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EMSCO Aircraft Designations

Apophenia

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EMSCO Aircraft Corporation - A Brief History

EMSCO Aircraft was a short-lived division of the E.M. Smith Company (best-known for producing equipment for the oil industry). In 1928 Smith's company bought the Zenith Aircraft Corporation of Long Beach, California, and transformed it into the EMSCO Aircraft Corporation.

Zenith had been formed to develop a range of highly efficient transport aircraft (all powered by Ryan/Siemens-Halske radial engines). [1] These transports were to be made in 3-, 6-, and 12-seat models. Only the latter type was actually built - as the Z-12 Albatross (NX3622 flew in the Fall of 1927, it had a 90' span).

The Albatross proved to be seriously underpowered and often reluctant to leave the ground. EMSCO took over Zenith and hired its Chief Designer - Charles F. Rocheville who inherited the Albatross rights (in 1931 Rocheville would be joined by Gerard F. Vultee). See Reply #5, below

While constructing a new facility at Downey, CA, the new EMSCO Aircraft Corp. continued Albatross development at the former Zenith plant in Long Beach. In 1929, EMSCO relocated to its new facility -- EMSCO Field at Downey.

A 1929 EMSCO brochure described a line-up of four current EMSCO aircraft types:

1 - EMSCO Challenger, an eight-place, cabin monoplane with 3 x Curtiss R-600 radials

2 - EMSCO B-3, an eight-place, cabin monoplane with a single P&W Wasp or Wright J-6

3 - EMSCO Cirrus, a two-place sport/training mid-wing monoplane with American Cirrus.

4 - EMSCO Amphibian, a six-place (5 + 1) twin-engined cabin monoplane.

The Amphibian seems to have been an unbuilt project. The other three types were built and are known by both EMSCO 'B' designations and their engine names. These are, respectively: the B-2 or 'Challenger', the B-3 or 'Wasp', and the B-4 or 'Cirrus'.

At some point prior to January 1930, the EMSCO Aero Engine Co. was also established to pursue diesel engine development under the former head of NACA's Langley Aeronautical Laboratory, Leigh M. Griffith. [2]

EMSCO continued to develop aircraft designs until 1931 [3] but was considered a 'hard luck' firm. As with many aviation companies, the Great Depression put paid to EMSCO Aircraft Corporation. Some of the design rights stayed with Rocheville (who continued to develop his Arctic Tern amphibian design into 1933).

The EMSCO facility at Downey was leased first in 1931 to Champion Aircraft Corporation of America, in 1933 to Security National Aircraft Corporation (Walter Kinner's attempt at aircraft production), before Vultee returned to this site in 1936.

[1] Zenith Aircraft Corporation was formed by Charles Focheville and Albin Peterson in August 1927. The Albatross was powered by 3 x 140 hp Ryan/Siemens-Halske radial engines.

[2] AFAIK, nothing came of this. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics' 15th annual Administrative Report (01 Jan 1930) lists "Emsco Aero Engine" as being in the midst of developing "compression ignition oil engines" for use in aircraft. Griffith was vice president and general manager of the EMSCO Aero Engine Company (he was 'engineer-in-charge' at Langley from 1917 to 1926).

[3] Sources vary on this date. Some claim that EMSCO Aircraft last until 1932. If so, the date listed for Champion's tenancy is inaccurate. If champion's lease was actually for 1932, that would make sense of the 1933 date for Kinner (Champion having only lasted seven months).

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Apophenia

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EMSCO Aircraft Corporation - Aircraft Designations

As noted above, EMSCO Aircraft Corporation applied both numerical designations and names based on the type of engine installed. Even contemporaries seemed confused by this 'system'.

There are gaps in the EMSCO numbered designations. I have assumed that an "Albatross B-1" reference suggests that EMSCO reserved 'B-1' for a direct Albatross derivative. It is possible that Rocheville first considered simply re-engining the Z-12 Albatross prototype. Perhaps, later, it was realized that performance could be improved by drastically shortening the span (from the Z-12's original 90 feet to the B-2's 57 feet).

I have found no sign of a 'B-6'. Stargazer2006 had speculated that B-6 may have been applied to EMSCO's "large 32-passenger, four-engine transport project". There is also that unbuilt twin-engined amphibian project listed in EMSCO's 1929 brochure.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,7433.0.html

Nor is there any sign of a 'B-9'. Since there is no number designation applied to the Arctic Tern amphibian, I have suggested that design as EMSCO's B-9. These three assumptions are, of course, pure speculation on my part.

Below, I have listed EMSCO's 'B' designations and aircraft type namings.
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Apophenia

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EMSCO Aircraft Corporation 'B' Designations

B-1 - [?? Poss. an EMSCO desig. for the Zenith Z-12 Albatross ??] [But see Reply #5, below]

B-2 - 1929 high-wing braced monoplane 8-seat cabin trimotor,* span 57 ft
- B-2: aka EMSCO Challenger, more powerful Z-12 Albatross deriv.
-- * 3 x 170 hp Curtiss R-600 Challenger 6-cyl radials**
-- ** Central R-600 was cowled, outer Challengers were uncowled
- B-2: Two built, NX849E (c/n 1 becomes B-5), NC823N becomes B-3
-- http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%200105.html
-- http://thumbs1.picclick.com/d/w1600/pict/360806084968_/1929-Emsco-Challenger-aircraft-ad-12-2-13q.jpg

B-3 -- 1929 high-wing braced 4 pax monoplane, 1 x 420 hp P&W Wasp, span 60 ft
- B-3 : Prototype, [?? c/n 1 ??] converted from B-2 trimotor NC823N
- B-3 : Second, [?? c/n 2 ??] aka Emsco Wasp, to Mexico as X-BACO 'Morelos'*
-- * Mex. AF, intended for Mexico-Argentina record flight by Pablo Sidar
- B-3A: Production model, 4 x built as listed below
- B-3A: [?? c/n 3 ??], NX832H (crashed 9/31/29, Cleveland, OH)
- B-3A: c/n 4, NR153W, aka 'City of Tacoma II'/'Classina Madge'*
-- * Bought in Japan by Moyle and Allen, 1931 flight to Wenachee, WA**
-- http://search.tacomapubliclibrary.org/images/images/11/t1/31097.jpg
-- ** EAA Vintage Aircraft Vol 19 No 11 Nov 1991 claims renamed 'Pacific'
- B-3A: c/n 5 NR166W, to Rumania (CV-GOI, after mid-1931 YR-AAS) 1931, 425 hp Wasp
-- aka 'Regele Carol II' and 'Monoplane Super-Bidon',*** upgraded to 575 hp Wasp
-- *** 'Super Gas Can', a South African reference to the Breguet 19 biplane 'Super-Bidon'
- B-3A: c/n 6 NC823N [?? Note: Reg conflicts with B-3 prototype ??]

B-4 - 1930 tandem 2-seat mid-wing wire-braced monoplane, span 36 ft, 6 built
-- aka EMSCO Cirrus
- B-4: Sport/racing a/c, 1 x 85hp Cirrus Mk III 4-cyl air-cooled inline*
-- * American Cirrus Mk III engines are usually listed as 90 hp at 2100 rpm
- B-4: Prototype, NC869N c/n 1, later converted into B-7
- B-4: Production - NC369H, NC846N, NC870N, NC871N, NC872N
-- http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%200360.html

B-5 - 1920 high-wing braced 8-seat cabin monoplane,* span 57 ft, 1 x conversion
-- * Twin underslung Whirlwind radials, spatted main wheels, aka EMSCO Whirlwind
- B-5: B-2 conv. (Jan 1930) to 2 x 300 hp Wright J-6, NC849E to Guatemala Aug 1933

B-6 -- [?? Poss. unbuilt 32-pax transport or twin-engined Amphibian project ??]

B-7 - 1931 sports a/c, single-engined mid-winged monoplane, span 36 ft, 2 built
- B-7 : American Cirrus inline, 1 conv. from B-4 (c/n 1, NX869N)
- B-7C : Re-eng B-7, cowled 5-cyl, 165 hp Wright R-540, crashed 22 March 1931
-- http://1000aircraftphotos.com/Contributions/LoopPat/5205.htm
-- http://www.dmairfield.org/people/allen_ce/images/Emsco_B-7_NC869N.jpg
- B-7C : Prod'n model, x 1 (NC969Y), aka EMSCO Whirlwind, scrapped 1946
- B-7CH: Production model, 1 x 165 hp Continental A-70 radial, x 1 (NC12247)
-- http://www.aerofiles.com/emsco-b7ch.jpg

B-8 - 1930 'Flying Wing', twin-boom (single vertical tail) monoplane, span 60 ft
- B-8: 1 x 165 hp Continental A-70 (later 300 hp P&W Wasp Jr), x 1 (NX55W)
-- Blown wing, B-8 intended for planned Japan-US flight, scrapped Nov 1930
-- http://static.rcgroups.com/forums/attachments/9/0/6/8/3/a1963257-129-aa-kutyg.jpg?d=1216062569
-- http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4590447858/

B-9 -- [?? Possibly the EMSCO Arctic Tern amphibian ??]

B-10 - 1933 2-seat tandem parasol sports a/c, span 36 ft, x 1 (NX909Y)
- B-10: As originally flown, 1 x uncowled 165 hp Continental A-70 radial
- B-10: Reported re-engined, 1 x 170 hp Curtiss R-600 Challenger radial
-- Aerofiles suggests that B-10 may have been a modified B-7 airframe
-- http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4589828201/
-- http://www.aerofiles.com/emsco-b10.jpg

EMSCO Aircraft Corporation Designs by Name

EMSCO Challenger: see B-2 (above)

EMSCO Wasp: see B-3 (above)

EMSCO Whirlwind: see B-5 (above)

EMSCO Arctic Tern: possibly B-9 [??]

EMSCO Arctic Tern - 1932 twin-boomed amphibian,* 1 x 300 hp P&W Wasp Jr., x 1
-- * Cockpit in central pod with tractor engine, crew in float nacelles
-- * Hybrid constructed from Lockheed part (Sirius wing and Vega tail)
- Arctic Tern: aka Rocheville Arctic Tern, intended as photo survey a/c
-- Designed for Alaskan ops by Shell Oil, NR221Y crashed in June 1933
-- http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/4589827767/in/photostream/
-- http://9.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kqnc49mEUx1qzsgg9o1_500.jpg

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Stargazer2006

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Superb research work on an oft-overlooked but so interesting part of vintage U.S. aviation history!

Thanks a lot for this.
 

hesham

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Very high level work my dear Apophenia.
 

helofixr

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I would like to offer a couple of suggested corrections to your research.

First, you write, "These transports were to be made in 3-, 6-, and 12-seat models. Only the latter type was actually built - as the Z-12 Albatross". This is not true. Several production Z-6 aircraft were built, and one of these has survived, has been restored, and is the subject of a fabulous article here: http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/restoration-17309062/?no-ist

Second, you write, "The Albatross proved to be seriously underpowered and often reluctant to leave the ground." Not true at all. In fact, its takeoff peformance, in terms of ground roll, was exceptionally good. In once case, when lightly loaded, it took off in a mere 150 feet, due to the huge wing; it's approach speed was as low as 25 knots. The couple of flights in which it was reported to have an exceptionally long takeoff roll were endurance record attempts when the plane was exceptionally heavily loaded with fuel, and just the mere fact that it made it off the ground in that condition set two new aviation records - heaviest lift with respect to aircraft weight (it lifted 2.47 times its own weight, and unheard-of accomplishement in those days) and most weight to horsepower (38 pounds and change), again a radical accomplishment. These flights, and accomplishments were witnessed by officials from NAA.

Third, you write "EMSCO took over Zenith and hired its Chief Designer - Charles F. Rocheville who inherited the Albatross rights". It's not quite that simple. After the Z-12 endurance record attempts in early 1928, Rocheville left Zenith to start his own manufacturing company with his brother Henry, and the other Zenith principals reformed the company as Albatross Aircraft (aka American Albatross). Rocheville was obsessed with developing experimental aircraft to set endurance records, and the others wanted to build production aircraft, so they went their separate ways. The Z-12 ended up going its own way, too, being purchased (along with manufacturing rights) by Schofield Inc. (who announced that they were going to attempt a trans-Pacific flight with the plane; while this made a big media splash, no serious attempt was actually mounted).

Fourth, you write, "B-1 - [?? Poss. an EMSCO desig. for the Zenith Z-12 Albatross ??]*
-- * There are refs to an "Albatross B-1" trimotor"
Not an EMSCO design, and not a trimotor. Rocheville seems to have returned shortly after leaving, at least part time, and his first project back with the old gang was the B, aka B-1, which (you guessed it) was designed for endurance flying, and was essentially a single-engine version of the Z-12. There appears to have been at least two of these built; the first was serial 100, NX6772, built for Al Ebrite Aero. Rocheville had hoped for a 90-hour endurance record. On the first flight, with Lee Schoenhair and Johnny Guggliemetti, the plane groundlooped. After repairs, another attempt was made and they reached just over 43 hours when the flight was terminated for excessive fuel consumption. The plane ended up hauling cargo in Mexico.

The second Albatross B-1, serial 101, was NX331E, aka "The Pride of Hollywood" (sometimes also referred to as a "Zenith 5", although this doesn't seem to be an official designation). Loren Mendell and Roland Reinhardt made a couple attempts at endurance, this time with aerial resupply provided by a plane flown by Jimmy Angel. They made three attempts, based out of Glendale, and reached 29 hours, 66 hours and 20 hours, each time having problems, and then gave up after that. Fate of the plane is unknown.

It was after the B-1s were built that EMSCO was founded, which is why this model doesn't show up in their product listing.

Hope this helps.

Alan Radecki
vintageairphotos.blogspot.com
 

Apophenia

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Many thanks for the corrections and added details, Alan!
 

Stargazer2006

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Wow! I have rarely found someone's first post on a forum so thorough and informative. You mean business! ;D

Nice to have you around, Alan, and I look forward to more of your educated interventions.
 

helofixr

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Happy to pitch in. I found this thread during research for an upcoming blog post, which hopefully be up in the next week or so...it features the story of the Albatross Z-12. Back in June, 2013, I did an article on the 2nd Albatross B-1, "The Pride of Hollywood"... you can see pics of the plane here: http://vintageairphotos.blogspot.com/search/label/Zenith%20Albatross

Cheers!

Alan
 

helofixr

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My article on the Z-12 just posted: http://vintageairphotos.blogspot.com/2015/04/heavy-lifting-zenith-albatross-at.html

Alan
 

WDHays4956

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Looking at my Dad's log book there is an entry on 4/17/1937 for a flight in an EMSCO aircraft (NC-969Y 165hp Continental) roundtrip at Mines Field (LAX today). Anyone have details about this aircraft?
 

hesham

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Welcome a board WDHays,

need good search,I will try.
 

Arjen

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Looking at my Dad's log book there is an entry on 4/17/1937 for a flight in an EMSCO aircraft (NC-969Y 165hp Continental) roundtrip at Mines Field (LAX today). Anyone have details about this aircraft?
Found here: http://www.aerofiles.com/_e.html
Emsco B-7C [NC969Y] (Edward J Young coll)
[...]

B-7C, -7CH Sport 1931 (ATC 424, 2-396) = 2pOmwM; 165hp Continental A-70; similar data. T V van Stone. $5,950; POP: 2; one B-7C [NC969Y] (scrapped in 1946), and one B-7CH [NC12247] with 170hp Curtiss Challenger. No data, but last known at Multnomah School of Aviation, Portland OR, in 1950. FAA records are incomplete, but do show three B-7 licenses [X870N/872N] as being scrapped Nov 1930, and those were revived for B-7C and -7CH [NC969Y, NC12247] and B-10 [X909Y]. (2-396) for B-7CH with 185hp Challenger.
EMSCO B-7C NC-969Y.jpg
 

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