Has anyone heard about this plane?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by chronister, Dec 23, 2004.

  1. chronister

    chronister New Member

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    Hi. Someone sent me this article recently about an unusual plane that was flown in Germany during the war. All I know about it is what's in this article. I'd like to know if anyone has any more info:

    1. Does anyone know where the plane is today?
    2. Does anyone know anything about Adalbert Schmid?
    3. Are there other sources that would confirm or refute this account?

    Thank you for any info or leads. Nathan
     

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  2. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    I read about this man and his ornithopter many years ago, but never saw a picture. I believe it was the first successful use of rotating action of the wings rather than just flapping up and down. This is closer to the way a bird's wings move. Interesting photos--the configuration of the flappers is not as I would have pictured them from the description in the old magazine I once had.
     
  3. chronister

    chronister New Member

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    Mr. Pope, thanks for your reply. Did you read about this originally in English or in German? I realize you won't remember where you read that after all these years, but I'm curious as to whether it was known outside Germany. As far as I know, this is not only the first rotating wing but the first ornithopter of any type to really have flown successfully. If anyone knows of others prior to this I'd love to hear more. (Alexander Lippisch, Germany, 1929, flew a pedal-powered ornithopter which wasn't able to maintain altitude though it did better than an unpowered glider.)
     
  4. R Pope

    R Pope Member

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    I believe it was in an RAF Flying Review, technical gen. Someone wrote in asking about it, and the researchers replied, but no photos. I have steamer trunks full of magazines, but I think that one got lost over the years.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Well what I can get from reading it. It was just an aircraft built for testing purposes of wings that would flap and the first aircraft to do such was this and it flew on June 26, 1942. I could not find any more info on it on the internet but as for sources to confirm this, what you have here is a scan of an artical from the Weltluftfahrt which is still in print in Germany today. This would pretty much confirm that it really happened.
     
  6. chronister

    chronister New Member

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    Thanks for that info. I didn't know the magazine was still in print!
     
  7. Gemhorse

    Gemhorse Member

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    The Horten Brothers were first doodling around with their 'Flying-wing' idea not much after this, which was also a really radical idea, they were first making gliders to test the theory.....perhaps somewhere under 'Unusual Experimental German aircraft' you may find another connection about it...reminds me abit of Leonardo da Vinci's drawings for Flying Apparatus......
     

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  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    At about the time this plane was flown. A lot of experimental glider aircraft were being flown. This was to test theories and ideas and it was easy to cover it up by using gliders. All in all these gliders helped pave the way for the Luftwaffe that became to be known.
     
  9. lancaster mad

    lancaster mad New Member

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    Could someone translate what the newspaper says (or whatever it is) ?
     
  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    If you wish you can copy into a online translator. Im sorry I dont have the time to translate the whole thing. Maybe another German speaker can but I am sure they will tell you to do the same as I did.
     
  11. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Chronister,

    >3. Are there other sources that would confirm or refute this account

    This article was fairly recently reproduced either in Flugzeug Classic or Jet Prop, and I think additional information was given too, so I believe it's real.

    Translation below.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)

    -----cut--------------------------------

    "I revolutionize sporting aviation with beating wings!

    The letter published below speaks for itself. Whoever was at Klemm's and knew the high wing cabin aircraft 'Mücke' [Mosquito] also knows the author of the following lines. WELTLUFTFAHRT [Global Aviation] has set itself the task to prevent that ornithopter flying - which was born 7 years ago - is forgotten, and to contribute to achieving what its inventor predicts: A new way out of the dead end of sporting aviation. The editors.

    Dear editors,

    Since thousands of years, mankind has been striving for flight, for the effortless dance with the winds, with the up and down of the beating wings identical to the ancient archetype, the flying bird. For thousands of years to the current day, men have sacrificed never-tiring idealism, the strength of their nerves and last but not least great sums of money in attempt after attempt. The sensible are content with the achievement of the goal by the detour over the fixed-wing aircraft, the not-so-sensible however kept tinkering in the shop and pouring over the drawing board, sacrificed all of their belongings and could not quit to try to imitate the original. But w h o heard about success? Were the never-tiring men really those that were victims of unreasonableness? Weren't those who. ridiculed by experts and laymans, pioneers who fought a bitter battle for the proof of their theorie? They had assembled evidence piece by piece and it is a joke of history that the achievements lie asleep in the drawers of a desk though they would be worthy of appreciation as an event of global significance: The first manned ornithopter flight succeeded on 26th of June, 1942 on the Schäferwiese [Shepherd's Meadow] in Munich Leim.

    30 years ago I began my experiments, and as a 70-year-old man I still remember the tiresome weeks and months as if it were yeasterday. Only 1932 brought the success of the free-flying ornithopter model. The experiments were then restricted to the ground. A muscle-power car was designed and used to measure the thrust that could be achieved by the beating of wings. A thousand failures - eternal 'enfant terrible': Wing section and strenght! By dogged work, it was possible to achieve a thrust of 180 to 200 kg [force]. That should be enough! The experimental machine was constructed: 120 pounds weight [German pounds of exactly 0.5 kg :)], 12.6 m wingspan and behind them the beating wings with 3.2 m each. Then we towed to 20 m height using a winch. The wings began to rotate and the machine flew a distance of 900 m without any loss of height. After that, the same once more! With 3/4 HP of human muscle power. The installation of a 3 HP Sachs motorcycle engine in the centre of gravity brought the next surprises: Perfect take-off, completely smooth [and/or silent] flight and after 15 minutes a smooth landing. Average cruise speed 60 km/h!

    6 HP increased the cruise speed to 80 km/h, and with only 10 [HP] the twin seater achieved 100 to 120 km/h. With these flights before witnesses, the work had to be quit as 'not important for the war effort'. However, previously flights with the [modified] Grunau Baby IIa glider with beating outer wings were successful. The goal was achieved ... and at the same time, the work was ended.

    Do we appreciate what it means to be able to take-off and fly with 3 HP? To consume less than 1.5 L fuel for 100 km distance? To be able to soar when the wether permits and still not to have to 'drown' when the thermals cease to give lift?

    I am old today, and I don't know if I will live to see the times when aviation will be permitted in Germany again. Never before anyone has been allowed insights into my work, but I consider it my obligation to take care that my results are preserved before it is too late. The test flights have to be continued. Even when today, lifting and propelling wing are still separated, the final goal of the development is the pure ornithopter. I know the way and am ready to show it. There shall be no shortage of success. Beating wings will revolutionize sporting aviation!

    Adalbert Schmid

    1949"
     
  12. Keith T

    Keith T New Member

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    Regarding the Mucke
    by queer coincidence I have just re read CG Grey's wartime book "Luftwaffe". At the end he gives a list and details of what was then thought to be Luftwaffe aircraft. AND he says
    Schmid
    Mucke. Communications Monoplane. 50 HP Zundapp.
    Thats it - and it was looking for this that led to your site.
    Can this refer to the wing flapper?
    Keith T?
     
  13. DBII

    DBII Active Member

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    How well does the on line translators work?

    DBII
     
  14. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Keith,

    >AND he says
    Schmid
    Mucke. Communications Monoplane. 50 HP Zundapp.

    >Can this refer to the wing flapper?

    From the introduction to the article above, I don't believe that, though it seems that Schmid was involved in the design (or production) of the Mücke. The article also refers to a Sachs 10 HP engine being used for the ornithopter, which is considerably less powerful than the Zündapp 50 HP engine mentioned in your book.

    I have re-translated the relevant sentence to give a better impression of what the German text has to say on this:

    "Anyone who has ever been at Klemm's factory [or: worked for Klemm's company] in Munich and is familiar with the high wing cabin aircraft 'Mücke' [Mosquito] will recognize the author of the following lines."

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  15. Keith T

    Keith T New Member

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    Thanks for your response. I wonder what CG Grey was talking about? There can only be one Schmid Mucke. CG Grey had his information from somewhere.
    We could speculate endlessly.

    I guess, like Mr Pickwick, we just have to wait for something to turn up!

    Regards
    Keith T
     
  16. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Keith,

    >Thanks for your response. I wonder what CG Grey was talking about? There can only be one Schmid Mucke. CG Grey had his information from somewhere.

    I found a Klemm cabin monoplane, the Klemm Kl 105, powered by a Zündapp Z 9-092 50 HP engine.

    However, this is a low-wing aircraft - as all but Klemm's earliest designs seem to have been -, and Klemm's factory was located near Stuttgart, with another factory in Halle, not in Munich as far as I can tell.

    The factory in Halle later became Siebel Flugzeugbau, and Siebel built a Zündapp-powered cabin monoplane named for an insect, the Siebel Si 202 Hummel (Bumble Bee). Maybe Siebel also built a Mücke?

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  17. comiso90

    comiso90 Active Member

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  18. ssipila

    ssipila New Member

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    Hello all, I just learned of Schmid's ornithopter and looked into the references. Every source on the net seems to quote as source the 1949 public letter in "Weltluftfahrt" magazine (above) or Bruno Lange's book "Typenhandbuch der deutschen Luftfahrttechnik" (1986) which in turn quotes the 1949 letter as its only source on the subject.

    The editors of the magazine point to "those who worked at Klemm" as knowing Mr. Schmid and "a high-wing closed-cockpit aircraft called Mücke" (another design by Mr. Schmid, some pictures of it are at Adalbert Schmid Ornithopter), so Mr. Schmid seems to have been an aircraft designer of some renown.

    Some source critique is needed, though. I don't want to simply dismiss the late Mr. Schmid as Baron von Münchhausen, but as the only primary source of information is written by the same person who claims to have built and flown this ornithopter, more information from independent sources would be needed before this story can be accepted as being true (as it seems to be on all the internet pages).

    I'm especially puzzled by the claim of unassisted take-off of the motorized version. It seems to me that overcoming the drag and friction on the ground to achieve flying speed on a 3hp rotary flapping mechanism alone would be very difficult even if the axis of thrust was adjustable and the whole thing weighed only around 150 kg with engine and pilot (unless, maybe, the engine was connected to the wheels too).

    Does anyone happen to have a copy of the "relatively recent Flugzeug Classic or Jet Prop article with additional information" mentioned by HoHun?
     
  19. ssipila

    ssipila New Member

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    #19 ssipila, Jan 28, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
    Reading Schmid's letter from 1949 more carefully reveals something that seems to have been misinterpreted. When describing the trials with an engine, he just mentions "einwandfreier Start", which means "take-off without anything to complain about", or simply "perfect take-off", nothing else. It doesn't say anything about "unassisted take-off" - most probably Schmid just wanted to say that there were no problems with the tow start. Besides, as an ornithopter expert from Germany pointed out when I discussed this with him, judging from the in-flight picture Schmid's flappers would touch the ground if they were moving before the aircraft was airborne.

    So, Schmid definitely does not claim to have achieved an unassisted take-off. This would be a much more plausible scenario - Schmid still gets the credit for the first sustained manned ornithopter flight, but unassisted take-off, which is really hard even with today's materials and knowledge, remains to be demonstrated (as far as I know - in a purist sense, the Toronto University experiment from 2006 probably doesn't qualify because it needed a booster jet for take-off and sustained flight).
     
  20. ssipila

    ssipila New Member

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    ...except that near the end of his letter he says "Do we appreciate what it means to be able to start and fly with 3 HP?"

    It could be just a simple mistake, or he might have wanted to make his plea more catchy and his research look even more interesting than it already was. Still, the way he chooses his words is so vague that it would be necessary to find an independent source confirming an unassisted take-off before it is accepted as historical truth.
     
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