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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 89.djvu/89

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What's Wrong with Big Aeroplanes

��By Carl Dicnstbacli

���A novel feature of the first huge American land aeroplane is the use of biplanes for ailerons. This furnishes stronger control, at the expense of great head resistance

��WHEN Curtiss built ihu "America" for an intended flight across the Atlantic, he was compelled to design a big machine. The radius of action could be extended only by pro- viding for much fuel. Fuel became the most important freight of the bigger machine. Increase of size will not in it- self materially increase the radius of action.

For the reason given, the size of the "Americas" and "Super-Americas" is not only such that the radius of action is practically extended across the Atlantic, but a somewhat greater load can be car- ried. The Allies' lack of fast dirigibles made them eager bidders for the "Amer- icas." But the difficulties encountered in increasing the aero[ilane's size must not be lightly dismissed. Accidents now teach their lessons ((uickly. The first, a very dramatic one, happened in this country when on May ii last, a "Super- America" for passenger service between Washington and Newport News sudden- ly turned over into the Potomac, after performing some somersaults, wrecking itself, killing two and injuring three passengers. Similar accidents had oc- curred in Europe, but they were hushed up for military reasons. So rigitl and

��strong was the large machine that axes could not break through in the effort to get at the victims below the floating wreckage. Yet, a big machine is weaker for its weight than a smaller machine. Very large sailing vessels must be square- rigged, and many small sails must be employed. Aeroplane dreadnoughts ought to be multiplanes on the same principle. This becomes impcrati\c if the fact is considered that aeroplanes were for many years nothing better than death-traps, ready to break in midair and that it was exceedingly difficult to strengthen even the smaller types with- out making them too heavy. Landing on hard ground is particularly difficult. It means literally a collision with the earth. Huge flying boats are better off, their landing places are abundant and always le\el and wondrousK- soft.

But, after the recent accident one feels like asking: Isn't the "America" a some- what mistaken construction? May suc- cess be expected merely by enlarging a successful small model ?

A mammoth ste.imcr may get along with proportionately the same size of rudder as a smaller one because it mat- ters little if it takes it many times longer to complete a turn. But in

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