'factory fresh' Voisins (the three major marques) show an inverted 'V' cabane strut configuration with the radiators mounted on those struts rather than on the fuselage. The undercart is a dead giveaway for it being a Voisin though no it isn't see below. The British bought 50 Mk 3s from the French and built 50 more under licence. The Italians built 112 of them with a variety of locally sourced engines.

Hope this helps.

John

All photos I have seen of British Voisins also have the strut mounted radiators. The British Breguet Vs have identical under carriages. The photo in the OP had a radial watercooled engine and I suspect is of the Voisin VI escort fighter prototype. The fuselage and the way the undercart is attached fit.

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John-B-Rooks

Hi Centurion.

First of all I have to admit tht the illustrations I have are not in the most modern book (1970s) but it has proved largely trustworthy in the past. My reason for not going with the Breguet (Br M 5 of 1915) was that although the strut arrangement matches that of the Voisin, it is a tricycle undercarriage rather than the four-wheeled one in the above photo. This may be a peculiarity of ones built for the British use with the War Ministry deciding that the cavalry of the air needed 'a leg at each corner' (apologies to Thelwell). The other main argument against it being this aeroplane is that it was fitted with an in-line Renault engine enclosed in the rear fuselage. There are also no gravity tanks on the underside of the top wing. We need an expert in French aviation who might know of variations within a production run or the British specification for these aeroplanes. I'm not trying to be argumentative but I genuinely believe it to be a Mark 3 Voisin with some local alteration (or, more probably something totally different - an Egyptian homebuilt?).

John

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centurion

Hi Centurion.

First of all I have to admit tht the illustrations I have are not in the most modern book (1970s) but it has proved largely trustworthy in the past. My reason for not going with the Breguet (Br M 5 of 1915) was that although the strut arrangement matches that of the Voisin, it is a tricycle undercarriage rather than the four-wheeled one in the above photo. This may be a peculiarity of ones built for the British use with the War Ministry deciding that the cavalry of the air needed 'a leg at each corner' (apologies to Thelwell). The other main argument against it being this aeroplane is that it was fitted with an in-line Renault engine enclosed in the rear fuselage. There are also no gravity tanks on the underside of the top wing. We need an expert in French aviation who might know of variations within a production run or the British specification for these aeroplanes. I'm not trying to be argumentative but I genuinely believe it to be a Mark 3 Voisin with some local alteration (or, more probably something totally different - an Egyptian homebuilt?).

John

Breguet 5s appear to have been built with both tricycle and quad undercarriages and whereas most Breguet 5 s had an inline Renault (or Rolls Royce) a few were built with a radial engine (as a precaution against a shortage of Renaults. When a quad UC was fitted it was like the one in the photo. Voisin UCs had fared front legs which came down from the extreme nose. The Breguet ones were unfared and came down from behind the nose as in the OP photo. The Breguet 6 was a modification of the 5 intended to act as an escort fighter for Breguet 5s. They had radial engines and fuselage mounted radiators and a fuselage of the same basic shape as the one in the OP. A small number appear to have been deployed by the RNAS as escorts for their Breguet 5 bombers. I have never seen a photo of any Voisin with a fuselage like the one in the OP. Again no British Voisin went to Egypt. Not all Breguet 5s had the extra underwing fuel tanks and the same may have applied to the 6s.

The only examples of Egyptian home-builts I know of were hybrid Maurice and Henri Farmans combining parts from both aircraft (with some locally constructed bits) but they didn't look line the aircraft in the OP.

I think that assuming that this is a British aircraft is in any case a red herring. I think Rowdy's Step Granddad may have been "shooting a line" with the photo. Possibly his unit may, at some stage, have shared a field with the French and he got to fly one of their Breguet 6s (nut not in Palestine or India.

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Rowdy

I am deeply impressed with the level of knowledge you chaps have on the subject. Bertie was a bit of a bounder by all accounts ( I guess the name's a giveaway) so I wouldn't be at all surprised if he just jumped into someone else's plane for a quick photo-op. Maybe he was actually a cook. I'll see if we've got any other photos. Thanks for the help.

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mickdavis

Has anyone considered the Henri Farman F.27? That's what it is, with a modified decking added. The radial engine, undercarriage strut arrangement (including the attachments on the rear struts - shock absorbers?), semi circular cut-out in the centre section trailing edge, front mainplane struts attaching to the leading edge - all the clues are there.

The RFC/RAF did operate the type in India and Aden - with 31 & 114 Sqns. It was known as the 'all steel Farman)and 24 were ordered for overseas service (A387-A410).

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centurion

Has anyone considered the Henri Farman F.27? That's what it is, with a modified decking added. The radial engine, undercarriage strut arrangement (including the attachments on the rear struts - shock absorbers?), semi circular cut-out in the centre section trailing edge, front mainplane struts attaching to the leading edge - all the clues are there.

The RFC/RAF did operate the type in India and Aden - with 31 & 114 Sqns. It was known as the 'all steel Farman)and 24 were ordered for overseas service (A387-A410).

You could well be right. However I can only find one photo of an F.27 with that type of decking. This is one of the original mixed batch of six F20 and F27s delivered to the RFC in September 1914 becoming 806 with no 5 squadron and which written off after a week but was rebuilt and later renumbered 1806 (to avoid confusion with RNAS numbering) in October 1914 . A slightly blurred photo shows it with this decking (which is similar to that applied to at least one early machine gun armed Henri Farman F20) It's fate is unknown but it seems likely that it ended up in GSWA - it never went to India though and photos of no 31 (the only squadron to operate the type there) aircraft lined up show no decking of this type but the usual communal cockpit. If Bertie the Bounder was with no 31 squadron he might well have flown aircraft of this type but not the one in the photo.

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mickdavis

I don't think this one is 806/1806. The elevator control horn is too far forward on the nacelle and the cranked gun mounting is lower, not that modifications couldn't occur. The pitot head on the front starboard c/s strut does, however, look very British. My last post was off the top of my head, so, on checking, the RFC/RAF units operating the type were:

5 Sqn : 806/1806 and, possibly 1801-1804 (ex 801-804 but possibly F.20s).

26 Sqn : 8 F.27s delivered to the unit in East Africa (probably 7746-7749 and 7752-7755)

30 Sqn : 1 ex RNAS machine in Mesopotamia, presumably 3900 or 3901.

31 Sqn : I have A395, A401, A402 and A 403 with 4th Flt (later A Flt) at Lahore in July 1917 and A398 at Risalpur.

114 Sqn : I have A401 & A402 at Lahore, ex 31 Sqn, by October 1917 and A397, A401, A404 and A405 with the unit's Aden Flight in December 1917. A404 was lost on 23 January 1918, shot down by hostile tribesmen and its crew of Lt JB Thomas & Sgt CW Hartley killed. A401 was damaged by gunfire while attempting to help the downed A404 but its pilot, 2Lt LJ Mann was OK - Mann's logbook is in the Liddle Archive at Leeds University.

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centurion

I don't think this one is 806/1806. The elevator control horn is too far forward on the nacelle and the cranked gun mounting is lower, not that modifications couldn't occur.

The cranked gun mounting was adjustable. However 31 squadron's machines as shown have the normal communal cockpits and no decking round the pilot's position (and no gun mounting as there was no airborn opposition in India.

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mickdavis

The cranked gun mounting was adjustable. However 31 squadron's machines as shown have the normal communal cockpits and no decking round the pilot's position (and no gun mounting as there was no airborn opposition in India.

I'd like to know how the gun mounting was adjustable and also why, if there was no potential opposition, the RFC/RAF deployed one, then formed a second, squadron in India, when resources were a priority on the Front in France. Are there photos of every 31 Sqn F.27?? The Aden incidents that I posted show that there was opposition - would un-armed machines be sent out? Considering that previous post have suggested Voisin or Breguet as the subject, I now assume that you accept the photo's subject as a HF.F27. Looking at the background, are the trees European? That on the left has a very thick trunk for its height - a better quality image might give clues.

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Flakdodger

I have shown the photo to Mrs Flakdodger, who can be expected to know a thing or two about the natural world. She says the trees are Willows (we have a similar one in our garden) with Poplars being the taller trees to the right.

She suggests the photo could be near a water source (is that a stream by the trees?) but otherwise anywhere in Europe.

Dave

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centurion

I'd like to know how the gun mounting was adjustable and also why, if there was no potential opposition, the RFC/RAF deployed one, then formed a second, squadron in India, when resources were a priority on the Front in France. Are there photos of every 31 Sqn F.27?? The Aden incidents that I posted show that there was opposition - would un-armed machines be sent out? Considering that previous post have suggested Voisin or Breguet as the subject, I now assume that you accept the photo's subject as a HF.F27. Looking at the background, are the trees European? That on the left has a very thick trunk for its height - a better quality image might give clues.

No airborn opposition in India, as I said. The aircraft were intended for observation and bombing. I'll have to look out a drawing of the gun mounting. It was generally used on pushers and adjusted to allow shots backwards over the wings

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mickdavis

I have shown the photo to Mrs Flakdodger, who can be expected to know a thing or two about the natural world. She says the trees are Willows (we have a similar one in our garden) with Poplars being the taller trees to the right.

She suggests the photo could be near a water source (is that a stream by the trees?) but otherwise anywhere in Europe.

Dave

Could be willow and poplar but varieties of both are found across the Northern Hemisphere, and that includes India - so no progress. In response to another post, I don't think the F.27's gun mounting was of the telescopic, elevating type, as used on FE2bs (the Mk.10 No.1) but possibly the Mk.IV No.III, which, I seem to recall, wasn't elevating. Yes 31 and 114 Sqns were employed on trying to bomb 'wayward' tribes into submission, but I'd like to think that, had I been an observer, I'd like to be able to fire back at what could be accurate rifle fire.

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Rowdy

I continue to be amazed at what you chaps and your wives can get from this photo. I'm afraid there's no better quality photo available; just one showing (I presume) Bertie and his pals, in flying helmets and floor-length leather coats posed in front of another plane which is obviously not this one, all looking very Shaft. Plus another couple of him lounging about in pith-helmeted uniform - I can post these if anyone thinks they might provide a clue.

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Flakdodger

I can post these if anyone thinks they might provide a clue.

Rowdy - why not. Hope springs eternal, and the photos may even take us in other directions.

Regards

Dave

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Old Man

I know this is an old thread, but I have been looking into this subject for a scratch-build, and recently acquired a copy of 'First in Indian Skies', a history of 31 Sqdn. Though pretty skimpy on the earliest days, it has one photograph of an HF-27 which displays the decking configuration in the O.P. photograph, and captioned as an HF-27 of the squadron converted locally into a 'gun bus' at Lahore, and piloted by a Lt. Manning (later with the Aden Flight and wounded there). It seems that the controls were re-rigged from standard to allow pilot and observer to swap places, and the nose decking, chopped a bit, taken off and replaced to the rear to make room for a gun mounting in the nose and give the pilot at least some protection from the wind. Other photographs of 31 Sqdn HF-27s in the book show normal decking and no machine gun, as do photographs of 31 Sqdn HF-27s presented here in another thread:

 

 

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mickdavis

CCI 46/4, due out early December, will feature an article on the Aden Flight by Ian Burns, respected as a diligent researcher. His piece includes a further, front starboard, photo of the machine shown in the first post on this thread - same gun mounting and prop in the same position, with Lt LJ Mann in pilot position and Sgt CW Hartley handling the gun and photographed at Lahore in October 1917.

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Old Man

Looking forward to that one, Sir. I wonder if this is the picture?

31HF27GB_zpsibzun806.jpg

(scanned from 'First in Indian Skies')

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Rowdy

Good heavens, it is the same machine! Obviously not my grand step-father aboard as he was called Bertie Law. I wonder how that photo came to be passed down the family?  Maybe he really was a cook and was pretending to family at home that he was something more. Even more of a bounder than we thought.

 

Mike Gooding

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