On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff
I UNDERRATED technical nuances of René Caudron’s G.3, the aeroplane flown by Frenchwoman Adrienne Bolland in her 1921 conquest of the Andes. Describing the G.3, I termed it “of the spit, wire and strut variety when introduced in 1913…. decidedly not state of the art in 1921.”
True enough, but new awareness of the aircraft came to me through the enthusiasm of another Frenchwoman, Coline Béry. What’s more, this encouraged me to begin a GMax version of the G.3 for use in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Coline is author of TRUE BIRDS: Searching for Adrienne Bolland’s Two Legendary Planes, 2015/2016, available in French, Spanish or English. She kindly offered me an early reading of the English version, from which I learned more about Bolland, René Caudron and his aircraft.
Gaston Caudron and his younger brother René founded Sociéte des Avions Caudron in 1909. The G.3 was one of the Caudrons’ early production successes. Gaston perished in an aircraft accident in 1915; Réne continued in the business until the fall of France at the start of World War II, his company acquired by Renault in 1933.
Béry’s book True Birds includes several G.3 engineering drawings, illustrations and many photographs, the kind of original material that encourages GMax modeling. What’s more, the G.3’s “spit, wire and strut” nature translates into a modeler’s delight: Much of the aircraft’s operation is out in the open for all to see.
The French word Carlingue, cabin, exaggerates the level of comfort provided for its flyers. Indeed, Google Translate offers cabine de pilotage as French for cockpit, a more accurate description of the G.3’s affinity with the environment. Its dual-control setup suggests the aircraft’s use in pilot training, typically with the instructor seated aft.
Several interesting technicalities are evident in the schematic of the G.3’s control of wing warping (gauchissement) and rudder (palonnier). Though not stated, elevator control is also shown. Note the cockpit’s stick and rudder bar linked to various control wires.
The elevator wires cross aft of the control stick and angle to stationary struts mounted on the left and right of the aircraft’s horizontal stabilizer (this last component not shown in the schematic). From there, on each side, the wires fan out into three at the top and another three at the bottom of the elevator.
Note, there were no elevator horns on the G.3. Ordinarily, a pull on the top horn raises the elevator; a pull on the bottom one lowers it. Curiously, photos of modern G.3 restorations show these conventional horns, maybe suggesting enhancements of the original elevator control.
Control of its dual rudders was also unconventional, again sans control horns. Rather than duplicating wires to the dual rudders, the G.3’s rudder bar was part of a single circuit, one wire traveling aft to the left and the other aft to the right. A pair of central wires kept the two rudders in unison. The schematic indicates that upper portions of the stabilizer struts evidently were fitted with two pulleys, one for the rudder wire circuit, the other for the elevator’s “up” wire.
Last, the G.3’s roll control came not from ailerons, but from wing warping, already old hat by its 1913 introduction. As shown in the schematic, lateral movement of the control stick exerted tension either left or right on the central lower wire. This tension, in turn, acted upon the trailing edge of the wing on that side—and, through its routing, an easing of the trailing edge of the opposite wing.
In the diagram above, I’ve inserted arrows showing how the control stick brings about wing warpage generating roll to the left.
Now, imagine all these wires rattling in the wind, the structure tossed this way and that by air currents, the aeroplane barely making headway with its 80-hp rotary spinning with the prop and adding its own dynamical input.
Flight pioneers like Adrienne Bolland were a world apart. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016