The Synchronized Machine Gun.

Discussion in 'World War I' started by jerryw, Jan 11, 2009.

  1. jerryw

    jerryw Member

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    I read a copy of the book, "Flying Dutchman" by Anthony Fokker (1931) in which he devotes an entire chapter to, "I Invent The Synchronized Machine Gun".
    However, I understand that Fokker's claim has been disputed in recent times. Are there any known references or discussion on this matter?
     
  2. proton45

    proton45 Member

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    I have never heard this before...where did you hear about this?
     
  3. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Jerryw,

    >However, I understand that Fokker's claim has been disputed in recent times. Are there any known references or discussion on this matter?

    He had just not been disputed in recent times, but even back in WW1.

    This thread shows a 1913 patent on interrupter gear:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/weapons-systems-tech/raf-guns-ammunition-15659.html

    However, the lawsuit against Fokker failed, possibly because his interrupter system would not only interrupt the burst when a propeller blade was in the way, but also continue it when the line of fire was clear again.

    Fokker did however have to pay license fees to August Euler, who had patented the method of mounting a fixed gun parallel to the line of flight and aim it by flying the plane.

    The designer of Fokker's interrupter gear was his employee Heinrich Lübbe, like Fokker one of the original Johannisthal aviation pioneers who was a assdious inventor whose main interest was aircraft armament (which had been the reason for Fokker to hire him).

    I'd be interested in the account Fokker gives of this invention ... "Arado" by Kranzhoff has one photograph with Lübbe and Fokker standing over the cockpit of an Eindecker conducting shooting trials, and another one with Lübbe in front of an Eindecker, explaining the system to a group of aviation officers that includes Oswald Boelcke.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  4. jerryw

    jerryw Member

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    Proton45,
    Copies of "Flying Dutchman" by Fokker Gould are readily available from the the ABE BOOKS website.
    The book has been reprinted many times, including paperback versions.
    The 1931 editions have quite a few photos in them.
     
  5. jerryw

    jerryw Member

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    Fokker's account (see below) is extraordinarily at odds with any description of his receiving help from anyone else! He is adamant that he did the whole job on his own and in very short time!

    P.S. The Patent by Franz Schneider was lodged in England in July 1913 as No. 191316,726. It only runs to three pages and can be downloaded free from the Espacenet website. It is written in English.
     

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  6. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Jerryw,

    >Fokker's account (see below) is extraordinarily at odds with any description of his receiving help from anyone else! He is adamant that he did the whole job on his own and in very short time!

    Interesting ... however, Lübbe was clearly Fokker's armament man, being made director of the Fokker-Waffenfabrik in Berlin in 1916, and he certainly was an innovative designer as he came up with a 12-barrel Gatling gun for aircraft use in 1918, and a 20 mm aircraft cannon in the early 1930s. He also held many patents on military and civilian inventions in the inter-war period.

    Kranzhoff notes "The share in the remarkable profits from the production of about 42000 sets of synchronizers made it possible for him [Lübbe] to found the 'Versuchsanstalt für Waffen- und Maschinenbau' in Berlin, Potsdamerstraße 27 b in 1919". Unfortunately, he does not note if that was the inventor's share or if Lübbe had a share in the profits due to his management position at the factory producing the synchronizers.

    Below the picture from Kranzhoff's book ... the German subtitle (obviously written by Lübbe's coworker Hebe) is "Fokker, Lübbe and me at the first test". It does at least suggest some close cooperation :)

    >P.S. The Patent by Franz Schneider was lodged in England in July 1913 as No. 191316,726. It only runs to three pages and can be downloaded free from the Espacenet website. It is written in English.

    Thanks, I'll check it out!

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     

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  7. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Remember, Anthony Fokker was known for his sheer arrogance and saw no trouble in using others for his own credit!
     
  8. jerryw

    jerryw Member

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    Memo to Henning,
    Can you resize that photo of Fokker and Lubbe A.S.A.P., please. It is far too big for the screen! If you reduce it to about 3.5 inches, it should fit.
     
  9. jerryw

    jerryw Member

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    Below is an abbreviated version of the Schneider patent concerning a synchronized gun on an aircraft.
    It is very hard to see how the Fokker "invention" differs, in principle, from this patent.
    The other question is, if Fokker had thought he had invented a significant interrupter mechanism, why didn't he file a patent for it? By 1915, he was an experienced designer and manufacturer. He must have been aware of the possible wide-spread use of the device and therefore, the importance of protecting his rights by patent.
    Also worth noting that Schneider's patent lists his location as "Johannisthal near Berlin", the same place that Fokker spent a lot of time during his early flying days.
     

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  10. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    This is what happens if the system fails. A propeller from a Fokker D.XVI in the Dutch Airforce museum, Soesterberg
     

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  11. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Marcel,

    >This is what happens if the system fails. A propeller from a Fokker D.XVI in the Dutch Airforce museum, Soesterberg

    Great illustration, thanks a lot!

    One version of Immelmann's death is that his aircraft crashed after a malfunctioning synchronizer gear shot up his propeller, so it seems that this was a realistic danger. (I presume the worst case would be one blade being torn off, as the resulting imbalance would probably destroy the aircraft.)

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  12. Ferdinand Foch

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    Whoa, thanks for the picture Marcel, I would have hate to have been the pilot for that aircraft. Dumb question, though, how (or if they did at all) did the Allies learn to use the syncronized machine gun themselves. Did they invent it on their own, or did they design theirs off of machine guns from captured German planes. Just curious.
     
  13. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Well, I think the pilot was incredible fortunate not to shoot his prop off. I think it was a very short burst :)
    I thought I read somewhere that they copied it from a captured E.III
     
  14. Avn-Tech

    Avn-Tech New Member

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    Group,

    I am sure that several people working independently on a problem would come to about the same conclusion. Hence more then one person could rightfully clain to have invented the interrupter gear and be legimite claim.

    Remember that when Folker claimed to have invented the gear, WW I was going on and the government probably seized the rights for their use (So no patents).

    Also remember that information did not travel as fast in early 1900's as it does today. So an invention in Europe may not reach america for a while.

    When I first went into the Air Force, I had a Squadron Commander whose father invented the Cleco. He received no compensation since it was wartime, and then country need the invention.

    Laterrrrrr
    Avn-Tech
     
  15. Deanimator

    Deanimator New Member

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    There were several synchronization systems which predated Fokker. Their problems were that they were usually coupled with guns that were difficult or impossible to synchronize by ANY system. The book "Flying Guns" goes into extensive detail on synchronization systems and why some failed and others succeeded.

    Basically, closed bolt, short recoil operated guns are easy to synchronize because the timing of the firing cycle is highly predictable and consistent. Open bolt, delayed blowback, and similar guns are hard to synchronize because of inherent firing delays caused by lock time and bolt travel before a round is fired.

    Easy to Synchronize:
    Maxim based systems (MG08, MG08/15, Vickers, Russian Maxims, etc.)
    Browning/Marlin
    Browning M1919

    Hard or Impossible to Synchronize:
    Schwarzlose
    Revelli
    Lewis
    Hotchkiss
     
  16. siznaudin

    siznaudin Member

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    At Le Bourget (their WW1 section is superb!)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Great pictures, siznaudin. Were those the propellors used by Roland Garros?
     
  18. siznaudin

    siznaudin Member

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    #18 siznaudin, Jul 14, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2009
    I can't recall that there was an explanatory plaque of any type, let alone a claim that it came from Roland Garros' aircraft. Perhaps it was of the type which was used by Garros? No doubt if such an item went to public auction the claim for that might well be made :lol:
     
  19. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    A motor driven rotary 12 barrel mg of the Fokker Waffenfabrick directed by Lubbe,

    [​IMG]

    edit. from Arado: History of an Aircraft Comapny ISBN 0-7643-0293-0
     
  20. The PIPE

    The PIPE New Member

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    Dear JerryW HoHun:

    The PIPE Here again...and where I'm interested in eventually, and VERY accurately (for the very first time, anywhere), as an RC Giant (1/4th sized) Scale flying model, replicating Leutnant Kurt Wintgens' Fokker M.5K/MG, with IdFlieg serial number E.5/15, the very first aircraft to ever score a victory with a synchronized machine gun on July 1, 1915, I've taken a HUUGE interest in how the idea of the synchronized machine gun got started, and its very first successful engagements.

    I've been a LONG time member of Leo Opdycke's WW I AERO, and a number of issues of that fine magazine in the past had a three-part article in them authored by the late Canadian aviation author, Hank Volker, that concisely detailed the whole history of forwards-firing automatic weapons on fighter aircraft.

    The articles can be found in these back issues of WW I AERO...

    WW1 Aero No.137 (August 1992) pgs. 42-61 Part I Synchronizers: firing through the prop: origins - a historical survey

    WW1 Aero No.138 (November 1992) pgs. 74-83 Part II Synchronizers: firing through the prop: machine-gun synchronizers and "interrupters"

    WW1 Aero No.142 (November 1993) pgs. 47-62 Part III Synchronizers. Firing through the prop: automatic guns for synchronizers.


    I've found my copies of issues 137 138, but a GOOD bit of cleanup around my house needs to be done before I'm likely to find my copy of issue No.142 !!!

    Hank mentions the roles of August Euler, as being THE person to first patent the idea of a forward-firing machine gun of any sort on an aircraft, of Franz Schneider, and even the Siemens-Schuckert firm, who apparently pioneered the idea of using an electrical link to do the gun synchronization with.

    Tha article series also covers Garros' armored, "wedged" propeller, and why the Kaiser's military couldn't get it to work for their needs.

    If one also wishes to get an even MORE complete picture of how the whole deal unfolded over time, the Windsock Datafile No.91, on the Fokker E I and E II aircraft, also has even more info on the details of how the gun synchronizer got into service with the Luftstreitkräfte, and mentions prminently how one Leutnant Otto Parschau was a critical personage in its development, as well as Kurt Wintgens, the first pilot to ever get a victory with it.

    The Osprey "Aircraft of the Aces"-No.73, "Early German Aces of World War I", has some of the same info, but also has other items not mentioned in the Datafile...taken together, along with Hank Volker's articles (for which some of the historical info IS "updated" by the Datafile and Osprey books) would seem to provide about the clearest "picture" ever seen to date on HOW Fokker's Stangensteuerung pioneering gun synchronizer got into service in the first half of 1915, and how things got going for the Kaiser's fliers in starting the "Fokker Scourge" that the Nieuport Bébé and Airco D.H.2 started to overcome as 1916 wore on.

    Yours Sincerely,

    The PIPE!
     
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