December 2014 Mystery Airplane: Emsco B-3-A
Copyright 2014 by WESLEY R. SMITH
Correct answers to this “mystery plane” were received from Terry Bowden, and Wayne Muxlow.
The story of the Emsco B-3-A cannot be told without telling the tale of Charles F. Rocheville. Like many such stories in the annals of aviation, it is an unusual tale, and it is true, and his involvement with aviation begins nearly a century ago, during The Great War.
Enlisting in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during 1917 (1), Rocheville is said to have encountered problems with his nationality. As the United States declared war on Germany on 6 April 1917, he was transferred to the U.S. Navy, where he served as an aircraft mechanic. The circumstances of Rocheville’s “problems” have never been explained, nor has much biographical material been published. Most of the writing on Rocheville comes from articles written by Mr. Walt Boyne. During the summer of 1973, a two-part article was published in the sister periodicals Airpower and Wings. This was followed another article, published in 1974 in Aviation Quarterly. Rocheville was still alive when Boyne interviewed him in 1972. While Boyne’s articles do a good job discussing his aircraft designs, almost nothing exists on the totality of his life.
Following his transfer to the U.S. Navy, Rocheville began flying several types of aircraft at N.A.S. North Island. This had been the first USN aeronautical establishement on the West Coast, dating back to 1911. Rocheville. had apparently flown JN-4(Can.) Canucks, and Sopwith Camels during his flight training in Canada; he now expanded his pilot’s credentials, flying Sopwith Pups, Thomas-Morse S-4Cs, Dayton Wright DH 4s and Vought VE-7s.
Despite the aforementioned lineage, the exact nature of Rocheville’s training and service remains elusive. He first emrges in the aeronautical press in 1923, with a photograph published in Aviation. Titled; “An Interesting Airplane,” it shows Rocheville’s first known design, a converted SPAD XIIIC-1 (2).
Two photos of Rocheville’s converted SPAD exist. The one which appears in the page of Aviation shows that he used the fuselage, vertical fin and rudder, engine, and undercarriage. The latter, having a modified strut arrangement. The biggest change is the variable camber parasol wing. The exact details of this mechanism are unknown, but it is said to have markedly transformed the flight characteristics at low speed, making the aircraft more manageable. The planform of the wings is basically trapezoidal panels joined to a rectangular center section. Four cabane struts supported the entire wing with no external brace wires. A new set of horizontal stabilizers and elevators, similar in shape to the wings, can be inferred from shadows cast on the ground. Vertical tricolor markings are visible on the vertical rudder, but nothing else. A second photograph appeared in the 1974 Aviation Quartely article, and was taken immediately to the rear of the cockpit, showing Rocheville, and the detail of the center trailing edge cut-out. The aircraft was tested by F.A. Fake, and, as has been already stated, found to have better flight characteristics.
After the initial success of the modified SPAD, Rocheville turned his attentions to modifying a Neiuport 28C.1, apparently his only biplane fighter. This modification was not a success, and he moved on to his third design.
Rocheville’s next design, used a surplus Fokker D.VII. According to records supplied by the late Hal Andrews, a total of 6 D.VIIs a total of 12 aircraft were requisitioned from the U.S. War Department under order 2-24. However, only 6 were eventually delivered, and were assigned serial numbers A-5843 to A-5848 (3). These aircraft were fitted with standard Mercedes 160 hp engines. Whether they were Fokker-built, Ostdeutsch Albatros Werke (OAW), or D.VIIFs is unknown.
Rocheville’s alteration to the Fokker were quite extensive. A solitary photograph of the conversion exists in the 1974 Aviation Quarterly article. The lower wings have been reduced to stubs, to which the parasol wing support struts attach. The parasol wing, appears to use the upper wing of a D.VII, with alterations. Some of the forward cabane struts have been altered, as has the rear cabane. The undercarriage has be radically changed to two single units, much like those of the 1920s. The horizontal fin and elevators appear to be unaltered, but the vertical rudder is entirely different. The most significant change, is the nose. A “tunnel” radiator installation, used later on various designs, has been incorporated. Moreover, the nose has been shortened by a great deal, and a Wright-Martin “Hisso,” installed in place of the Mercedes. The cockpit was also altered, and moved aft, and the tail skid does not appear to be a typical Fokker design.
Perhaps the most curious aspect of the modified D.VII is a logo painted on the fuselage, under the wing, on the port side. It presents what appears to be an American Eagle, vaguely similar in appearance to that used by a popular beer manufacturer at one time. Over this, a crux gamatta (4), or swastika, is painted. This had nothing to do with Nazism. Prior to its adoption by the NSDAP, swastikas were symbols of good luck, used by several Native-American tribes and throughout Europe and Asia. The fledgling Finnish and Lithuania (5) air arms both used this symbol during the 1920s and 1930s. Interestingly, a logo quite similar to Rocheville’s, was adopted at a later date by Albin K. Longren of Kansas for his aircraft corporation. In fact, during the First World War, the “Indian Head” motif was adopted by the Escadrille de Lafayette (SPA 124). Worn on the fuselages on Nieuport 17C.1s and SPAD VIIs, the emblem was retained when American airmen were transferred to the 103rd. Pursuit from SPA 124. In the emblem, the “Chief” wears round attachments on his “war bonnet,” which carry a small crux gamatta for luck.
Following the modified D.VII, Rocheville designed two additional (parasol monoplane) pursuit aircraft for the USN. According to Boyne’s article in Aviation Quarterly, all details are said to have been lost, and both aircraft crashed due to pilot error. Boyne, goes on to state that Rocheville used a rare eight-cylinder Liberty (L-8) to power the two machines, which Rocheville said had been borrowed. Indeed, by the early to mid ’20s, the engine had long since been abandoned, the contracts being canceled shortly after the armistice. Nevertheless, only a few L-8s were actually used. The first L-8 to fly (No. 3), was flown in the L.W.F. Model F (6). One, a Buick-built example (S/N BX 14, US serial; 94785) was used in a Pomilio FVL-8 experimental fighter (S.C. 40080-85; McCook Field Project Number P-69). Another, was fitted to a Bristol F.2B, and was assigned McCook Field Project Number P-37. This retrofit was known as the USB-2, or “US Battler,” the designation USB-1 being used for the Bristol F.2B that was retrofitted with a 400 hp Liberty V-12. Originally, 5,000 L-8s had been ordered from Buick, 3,000 from Willys-Overland and 1,000 from the Winton Motor Car Co. In the end, 6 (S/N 1-6) were built by Packard, 8 by the U.S. Engineering Dvision (S/N EXP 7-14) and 15 from Buick (S/N BX 1-15). The engine had proven to be quite unsatisfactory, suffering from vibration; and the 300 hp Hispano-Suiza proved to be a much better engine.
The L-8 was also intended to be used in the Heinrich D-8 Victor and the unbuilt Engineering Division USP-2. As it turns out, three Heinrichs were constructed with 100 hp Gnome engines, and four others with 80 hp Le Rhones; the L-8 version being canceled. Despite the warlike name, the Heinrich “Pursuits” were intended to be used only as trainers.
Having suffered something of a setback with the crash of two of his designs, Rocheville had apparently attained the notice in the navy hierachy and he was subsequently assigned to join the 1925 MacMillan (or, Navy-MacMillan) Arctic Expedition to Greenland, as part of Lt. Commander (7) Richard Evelyn Byrd’s naval aviation contingent.
While Admiral William A. Moffett had proposed a flight to the North Pole using the USN rigid airship ZR-1, the USS Shenandoah (i.e., a native American word for; “Daughter of the Stars.”), this project was quietly dropped following the subsequent crash of the airship on 3 September 1925 near Ava, Ohio. The Shenandoah had been already severely damaged on 16 January 1924, when it was torn from the mooring mast at Lakehurst, NJ during a gale. Afterwards, there was considerable media-driven outrage at the $78,000.00 price tag for the repairs. Byrd’s first action was to raise money. He succeeded in obtaining $15,000.00 from Edsel Ford and John D. Rockefeller, and Capt. Robert Bartlett, the “old skipper” of Adm. Robert Edwin Peary; managed to raise another $10,000.00 from elsewhere. Commander Donald B. MacMillan had already asked the USN for an airplane to explore western and southern Greenland. Byrd, planned to go directly to Etah, in Northeastern Greenland. While Byrd has foreseen a conflict of interest, the navy insisted that Byrd join forces with MacMillan. Using the schooner Bowdoin, the navy assigned the USS Peary to transport Byrd’s contingent.
In his book; Skyward, Byrd explains that he knew of only one aircraft in the USN that was suitable for the expedition, the Loening COA-1 (8). MacMillan had subsequently asked for two aircraft, but in the end, three ex-army COA-1s, now re-designated as the OL-2 (9), were assigned to the expedition. All Liberty powered Loening Amphibians were powered by the inverted, water-cooled variant of the L-12, developed by the Allison Engineering Co. of Indianapolis. First tested in 1919, interest in the engine did not develop until a converted engine was tested at McCook Field (10).
Leaving Wiscasset, Maine on 20 June 1925, the two ships arrived Etah, Northern Greenland on 1 August after a 3,000 mi. voyage. Byrd had his pick of the best pilots and mechanics for the expedition. Among thpse chosen, was Charles F. Rocheville. The day after arrival, the mechanics set about assembling NA-1 for testing, but found that the 33 gal. emergency tank in the nose had to be removed for other necessary gear, which had been located in the tail. This was found to cause an untenable weight and balance, which could only be resolved by moving some of it to the nose. These tests were made on 5 August, but fog and rain set in the next day, and did not abate for another day. The first flight was made to Sabine Island, and as the NA-1 was found to have an engine rod knocking, the Liberty was replaced by mechanics while docked alongside the Peary. This was no easy task, and Byrd wrote of the skill of the mechanics involved. While Rocheville was typically reserved about his work, Walt Boyne praised his role, stating that Rochville had saved the expedition’s aircraft at several points. This apparently reached a climax on 8 August, when NA-3 was nearly destroyed by a drifting iceberg. After the weather abated, Byrd gave orders to prepare for a flight to Ellesmere Island. Two of the three aircraft left Etah Harbor at 9:10 pm (11). NA-2 was crewed by Schur (pilot), Rocheville (mechanic) and Donald MacMillan (passenger). Byrd flew as backup pilot and navigator in the NA-3, with Reber acting as pilot. Byrd notes that his aircraft was “attacked” by enraged walruses on takeoff, but was able to avoid collision by applying full throttle.
The aircraft set course for Cannon Fiord. Byrd noted that the magnetic compass was unusable, and pointed straight east. This problem was resolved by use of a more sensitive “navigator’s compass,” which oscillated at first, but gradually settled down. This compass was devised by Mr. Albert H. Bumstaed of the National Geographic Society, specifically for this trip. Nevertheless, Byrd used Peary’s bearings on two points 30 mi. apart. In addition to the 103 degree error, due to being north of the magnetic north pole, there was an unexpected additional 30 degree deviation in the compass. He noted that the actual compass heading was closer to reading south, while flying north.
Flying over Smith Sound, Byrd observed the area which Peary and Bartlett had such problems with during 1908 in the Roosevelt, reaching Cape Sabine at 9:40 pm. At this point, Byrd could observe Bache Peninsula, which Peary had reached in 1898. The planes flew on toward Ellesmere Island, but the sun compass was now useless because the sun had become obscured. The wind drift meter indicated a strong northerly wind (12), which required a 10 degree correction. Upon reaching Ellesmere Island, many uncharted mountains and glaciers were charted for the first time, and the flight continued on to the Knud Peninsula between the Hayes and Flager Fiords. At this point, Byrd decided to turn back because of deteriorating weather conditions. The 4,000 ft. altitude was a critical factor in this decision, it being possible to hit obscured mountain peaks. The return trip, however, was far from easy. Clouds and fog obscured all but a small portion of Smith Sound, where they were able to descend and make the rest of the journey to Etah.
The landing was rough with a 30 mph wind, and when Byrd meet with the Aerographer ( a meteorologist surnamed Francis), it was noted that a gale was approaching from the south which resulted in a “driving snowstorm,” a 500 ton iceberg passiing between the Peary and the three Loenings. Byrd soon called a meeting and said he would never again ask anyone to fly over Ellesmere Island again, because of the danger involved. Nevertheless, the expedition took off after the gale abated at 5:30 pm and decided to make a radio test from Cape Sabine, with the goal of flying between a gap in the mountains to the south; in order to establish a base camp and supply dump at Axel Heiberg Island. On this flight, Ellesmere was completely shrouded by clouds and fog. By the morning of 11 August, the weather had cleared, and all three OL-2s headed for Bay Fiord. Floyd Bennett and Byrd flew the NA-1, while Schur flew the NA-2 and Reber, the NA-3. Passing over Cape Sabine, and Flagler Fiord, the planes reached Bay Fiord at 12:45 pm. The OL-2s reached Eureka Sound, but found the fiord covered with ice. NA-3 was forced to turn back due to problems gaining altitude, and NA-2 had disappeared in the clouds. Byrd found a temporary landing site on one side of Bay Fiord, which had been cleared by the wind. With the other planes missing, Byrd turned back toward Etah, and discovered that the NA-2 and NA-3 had already landed.
Despite the rough conditions, all three OL-2s departed again at 9:30 pm. Reaching Biestadt Fiord, where a heavy crosswind prevented landing. The group turned back, finding a landing spot at Hayes Sound, but took off again, as the stiff wind made it impossible to reach shore safely. On the return trip, a possible landing site was found at Flagler Island. Byrd had finally landed in the interior of Ellesmere Island, but the conditions there made the establishment of a base camp dubious, and thus putting a possible trip to the Polar Sea beyond the reach of the expedition.
On the morning of 13 August, the NA-2 was found to be sinking. It was lifted to the deck of the Peary, with the intent of installing a new engine. Unfortunately, despite the heroic efforts of the crew, the NA-2 was out for the duration. On the fourteenth, the NA-1 and NA-3 left for Flagler Fiord, with the intent of establishing their supply dump, there. A good deal of provisions were able to be offloaded, but a small iceberg hit NA-1, and it was with great relief that the two planes returned to Etah. The next day, a return trip found the fiord completely iced in. The NA-1 and NA-3 cruised about 60 mi., before giving up on finding another landing spot. The pilot of the NA-3, a man named Nole, had become separated from the NA-1. When it was sighted again, Byrd found it headed towards the North Pole. A chase ensued, and Byrd was able to overtake and redirect the NA-3 back to Etah. The season was growing late and on the sixteenth, Byrd and Bennett in the NA-1 left with the NA-3 to explore the region above the Hayes and Flagler inlets. Fog rooled in and they were forced to land at Sawyer Bay, where the group had a midnight lunch of pemmican and tea. On takeoff, Schur discovered a severe knock in the engine and decided not to fly northwards with the NA-1. Byrd and Bennett crossed the glacier but encountered such rough air that the NA-1 nearly crashed. They returned to Sawyer Bay, were a cache of supplies was left, and returned to Etah, but the troubles were far from over.
On the seventeenth, some gasoline floating around the Peary caught fire and it appeared that the NA-3 and the ship would burn. A crewman named Sorenson cut the NA-3 lose and a fire extinguisher was thrown to Nold, who was aboard. The burned wings and engine of the NA-3 had been replaced by the twentieth. Some friction ensued between Byrd and MacMillan, who refised to allow him to fly due to icing of the fiord. On the twenty-second, Byrd took off with Bennett and Francis in the NA-1, with the NA-3 being crewed by Reber (pilot), Gayer (photographer) and Nold (mechanic); the goal being to fly over the Greenland icecap. About half a mile out, the NA-3s Liberty gave out, when a connecting rod was thrown. The NA-3 was towed back to lay alongside of the NA-2. After assuring that the NA-3 was okay, Byrd left for the Eskimo village of Igloodahouny, where they landed At 3:15, Byrd left for a flight over the icecap. He reported that he could see 100 mi. in every direction from an altitude of only 1,000 ft. He continued to climb to 7,000 ft., and ahead could see nothing but ice that seemingly reach 10,000 ft. altitude, or more. Byrd was apparently quite moved by what he had seen, and devoted an extensive paragraph to its description, and another page to a nice aerial photograph of the icecap.
Bennett and Byrd returned to Igloohadouny, and an Eskimo named Inyoughitoq was given a ride in the NA-1. Byrd noted that the NA-1 had flown over 2,500 mi. during the expedition and was thankful to the ground crew and pilots alike for their ingenuity and skill during the expedition; which, despite dire predictions, had come off without loss of life. Prior to Byrd and MacMillan exploring Greenland by air, Roald Amundsen and Lincoln Ellesworth had attempted to reach the North Pole using Italian-built (S.A.I. di Construzioni Mecchaniche i Marina di Pisa. Renamed in 1930; C.M.A.S.A,, or Construzioni Meccaniche Aeronautische S.A., FIAT) Dornier J Wals (i.e., “Whales”). Amundsen had met Ellsworth in France during the First World War. While Ellsworth had been kept out of combat due to illness, he had continued to have an interest in aviation and polar exploration. He renewed his association with Amundsen during an Johns Hopkins geological survey of the Peruvian Andes in 1923.
Registered as N 24 and N 25, the two Dorniers were shipped to Tromso, Norway. The N 24 was crewed by Norwegian naval Lief Dietrichson, with Ellsworth and Oskar Omdahl. with Riiser-Larsen piloting the N 25, joined by Amundsen, and a German mechanic named Ludwig (or possibly Karl) Feucht. Departing for King’s Bay, Spitzbergen, Norway, aboard the transport ships Hobby and Fram, the expedition arrived on 12 April 1925. After encountering severe gales, an attempt to take-off from the ice sheets did not take place until 5:10 pm on 21 May 1925. While the ice had buckled under the weight, the aircraft were nevertheless able to slowly gain altitude. A row of rivets, however, had popped on the hull of N 24 during take-off. Believing this wouldn’t be a problem landing on the ice, the flight continued. All was not well, however. Fog had forced the aircraft up to 3,000 ft., and due to glare, they were eventually forced to climb to 10,000 ft., and don special goggles and anti-glare screens for the windshields. Unfortunately, N 24s engine temprature gauges continued to climb until they reached 229 degrees F, until the finally burst. The Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, however; continued to function normally, until suddenly, the rear engine of N 25 siezed. A successful emergency landing was made, but N 24 was forced to land about three-quarters of a mile away.
The rear engine of N 24 had also failed during landing, and it took some time for Ellsworth to find the N 25 on foot. Odmal discovered that the rear engine of N 25 was beyond repair and Ellsworth’s navigational readings determined that they were still 150 mi. from the pole, and that they aircraft had deviated 22 degrees off course. With considerable difficulty, the two aircraft fought separate battles to fend off the encroaching ice around N 25’s hull, while Ellsworth and Dietrichson attempted to cross ice ridges to reach N 25, before finally abandoning the idea due to exhaustion. The two groups did not rediscover each other until 23 May. After almost unbearable tribulations, the crews of their respective aircraft attempted to make them airworthy once again. It was nearly impossible, but somehow the N 25 was hauled on to the ice floe, and it was decided to abandon the N 24. After transferring the fuel from N 24, it wasn’t until 1 June that the valiant expedition was able to scrape a runway out of the ice that was long enough for N 25 to depart. After a failed take-off, the N 25 broke through the ice, and a second area wasn’t discovered until several days later. Snowfall had now become a problem and with incredible effort a new runway of 1,500 ft. was dug out, with a total width of 36 ft. Unfortunately, it didn’t work. Eventually, Omdahl discovered that by simply tramping the snow flat, a runway could be created if the ice ridges were chipped away. It wasn’t until 15 June at 9:30 am that a precarious runway was finished, and the N 25 was able to make a harrowing departure, followed by an equally difficult flight back to Spitzbergen; flying through fog, icebergs and severe sun glare.
Finding a small bay to land in, the N 25 sat down, and were soon rescued by the sealer Sjovil. Captain Wollen had made every effort to tow the N 25 back to Spizbergen, but it had to be left at Brandy Bay. It took another two days to reach King’s Bay, and upon arrival, the crew was notified that a vast search had been going on for several weeks, two Hansa-Brandenburg W 33s, had even been brought to Spitzbergen for the search. The N 25 was finally recovered on 25 June, and the crew returned to Tromso aboad the Norwegian Coast Guard ship, Heimdahl. On 5 July the crew boarded the reassembled N 25 to make a final flight to Oslo. The Dornier Wal would go on to make other significant historic flights. The following year, Ramon Franco, the brother of the fascist Spanish dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco Y’Bahamonde, would pilot a Wal (named; Plus Ultra, or Latin for; “further. beyond”) across the south Atlantic; and on 17 March 1927, the first night crossing of the s. Atlantic would be made by a Portuguese military aviator named Sarmento de Beires (in Dornier Wal named; Argo). Re-registered as G-EBQO, the N 25 was retrofitted with Napier Lion engines. It was subsequently resold to Wolfgang von Gronau and assigned the German resigsration D-1422, Amundsen Wal. it would cross the Atlantic on 18 August 1930, after replacing the Lions with BMW VI engines; flying from Sylt, Germany to Iceland, Greenland, and Labrador, on to New York and Chicago.. It was then put on display in the Deutsches Museum in Munich where it was destroyed in 1944. In 1932, Gronau would fly another Wal (D-2053) around the world.
In any case; following the 1925 Greenland expedition, Rocheville was assigned to Byrd’s next arctic flight. This time, an attempt to reach the North Pole. A contemporaneous, and often repeated photo of Rocheville (found onlineand and in Boyne’s articles) states that at this time Rocheville was a Machinist’s Mate First Class. Byrd makes no further mention of Rocheville after his chapter on the Greenland expedition in his book; Skyward, but Byrd does make considerable mention of a Norwegian named Bernt Balchen, who would figure prominently into Byrd’s future flights across the Atlantic and to the South Pole.
When Walt Boyne wrote his original articles on Rocheville (and Emsco) during the early 1970s, he gave scant attention to Rocheville’s association with Byrd; but when he wrote his second thesis for Aviation Quarterly he states; “…there’s more to the very controversial Byrd, but Charlie isn’t talking — someone’s feelings might be hurt…” To whom Mr. Boyne refers isn’t entirely clear, however, it is quite clear that he was one of the instigators that believed that Byrd did not reach the North Pole in 1926. This idea was far from new. Almost immediately after Byrd’s flight, newspapers ran alleged “confessions” of fraud, and much later, Bernt Balchen expressed his doubts about the success of the 1926 polar flight by Byrd and Floyd Bennett, and this matter deserves some discussion.
Unlike the 1925 Greenland expedition, when Byrd decided to fly to the North Pole, it was without the support of the USN. He raised money on his own, and eventually purchased the Fokker F.VII-3m which had been used in the 1925 Ford Reliability Tour. Named; Josephine Ford, after Edsel Ford’s youngest daughter, the aircraft had been built as the first Fokker trimotor, using Wright J-4s (13). In Skyward, Byrd describes considerable difficulty he had in getting the aircraft airborne once it had reached Spitzbergen. After two sets of skis were wreck in take-off attempts, a third set was built, constructed from the only remaining hardwood left at Spitzbergen, that being the wood used in ship’s oars. According to one source, Balchen had been loaned to Byrd by Amundsen, and was responsible for their construction. Other sources, imply that Rochville was responsible. Whatever the truth, Ellsworth, was not far behind Byrd in what had become a; “race to the pole.” Once again, the multi-millionaire Ellsworth funded Amundsen. This time, in an almost simultaneous flight to the pole in the Italian semi-rigid airship N 1 (renamed; Norge, or Norway), with Col. Umberto Nobile in command. The size of the crew was limited, and Balchen was cut from the flight of the Norge, Amundsen’s authority being overridden by Nobile. The airship had been purchased with the intent that it be sold back to the Italian government, if it survived the transpolar flight in good condition.
Byrd’s flight to the North Pole remains controversial to this day. With the release of the Josephine Ford’s logbook in 1996, the critical entry for having attained the proper position was found to have been erased and a new entry written in. That said, several prominent officials of the National Geographic Society vouched for the flight at the time, and in addition to Byrd and Bennett being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Hubbard Medal was also awarded by the National Geographic Society. Byrd notes in Skyward, that his records were taken to the National Georgraphic’s Washington Headquarters under seal, after his return to the United States. Indeed, the flight had been a complicated affair. After he believed they had reached the pole, at 9:02 am on 9 May 1926, after a flight of 9 hrs. 2 min. and 30 sec.; one of the sun sextants fell and was broken (two were stated by Byrd to have been taken on the flight). An engine had also developed an oil leak, which fortunately, was not critical. Once the oil level dropped below the level of a loose rivet, the leak stopped.
After examination of the records by a special committee, comprising the Natinal Geographic’s President, Gilbert H. Grosvenor; Chairman of the Research Committee, Dr. Frederick Coville and Col. Lester E. Jones, a member of the Board of Trustees, and Director of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey; the report submitted to the Secretary of the Navy stated in part: “…we have carefully examined Commander Byrd’s original records of his observations en route and from the North Pole. These records are are contained on two charts on which Admiral Byrd wrote his observations, made his calculations and plotted his positions. We have verified all his computations.” In point of fact, the flight had lasted 15.5 hrs., the return leg taking considerably less time. This, is explained by Byrd as having encountered a stiff tailwind during the return flight (14). Erstwhile, the Norge flew across the North Pole on 12 May 1926, landing a few miles from Nome, Alaska, (15) the goal of the flight. On board were Lincoln Ellsworth (American), the financial backer, Amundsen and Nobile. Friction had been building prior to the flight, and afterwards a nasty argument ensued between the latter two. Returning to Italy, Benito Mussolini ordered Nobile to make an ambitious return flight in another airship. During the crossing of the pole in the Norge, an Italian, American and Norwegian flag were dropped. It was only due to the navigational skills of Amundsen’s pilot Riiser-Larsen, that the flight was a success. The distance traveled had been 3,417 mi., the flight taking place between 11-14 May 1926.
Nobile’s return to the pole was a disaster. Leaving Spitzbergen on 24 May 1928, the N 4, Italia, had intended to land at the North Pole, but soon encountered a severe gale and icing. Reaching the pole at 12:20 am on the twenty-fourth after a trip of 885 mi., the crew dropped a large cross donated by Pope Pius IX, an Italian tricolor, the city arms of Milan and a locket containing a portrait representing the; “Madonna of the Fire.” The planned landing, however, had to be abandoned and a decision was made to turn back to King’s Bay. Unfortunately, the gale, which had been acting as a tailwind, was now a headwind. By the following morning, the airship was now heavy with ice and was in imminent threat of crashing. Some gas was lost through an undetermined cause, and at 10:30 am, the airship struck the ice, the envelope and keel carrying four of the crew floated off into the arctic abyss, never to be heard from again. Ten of the crew remained with the wreckage of the gondola, some being seriously injured, including Nobile, who suffered a broken right arm and leg. In the meantime, the support ship, Citta di Milano was negligent in responding to SOS signals sent from an emergency radio. The signals were finally detected by Nikola Schmidt at Arkangelsk, and news of survivors reached the outside world. Following the crash some red analine dye had been used to paint the survivor’s tent red for identification (16).
For the rescue, four aircraft were supplied by Norway, seven from Sweden, one from Finland and France, eight by Italy and two from the Societ Union, which also had the icebreakers Krassin and Malygin. The “Red Tent,” was not found until 17 June. The Swedish pilot Lt. Einar Lundborg was able to land his Fokker C.V with his observer Lt. Birger Schyberg. They were able to extract Nobile, who had insisted to remain behind, but was given orders by Lundborg, that he must return first. Lundborg attempted a second flight, but crashed on landing and was ice-bound with the remaining crew until 6 July, when Schyberg was able to extract him. No further flying was possible due to the weather, but the Krassin eventually rescued the remaining crew, including crew members Zappi and Mariano. Amundsen, was lost during the search, joining Flt. Lt. Leif Dietrichsen, and French pilot Rene Guilbaud aboard the French Latham HB 3, (Type 47.02, the second prototype), which disappeared over the Barents Sea on 18 June, a wingtip float and fuel tank washed ashore sometime later. Also, a Soviet-built (Junkers, Fili) JU 13 (17), which was launched from the Malygin, carrying a Soviet pilot named Babushkin. The Krasin carried a JuG-1 trimotor, flown by a pilot named Chukhnovskii. Nobile was court martialled for deserting his men and dishonoring his country. He left Italy, becoming a consultant in airship design for the Soviet government, then the American government. He returned to Italy and lived in seclusion until his death. The first confirmed landing on the North Pole would have to wait until 1948 (18).
Among Boyne’s assertions about Rocheville is the caption which appears on page 93 of his Aviation Quarterly article; “…He was an expert pilot and mechanic, being summoned one occasion to start the Wright engine of Lindbergh’s brand new ‘Spirit of St. Louis.’ He flew over in a Navy Curtiss fighter, beat up the field with a series of low-level aerobatics, then landed to work on the balky Whirlwind. In 20 minutes he had it running and Lindy made a test hop.” Whether this is true, or not, in 1927 Rocheville left the USN to pursue his own aircraft designs, and in September formed the Zenith Aircraft Corp. with Albin K. Petersen and Sterling Price (president). The corporation was formed at Midway City, near Santa Ana, California, and the first products were the Z-6 Albatross a single-engine, seven-place cabin biplane and the Z-12; a twelve-place cabin monoplane powered by three 125 hp Siemens-Halske radials.
The first product of the Zenith Aircraft Corporation was something to behold. The Z-12 Albatross, was Jointly designed by Charles F. Rocheville and Albin K. Petersen, the aircraft was completed in 90 days from the time the first wood was cut, and was designed while both men were still in the USN. The article states that Rocheville was Chief Mechanic on the 1925 MacMillan expedition and that Petersen was the official photographer on the 1926 USN Alaskan Aeril Survey. It was a massive aircraft with a span of 90 ft., and was designed to carry 14 passengers in comfort. First shown in a photograph that appeared in the January 23, 1928 issue of Aviation, the caption states that the plane had an overall length of 47 ft. 6 in., and a height of 13 ft. The photo shows the Z-12 parked next to a “Long Wing” Alexander Eaglerock (ATC 8).
The Z-12 was tested on a 60 acre plot of land owned by Sterling Price, that measured approximately 2,000 ft. by 1,200 ft., where a factory and hangar were built. The goal of Rocheville and Petersen was to set and endurance record, and the Z-12 was built with this in mind. Indeed, the aircraft could take off in 150 ft. in still air, and climbed to 2,000 ft. in only four minutes, a remarkable performance given the fact that the plane was powered by three Ryan-Siemens (imported nine cylinder Siemens-Halske SH-12s of 125 hp, or 128 hp @ 1,736 rpm). During the initial tests, 175 gal. of fuel was carried, 30 gal. of oil and two pilots. For the planned endurance test, a 900 gal. fuselage tank was used along with 400 gal. wing tanks. With this amount of fuel and W.L. Shields added to the crew as radio operator and relief pilot, it was hoped that the Albatross could remain airborne for at least 60 hrs. At the time the description appeared in Aviation, several orders were said to be in hand.
The wing of the Z-12 used a Gottingen 398 airfoil. The wing had a 90 ft. span and 12 ft. chord. The construction was semi-cantiliver, the outer semi-spans being joined by a center section plate. The leading edge was dural sheet covered by fabric, the metal sheeting reacgin back to the forward spar. The front spar was of box construction, 14 in by 3 in., with .125 in. wooden plates on the sides. Internally, the spar had a warren truss consisting of 1.75 in. by 2.75 in. spruce webbing. The rear spar was identical to the front spar, each main spar weighing 140 lbs., with the total spar weight being 546 lbs. Wing ribs were spaced 10 in. apart along the wing, and had a max. depth of 19 in., each rib wieghing 1.75 lbs., and being capable of supporting 510 lbs. The wing tips were built-up of spruce rubs with a steel tube fairing. Ailerons were of the “shielded” type, attached to a false spar by piano hinges, and operated by cables and internal push-pull tubes. Each aileron had 24 sq. ft. of area, on a wing that weighed 1,300 lbs., and having 1,032 sq. ft. area. When carrying a full load of 13,000 lbs., the loading would have been 13 lbs./sq. ft. Four fittings held the wing in place and diagonal struts ran from the wing to the lower longeron of the fuselage.
The complete fuselage of the Z-12 weighed in at 700 lbs., the steel tube being either 18 or 20 gauge. The tubing was lacquered on the outside, and the inside was treated with linseed oil and varnished to prevent corrosion. Warren truss construction was used throughout, and the steel tube was welded. The overall length was 50 ft., and the height was 12 ft. 6 in. The 6.5 sq. ft. vertical fin was ground adjustable and the horizontal stabilizer of 70 sq. ft. was adjustable in flight. The elevators had a an area of 18 sq. ft. each, and all tail surfaces were made of steel tubing. The entire airframe was covered by “Flighttex” fabric. Light wood and steel tube was used for attachment on the fuselage, and the fabric was stitched at 3 in. intervals along each rib.
The main landing gear of the Z-12 used Aerol FC-4 compression struts, and the tread was 18 ft. The wheels and tires were 36 in. by 8 in. The forward portion of the engine nacelles was covered with duralumin and the rear was covered with fabric. Each nacelle weighed 575 lbs. and was supported by struts running to the front and rear spars. The engine controls were run through tubing between each nacelle and the fuselage. Oil tanks were placed at the rear of the nacelle, behind a space reserved for the fitting of superchargers to the engines. The fuel was gravity fed to a fuselage tank, which supplied fuel to each engine via pumps. Each tank was constructed of terneplate steel of 28 gauge. The pilot’s seats were placed slightly above, and ahead of, the main fuel tank. There was an emergency door on the right side of the cabin, and another in the cabin roof. Main entry to the fuselage was via a door on the left side of the fuselage, about half way down its length. There were two comfortable berths placed above the main fuel tank, and the cabin was 5 ft. 2 in. wide, 7 ft. high and 14 ft. in length.
Registered as X 3622, an experimental certificate was issued by the Dept. of Commerce, officiated by Capt. Walter Parkin. The fixed-pitch wooden propellers were built C.S. Story of Glendale, Calif. They had a 7 ft. 8 in. in dia. and had a pitch of 7 ft. 6 in. According to Boyne, Rocheville was responsible for their design. With a total of 1,300 gal. of fuel, the power loading was .29 lbs./hp. Flying for the first time on 9 January 1928, the performance with minimum fuel and oil showed a landing speed of 25 mph, with a Vmin. of 30 mph. The Vmax. proved to be 95 mph. With a; “commercial load”, the estimated performance showed a take-off run of 600 ft., a landing speed of 35 mph, a Vmax. of 100 mph, and a Vc of 85-90 mph. The ceiling was estimated to be 20,000 ft.
For the record attempt, Richfield Oil supplied the fuel and Shields was replaced by Jack Reid. In early February, the Z-12 was ready. The fuel totaled 1,315 lbs., and the Z-12 weighed in at 13,298 lbs. The aircraft took off with a 10 mph tailwind, using up 3,700 ft. of a dirt runway, before hitting a bump and becoming airborne. Unfortunately, a seam in the main fuel tank opened, and the aircraft was forced to land ater 45 min. A second attempt was made, but the Z-12 was forced to land after 27 hrs. and 14 min., due to the overheating of one engine. This was caused by opening the throttle to maintain altitude. All flights were made at a dry lake at Imperial Valley Rocheville, would state in his 1972 interview with Boyne that the Ryan-Siemens was actually only capable of about 90 hp. Nevertheless, a third attempt was made, carrying 1,414 lbs. of fuel and giving the aircraft a loaded weight of 13,898 lbs. On this flight the aircraft managed to stay aloft for 9 hrs. 45 min. before one engine suffered a rocker arm failure. All flights were witnessed by Cmdr. Holden C. Richardson, Lt. Tomlinson, and Capt. W.W. Gibson, the official National Aeronautic Association (NAA) observer. On this occassion, the Z-12 had carried 2.47 times its own empty weight, a miraculous achievement for the time. A fourth flight was planned, but never came to pass. Rocheville, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, decided tomove on with his own company, and design; and the rights to build Z-12 were eventually sold to Harry A. Miller and G.L. Schofield. Retrofitted with Axelson, and later, Western Enterprise engines, it became known as the; “Schofield Albatross.”
Rocheville’s involvement with the Z-6 cabin biplane was apparently minimal. The Z-6 was designed by Albin K. Petersen, who also designed the Kreutzer Air Coach, at a later time. The length was 26 ft. 6 in., and the upper wing had a span of 38 ft. 0 in. The lower span was 36 ft. 0 in., and the overall height was 10 ft. 6 in. The upper wing had a chord of 6 ft. and the lower wing had a chord of 5 ft. The stagger was 26 in., and the lower wing had a dihedral of 3 degrees, with none on the upper wing. The gap was 5 ft. 6 in., and the upper wing had an incidence of 1.75 degrees, while the lower had one degree. A Gottingen 398 airfoil was used on the 380 sq, ft. wings. The spars were of the “box” type with ply sides and spruce caps. The ribs were made of spruce and plywood. Double drag brace wires were used in all four bays. The ribs were space 6 in. apart along the wing, the upper ribs weighing 8 oz. for the top wing and 7 oz. for the lower. Additional nose ribs were used and spruce compression struts. The leading edges of the wing were covered in three ply birch as far back as aft of the front spar, the trailing edges being made from heavy steel cable. Convention “N” struts were used for the interplane struts, and the ailerons were made of wood, attached to a false spar. The upper ailerons were controlled by struts, the lower ailerons being manipulated by cables and micarta pulleys.
A Wright J-5 of 220 hp (@ 1,800 rpm) was used to power the first three Z-6s. Three were built (registered X578K, 7076 and X707E). another was converted to another engine and was registered as X 7580. The weight was 1,750 lbs., empty, and loaded weighed 3,700 lbs., a useful load of 1,350 lbs. The Vmax. was 112 mph, and the Vc was 90 mph, with a Vmin. of 40 mph. with a landing run of 585 ft., and the take-off run was 750 ft., or 17.5 sec. Vc was attained at 1,550 rpm. Flight tests were conducted by V.E. Speich and H.F. Hershey (Zenith pilots), with Robert Day, acting on behalf of the Dept. of Commerce. Carrying five passengers, the aircraft once climbed to 6,500 ft. in 13 min. (the cabin held six). The empty weight climb rate was 1,150 fpm, or 750 fpm with a full load. The service ceiling was 16,000 ft., with a max. ceiling of 18,000 ft. The first Z-6 was sent to Bennett Rodebaugh Co. for cargo, mail and passenger service between Fairbanks, Alaska and the Yukon. The paint scheme was interesting, with the fuselage, wings, tail surfaces painted gold, and the cowling, struts and landing gear being painted blue. Thurston fabric was used, coated on the inside with Fuller varnish. The exterior finish was “Zapon” clear dope followed by Fuller varnish. The wing loading was 9.73 lbs./sq. ft. and the power loading was 18.50 lbs./hp. The J-5 burned 12 gph, and with the 70 gal. total capacity gave a range of 600 mi.
The longerons were made of molybdenum steel tubing tapering from 1 in., 18 gauge, to .875 in. 18 gauge tubing. The fuselage cross memebers were made of 20 gauge 1.875 in. tubing which was also nickel plated. The wing walkways were of rubber matting and allowed access on either side of the fuselage to the 132 cu. ft. cabin. The wrap-around cabin windows were made of safety glass in front with pyralin used on the side windows. The seat frames were made of duralumin tubing and the interior was finished in wood. The pilot’s seat was partially enclosed by the cabin, and baggage space was available aft of the cabin. The firewall was lined with asbestos, and aileron attachment were readily accessible. A Standard steel propeller was used and an inerta starter. A 10 gal. oil tank was installed, and fuel was carried in two 22.5 gal. wing tanks and 25 gal. tank in the lower part of the fuselage. The tail surfaces were made of steel tubiing and the horizontal stabilizer was adjustable via a ratchet and lever. All empennage controls were operated via control horns and wire cable. The horizontal tail surfaces had an area of 40 sq. ft. The undercarriage was of the split axel type, using Goodrich 34 in. by 6 in. tires.
Type Certificated as Group 2-212, and 2-269, the Zenith Z-6-A was a much bigger aircraft, and was built in 1928. It was powered by a 420 hp Pratt and Whitney Wasp C. It had a span of 47 ft. 6 in., amd a length of 29 ft. 6 in. The loaded weight was 2,100 lbs, and the Vmax. was 155 mph. The Vc was 130 mph, and the Vmin was 58 mph. The cost was $20,000.00. One (NC392V) was built for Bennett Airways in Idaho, and another was constructed with a 450 hp Wasp SC (NC 134W). The Bennet Airways Z-6-A was restored at Maryland Heights, Missouri in 2006.
Three Zenith Z-6-Bs were constructed in 1929 under ATC 2-315 (NC 835Y, NC 935Y and NC 977Y). They were powered by 420 hp P&W Wasp Cs. The span was 41 ft. 6 in., and the length was 30 ft. 0 in. The loaded weight was 1,918 lbs, and the range was 650 mi. Costing $20,000.00, the Vmax was 150 mph, the Vc was 125 mph and the Vmin was 58 mph. Presumably, the Z-6-A and Z-6-B used the same construction as the Z-6.
By late 1928, Zenith had moved to Long Beach, and had been renamed the Albatross Aircraft Corp. It was there that Rocheville designed the American Albatross B-1, a high-wing monoplane of considerable grace. Funded privately by Charles F. Rocheville, Charles Maxwell, Leslie Penhall and Jerry Austin, the corporation was closed to stock purchases by others.
From the outset, the American Albatross B-1 was intended to be powered by a 450 hp Pratt and Whitney Wasp radil, however, Rocheville decided to fit a 260 hp Menasco-Salmson.Once again, the reason was Rocheville’s pursuit of an endurance record, and the lower fuel consumption of the Salmson made it a good option. Imported from France, it was apparently similar to the Salmson AD9, but with a somewhat higher power rating. For this aircraft, Rocheville would use a welded steel tube fuselage and a wooden fabric-covered, wing. The span was 56 ft. 0 in. (see entries below and footnote 20), and the overall length was 39 ft., with a height of of 11 ft. Like the Zenith Z-6, the B-1 used gold wings and tail surfaces, with a blue fuselage, lift struts and landing gear.
The semi-cantilever wing of the B-1 used construction similar to that of the Zenith Z-12, box spars with heavy spruce caps and .125 in. ply sides with the grain laid on a 45 degree angle. The chord was 106 in., and a modified Gottingen wing section was used on the 482 sq. ft. wing; probably similar to the 398 used on the Zenith Z-12 and Z-6s. The ribs were made of sprice and plywood truss and were space at 12 in. interval, with addition false ribs along the leading edge. Duralumin was used to cover the leading edge, to a point aft of the front spar. Six bays of MacWhyte drag brace wires were used, and compression struts were made of steel tubing. The trailing edge of the wings was .25 in. steel tube. The familiar false spar and piano hinge aileron connectors were used, the fabric being treated with Berry Brothers dopes. The wing has a safety factor of +7, well above that required by the Dept. of Commerce for Class 3 aircraft.
The first aircraft, constructed for the Al Ebrite Aero Corp. of Long Beach, was completed first, and was registered as; X 6772. No internal brace wires were used in the steel tube fuselage. The oval cross section was achieved by clamping steel tube bulkheads to .75 in. dural tubing at 16 locations around the fuselage. With the four longerons, there were 20 places of attachment around the fuselage. This gave an exterior finish that was almost as smooth as monocoque construction. The internal trussing allowed the incorporation of two large doors and large windows. A diamond truss weas used below the floor, the tubing being laminated. All struts, fittings and steel tube used were of chrome molybdenum alloy. The tubing was treated with “Lionoil,” and the exterior painted aluminum. The fabric on the fuselage was stitched directly to the steel and duralumin tubes. Four fittings were used to attach the wings by bolts, two for each spar. The wing struts were 2.125 in. steel of 16 gauge, and were fitted with streamlined with duralumin ribs, the fittings being heavily gusseted to reduce drag. The six-place cabin interior was attached to the steel tube by spruce and ply wood box ribs. The only internal obstructions were two diagonal struts at the front bulkhead. At the rear of the cabin a 3 cubic ft. baggage compartment was installed. The pilot’s cabin was entered through the rear passenger door, and could be exited through an emergency hatch in the cabin roof. Celluloid windows provided ample visibility for the passengers. Dual controls of either Deperdussin (wheel) or stick controls could be fitted.
As already stated, the detachable engine mount allowed a P&W Wasp to be fitted in place of the Menasco-Salmson. A heavy aluminum firewall was placed between the engine and the pilot’s cabin. The engine was cowled as far back as the pilot’s cabin. An 11 gal. oil tank was fitted to the top of the fuselage and a total of 116 gal. of fuel could be carried in wing tanks, one tank in each wing. A small vertical fin was used, the long fuselage providing stability. The horizontal stabilizer was adjustable, two degrees up or 5 degrees down, to compensate for the load. Both the elevators and vertical rudder were mounted on plain bearings, the horizontal stabilizer being braced on each side by two wires. The main undercarriage of the B-1 consisted of Aerol struts fitted to the front wing strut. From this point, diagonal struts ran to both the upper and lower longerons. Arens rudder pedal brakes were linked to bendix wheel brakes, and the tires were 32 * 6 in.
With the Menasco-Salmson, the B-1 had a wing loading of 9.79 lbs./sq. ft., and a power loading of 18.5 lbs./hp. The mpty weight was , 2362 lbs, and the loaded weight was 4,720 lbs, the useful load being 2,000 lbs. The Vmax. was 128 mph @ 1,700 rpm. The Vc was 92 mph @ 1,350 rpm, and the landing speed was 40 mph with a full load. The take-off and landing distance (w/o brakes) was 250 ft.The service ceiling was 19,000 ft., and the range was 500 mi. with a 6 hr. endurance. The text in the Aviation article on the B-1 states that there were plans for American Albatross to build a four-place cabin monoplane and a single-place open cockpit monoplane.
Rocheville had hoped for an endurance record of over 90 hours, and for the duration flight he picked racing pilot Lee Schoenhair and a 23 year-old Maddux Airlines pilot named Johnny Gugliemetti. On the first take-off attempt, Schoenhair ground looped the B-1. Following repairs, Gugliemetti took the pilot’s seat and made a smooth take-off. Unfortunately, fuel consumption was higher than was supposed, and the flight was terminated after 43.5 hrs. Once again, the flight had been made from Imperial Valley, and the heat of the day increased faster than the fuel burned off. As a result, a power-on forced landing was made on the Salton Sea Beach, just before the undercarriage collpased. According to Boyne’s accounts, there was a second B-1, and that was the aircraft sold to Al Ebrite. His B-1 was fitted with a 420 hp Wasp, and had much improved performance, Ebrite using the B-1 to fly cargo into Mexican mining camps. The Vmax. was increased to 145 mph, and the Vc went up to 115 mph. The landing and take-off was phenomenal, taking only 250 ft. with a full load.
At this juncture, Rocheville’s activities had attracted the attention of industrial magnate E.M. Smith. Born in Pittsburgh, Pa. in 1881; Smith had amassed a fortune iin the tradition of Howard Hughes, selling oil well drill bits, on which he owned a patent In 1911 he formed the E.M. Smoth Co., or EMSCO, for short. The company sold transmission belting for machinery, hydraulic brake linings and rubber products. Smith’s success led to an asbestos business located at S. Downey, California, and sat adjacent to railroad tracks for easy transport of Emsco products. In 1929 Smith purchased a 73 acre ranch (19) from James Hughhan. He had farmed the ranch for an undetermined period, growing oranges and castor beans. The area had been located near the Los Nietos Collegiate Institute (apparently a religious school settlement), which was opened on 19 March 1869. Lots in the settlement area were sold that day which totaled $2,743.50. By the time Smith purchased the land, Smith’s interests included the; Emsco Refractories Co., the Emsco Derrick and Equipment Co., the Emsco Aero Engine Co., and the Emsco Aircraft Corp. In creating the latter, Smith had purchased the remaining assets of Zenith and Rocheville’s American Albatross Co. He then built a factory on Cerritos Rd. The new factory occupied 60,000 sq. ft., with a 2,400 ft. runway and associated hangars. The company was incorporated in 1929 for one million dollars, a considerable sum in those days.
Smith now needed a new airplane for his company. Emsco’s first aircraft was the B-2 Challenger; a trimotor design employing three 170 hp Curtiss Challenger engines. Certificated under a Group 2 ATC approval (2-171), the Challenger was an attractive design with a span of 57 ft. (20), and a length of 36 ft., and a height of 12 ft. It was painted in an interesting scheme with yellow-golden wings, tail surfaces and wing struts; with a light green fuselage, and dark green trim which stretched from the nose engine down the fuselage where an Emsco company logo adorned the sides. The dark green stripe continued on, terminating at the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer. The outer engine nacelles were painted white. Construction of the B-2 was clearly an evolution of the American Albatross B-1. With the three Challengers turning 1,900 rpm, the B-2 was capable of 130 mph. At 1,650 rpm, the Vc was 101 mph, and 86 mph could be maintained on 1,500 rpm. Landing speed was 50 mph. With a full load of 2,338 lbs., the B-2 had a range of 450 mi. The service ceiling was 15,000 ft., and with a price tag of $20,000.00, only two B-2s were built during 1929-1930. The first, was converted to the prototype Emsco B-3 (NC 823N) and another was built for the Derrick and Equipment Co. (X849E); the latter being converted to the twin-engine Emsco B-5.
The subject of this “Mystery Plane,” The Emsco B-3-A, began with a redesign of the B-2. After a four month 25, 000 mi. aerial tour, the company did something of a management reshuffle. In October 1929, Walter L. Seiler took over as Chief Pilot and Ted Lundgren became sales manager. As the conversion of the B-2 got underway, Emsco also introduced the B-4, a two-place open cockpit low-wing monoplane powered by an American Cirrus Engines, Inc., a four cylinder air-cooled inline engine of 90-98 hp, depending on whether the version had a 5:1 or 5:4 compression ratio. Built in Marysville, Michigan, the engine saw considerable use in light aircraft of the period. Plans were also underway to built a 32 passenger airliner and an amphibian.
As the B-1 evolved into the B-2, and hence, the B-3, it is worth discussing some of the differences between the B-1 and and its close cousin, the B-3. These two aircraft are somewhat difficult to tell apart. Salient features of identification are primarily the undercarriage and wing struts. The B-1 has a taller looking undercarriage and the B-3 has wheel fairings (“spats”). The diagonal struts on the B-1 also run to inverted “vee-shaped” tubing that extends from the dorsal side of the fuselage, while these struts attach directly to fittings on the B-3’s fuselage. The B-3 also has much wider “lift struts” that have a tapered planform and do not run the entire length of the struts. Likewise, the B-1 has tail surfaces of a much different size and shape. Otherwise, the two are deceptively similar.
The difference between the B-3 and B-3-A, if any, are unclear, but may be due to engine changes, or the B-3 may not have existed at all. Whatever the case, the B-3-A was powered by a nine-cylinder, air-cooled Pratt and Whitney Wasp C (R-1340) of 420 hp. Compared to the B-1, the B-3-A span was also allegedly 56 ft. 0 in. Rocheville made the point of telling Boyne that the correct figure was 60 ft., as published in Jane’s. In 1973 Boyne wrote; “…Rocheville stoutly maintains that it was a sixty footer, pointing out that they only used one set of jigs to make the wings…” The height was reduced to 9 ft. 5 in, and the fuselage was lengthened to 40 ft. 9 in. The wing chord was increased slightly to 108 in., and the area was 486 sq. ft. The airfoil was a Goettingen 398. The empty weight was 4,199 lbs., and the useful load was 2,401 lbs.; inclusive of 140 gal. of fuel weighing 1,311 lbs, and seven passengers with 150 lbs. of baggage, bringing the gross weight up to 6,600 lbs. The Vmax. was 150 mph, with a Vc of 122 mph and a landing speed of 50 mph. Initial climb was 800 fpm, with 6,800 ft. being reached in 10 min. The service ceiling was 14,000 ft., and the range was 720 mi. burning 22 gph. The oil capacity was 10 gal., and the price was $21,000.00. Two baggage comparments were added, one aft, and one forward. The engine was covered in a wide chord NACA cowling The main gear struts were Aerol or Gruss, and the 36 in. by 8 in. tires were covered by heavy fabric covered fairings formed around wooden formers. A tail wheel was used and a ground adjustable propeller was standard, as were fire extinguishers, navigation lights, battery and an electric-inertia starter.
In August of 1929, the National Air Races were in full swing in Cleveland. Recorded in the Parks Airport Register, two Emsco B-3-As landed there on their way to Cleveland, piloted by Rocheville (NX 832H) and Jack Reid (NC 849E, the first Emsco B-3-A). The date was 20 August 1929, and the time is recorded as 2:05 pm. This would be the beginning of the end for Rocheville’s association with Emsco. On 21 August 1929, Reid had been awake for quite some time, and was circling the field during an attempt at the world’s endurance record. Accounts vary as to whether Thomas D. “Jack” Reid crashed while trying to land in foggy conditions, or fell asleep after remaining aloft for 38 hrs. and 40 min. Whatever actually happened, Reid was killed when his B-3-A stuck a beech tree near Fairview Village, Ohio. He had broken the world’s endurance record, but lost his life in the attempt. The wreckage was burned with the exception of a grim souvenir which appears on the internet, a small square of fabric from one of the wings, painted in the yellow-gold color distinctive of Reid’s B-3-A).After Reid’s crash, several other B-3-As were built, and their stories are quite interesting.
Others had taken interest in the B-3-A. The eleventh aircraft built by Emsco was the B-3-A purchased by Col. Pablo Sidar. Registered as X-BACO, the “Emsco Wasp” was named Morelos, after a hero of the Mexican Revolution. The plane had been fitted with extra tanks for a flight from Oaxaca, Mexico to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Unfortunately, the aircraft was apparently struck by lightning off of Puerto Limon, Costa Rica. Both Sidar and his co-pilot, Capt. Carlos Rovirosa were killed.
Registered as NR 153W, the City of Tacoma was purchased by the lumber magnate John Buffelen on 11 July 1930 for $15,000.00. The aircraft was to be flown from Tokyo to Tacoma by Harold Bromley and Harold Gatty, but they were forced to turn back after a flight of 2,500 mi., due to the weather. The following year, Tom Ash, renamed the airplane; Pacific, but ground looped the aircraft and declared it unfit for the journey. It was now up to Don Moyle and Cecil Ailen. They modified the aircraft, installing a new supercharger, horizontal and vertical stabilizer, rudder and elevators. The aircraft was again renamed, this time after Buffelen’s daughter. Dubbed the Clasina Madge, the duo used an inclined wooden ramp on Sabushiro Beach for the take-off. Departing on 8 August, the pair were buffeted by winds and ice until they decided to land on a deserted Aleutian island. After five days, they could stand no more and left, heading back, but ending up in a small Siberian mining town. With no fuel available, they were forced to run the engine on Russian paint thinner. Somehow, it worked, and they finally made it to Alaska, where they spent the next two weeks in Nome, trying to get the engine to run properly.
After curing the ailing Wasp, they flew on to Tacoma via Skagway, but landed at the wrong airport, missing Buffelen’s welcoming committee. To make things worse, they learned that during their epic misadventure, Clyde Pangborn and Hugh Henrdon had just flown from Tokyo to Wenatchee, Washington. However, this was not the end of NR 153W. One 1 March 1932, the plane was purchased for $4,000.00 by Moyle, using the aircraft to haul fish. Sadly, he also carried some passengers and a violation was filed against him. Moyle then headed to Mexico, and the plane was reregistered as XB-AFV. It is not known what happened to this B-3-A.
The ninth aircraft built by Emsco was the second B-2 (NC 823N). According to Boyne, the aircraft was converted to a B-3-A was sold to Transportes Aereos de Chiapas, where it flown by Francisco Sabaria. In 1939, Sabaria would crash into the Potomac River after taking of from Washington, D.C. in the Gee Bee Q.E.D. (Latin for; “Quod Erat Demonstrandum,” or; “That which needed to be proven”). A photo of this particular B-3-A appears in the late R.E.G. Davies book; Airlines of Latin America Since 1919, and is the photo used for this article. Like the band of Japanese enthusiasts came to the US looking for Clasina Madge in the early ’70s, the whereabouts of NC 823N have long since been lost to history.
By late 1930 a second management restructuring took place, placing Roger Q. Williams, a famous trnasatlantic pilot previously associated with ht elikes of Bellanca, Burnelli-Uppercu and the General Airplanes Corp., as Cief Pilot and Consulting Engineer. This caused Rocheville to look elsewhere for employment, but in the meanwhile, Williams had dreams of flying a B-3-A around the world; flying from New York to Berlin to Tokyo. The attempt was abandoned, but the B-3-A (NR 166W), was sold to the Rumanian Prince, Jean Chiga. The aircraft was painted blue and orange, and named; Regele Carol II, was planned to be used in a lfight from Bucharest to Durban, Africa. Like all other B-3-A record attempts, Chiga was killed before the flight, and the fate of the aircraft is unknown. Prior to the sale of the aircraft, Roger Williamsand Ted Lundrgen attempted a transcontinental record using NR 166 W, then painted red and blue. The plane got as far as Oklahoma where it was forced down with a bad exhaust manifold, which threatened to set the aircraft on fire. Recalling the event for Walt Boyne, Williams stated that he and Lundgren were able to land, but were soon arrested as a bank robbery had just taken place using a red and blue airplane as the escape vehicle. Eventually they were released after proving who they were, but in order to take-off a ramp had to be used. Placing rocks a chocks, and farm hands to hold the plane back, the plane was barely able to get airborne, and looking down, everything in the barnyard had been covered with hay. Four or five B-3-As were built, but the Emsco story was not yet finished.
In addition to the B-4, photographs exist of what appears to be a B-4 fitted with a variable camber wing mechanism. “Test Ship No. 2” is written on the side of the fuselage, but little more is known. According to Aerofiles, Rocheville built the R-2 in 1930, and the VC-2 or VCM-1, also during 1930. The latter, obviously isn’t a modified B-4 as it is said to have been powered by 220 hp Wright J-5 and was a five-place open mid-wing monoplane, registered as; 7922. Neither the VC-2, nor the so-called VCM-1 appears to match any photo which is known to have originated with Rocheville. However, there does appear to have been a single-place and two-place B-4, as evidenced by photos that appear in Boyne’s Airpower/Wings articles in 1973. Boyne also notes that the variable camber device was operated by a lever and could convert a NACA M-12 airfoil into a Gottingen 441 airfoil, reducing the landing speed from 55 mph to 35 mph. Following the B-4, one of the B-2s had been converted to the B-5. It was somewhat odd looking twin-engine airplane with twin vertical fins fitted to either end of the horizontal stabilizer, and powered by two Wright J-6 engines of 300 hp. The nose was much more streamlined than the B-2, but it did not help. Curiously, it appears to have had the 57 ft. wing span that Rocheville sternly denied (see footnote 20). Approved under ATC 2-391. the aircraft was sold to Guatemala in July of 1933 for $3,500.00.
There was no Emsco B-6, but there were several versions of the B-7 (ATC 403). Additonally, there was a B-7C (ATC 424) and a B-7CH (ATC 2-396). The B-7 was a nice looking two-place mid wing monoplane powered by a Wright R-450 of 165 hp, known as the; “Emsco Mid Wing Sport.” The B-7C was powered by a Continental A 70 and the B-7Ch was offered with a 165 hp Curtiss Challenger. The B-7 was apparently converted from a B-4, and was registered as NC 869N. The B-7C, apparently designed by T.V. van Stone, was scrapped in 1946 and was registered as NC 969Y. According to one owner it was a totally viceless airplane. The B-7CH may have lasted as long as 1950, where it was operated at Portland, Oregon (21). A final Rochville mutation of the B-4 also existed. Registered as X 12270, it was similar to the B-4, but hardly the same. It was fitted with the experimental Deeble engine, an interesting convolution of trying to make a double-acting reciprocating engine operate on the principle of a double-acting steam engine. By using each end of the stroke as a place for an ignition event (on opposite side of a given piston), in theory, the power of an engine could be roughly doubled. Rocheville made a brief test flight in the plane, but the engine overheated badly. Financial backing simply wasn’t there, and the idea was abandoned. The aircraft, however, may have been retrofitted with an Axelson engine and resold. This aircraft may have been known as the Rocheville “A,” and was apparently built in 1931, after he left Emsco. Aerofiles states that the aircraft may have lasted as long as 1940, going through several owners. Rocheville, however, went his separate way from Emsco and Deeble. He became involved with Standard Oil of Southern California (SOCAL) and sailed aboard the SS Exochorda from Jersey City to Alexandria, Egypt on 6 February 1934. He would fly a modified Fairchild 71 fitted with a 420 hp Pratt and Whitney Wasp, and balloon tires. The crew consisted of Joe Maountain, Dick Kerr and Russ Gerow. Rocheville flew the Fairchild from Cairo to Gaza, Baghdad and Basra to Jubail. Rocheville left Saudi Arabia injured from a crash and ill in June of 1934. In oder to map the Standard Oil concession in Arabia, western garb was not permitted except for flying. Among the group was the geologist Max Steineke, the one man most responsible for unlocking the oil treasure of Saudia Arabia.
Rocheville’s final project at Emsco was unique. Built in 1930, it was an unusual two-place open cockpit monoplane of twin-boom configuration with an abbreviated nacelle and a horizontal stabilizer which joined the booms, “a la P-38.” In the center of the horizontal stabilizer was a solitary vertical fin and rudder. The tail was supported with a third wheel attached to the rear of the nacelle, similar to that used on the Boeing YL-15 some years later. Perhaps the most interesting feature was the wing. Rocheville is probably the first person to use boundry layer control to reduce drag. If one examines extant photos of the B-8 “Flying Wing” (X 55W). one can see slots along the rear of the wing where exhaust siphoned from the Continental A 70 (later, a Wasp Jr. of 300 hp was used), was “blown” over the dorsal side of the wing. With a span of 60 ft. and a length of 36 ft., the B-8 had a Vmax. of 145 mph, and a Vc of around 125 mph. Designed for a 70 hour flight across the Pacific, the project was cut short when Rocheville left the company and was replace by Gerard Vultee. Sadly, the aircraft was scrapped in November of 1930, never having been given the chance to prove itself. Yet, Rocheville had another surprise up his sleve.
In 1933 Rocheville designed the Arctic Tern (NR 221Y). Like the Emsco B-8 it was a twin boom design that used a short nacelle, and two very large floats. The Wings were taken from a Lockheed Sirius and the empennage surfaces came from a Lockheed Vega. Inside the large floats was photographic survey equipment, the aicraft being built for Shell Oil. After a month of testing, good flight characteristics were confirmed. Unfortunately, the Sirius wings had a severe defect. At certain angles of bank, the fuel was cut off. On a short flight to allow Shell photographers to take shots of the aircraft in flight, the engine suddenly quit due to fuel starvation. The aircraft’s floats caught a drainage ditch on landing and the aircraft was turned over, throwing Rocheville from the cockpit. The failure of Wiley Post’s hybrid Orion/Sirius seemed to confirm Rocheville’s theory of fuel starvation at certain bank angles when the fuel was low. Rocheville, suffered several internal injuries which still bothered him into the 1970s. For a time, Rocheville worked for the Ford Motoro Co., but returned to active service with the USN during the Second World War, retiring a Lt. Cmdr. And stil, his contributions were not yet over as America entered the post-war “space age.”
After Vultee replaced Rocheville, Emsco headed into decline. There was no B-9, and the B-10 was a parasol-wing version of the B-7 alleged redesigned by Vultee in 1933, but this is almost certainly apocryphal given his activities at the time. and possibly made from leftover B-7 components. It was not a particularly well loved machine, as was the earlier B-7C. In any case, Vultee left Emsco in 1931 and was replaced by T.V. van Stone, who may have designed (or redesigned from the B-4), the B-7. By this time the depression had crushed any hopes of orders for light planes or small airliners. In 1932 Emsco leased its facilities to the Champion Aircraft Corporation, who built airplane that landed at airspeeds as low as 10 mph. Seven months later, Cahmpion was replaced by the Security National Aircraft Corp. headed by Bert Kinner. Security National built a folding-wing version of the Kinner Airster, but only two were made before the factory closed again.
Gerard “Jerry” Freebairn Vultee was born in 1900 and attended Caltech from 1921-1923, where he built the Tal glider. In 1923, Art Mankey hired Vultee and a structural engineer, where he met Jack Northrop. In 1928 Northrop invited Vultee to join him at Lockheed to build the Vega. While at Lockheed, Vultee designed the Lockheed Sirius. The controlling interest in Lockheed was purchased by the Detroit Aircraft Corp., and Vultee was replaced by Richard von Hake. He then accepted a position at the Curtiss-Wright School of Aeronautics, where he taught drafting and engineering classes. Vultee then left for Emsco, and eventually approached Errett Lobban Cord in 1931. At that time, Cord owned Stinson and Lycoming in addition to Dusenberg and Auburn, and five other engine companies. He had also co-founded two airlines and saw Vultee’s V-1 as a breakthrough aircraft. Cord thus established the Airplane Development Corp., as a division of Cord.
The V-1 prototype was completed in 1933, and after modification, went into service with American Airways as the V-1A. Cord had labor problems with his airlines and sold both airlines to American in exchange for 7% of the stock of American’s parent company, the Aviation Corporation. Eventually, Cord gained control of the company. Under the 1934 Airmail Act, contractors could not hold any interest in any other aviation activity except landing field. American Airways promptly became American Airlines, and the Aviation Manufacturing Co was formed as a division of the Aviation Corporation (AVCO). Gerard Vultee was soon named Vice-President and Chief Engineer of the Aviation Manufacturing Co., and began work on a bomber for overseas export, known as the V-11.
The production facilities at Glendale proved too small for production, and the company was relocated to the old Emsco plant in 1936. In November of 1937, the Vultee Aircraft Division was created out of the Aviation Manufacturing Corp. Foreign sales were good, but the American military ignored Vultee’s designs. On 29 January 1938, Gerard Vultee and his wife, Sylvia, were returning home from Washington, D.C. on 29 January 1938, in their Stinson SR-9C. They encountered snow after leaving Winslow TWA Airport at 8:35 am, and were soon engulfed in a blizzard. The aircraft never reached Downey, California, nor did the Vultees ever see their six month son again. The Wreckage of their SR-9C was located by a Forest Ranger and member of the local C.C.C. (Civilian Conservation Corps). Gerard Vultee was only 38 and his wife 27. His wristwatch was found to have stopped at 9:56 am. A brone plaque is placed at the end of Coconino Forestry Trail where an rock arch is named “Vultee Arch.” Vultee was replaced by Richard Palmer as Chief Engineer. The Vultee V-12-C was ordered by the Nationalist Chinese Government, and the company continued to grow and expand, Stinson becoming on 14 November 1939. The next reorganization saw Vultee take control of Consolidated Aircraft Corporation. Finally, the two companies were merged on 17 March 1943 to become the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp., headquartered in San Diego.
During the Second World War, the plant produced 11,537 Consolidated Vultee BT-13 Valiant trainers. By July of 1941, the corporation was building 15% of all military aircraft for the American war effort. From 1942 to 1948, the Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corp. (Convair) brought the efots of Consolidated at San Diego and Vultee, at Downey, together, and in the first 6 months of 2944, built the largest numbers of B-24s produced during the Second World War. As production decreased during the end of the war, the Vultee division remained open to assist the USN with a surface to air missile known as the; Lark (SSM-N-2) . Later, another contract of 1.2 million dollars was awarded to study long range missile development. This resulted in the MX-774. The MX-774 was a missile roughly similar to the German wartime A-4 (V-2). It tested the concept of the balloon tank, employed on the Convair Atlas missiles that were launched until 1995; serving as an; ICBM, satellite, space probe and manned rocket launch vehicle since the Initial Operation Capability (IOC) status was reached in the early 1960s.
Following the end of Convair operations at Downey, the plant was taken over by North American Aviation for development of the MX-770 Navajo intercontinental cruise missile (eventually designated Strategic Missile, or SM-64). By 1953 it had become known as Air Force Plant (AFP) 16. In order to accomplish this, smaller jet-powered drone versions of the missile were flown as the North American X-10. Nevertheless, the “No go Navajo” was a failure and was cancelled when the HGM-16 Atlas and HGM-25 Titan became operational in the early ’60s, and were soon followed by the early LGM-30 Minuteman, and the USN’s UGM-27 Polaris. It was at Downey that North American also developed the AGM-28A Hound Dog stand-off missiles for the Boeing B-52H. A short time after that, North American’s Downey facility developed the Apollo Command and Service Modules that took American Astronauts to the Moon between 1968 and 1972 (Apollo Missions 8-17). After that, the facility was utilized for the development of the Space Shuttle by North American Rockwell, which is today Rockwell. most of the buildings were torn down in the late ’90s, but a small area is preserved along with the mock-up for the Space Shuttle, in a very poor state.
Charles F. Rocheville had given his life to aviation. His final invention, developed in the late 1950s was a product known as; “micoseal.” This was patented in the early 1960s and has remained the standard for dry spacecraft lubricants used on virtually all spacecraft. Curiously, I could not locate an obituary for Charles F. Rocheville during my research. Two other Rocheville mysteries remain unanswered. In 1927 there was a four-place cabin high-wing monoplane listed in the records (3299). but this may belong to another individual. Yet another aircraft was registered to Roceville as the; “Rocheville Special” (5922). Detailed information on these two aircraft could not be located by the author, and they are included only for the sake of completeness (22).
1. It is unclear if Rocheville enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) or the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). In 1914, the Canadian Aviation Corps was formed with a solitary aircraft, but was soon abolished. During the First World War, Canadians served with either the RFC or RNAS. Rochville’s subsequent service in the USN would suggest that he actually joined the RNAS. The RFC and RNAS were merged into the Independent Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918. During 1918, two squadrons were also formed as the Canadian Air Force (CAF), which was abolished with the end of the war. However, the CAF was reconstituted during 1920, eventually becoming the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924.
2. The acronym; Societe Anonyme Pour l’Aviation et ses Derives (SPAD), meaning the Society of Anonymous Aircraft Builders, was originally known as; Societe Provisoire des Aeroplanes Armand Deperdussin, and rose phoenix-like from the ashes of Deperdussin’s company following a scandal. The new syndicate, headed by Louis Bleriot, produced the aircraft designs of Louis Berchereaux. The United States Air Service (USAS) was the largest foreign user of the SPAD XIII; a total of 893 being transferred to American use in four pursuit groups from French and British stocks. Where Rocheville acquired the components he used to build his monoplane are unknown. One story has it being acquired as a wreck. No SPADs were transferred to USN or USMC service during, or after, the war. Wrecked First Pursuit Group aircraft are known to have been stored at Ellington Field, Texas, before being moved to Selfridge Field, Michigan on 1 July 1922.
3. Listed on Sheet No. 9, given to me by Hal Andrews at NASM in 1998,
4. So called, because a single arm has an appearance to the Greek letter for “Gamma,” and is also similar to a Cyrillic “G.” In appearance, looking like a much larger version of a Roman (Arabic) “r.” I have in my possession a copper plated disc sold at the Illinois State Fair during the 1930s, which bears this emblem. Prior to Nazism, it was considered a sign of good luck, which was the reason for its adoption by the Nazi regime, which relished metaphysical and mystical symbolism in their culture, much as the Italian Fascists did, with their use of Roman symbolism in the national insignia of their aircraft. Matilde Moisant, a pioneer American aviatrix, wore a small swastika medallion on her flying suit prior to World War One. Again, as a symbol of good luck.
5. In Lithuania, the swastika was used as the national marking on aircraft, as it was in Finland, prior to the Second World War. It was a symbol representing the sun and good luck. It is prominent in ancient India, where it dates back approximately 10,000 years BCE (approximately 12,000 years ago). Moreover, it is used in Hinduist, Jainist and Buddhist religions, and in North America by the Navajo, Hopi and Dakota tribes. Again, the symbolism has nothing to do with European fascism.
6. The L.W.F., (or Lowe Willard and Fowler) Engineering Company, Inc.. The initials of the company were cleverly used in periodical advertisements as: “Laminated Wood Fuselage;” this technique being employed in the monocoque construction of all L.W.F. machines. The L.W.F. Model F was a special aircraft constructed specifically to test the Liberty L-8. Within 10 days of the engine arriving at College Point, New York, the new engine was first test-flown on 21 August 1917. The original company was named after the principal owners; Edward Lowe Jr., Charles F. Willard and Robert G. Fowler. Charles F. Williard and Robert G. Fowler were pioneer aviators of some note. Charles Williard, is remembered as one of the last surviving pioneer aviators, flying early Herring-Curtiss machines. In 1912, Robert Fowler flew his Wright Model B, The Cole Flyer, from West to East across the United States, at the same time that Calbraith Perry Rodgers was flying from east to west.
7. Promoted by special Act of Congress. Byrd was temporarily promoted toward the end of the First World War to Lt. Cmdr., but reverted to the rank of Lt. after the armistice.
8. Corps Observation Amphibian (COA). An “X” was added at a later time to signify the experimental status. Subsequently, 15 similar OA-1As were built for the US Army and six were used on a goodwill tour of S. America in 1926. One aircraft, the City of San Francisco, is preserved at the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Dayton, Ohio.
9. The USN used the designation; “Observation Loening Two” for the three COA-1s obtained from the US Army. The OL-1 designation had already been applied to two Loening amphibians being built for the USN (A 6879-A 6880), which utilized a Packard 1A-1500 engine, and had a third cockpit in tandem. The USN went on to purchase several types of Loening amphibians. Four OL-3s, similar to the OL-1, four OL-4s, which had 450 hp inverted Liberty L-12s, as did the OL-2s. In in William T. Larkins’ treatise on USN aircraft, he states that 5 OL-2s went to the USMC (A 6981, 6980-6983 and 7030), after use by the USN. Twenty-eight OL-6s were built, using the Packard engine, while the XOL-7 had experimental thick-section wings, and the XOL-8, which was the first to use a Pratt and Whitney Wasp radial engine. Twenty OL-8As were constructed, and 26 similar OL-9s were procured after Loening had merged with Keystone. Two additional Loening aerial ambulances, with a single cockpit and room for 6 passengers were designated XHL-1s.
The civil Loening “Wasp Amphibian” (ATC # 34) was the analogue to the OL-8. A Loening Aeronautical Engineering Corp. booklet on the “Loening Cabin Amphibian” can be found in The Papers of Grover Cleveland Loening in the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress (Box 14, Folder 11). “Loening wings” were also applied to a small number (three, according to one source) of US Mail Service DH 4Bs. This gave an increase of 10 mph, in the maximum speed and a 10 mph decrease in the minimum speed. While overseas military use was limited to the OL-8 in Nicaragua (VJ-6M), Guam (VP-3M), Haiti (VO-9M), and at San Diego (VJ-8M/VJ-7M). One OL-8 (A 7850) crashed at Lake Nicaragua on 13 April 1929. A Solitary OL-6 (A 7335) was used by Gen. Smedly Butler at Hsin Ho, China in 1927, as part of the Third Marine Brigade. It will be recalled that Gen. Butler was awarded five Congressional Medals of Honor during his service, and was involved in thwarting an unproven coup d’etat against Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Wall Street tycoons.
Civil versions of the Loening “Air Yacht” continued to be developed. There were variants powered by the Pratt and Whitney Hornet and the the Wright Cyclone (ATCs 66,67, 90 and 91, respectively). The latter two were designated the Loening C2C and the C2H. In examining Loening’s manuscript papers at the Library of Congress, I discovered that he had been interested in development of an amphibious aircraft as far back as his time with the Queen Aeroplane Company in 1911. Army serial numbers for the COA-1s were: 24-008, 25-226 and 25-234. In USN service they became: A 6980- A 6983. These four aircraft included the XCOA-1 apparently, originally assigned the US Army serial 23-1234. The Donald B. MacMillan Greenland Expedition aircraft were designated as NA-1 to NA-3.
10. A Dayton Wright DH-4B (S/N A.S. 22-528, McCook Field Project Number P 256) was used on the February 1923 test flight.
11. The sun was up 24 hours during that time of year.
12. This wind drift meter had been developed for the 1919 transatlantic flight of the Curtiss NC flying boats. Byrd had established a base for this flight, but was not allowed to go along due to a ruling that none of the participants could have served in hostilities during The Great War, including Canada. As Byrd had been responsible for the establishment of a Naval Air Station at Nova Scotia in late 1918, he was not permitted to participate. Nevertheless, he was able to fly the first two legs of the flight with John H. Towers in NC-3. This was not to be his only disappointment. Once he reached Nova Scotia with Richardson, he received orders to stop and new orders to report for duty with the USN airship C-5. Byrd’s friend, Lt. Cmdr. Emory M Coil, was to command a follow-up transatlantic airship flight from St. John’s, Newfoundland to the Azores. Unfortunately, the airship broke loose from a crew of 100 men, who tried to restrain the airship during a gale. Most of the crew was aboard the USS Chicago, but some were aboard the C-5. They jumped when the crew were forced to release the airship. The drifting C-5 was observed by Cmdr. ALbert C. Read while flying to Nova Scotia, arriving well behind the NC-1 and the NC-3, having been forced down with a broken propeller. Its adrift condition was told to Byrd by Read. Read, of course, would command the only NC flying boat to complete the transatlantic flight. The fate of the C-5 was apparently observed by the British ship Nipigon. The airship was seen to settle to the surface. After waiting four hours for an American destroyer to arrive, the Nipigon continued its journey.
In another incident, Byrd narrowly missed flying on the fatal flight of the ZR-2 (R 38), because a mechanic, R.J. Steele, begged him to take his place, as his wife and family had been already sent on ahead by train. Again, E.M. Coil was to command the east-to-west transatlantic flight of the R.38, but was killed when it broke apart and exploded over the Humber River during the fourth (and final) flight of the R.38, from Cardington to Howden. Lt. Cmdr. Coil, a good friend of Byrd’s had been in hospital with him after Byrd returned from Nova Scotia to Washington. Coil, who was quite ill with “Spanish Flu,” was able to reach a letter informing him of the death of his wife and mother from influenza. He had remarried to an English woman at the time the R.38 crashed. In the interlude between time of Byrd’s service at Nova Scotia and the R.38 disaster on 23 August 1920, Byrd fought a political battle in Washington which put an end to Gen. William Mitchell’s dream of establishing an independent air force, as had been done in the United Kingdom on 1 April 1918, when the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) and Royal Flying Corps (RFC) were combined to become the Royal Air Force (RAF).
13. An excellent article on the Fokker F VII series can be found in Air Enthusiast 12. Originally, the designer, Reinhold Platz, envisioned engines in nacelles on the leading edge of the wing according to a drawing dated 20 June 1925. The early F VII-3ms were designated as the Atlantic Aircraft Corp. Model 6, the American Fokker company being founded at Teterboro, NJ in 1923. The prototype (c/n 4900) was test-flown on 4 September 1925, barely to months since the initial conversion.of an F VIIa. It was first flown at Teterboro on 26 September 1925, two days prior to commencement of the 1925 Ford Reliability Tour. It was personally flown from New York to Detroit by Fokker. It has since become a cliche to call this event; “The Fokker Publicity Tour.” From the fourth aircraft, a 31.5 extension of the fuselage was added. Atlantic Model 6s were manufactured in Holland and assembled at Teterboro for assembly. Subsequently, Atlantic built the Model 7, which had a slightly wider fuselage, altered flight deck and slightly repositioned Wright J-5s of 220 hp. These were adopted by the U.S. Air Coprs as the C-2 (s/n 26-202 to 26-204). Additional aircraft were procured by the USN as the TA-1 (s/n A 7561 to A 7563). The Model 7 used the wing of the F VIIa-3m, having an area of 629.7 sq. ft. In 1928 the designations F VIIa-3m and F VIIb-3m were used to distinguish the different wing areas, even though the terminology was written differently, and was somewhat confused. The F VIIb-3m had a lengthened wing center section, increasing the area to 721.2 sq. ft.
Byrd’s F VII-3m was purchased by Edsel Ford and named after his youngest daughter, Josephine. It was actually given the c/n 600, all imported Fokkers F VIIa-3ms using 600 series construction numbers, inclusive of what had originally been c/n 4900. The Atlantic Model 7s were given c/ns beginning with 700. In Byrd’s 1927 attempt to cross the Atlantic, he used a modified C-2, which was flown by Bert Acosta, and mainly by Bernt Balchen. Named America, It reached well into France before being forced to return to the coast, ditching near Sur-le-Mer. It is a little-known fact that Byrd sent a radio message of congratulations to Lts. Lester J. Maitland and Albert Hegenberger, who piloted the C-2 Bird of Paradise on a simultaneous 2,400 mi. journey, only it was from Oakland, California to Honolulu, Hawaii on ! June 1927. Receiving the message, they responded to Byrd, who was able to get the reply while on his way across the Atlantic. The America is said to have carried a piece of the first American flag, which was saved by Byrd. Yet another C-2, named; Question Mark, set a world’s endurance record using in-flight refueling in January of 1929, staying aloft for 150 hours. Eight C-2As were purchased by the Army, using the larger wing, as did the first C-2. There was a solitary C-5, based on the Atlantic (Fokker) F-10. Also, a solitary XC-7, which was a re-engined C-2A fitted with 330 hp Wright J-6-9s (R-975); six C-7As followed with a somewhat larger wing and revised empennage surfaces.
Likewise, the USMC used the TA-1 in Nicaragua, being redesignated as RA-1s, the “T” being assigned exclusively for used by torpedo-carrying aircraft. Retrofitted with R-975s, the RA-1s became RA-3s. The TA-2 was similar to the C-2A, and had the larger wing. These were also retrofitted with R-975s, and also became RA-3s, even though the wing was different. A single RA-4 was a stock ex-American Airlines Atlantic F-10A.
The first production F VII-3m, was purchased by the Detroit News along with a Liberty-powered F VII (c/n 4909). Named; the Detroiter, it was intended to be used by Sir Hubert Wilkins on an arctic expedition, which ended with the crash of both aircraft in Alaska. The F VIIa was named; Alaskan. The F VII-3m had a somewhat larger wing of 727.66 sq. ft. area, the center section being lengthened by 7.87 ft (somewhat greater than an F VIIb-3m wing). The Detroiter was rebuilt with a revised vertical rudder and other modifications, becoming Chalres Kinford-Smith’s Southern Cross; the first aircraft to fly across the Southern Pacific. Curiously, the first F.VIIa-3ms operated in American civil aviation were two aircraft flown by the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Airline in the summer of 1926. This route was flown between Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. The two planes were named; “Kendrick” and “Wilbur,” after the surnames of the cities mayors.
Byrd’s America had a wing like that of the Detroiter, and was fitted with Wright J-5 engines. It also had 1,300 gallons of fuel in the fuselage. First flown on 16 April 1927, with Fokker as the pilot, the center of gravity was found to be incorrect, the plane being dangerously nose-heavy. In the second landing attempt, the aircraft nosed-over and the copilot, Floyd Bennett was seriously injured. Bennett would not make the transatlantic flight in 1927, and in 1928 would die in-flight from complications due to pneumonia while he and Bernt Balchen flew to Greenly Island in a Ford Trimotor to rescue the crew of the modified Junkers W 33 Bremen, which had just made the first successful east-to-west transatlantic crossing; flying from Baldonnel, Ireland to Greenly Island (south of Quebec in the St. Lawrance seaway), where a precautionary landing was made. As the Bremen had run into problems during landing on a frozen resevoir; when the ice then cracked and the propeller was bent, the crew suffering minor injuries. The aircraft was not recovered until the late summer of 1928. The owner of the Bremen, Baron Guenther von Huenefeld, gave the plane to the City of New York Museum, after display in Germany, but it was eventually purchased by the Ford Museum at Dearborn, where the Josephine Ford resides. Currently, it is on loan to the Bremen airport in Germany. Interestingly, the Bremen was probably the first aircraft to be fitted with what are now known as; “winglets.” These were apparently fitted to add more lateral stability, and not to reduce wingtip vorticies, as is the norm, today.
14. Following Byrd’s death in 1957, Bernt Balchen asserted that the flight had taken too little time based on his knowledge of the Josephine Ford’s performance. He was in a position to know this as he had flown a goodwill tour of the US in the Josephine Ford after Byrd’s polar attempt, with Floyd Bennett. A photo survives which shows that on one leg of the tour; USMC pioneer aviator, Major Donald Keyhoe, was a passenger. Keyhoe, would gain national prominence during the early 1950s with the publication of his book; Flying Saucers are Real, in which he asserted that the government was “covering up” its knowledge of UFOs. Balchen, would go on to have a lengthy, and exemplary, career in aviation. In addition to piloting the America most of the way across the Atlantic, he would serve as pilot on Byrd’s flight to the South Pole in a Ford Trimotor. Notably, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps (USAAC) at the request of H.H. “Hap” Arnold, flying a B-17 on a mission to bomb the last of the German radio/waether installations in Greenland, that had been providing U-boats with weather data.
15. The Norge actually landed at Teller, Alaska, and was not rebuilt.
16. This became the title of a 1969 film (released in the US in 1971) that was somewhat faithful to the saga of the crew, if one discounts the menage a trois between Dr. Finn Malgren’s lover and the unrequited love of the rescuer, Lundborg. Produced by a joint Soviet-Italian film company, The Red Tent is partially fictionaized, and is based on a novel about the flight, but is well worth watching. Amunsen, is played by Sean Connery and Nobile is played by Peter Finch. The part of the Swedish rescue pilot, Lundborg, is well executed by Hardy Kruger, who played the role of the German Aeronautical Engineer, Heinrich Dorfmann, in the original The Flight of the Phoenix. Kruger, is one of the few actors to have played in both movies and is still living, and has been acting in the last decade.
17. Junkers-built F 13s of various makes were exported to numerous countries, including the Soviet Union, which built them under license as the JU 13. Several early F 13s were imported into the United States in 1920, but were impounded by the Inter-Allied Control Commission, until they finally decided the aircraft were not warplanes, which was forbidden to be built in Germany. Several JL6s made record-breaking flights, but all five US Air Mail JL6s suffered in-flight fires, ostensibly because of fuel line alterations made by John M. Larsen. The imported F 13s were known as JL6s, the “JL” standing for Junkers-Larsen or John Larsen, depending on which source one wishes to believe. While the fuel line alteration was solved, the damage to the planes reputation was done. The USN obtained 3, the US Army Air Service (USAS) got two, and the remainder went to the US Air Mail Service. Larsen sold a few additional planes to Standard Oil in Canada, and one to Mexico. He also built a larger version, known as the JL12, powered by a Liberty engine. It was armored and had multiple Thompson submachine guns with 100 round drums firing through the floor for ground strafing missions. The army wasn’t buying, however, and Larsen went out of business.
Curiously, Amundesen had a lengthy association with using aircraft on arctic expeditions. In 1913 he purchased a Chrostofferson flying boat, which was never used. Around 1920 he purchased a Curtiss Oriole, and in 1922 bought a Junkers Larsen JL 6, which crashed in Pennsylvania. The JuG-1, was a Soviet military version of the Junkers G 24 airliner. Chukhnovskii’s was fitted with floats and was named; “The Red Bear.”
The idea of reaching the North Pole was hardly new. In 1896, the Swedish explorer Salmon August Andree constructed a 151,853 cu. ft. balloon known as; “The Eagle.” He attempted to fly to fly to the North Pole with Swedish physicist Nils Stindberg and the engineer Knut Fraenkel. The balloon was equipped with three drag ropes, providing some marginal control of the altitude by use of a ballast system. The flight did not take place until 11 July 1897, when they set off from Danish Isle. A carrier pigeon was shot and the message retrieved on 15 July, but nothing further was heard until two messages washed ashore in 1899 and 1900. Nothing further was known until 6 August 1930, when the Norwegian exploration ship Bratvaag, discovered the bodies of Andree and Brindberg on White Island, approx. 250 mi. from the launch site, The body of Fraenkel was found several weeks later. The “Eagle” had remained aloft for 65 hrs. according to the records that were found. It had flown for about 500 mi., but had only traveled 250 mi. from the launch site, and were still 500 mi. from the pole. It was later speculated that they had succumbed trichinosis after eating the meat of a polar bear they had shot.
By 1905, the Chicago newspaperman Walter Wellman had already attempted to reach the North Pole on foot in 1894 and 1899, respectively. With the success of the French airship Juillot, Wellman visited Louis Goddard in Paris, and had an envelope constructed for his airship, America. He arrived at Spitzbergen in 1906, but the flight had to be delayed until 1907. The flight did not begin until 2 September, and lasted only 4 hours before the reipping panels had to be used. Like Andree, Wellman used a trail-rope, which, in his case carried provisions for the journey. Wellman tried again in 1909, but had more bad luck. In any case, Admiral Robert E. Peary had reputedly reached the pole on foot on 6 April 1909. Like Byrd, that claim is no longer widely accepted. Wellman rebuilt the America this time, with a transatlantic flight in mind. Between 15 and 17 October, the airship covered 1,010 mi., but was only 400 mi. off Cape Hatteras. The crew was rescued by the steamer Trent, and the America was set adrift, never to be seen again. On Board was a cat name “Kiddo,” who’s incessant meowing had led to the forst radio message being sent by an aircraft; “Come get this god damned cat.” Nevertheless, Kiddo was rescued with the rest of the crew. Wellman would make a second attempt at crossing the Atlantic in 1912 in a new airship named; Akron. Unfortunately, the airship exploded, killing Wellman and his crew.
18. In 1921 the Siberian Revolutionary Committee formed the Komitet Severnogo Mosrkogo Puti (KSMP, or Committee for the Northern Sea Route). This was reorganized into the Severno-Sibirskoye Gosudarstvennoye Aktisionernoe Obshchestvo “Komseverput” (Northern Siberian State Joint-Stock Company “Komseverput”) in June of 1928. On 17 December 1932 this became the Glavnoe Upravlenie Severnogo Moskkogo Puti (GUSMP, or Main Administration for the Northern Sea Route). At this time, a special administration for polar aviation was formed, the Upravlenie Polyarnoi Aviatsii (Adminstration for Polar Aviation), otherwise known as the; Polarnaya Aviatsiya, or Aviaarkitika (Polar Aviation, Aviaarctica).
On 12 May 1937, the first polar aviation North Pole aviation Station was established 12 mi. from the pole. Known as Severnii Polus Adyen (North Pole One, or SP-!), the ice station oerated for 274 days until 19 February 1938, when it was evacuated by the icebreakers Taimyr and Murman. It had drifted 1,770 mi during this time. It was during the summer of 1937 that a Bolkhovitinov DB-A (URSS H-209, or Union Republic Soviet Socialiste, N-209) , a modernized Tupolev TB-3, was sent on a transpolar flight. Coming on the heels of the disappearance of Amelia Earhardt’s Lockheed Model 10, the aircraft left Moscow for another journey to America on 12 August 1937, and was never seen again, despite an extensive search by the GUSMP. Another polar base was not established until 23 April 1948, when three aircraft flown by Ivan Cherevichnii, Il’ya Kotov and Vitaly Maslenikov arrived at the pole. This became the Severnii Polus Dva (North Pole two, or SP-2). This was associated with the Soviet’s desire to use ice floes as high north bases for fighter aircraft. Thus on 7 May 1948 a Lisunov Li-2 (a Soviet license-built Douglas C-47), a Second World War lend lease Douglas C-47 Dakota, an Ilyushin IL-12D, a Tupolev TU-6 and three Lavochkin LA-11s left Wrangel Island arriving near the North Pole. Making several successful take-offs and landings on 8 May, the group returned to base. This was followed by the first successful parachute decents to the pole a year later on 9 May 1949; Vitaly Volovich and Andrei Medvedev jumping from another lend lease C-47, registered as CCCP H-369 (Soyuz Sovietka Socialistacheska Respublik, SSSR, or the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics N-369).
After the Second World War, the Soviets found themselves without a large multi-engine transport aircraft. To compensate for this, large troop-carrying gliders were used to haul outsized, or heavy, cargo, and were towed by transports. This duty befell the Ilyushin IL-12 twin-engine transport. With the establishment of SP-2, the glider chosen to make the first polar landing was the Tsybin Ts-25. On 11 March 1950, two IL-12s and two Ts-25s set off for SP-2, which they reached, the gliders landing separately from the powered aircraft, of course. As SP-2 was not located directly at the North Pole, the aircraft set off from SP-2 on 7 April 1950, the IL-12s and Ts-25 circled the pole three times before returning to SP-2 to refuel the IL-12s.
The first Americans to land at the North Pole were Lt. Col. William Pershing Benedict, Lt. Col. Joseph Otis Fletcher (co-pilot) and the American scientist Albert P. Crary. This event took place on 3 May 1952 using a Douglas C-47 fitted with wheels and skis. Lt. Col. Benedict would bee killed on 31 August 1974, flying a Grumman F7F Tigercat being used as a fire-bomber. The nuclear submarine USS Nautilus would carry the next Americans to the North Pole on 3 August 1958.
As to the South Pole, Bernt Balchen and Byrd (with two others) would fly the Ford Trimotor; Floyd Bennett over the pole at 1:00 am on 29 November 1929. The Soviets would claim that Ivan I. Cherevichnii would be the first to land there in 1941, using a Tupolev ANT-6, Aviaartika (CCCP H-169). They also claimed that the first southern transpolar flight did not occur until 24 February 1956, using an IL-12, again, crediting I.I. Cherevichnii. However, it is quite clear that the first transcontinental flight over the South Pole took place when Lincoln Ellsworth flew his Northrop Gamma 2B Polar Star across Antarctica on 3 January 1935, with Bernt Balchen. This aircraft is preserved at the National Air and Space Museum at Washington, D.C.
19. Some sources list the size of the plat as 75 acres.
20. Rocheville took issue with this figure, telling Boyne that it also used his “standard” wing of 60 ft. He made no comment as to the 2 in. difference in the wing chord between the B-1 and B-3-A. However a 4 sq. ft. difference is noted in the wing areas of the two types.
21. Details of the Emsco B-7 series can be found under their respective ATC number in Volumes 5 and 9 of Juptner’s U.S. Civil Aircraft.
22. These two aircraft are listed on the Aerofiles website.
Alway, Peter. ROCKETS OF THE WORLD; THIRD EDITION. Ann Arbor, Michigan: Saturn Press, 1999, pp 240-242.
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Editors of the Year. FLIGHT. Los Angeles: Year, Inc., 1953, pp 92-134.
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Fishbein, Samuel B. AEROSPACE EVENTS OF 1965; HIGHLIGHTS OF THE AEROSPACE YEAR INCLUDING MAJOR DEVELOPMENTS INVOLVING AIRCRAFT, SPACE SYSTEMS, SPACECRAFT, LAUNCH VEHICLES, ENGINES, MISSILES, DRONES AND OTHER ASSOCIATED SYSTEMS WHICH PASSED NOTABLE MILESTONES IN 1965. Washington: Aeronautics Department, National Air and Space Museum.
Foster, Coram. REAR ADMIRAL BYRD AND THE POLAR EXPEDITIONS; WITH AN ACCOUNT OF HIS LIFE ACHIEVMENTS. New York: A.L. Burt Company Publishers, 1930.
Fraser, Chelsea. HEROS OF THE AIR. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, Publishers, 1928.
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ibid. LAVOCHKIN’S PISTON-ENGINED FIGHTERS; RED STAR VOLUME 10. United Kingdom, Hersham, Surrey, 2003, pp 118-124.
Gordon, Yefim, Sergey and Dmitriy Komissarov. LISUNOV LI-2 THE SOVIET DC-3; RED STAR VOLUME 27. United Kingdom, Hersham, Surrey, 2006, pp 91-110.
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Haggerty, James J., Editor. 1965 UNITED STATES AIRCRAFT, MISSILES AND SPACECRAFT. Washington, D.C.: National Aerospace Education Council, 1965.
ibid. 1970 UNITED STATES AIRCRAFT, MISSILES AND SPACECRAFT. Washington, D.C.: National Aerospace Education Council, 1970.
Hamlen, Joseph. FLIGHT FEVER. New York: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1971.
Hegener, Henri and Bruce Robertson. FOKKER THE MAN AND THE AIRCRAFT. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1961, pp 68-73, 76 and 79.
Hook, Thom. SHENNANDOAH SAGA. Annapolis: Airshow Publishers, 1973.
Horvat, William J. ABOVE THE PACIFIC. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1966.
Jenkins, Dennis R. SPACE SHUTTLE; THE HISTORY OF THE DEVELOPING THE NATIONAL SPACE TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM. Osceola, Wisconsin: Motorbooks International, 1992.
Juptner, Joseph H. U.S. CIVIL AIRCRAFT, VOLUME 1; ATC NUMBERS 1 TO 100. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, 1962, pp 98-100, 170-171 and 224-227.
ibid. U.S. CIVIL AIRCRAFT, VOLUME 4; ATC NUMBERS 301 TO 400. Fallbrook. California: Aero Publishers, inc., 1967, pp 312-315.
ibid. U.S. CIVIL AIRCRAFT, VOLUME 5; ATC NUMBERS 401 TO 500. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1971, pp 13-14 and 72-74.
ibid. U.S. CIVIL AIRCRAFT, VOLUME 6; ATC NUMBERS 501 TO 600. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1974, pp 177-180.
ibid. U.S. CIVIL AIRCRAFT, VOLUME 9, ATC NUMBERS 801-817. Fallbrook, California: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1981, p 222.
Kay, Antony L. JUNKERS AIRCRAFT AND ENGINES 1913-1945. London: Putnam Aeronautical Books, 2004, pp 28-39 and 62-75.
Larkins, William T. UNITED STATES NAVY AIRCRAFT 1921-1941. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1961, pp 4, 17, 40, 45, 50, 85, 93, 109, 120 and 155.
ibid. UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS AIRCRAFT 1914-1959. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc., 1959, pp 12, 16, 25, 43, 48 and 58.
Loening, Grover C. MONOPLANES AND BIPLANES; THEIR DESIGN, CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION. New York: Munn and Company, Inc., 1911.
ibid. MILITARY AEROPLANES; AN EXPLANATORY CONSIDERATION OF THEIR CHARACTERISTICS, PERFORMANCE, CONSTRUCTION, MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION. New York: D. Van Nostrand Co., 1918.
Mabley, Edward. THE MOTOR BALLOON “AMERICA.” Brattleboro, Vermont: The Stephen Green Press, 1969.
Morareau, Lucien. LES AERONEFS DE L’AVIATION MARATIME (1910-1942). Paris: Association Pour La Recherche De Documentation Sur L’Historie De L’Aeronautique Navale, 2002, pp 209-211.
National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AERONAUTICS 1924. Government Printing Office, 1924, p 59.
ibid. BIBLIOGRAPHY OF AERONAUTICS 1928. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1929, p 214.
ibid. BIBLIOGRPAHY OF AERONAUTICS 1929. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1930, p 69.
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Steirman, Hy and Glenn D. Kittler. TRIUMPH; THE INCREDIBLE SAGA OF THE FIRST TRANSATLANTIC FLIGHT. New York: Harper and Row, Publishers, 1961.
Stroud, John. EUROPEAN TRANSPORT AIRCRAFT SINCE 1910. London: Putnam, 1966, pp 239-243 and 465-481.
Sullivan, Scott P. VIRTUAL APOLLO; PICTORIAL ESSAY OF THE ENGINEERING AND CONSTRUCTION OF THE APOLLO COMMAND AND SERVICE MODULES: THE HISTORIC SPACECRAFT THAT TOOK MAN TO THE MOON. Burlington, Ontario, Canada: Apogee Books, 2002.
Swanborough, F.G. and Peter M. Bowers. UNITED STATES MILITARY AIRCRAFT SINCE 1909. New York: Putnam, 1963, pp 268-269 and pp 320-322.
ibid. UNITED STATES NAVY AIRCRAFT SINCE 1911. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1976, pp 286-288 and 334-337.
Thompson, Jonathan. ITALIAN CIVIL AND MILITARY AIRCRAFT 1930-1945. Los Angeles: Aero Publishers, Inc., 1963, pp 123-130.
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Ventry, Lord and Eugene Kolesnik. JANE’S POCKET BOOK OF AIRSHIPS. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc., 1976, pp 146-158.
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Aviation. V. N. March 26, 1923. An Interesting Airplane, p 339.
ibid. V.17 N.5. August 24, 1924. Inverting the Liberty Engine, p 836.
ibid. V. N. January 23, 1928. Ninety Feet from Tip to Tip, p 203.
ibid. V. N. January 28, 1928. The Zenith “Albatros;” Large Parasol Monoplane Powered with Three 125 hp. Siemens-Halske Engines Performs Well During Tests, pp 258-260.
ibid. V N . April 2, 1928. Ryan Engined Albatross Takes Off with 2 1-2 Times Weight Empty, p 840.
ibid. V 27 N 15. October 12, 1929. The Emsco “Challenger” Tri-Engined Monoplane, pp 746-748.
Boyne, Walt. Rocheville; Imagineer Emeritus. Aviation Quarterly, V 1 N 2. Air Trails, Inc.; 1974, pp 92-111.
ibid. The Forgotten Emscos, Pt. 2. Airpower. V.3 N.4. July 1973; Sentry Magazines, Inc., 1973, pp 54-63. .
ibid. The Forgotten Emscos, Pt. 1. Wings, V 3 N 3. June 1973, Sentry Magazines, Inc., NYC, 1973, pp 8-17.
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ibid. The New Zenith “Z-6;” A Small Transport Biplane With a Six Place Passenger Cabin in Front and an Open Place Cockpit in the Rear. Aviation. December 22, 1928, pp 2040, 2056, 2058 and 2060.
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Aerospace Legacy Foundation website. College Settlement, Downey Airport, Vultee Field and More.
ibid. “The Legacy” – Downey California’s Unique Aerospace History.
ibid. E.M. Smith.
Andrews, Hal. Listing of USN aircraft serial numbers from the National Archives and Records Administration, Sheet 7, 9 and 13..
The Downey Aviator, July 2009, Volume 2.1.
Gerow, Michael W. Long Beach Aircraft Mechanic’s Scrapbook, 1925-1935.
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Museum of Flight. Dan Hagedorn, Dennis Parks and Meredith Prather. Copy of the July 1973 Airpower aritcle.
Parks Airport Register, NX 832H.
The Red Tent, 1969 Soviet-Italian movie about the epic of the airship Italia.
U.S. Patent Office. Rocheville, Charles F. No 3,100,724
Western Museum of Flight, The Vultee Aircraft Co.
www.patriotspoint.org. Naval Aviator Richard Byrd on His First Polar Expedition 1925.