M.F.P. (Polson) biplane


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The M.F.P. aka Polson biplane

I have been reviewing available information on the 1916 M.F.P. biplane. Having been built by Polson Iron Works (of Toronto, Ontario), this is a rarity rather than an unbuilt project. I will lay out my conclusions - which I hope will be of some interest - in a series of posts (with sources listed at the end).

The M.F.P. or Polson biplane was a one-off in a planned family of types and variants. Of conventional biplane layout, the distinguishing feature of the M.F.P. design was its steel framework - round-section steel-tubing being used for both wing spars and the fuselage structure (with the tubing sections being clamped together with special bolted fittings and then braced with wire).

To trace the origins of that structural approach, we need to know who was behind the M.F.P. biplane. The New York firm, M.F.P. Aero Sales Corp., [1] sprang from the Steel Constructed Aeroplanes Co. [2] M.F.P. were the intials of the three co-founders - J.B. Miller, Walter L. Fairchild, and Walter H. Phipps. So, who were these guys?

Lt-Col J.B. Miller

The "J.B. Miller" mentioned in all online references to M.F.P. was none other than Lt-Col John Bellamy Miller, then President and General Manager of Polson Iron Works of Toronto. [3] So, Lt-Col Miller provided financing for the enterprise, access to potential production facilities, and a Canadian address more likely to garner orders from the British War Office. Miller believed that the time was right for Polson's to move into aircraft production and hired W.H. Phipps to design a family of aircraft.

Other than the M.F.P. biplane Polson Iron Works remained a shipbuilder until its demise shortly after WWI. Polson's also made engines for ships. This may have confused one 1916 source [4] which listed the Polson Iron Works as also being a maker of "Aeronautical Engines". I've found no evidence for that claim.

Walter L. Fairchild

Walter Fairchild was an American aviation pioneer who had flown a 'Blériot-type' monoplane from Hempstead Plains Aerodrome near Mineola on Long Island. [5] No relation to the famous Sherman Fairchild, W.L. Fairchild's monoplane had some interesting features (such as twin, chain-driven propellers) but, of more relevance here, the Fairchild monoplane had a fabric-covered steel-tube structure. [6]

The Fairchild monoplane's steel-tube framework was the first such construction in the US. This structural approach proved itself when the aircraft was flown into telegraph wires. Piloted by Walter Fairchild's hangar-mate, Harold Dewolf Kantner, the monoplane was heavily damaged in this crash but none of the steel-tube framing was even bent. It is not clear when Fairchild became involved with M.F.P. project but he was likely already connected with the Steel Constructed Aeroplanes Co. in New York City.

Walter H. Phipps

Walter Phipps is usually listed as the owner of the Steel Constructed Aeroplanes Co. Prior to his connection with M.F.P., W.H. Phipps was known for model airplane competitive flying (he later distributing model plans and edited a book on this subject). He was also a contributor to aviation magazine - he was an Assistant Editor at Aircraft (under Alfred W. Lawson) and a writer for Aerial Age Weekly (including a regular 'Model News Column').

In 1916, after his involvement with M.F.P., Phipps became Chief Aeronautical Engineer with the Ordnance Engineering Co (Orenco) of Baldwin, Long Island. AFAIK, Phipps designed the entire Orenco line - and there is a vague similarity of outline between the M.F.P. B 2 and the smaller Orenco Model A trainer.

At some point, Phipps is also said to have worked as an engineer for "Lawson Aircraft" and for Curtiss. I haven't been able to confirm either appointment. The former is particularly hard to track - as a self-proclaimed 'genius', Alfred Lawson wasn't quick to share any of the glory. Worse, there were three, quite separate "Lawson" aircraft firms between 1917 and the late 1920s. [7] AFAIK, Vincent J. Burnelli was the Chief Engineer for all three of A.W. Lawson's attempts to mass-produce airframes.

M.F.P Aero Sales Corp. faded out fairly quickly. By the time that the M.F.P. biplane was being demonstrated before 'officials' at Hempstead Plains, NY, the firms was already on the blocks. Aviation & Aeronautical Engineering (vol.1, Aug 1916, pg.97) reported that Interocean Steel Products, Inc. of New York was taking over M.F.P Aero Sales Corp. with assets totalling $15.509 million. M.F.P. Aero Sales Corp. then became The Interocean Aeroplane Company, Inc. [8]

It's not clear whether Interocean Aeroplane intended to continue promoting the M.F.P. line-up designed by Walter Phipps. The Interocean Aeroplane Co. is listed in Eaton Manufacturing's A Chronicle Of The Aviation Industry In America 1903-1947 under "new companies entering the aeroplane manufacturing field" in 1916. There is no further record of The Interocean Aeroplane Co.


[1] M.F.P. Aero Sales Corp. was sometimes listed simply as the M.F.P. Sales Corporation. This includes in Aerial Age Weekly (vol.4 no.22 of 12 Feb 1917) to which Walter H. Phipps was a major contributor. In Canadian Aircraft since 1909 (pg.395), KM Molson cites an unnamed source claiming that M.F.P Aero Sales was a subsidiary of Polson Iron Works.

[2] Aero Files lists this firm as 'M F P Steel Constructed Aeroplanes'. Although both firms were based in NYC, Steel Constructed Aeroplanes Co. and M.F.P Aero Sales Corp. seem to have been separate companies.

[3] J.B. Miller had become a Director at Polson's in 1892. Lt-Col. Miller had been commander of the 23rd Regiment, The Northern Pioneers - which became the 162nd (Parry Sound) Battalion, CEF during WW1. Miller had been President of Parry Sound Transportation Company Ltd. (and, thereby, a Polson customer) before coming to Polson Iron Works.

[4] Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, vol.1, no.1, 01 August 1916

[5] Sometime called the 'Fairchild 1910 Monoplane', this aircraft was actually first flown in Jan 1911.

[6] There may have been two Fairchild monoplanes. According to the American Magazine of Aeronautics (July 1911), 'Walter B. Fairchild' (sic) was making improvements. In the Aug 1911 edition, the American Magazine of Aeronautics reported that "Walter L. Fairchild is trying propellers and is ready to fly his second machine again as soon as he has his engine tuned up."

[7] These were the 1917 Lawson Aircraft Corporation of Green Bay, WI; the 1921 Lawson Aircraft Company of Milwaukee, WI; and the 1926 Lawson Aircraft Company of Plainfield, NJ. Another connection was that Alfred W. Lawson was the founder of Aircraft and the magazine's Editor when Walter H. Phipps worked there as Assistant Editor.

[8] 'The myth of the early aviation patent hold-up: How a US government monopoly commandeered pioneer airplane patents', by Ron D. Katznelson and John Howells.



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M.F.P. or Polson Biplane - The Aircraft and its Construction

The M.F.P. biplane is usually said to be a one-off prototype of an American design built in Canada. But, there is there is some confusion over its actual history ... particularly in online sources. In Canada, this design is sometimes referred to as the 'Polson Biplane' which may have added to the confusion.

It seems that the design was commissioned by Canadian John Bellamy Miller who was President and General Manager of Polson Iron Works, an established shipyard with works in Toronto, Ontario. Lt-Col Miller believed that the timing was propitious for entering into aircraft production. As the name suggests, the Polson Iron Works specialized in building metal-hulled ships. A metal-framed airplane would give Polson's the opportunity to enter into aircraft production using a construction material familiar to its shipyard workers.

The M.F.P. biplane was part of a family of related variants designed by Walter H. Phipps of the Steel Constructed Aeroplanes Co. based on a construction technique pioneered by M.F.P. partner, Walter L. Fairchild. This M.F.P. family was to consist of four main variants: a fast single-seat scout (fighter), a large-span 2-seater, a standard-span 2-seater, and a 2-seat scout. First, I will describe the construction techniques employed on the M.F.P. biplane.

M.F.P. Biplane Construction Techniques

The structure of the M.F.P. biplane was comprised mainly of steel tubing which was assembled on jigs. The fuselage frames were not welded together but, rather, were assembled much as a wooden framework would have been -- following the structural precedent of M.F.P. co-owner, Walter L. Fairchild (see first entry). This approach required specially-designed, bolted 'clamps' to couple sections of cut steel tubing together. For economy, these fuselage frame clamps were made interchangeable. Once the steel tubing was joined, the structure was braced with crossed wire much like a wooden fuselage.

The biplane's cabane struts were extensions of two sets of fuselage frames. Special saddles were designed to hold the upper wing spars. The wings were of a conventional, two-bay, strut-braced arrangement. Despite some journalistic claims of an 'all-steel' airplane, the M.F.P. wings were of mixed construction. Built around twin 2-inch steel-tube spars, all ribs and bracings were wooden - spruce formers with laminated birch/gumwood webs. When fabric-covered, the whole formed an Eiffel 36 section - like the Curtiss 'Jenny'.

-- http://flyingmachines.ru/Images7/Flight/1916/506-1.jpg

M.F.P. construction techniques were said to use "little or no welding" but I have found no detailed description of how the tailplanes were put together. In the Flight 1916 'in progress' photos, the tail surfaces are already fabric-covered. The tailplane (and aileron) structures may have been made of wood or of clamped steel.

The aim of these construction techniques was to provide a lightweight framework free of "warping or twisting" and "unaffected by climatic conditions". Such a frameswork, it was claimed, would be of "great advantage for military and naval service" since it could "be left exposed for months at a time." [1] Should the airframe be damaged, components could be "replaced by standard pins and bolts." [2]

All M.F.P. biplanes were to all have "Convertible Land and Water" undercarriages with interchangeable wheels or twin-floats. For the 'Land' undercarriage, the main wheel axles were suspended from 'U'-shaped legs. The same chassis fittings were to be employed for the float gear. Presumably, these wooden floats were constructed somewhere other than the Polson Iron Works.

Flight described the twin single-step floats as being built up of spruce frames, covered with mahogany planking, and divided into five water-tight compartments. Flight also says that these floats are of "efficient design". [2] However, it's not at all clear that these floats were ever actually built ... let alone installed or tested.


[1] 'MODEL C: The New M. F. P. Steel Aeroplane Convertible Land and Water Model', Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, 01 August 1916.

[2] Ibid.

[3] 'The M.F.P. Tractor Biplane', Flight, vol. 111, 15 June 1916, pg.507.


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The M.F.P. Biplane Family - Planned and Built

Walter H. Phipps designed the M.F.P. biplane as part of a larger family of warplanes. The M.F.P. family was to consist of four main variants: a fast single-seat scout (fighter), a large-span 2-seater, a standard-span 2-seater, and a 2-seat scout. Here, I will describe this M.F.P. family in (supposed) alphabetical order.


Single-Seat Scout - The M.F.P. Model A

The single-seat scout/fighter was, naturally, to be smaller than its 2-seat siblings. But this single-seater was to employ the same construction techniques (see below) making it quite feasible to share basic component parts between models - especially fuselage frames and wing ribs. Alas, what engine was to power this smallest of M.F.P. offerings seems not to have been recorded.

Kenneth Molson described this single-seat scout as "presumably the Model A" in the M.F.P. designation sequence and, with that wording, acknowledges that designation to be pure speculation. [1]

Large-Span 2-seater - The M.F.P. Model B

The airplane built by at Polson Iron Works in 1915-1916 was the large-span M.F.P. Model B. Why this type was designated M.F.P. B-2 is unknown. That '-2' suffix may refer to the prototype Model B being fitted with dual controls (of Deperdussin type) ... although this numeral suffix is not seen applied to other 2-seat M.F.P. types which were also offered with optional dual-controls.

Of conventional layout, contemporary sources compared the appearance the M.F.P. biplane with that of the Curtiss 'Jenny'. [2] The similarity in tailplane shapes is most apparent. But the distinguishing feature of the M.F.P. biplane was its steel framework. Unlike other M.F.P. 2-seater designs, the Model B had unequal span wings - the top wing spanning 45 ft. 10 in., the bottom 34 ft. 4 in. - with a wing area of 410 sq. ft.

Depending upon source, the powerplant for the Polson-built M.F.P. B-2 is described as a 125 hp or 130 hp Hall-Scott 6-cylinder inline. [3] In Canadian Aircraft Since 1909, KM Molson refers to the prototype's engine as "a 125 hp Hall-Scott L-5". [4] More likely, the powerplant was a 825 cid Hall-Scott A-5 engine, with Molson blurring the model designations of Hall-Scott's A-5 and L-6 inline six-cylinder engines.

-- Hall-Scott A-5: http://www.ajhw.co.uk/books/book61/illo207.png

For production aircraft, it was intended to offer a "160 hp Bournonville" engine. That powerplant remains a mystery to me. I presume it to be an engine planned by Eugene M Bournonville (or a conversion of an existing engine design to Bournonville's patented cylindrical rotary valvetrain). I will pose the question of this "160 hp Bournonville" engine in the Propulsion section.

-- http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,28386.0.html

In late March 1916, the M.F.P. B-2 was rolled out of a shed at Polson Iron Works west of the Sherbourne Street Dock in Toronto. On 26 March 1916, the prototype M.F.P. B-2 was flown off the ice of Toronto Bay by American test pilot, John Guy Gilpatric. [5] The prototype was then shipped south to Hempstead Plains Aerodrome on Long Island in New York. Through the summer of 1916, Gilpatric continued with demonstration flights while M.F.P. Aero Sales promoted the Model B.

The Aeroplane (July 5, 1916) noted that the "type B2 M.F.P. Military Steel Tractor Warplane, built by the Polson" had been demonstrated "before foreign Government officials at the Hempstead Aerodrome, near New York, on June 6th." The officials in question were from the Dutch and Italian navies. Meanwhile, on 02 June 1916, Curtiss-trained aerobatic pilot, Charles F. Niles, had flown a record climb (3,500 feet in 4 minutes) in the M.F.P. B-2. [6]

The M.F.P. B-2 may also have been flown by pioneer Harold Blakely, then a test pilot for Lowe, Willard & Fowler Engineering Company of NYC. A photo in the Jesse Davidson Aviation Archive shows "Harold Blakely LWF best pilot award [and] Steward Adams in M.F.P. Miller Fairchild and Phipps, 1915". The date is, of course, incorrect. I have no idea who Steward Adams was but Harold Blakely (sometimes written Blakley) was a native of Long Island, perhaps explaining why he was seated in the M.F.P. B-2 for this photograph.

-- http://www.theimageworks.com/pub/nn013/flight/images/prevs/prev33.jpg

After its summertime demonstrations at Hempstead Plains, the M.F.P. B-2 airframe seems to have been converted to M.F.P. Model C configuration (see below).

Small-Span 2-seater - The M.F.P. Model C

In a Feb. 1959 article in Canadian Aeronautical Journal, K.M. Molson claimed that two M.F.P. biplanes were built - one each of the M.F.P. B-2 and M.F.P. Model C. [7] But, in Canadian Aircraft since 1909, Molson revised his assessment and states that Polson Iron Works built alternative wing and tail sets to Model C standard. [8] These replacement panels were shipped to Hempstead Plains Aerodrome in order that the M.F.P. B-2 prototype could be converted into a M.F.P. Model C.

Whereas the M.F.P. B-2 had unequal span wings, the M.F.P. Model C had equal-span wings. The Model C's wings spanned 38 ft. 10 in. with an area of 392 sq. ft. Wing struts were said to be interchangeable between M.F.P. types but, perhaps, that only referred to the inboard pairs. The M.F.P. B-2's outboard struts included king-post extensions for the wires bracing the longer upper wing panels. The equal-span Model C wings had no need for such king-posts.

According to Flight, [9] "these machines differ only in the main planes". But that really wasn't true -- compared with the M.F.P. B-2, the Model C was actually quite extensively remodelled.

On the Model C, the M.F.P. B-2's graceful 'Jenny'-style horizontal tailplanes with ogive curves were replaced by more square-cut surfaces. The M.F.P. B-2's blunt nose radiator was removed in favour of a more tapered nose with twin fuselage-side radiators. This attempt at streamlining added 5 mph to the top speed but the shorter-span wings also resulted in a faster landing speed. [10]

In the first edition of Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering (the predecessor to Aviation Week), 01 Aug 1916, the M.F.P. model C's new tapered nose is described as "scientifically designed to give the maximum efficiency when equipped with the famous 6 cylinder 125 H.P. Hall-Scott Motor." So, there is no reason to believe that the M.F.P. B-2's Hall-Scott A-5 was replaced in the Model C. However, in a summary of that first issue of Aviation in Vintage Airplane (08 Nov 1990), the EAA Library/Archives Director said: "The M. F. P. plane ... looked like a Jenny but was built with a steel tube fuselage and powered by a Sturtevant engine." [11]

There is no evidence to suggest that the M.F.P. B-2 or Model C were ever fitted with a Sturtevant engine. The confusion may have arisen from the proximity of full-page advertisements for M.F.P. and Sturtevant. Or the M.F.P. biplane may have been confused with the Sturtevant S (aka AH-24) - a contemporary biplane also of steel construction. Alternatively, the confusion may have arisen with the Sturtevant Model 5A engine that powered the Sturtevant S/AH-24. Although a very different V-8 design, the designation of that 140 hp Sturtevant 5A engine could easily be confused with that of the Hall-Scott A-5.

The Roy Nagl collection has photos of pilot Ferdinand Winzen with the "M.F.P. biplane". One photo is inscribed "1916 - In the old M.F.P. biplane - Ferdie Winzen" with the aviator in the rear cockpit. There isn't enough detail to reveal whether this image shows the M.F.P. B-2 before conversion or the Model C. In the second photo, Winzen has crash-landed the biplane in a woods. The wings are damaged but the horizontal tailplane makes clear that the crash victim is the M.F.P. Model C.

-- Winzen in M.F.P. cockpit: http://earlyaviators.com/winzenmfp.jpg
-- Winzen's Model C crashed: http://earlyaviators.com/winzencrash.jpg

Unfortunately, the photo of Ferdinand Winzen's crash-landed M.F.P. Model C has no inscription to it cannot be easily dated. Still, it seems unlikely that a one-off prototype would have been rebuilt after such a crash. This was likely the end of the M.F.P. Model C.

Small-Span 2-seat Pursuit - The M.F.P. Model D

The airframe of the M.F.P. Model D was to have been quite similar to the Model C. The equal-span wings were to have been slightly shorter - spanning 38 feet vs the Model C's 38 ft. 10 in. - with a resulting reduction in area - 380 sq. ft. vs 392 sq. ft. for the Model C.

The like Model C, the M.F.P. Model D was to be offered with optional single- or dual-controls. The Model D fuselage would have been identical to the Model C structure other than its engine bearers. In place of the 125 hp Hall-Scott A-5 straight-six, the Model D was to be powered by a new water-cooled Duesenberg V-12.

Forum member Bill Pearce has covered this Duesenberg V-12. [12] In 1916, the Duesenberg brothers developed a new aero-engine - a 24-valve V-12 displaced 1,568 cubic inches and produced 350 hp at 1,800 rpm (although Flight lists the Duesenberg V-12's output for the M.F.P. Model D at only 300 hp). The sole example of this Duesenberg V-12 was display publicly in 1917 but problems with the basic configuration of this engine led to any further development being abandoned.

-- http://theoldmotor.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Aero-I.jpg

The M.F.P. Model D 2-seat fighter would remain unbuilt. Following the pattern of the M.F.P. B-2 to Model C transformation, it is possible that the intention was to rebuild the sole prototype M.F.P. biplane to full Model D standard. However, even had there been interest in the Model D 2-seat fighter, the failure of its intended Duesenberg V-12 powerplant would likely have killed this final M.F.P. project.


[1] 'M.F.P. (Polson) B-2 and C Biplanes', Canadian Aircraft Since 1909, KM Molson & HS Taylor, pg.393.

[2] Walter H. Phipps penned an article, 'The Curtiss Model "N" Military Tractor', about a 'Jenny' development for the 29 March 1915 issue of Aerial Age Weekly.
-- http://eaavintage.org/june-2016-mystery-airplane-the-curtiss-model-n-military-tractor/

[3] Contemporary sources usually list 125 hp at 1,300 rpm, eg: Aviation Engines, by Lt. V.W. Pagé, 1917.

[4] Canadian Aircraft Since 1909, pg.395. Elsewhere in the same book, KM Molson lists the Hoffar brothers' H-3 flying boat as "powered by a six-cylinder water-cooled Hall-Scott 'L-5-a' engine of 150 hp. There, the confusion is with the A-5a - a larger displacement (909 cid) engine using more aluminum alloy parts, vs. the steel and 'gray iron' construction for the A-5.

[5] Guy Gilpatric was working as a flight instructor, training cadets of the Canadian Aviation Corps. In 1917, Gilpatric returned to the US to join the Army Air Service. He later become better-known as a writer but met a tragic end.

[6] Within the month, Charles Niles would be killed while barnstorming in another aircraft at Oshkosh, WI.

[7] K.M. Molson, ' Aircraft Manufacturing in Canada during the First Great War,' Canadian Aeronautical Journal, vol. V, Feb. 1959, pg.54.

[8] Canadian Aircraft Since 1909, KM Molson & HS Taylor, pg.395.

[9] 'The M.F.P. Tractor Biplane', Flight, vol. 111, 15 June 1916, pg.504.

[10] 'MODEL C: The New M. F. P. Steel Aeroplane Convertible Land and Water Model', Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, 01 August 1916.

[11] 'First Issues - Aviation' (Vintage Literature column, by Dennis Parks), Vintage Aviation, Nov 1990 Vol.18, No.11, pg.10.

[12] 'The Duesenberg V-12 Aircraft Engine', The Old Motor, Bill Pearce, 08 July 2011.


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M.F.P. or Polson Biplane - Sales Efforts and Competitive Advantages (or lack thereof)

Although described by contemporary sources as a 'Warplane' or 'Battleplane', the M.F.P. biplane shows no sign of having been design for an armament. The M.F.P. B-2 was flown from the rear with the large fuel tank separating the pilot's cockpit from the forward-placed passenger's seat. To provide a gun ring in the rear cockpit, the pilot would have to be moved forward under the mainplane ... hardly ideal for pilot's visibility. Alternatively, a major redesign was needed (à la the Airco DH.4 to DH.9 evolution) to transform the M.F.P. B-2's fuselage bay positions from passenger-fuel-pilot to fuel-pilot-gunner.

So, why was the M.F.P. B-2 (or M.F.P. Model C) not ordered into production? It may be partly that the wartime Canadian government wanted Polson Iron Works to focus on ship production for the Royal Canadian Navy. But there is no sign that Polson's (or M.F.P. Aero Sales Corp.) ever formally offered the M.F.P. biplane to the Canadian military. Yet M.F.P. principal, Lt-Col Miller - as a former Reserve officer - had maintained some connections within the Canadian Army.

On 13 March 1916, Lt-Col Miller wrote to the Department of Militia and Defence with a formal request for permission to test-fly the prototype M.F.P. B-2. Permission was granted by Militia Headquarter in Ottawa on 22 March 1916 (with the actual flight following four days later). This request was necessary because a September 1914 Order-in-Council had restricted flying activities in Canada for the duration of the War.

None of that explains why Polson's did not formally offer the M.F.P. biplane for use by the Canadian Army. But is may suggest a reason why the M.F.P. B-2 prototype was quickly relocated to Hempstead Plains Aerodrome in the United States. Demonstrating the prototype on Long Island also placed the aircraft closer to the M.F.P. Aero Sales Corp. offices in New York City. Here again, though, there is no record of the M.F.P. B-2 or Model C having been formally offered to the US government. [1]

M.F.P. Biplane Performance Compared

Nor was the M.F.P. biplane ever formally offered to the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service. Here it may be useful to compare known M.F.P. B-2 and Model C specifications with those of contemporary British 2-seater service machines - the Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 and the Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8:

Spec R.E.8 F.K.8. MFP B-2 MFP C

Span 42.58' 43.50' 45.83' 38.83'
Area 377.50 540.00 410.00 392.00
Length 27.88' 31.41' 26.50' 26.50'
- Empty 1,803 1,916 1,370 1,620
-Loaded 2,678 2,811 2,270 (??)
- Stall 47 mph ?? mph 48 mph 49 mph
- Max. 103 mph 95 mph 90 mph 95 mph
Power 140 hp 120 hp 125 hp 125 hp
Endur. 4.25 hr 3.0 hr 6.0 hr 6.0 hr

As can be seen, in overall size, the M.F.P. B-2 falls between the two British service types while the M.F.P. C is slightly smaller. Weights were considerably lower for both M.F.P. types ... but, then, the prototypes carried no armament or other operational equipment.

The M.F.P. types have no edge in general performance. Climb rate is not shown here but the R.E.8 would climb to 6,500 ft in 21 minutes, the M.F.P. model C could climb 3,500 feet in 10 minutes. [2] The M.F.P. types did have an edge in endurance - staying airborne for twice as long as the F.K.8. In service, of course, some of that fuel would have had to be traded for weapons and other operational kit.

The conclusion, then, must be that the M.F.P. types provided no great performance gain in exchange for their use of steel - a strategic metal - in place of a wooden structure. M.F.P. did note that their steel construction meant no warping or twisting of the frame despite prolonged exposure to the elements under service conditions. Apparently, that was not enough to convince the RFC or Lords of the Admiralty.


[1] The only specifics of sales efforts are a demonstration of the M.F.P. B-2 "before foreign Government officials at the Hempstead Aerodrome, near New York, on June 6th" recorded in The Aeroplane, 05 July 1916. This involved two naval attachés - one from Italy, another from the Netherlands.

[2] It should be noted though, that the M.F.P. B-2 had made a record climb of 3,500 feet in 4 minutes on 02 June 1916.



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'M.F.P. (Polson) B-2 and C Biplanes', Canadian Aircraft Since 1909, KM Molson & HS Taylor, 1982, Canada's Wings, Stittsville, ON, pp.393-395

'The Polson Iron Works Biplane: A very rare bird indeed' by C.W. Thomas, pg.22 and pp.46-47, Aircraft - Canada's Aero Trade Magazine: 1909-1959: A Souvenir of the Fiftieth Anniversary of Flight in Canada, 1959
NB: No date shown in this Souvenir Edition but the C.W. Thomas article was originally published in Aircraft XXI, pg.31, 01 May 1959.

American Magazine of Aeronautics, Vol. 9 No. 1, July 1911
-- http://www.pennula.de/american-magazine-of-aeronautics/american-magazine-of-aeronautics-1911-1912/aeronautics-1911-1912.htm

American Magazine of Aeronautics, Vol. 9 No. 2, August 1911
-- http://www.pennula.de/american-magazine-of-aeronautics/american-magazine-of-aeronautics-1911-1912/aeronautics-1911-1912.htm

'The M.F.P. Tractor Biplane', Flight, vol. 111, 15 June 1916, pp. 504/507
-- https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1916/1916%20-%200504.html
-- 3v (B-2): https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1916/1916%20-%200505.html
-- https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1916/1916%20-%200506.html
-- https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1916/1916%20-%200507.html

'The M.F.P. Tractor Biplane', Their Flying Machines transcription of Flight article
-- http://flyingmachines.ru/Site2/Crafts/Craft29889.htm

'The M.F.P. Steel Warplane', The Aeroplane, July 5, 1916
-- https://archive.org/stream/aeroplane111916lond/aeroplane111916lond_djvu.txt

'Aircraft Manufacturing in Canada during the First Great War,' K.M. Molson, Canadian Aeronautical Journal, vol. V, Feb. 1959, pg.54

Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering, vol.1, no.1, 01 August 1916
-- https://archive.org/stream/Aviation_Week_1916-08-01/Aviation_Week_1916-08-01_djvu.txt

'First Issues - Aviation', Vintage Literature column, by Dennis Parks, Vintage Aviation, Nov 1990 (Vol.18, No.11), pp.8-10.
-- http://members.eaavintage.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/VA-Vol-18-No-11-Nov-1990.pdf

'The M.F.P. Tractor Biplane', Polson Iron Works, Toronto, Canada (history website)
-- http://www.polsonironworks.com/Plane1916.html

MeyerPlanes (MeyerPlanes/Data/Firms/Firms_v46.2.csv), 12 Aug 2012
-- https://github.com/Protonk/MeyerPlanes/blob/master/Data/Firms/Firms_v46.2.csv

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-- http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=55526&page=2

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-- http://www.ajhw.co.uk/books/book61/book61.html

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-- http://theoldmotor.com/?p=23344

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-- http://legendsintheirowntime.com/LiTOT/Content/Eaton/Eaton_text.html

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-- http://earlyaviators.com/ewinzen.htm

Canadian Airmen and the First World War: The Official History of the Royal Canadian Air Force, Prof. Sydney F. Wise, University of Toronto Press, 1980, pg.44 and pg.656
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-- https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2355673

'Polson Iron Works Limited', Wikipedia
-- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polson_Iron_Works_Limited



ACCESS: Top Secret
Sep 24, 2009
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I found the attached drawing of the "B" in my files.


  • Miller_Fairchild_Phipps_B2_Biplane.jpg
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ACCESS: Top Secret
Senior Member
Jul 25, 2007
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Thanks iverson.

A 3-view drawing of the M.F.P. Model C accompanied C.W. Thomas' 1959 Aircraft article 'The Polson Iron Works Biplane: A very rare bird indeed'. Alas, I cannot scan it (thank you Microsoft!).


ACCESS: Secret
Dec 15, 2020
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If I may, Polson Iron Works played an interesting and quite important role in the history of Canadian shipbuilding. This company built the first Canadian steel ship, the S.S. Manitoba (1889, Canadian Pacific Railway Company) and the first Canadian armed ship, the CGS Vigilant (1904, Department of Marine and Fisheries).

Mind you, in 1897, Polson Iron Works had completed one of the most odd looking and inefficient ships in history, the Roller Boat, imagined by Ontario lawyer and inventor Frederick Augustus Knapp.

Incidentally, it looks as if one of the engineers who went to Toronto in 1916 to train the staff of Polson Iron Works in the art of aircraft manufacturing was Jean Alfred Roché. In 1929, the Aeronautical Corporation of America (Aeronca) bought the production rights for a small aircraft developed in 1925 by this French-born aeronautical engineer. When modified, this machine became the Aeronca C-2, arguably North America's first truly successful light / private aircraft.

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