UNIT V SECTION 7 THE AIRPLANE IS A TRIUMPH OF MODERN SCIENCE We are at the opening verse of the opening page of the chapter of endless possibilities. — Rudyard Kipling. Introduction. In 1941 the Douglas Aircraft Company completed its first B-19 bomber — a huge airplane capable of transporting 28 tons of bombs or 125 fully equipped soldiers and having a wingspread of 212 feet, a length of 132 feet, and a height of 42 feet and 9 inches, which is equivalent to that of a three-story building. '.KiK-m Fig. 147. Douglas B-19. Its mighty wings measure 218 feet from tip to tip. With a fuel capacity of 11,000 gallons, the B-19 can fly from Los Angeles to London and back to New York. (Courtesy of the Douglas Aircraft Company.) This monster airplane is the largest one ever constructed; although the German Do-X flying boat carried 170 persons, its wing span was only 157 feet, and it could travel only 114 miles per hour as compared with the 210 miles which the B-19 bomber can do. The real significance of this huge airplane is not so much that it may make feasible round-trip bombing expeditions to Europe as it is that the B-19 bomber represents a great many of the advances of modern physical science and typifies the possibilities of the application of the power of science when applied to warfare. The B-19 will also serve as a testing-laboratory, which will give help in developing the cargo planes of tomorrow. 352
AIRPLANE A TRIUMPH OF MODERN SCIENCE 353 Five hundred engineers worked for four years, and 750,000 hours of research and engineering time were spent in planning the B-19. Four acres of blueprints were required for the final detailed plans. Ten miles of electrical wiring are contained in this airplane. Aeronautical engineers stated in 1938 that it would be quite feasible to construct a plane weighing 200 tons, capable of carrying over 300 people 5000 miles at 300 miles per hour. It is the purpose of this Section to present a brief picture of the tremendous strides that have taken place since December 17, 1903, when two bicycle-dealers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, made their historic flight in their strange contraption of sticks and wires. A Brief History of Aviation. 1500 —- Leonardo da Vinci made designs for wing-flapping machines to be operated by muscular effort. 1742 — Marquis de Bacqueville of France glided 900 feet. 1800-1810 — Sir George Cayley, the father of aerodynamics, discovered the principle of producing stability and constructed a stable glider. He introduced the vertical rudder. 1848 — John Stringfellow and William Henson flew an 8-pound model airplane powered with a small steam engine. 1866 — Herbert Wenham studied the problems of flight and introduced the wind tunnel for testing airplane models. 1896 — Otto Lilienthal of Germany was killed after several years of successful flying with a glider. Octave Chanute continued Lilienthal's experiments. Samuel Langley flew a heavierthan-air machine model with a Ij^-horsepower steam engine 2500 feet, with no one aboard, of course. Langley made great contributions to the science of flying but was jeered at by the public and died of a broken heart. 1899 — Percy Pilcher of England was killed while flying a glider. 1903 — December 17 — Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright, after several years of successful gliding experiments, in which they learned how to control an airplane, produced a gasolineengine-powered airplane which flew for a quarter of a minute with Orville Wright at the controls. The Wright brothers were careful students, painstaking experimenters, modest, simple, and patient. 1908 — Leon Lelagrange (France) made the first recorded flight in Europe of more than one mile. 1909 — Top speed of airplanes was 46 miles per hour. Louis Bleriot flew over the English Channel, a distance of 21 miles. 1910 — Jorge Chaves flew 75 miles over the Alps but lost his life in a crash landing. Glenn H. Curtiss flew from Albany to New York, a distance of 143 miles, in 2 hours, 50 minutes. France and Germany took the lead in investigating the possibilities of military airplanes.