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Very early French helicopters: Santos-Dumont, Bréguet, Cornu...

Stargazer2006

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Adapted from Jean Boulet's Histoire de l'hélicoptère racontée par ses pionniers – 1907-1956:

Several individuals attempted to build and fly helicopters in the very first years of the 20th century. Historians agree to consider 1907 as Year 1 of the helicopter, with Paul Cornu's and Louis Bréguet's attempts.

  • Félix Faure's machine (1903). This had coaxial rotors and weighed 85 kg.
  • Colonel Renard's machine (1904). It was fairly large, with two rotors on each side, but insufficient lift prevented it from taking off.
  • Léger machine (1905). Not strictly French, this machine built by an engineer from Monaco featured two coaxial blades, the axle of which could be tilted forward. A large rudder with oblique hinge might have enable control of the machine. Weight was 110 kg while power was 6 hp. It never took off.
  • Dufaux machine (1905). In May 1905, the Dufaux brothers made some very popular flying demonstrations of a helicopter model in the Parc de Saint-Cloud, near Paris. Again they were not French, being from Geneva in Switzerland. They machine had two side-by-side rotors (with a 2-meter diameter), driven at 250 rpm by a 3 hp engine that was perfectly apt to lift off the 17-kg machine.
  • Santos-Dumont helicopter (1905). Aiming to win the Archdeacon Prize — which granted a FF. 50,000 reward to the first pilot who would complete a one-kilometer round in closed circuit with a heavier-than-air machine — the famed inventor/socialite/aviator built a helicopter, a photo of which was published in the January 12, 1906 issue of La Vie au Grand Air. Discouraged by the difficulties he encountered in developed the machine, however, Santos-Dumont renounced to use a helicopter and opted for an aeroplane configuration (one that gave him the victory and largely contributed to his legend!).
  • Bréguet-Richet gyroplane (1907). This was the first helicopter that actually lifted its pilot into the air (on August 27). It was heavy and powerful, but it had to be "guided" by four helpers on the ground because of its lack of controls.
  • Cornu helicopter (1907). This machine made the world's first genuine untethered flight (on November 13). However, despite his flying successfully a sub-scale model a year before that was duly documented, no photos or official witness (other than Cornu himself) make it possible to verify that the piloted machine could have made more than a few hops into the air: lateral instability and lack of efficient aerodynamic control surfaces make Cornu's particular claims for this first flight unlikely.
  • Douheret helicopter (1919). Two superimposed rotors were driven by a 50 hp birotary Gnôme engine, loated between the rotors. The machine only made a few attempts at taking off.
  • Damblanc helicopter (1920). After building a first model with two superimposed rotors, Louis Damblanc built in 1920 the world's first twin-engine helicopter. The machine consisted of an aircraft's fuselage with one 120 hp rotary engine on each side, each driving a rotor with large adjustable blades. It was damaged during the initial flight test phase.
  • Perrin's Helicion (1922). This machine actually lifted off, but hooked from a crane! In actual fact it never went past the static test phase.
NOTE: the Bréguet and Cornu machines are fairly well known and are therefore not part of these attachments.
 

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c460

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Hi Stargazer,
Could you briefly describe the contents of this book ? I read that there are interviews of pioneers. Are there good pictures? Drawings?
Does it cover designs from all countries in equal depth, or is it more about French machines?
 

Stargazer2006

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c460 said:
Hi Stargazer,
Could you briefly describe the contents of this book ? I read that there are interviews of pioneers. Are there good pictures? Drawings?
Does it cover designs from all countries in equal depth, or is it more about French machines?

It is an absolute MUST HAVE title for any serious collection! Don't know if it's still available though...
Bought it about 20 years ago, but only started to scan and translate bits of it for this forum today...
  • All countries and types are covered.
  • The book is filled to the brim with photos, but all black and white (only 7 color pics!).
  • Being written by a prominent test pilot, it contains many first hand testimonies and anecdotes (all in French of course...).
  • The book is packed with interviews from French, Russian, American and other engineers and pilots.
  • The book was published in 1991 by Éditions France-Empire, which is no longer available.
  • The bulk of the book tells the story up to 1956. A handful of pages were added for the reissue to (very) quickly summarize the next 35 years.
  • It has 262 pages in A4 format.
  • ISBN number was 2-7048-0676-4.
I'm attaching the contents table for your information.
 

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Stingray

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hesham

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From l'Aeronautique 1930,


here is anther design to Perrin in a patent.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

here is again, Damblanc helicopter pictures.

http://www.avia-it.com/act/biblioteca/periodici/PDF%20Riviste/Ala%20d'Italia/L'ALA%20D'ITALIA%201931%2002.pdf
 

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hesham

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Hi,

here is a helicopter from Lacoin-Damblanc.
 

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hesham

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Also a Maurice Lamé concept.

http://alain.vassel.pagesperso-orange.fr/appareils-oehmichen.html
 

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dan_inbox

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hesham said:
here is a helicopter from Lecoin-Damblanc.
It is called the "Alérion", by frenchmen Louis Lecoin and Louis Damblanc.
AFAIK it crashed on its 1st flight in 1920.
 

hesham

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dan_inbox said:
It is called the "Alérion", by frenchmen Louis Lecoin and Louis Damblanc.
AFAIK it crashed on its 1st flight in 1920.

Nice Info my dear Dan.
 

hesham

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hesham said:
Hi,

here is a helicopter from Lacoin-Damblanc.

The same helicopter.
 

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dan_inbox

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This machine was called the Alérion.

And as far as I know, its progeny is Lecoin-Damblanc, not LAcoin-Damblanc. After Messrs Louis Lecoin and Louis Damblanc.

The correction is not only for being pedantic, it is important to spell it right for the search to perform usefully.
 

Aerohydro

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Skyblazer said:
Adapted from Jean Boulet's Histoire de l'hélicoptère racontée par ses pionniers – 1907-1956:

An English-language version is also available:

"History of the Helicopter as told by its pioneers 1907-1956"
by Jean Boulet
Published by Editions France-Empire (1984)

I have a copy of this, and it is very good!
 

Aerohydro

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hesham said:
Also a Maurice Lamé concept.

http://alain.vassel.pagesperso-orange.fr/appareils-oehmichen.html

The Maurice Lamé concept was realized, at least in part.

16997435370_211bb740fa_b.jpg


This shows the central engine/rotor section of Lamé's design. Has an 80hp engine, and an empty weight of 400kg. The section containing the wings and tail would be attached to the left, while the envelope would be fixed above the rotors.

The photograph was taken at Chalais-Meudon in 1922 and was sourced from "Hélicoptères: la génèse, de Léonard de Vinci à Louis Breguet by Bernard Bombeau (ISBN 978-270899205). The photograph appears on pp 226-227 of the publication, hence the vertical 'valley' that appears within the image.
 

hesham

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Amazing Info,than you Aerohydro and welcome aboard.
 

hesham

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Hi,

here is a helicopter designed by Henry Villard in 1901.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

here is an Info about Andry-Bourgedis helicoplane,TU issue 122.
 

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hesham

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From, rotary-wing-aircraft-handbooks-and-history-volume-13,

here is an Info about Viscount Decazes and a co-operation with G. Besancon.
 

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cardonet

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This machine was called the Alérion.

And as far as I know, its progeny is Lecoin-Damblanc, not LAcoin-Damblanc. After Messrs Louis Lecoin and Louis Damblanc.

The correction is not only for being pedantic, it is important to spell it right for the search to perform usefully.

Just a few details about Damblanc's work on helicopters.
The Alérion was destroyed during a ground test when only one of the large airscrew was fitted. So he never flew.

After his separation from Lacoin, Damblanc embarked on the study of double counter-rotating airscrews.
- 1920-1921 : tests on model mounted on a car.
Damblanc 1921.jpg
- 1923 : tests on model dropped from a balloon (1st version)
Damblanc 1923.jpg
- 1927 : tests on model dropped from a balloon (2nd version)
Damblanc 1927.jpg
- 1930 : tests on electrically powered wagon of the Saint Cyr aerotechnic institute.
Damblanc 1930.jpg

After, from the early 1930s, Damblanc embarked on the study of rockets.
 

hesham

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Amazing Info and Pictures,thank you dear Cardonet.
 

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An amusing detail: In the (Belgian) patent in which Damblanc describes his model dropped from a balloon, he plans to pilot it by remote control. One of the planned applications was to drop bombs with great precision. This remote control has never been carried out but has given rise to numerous articles abroad.
(see this article from Aerial Age of April 4, 1921)
19210404 AerialAge Vol13_p76.jpg
 

hesham

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Very cool dear Cardonet,

and from TU magazine,here is a small article about him;

DAMBLANC

Louis Damblanc was born on June 29 1889 in Lectoure in the Gers. Engineer,author of numerous researches in
mechanical, optical, aeronautical and astronautical fields, it is above all known to have achieved and experienced
in Saint-Cyr-l'École and in Bourges, two and three stage powder rockets in the thirties. He will end his career
as a consulting engineer at SNECMA. Some of its patents will be exploited by American companies. he
died on December 3, 1969 in Levallois-Perret.
 

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cardonet

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Very cool dear Cardonet,

and from TU magazine,here is a small article about him;

DAMBLANC

Louis Damblanc was born on June 29 1889 in Lectoure in the Gers. Engineer,author of numerous researches in
mechanical, optical, aeronautical and astronautical fields, it is above all known to have achieved and experienced
in Saint-Cyr-l'École and in Bourges, two and three stage powder rockets in the thirties. He will end his career
as a consulting engineer at SNECMA. Some of its patents will be exploited by American companies. he
died on December 3, 1969 in Levallois-Perret.

About the Damblanc rockets, I presented a paper at the IAC in 2012. There is a summarized version online (in French) on the 3AF website.

I am not a helicopter specialist, but since I had to talk about Damblanc's life, I analyzed all of his research themes, even his work in optics :)

Still on the subject of helicopters, it should be noted that in May and June 1921, Damblanc tested a helicopter powered by rockets. This 3 meter wingspan device was set in motion by two rockets attached to either side of a cell to which they gave a rotational movement. Unfortunately, I did not find any drawings or photos.
These experiments were intended for the development of a machine that could compete for the AéCF prize which awarded a sum of 25,000 Frs to the first helicopter capable of climbing vertically to a height of 25 meters. This height was not reached and the tests were stopped.
 

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Dufaux machine (1905). In May 1905, the Dufaux brothers made some very popular flying demonstrations of a helicopter model in the Parc de Saint-Cloud, near Paris. Again they were not French, being from Geneva in Switzerland. They machine had two side-by-side rotors (with a 2-meter diameter), driven at 250 rpm by a 3 hp engine that was perfectly apt to lift off the 17-kg machine.

The Dufaux helicopter survives, in the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

Europe 218

The Dufaux brothers did not restrict themselves to model rotor craft either, constructing a couple of aircraft. Their Dufaux 4 aeroplane of 1909 was their first to take flight and it survives at the Swiss Museum of Transport in Lucerne.
 

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From TU 236,

Mr. Léon Emile Catelain designed an airplane-helicopter Project of 1920;


Bernard Bombeau mentions a inventor of the name of Léon Emile Catelain. de Cabourg, which deposits in
1920 a patent for a combined device which he calls “airplane-helicopter to great stability ”. This is an airplane
biplane with traction engine, with wings movable surface in the form of blades shutters, between which are
arranged. on both sides of the fuselage,variable pitch horizontal propellers.The closed shutters correspond
to progress flight while the open shutters correspond to the flight vertical. The wing tips are fitted with fins
while a tail unit with a movable surface is placed at the front and adjoins the rear tail unit. But this principle
of a tail duck is not really suitable for a single-engine and Catelain suggests rather a twin engine, each engine
driving a propeller propeller and a propeller with vertical axis Like so many other ideas of helicopter, this
Project will remain on paper.
 

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hesham

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From TU 230.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

here is a two pictures to a Leonce Bertin helicopter of 1908.
 

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hesham

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OK dear Avion,

I will correct it and sending again in anther topic.
 
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hesham

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From TU 46 and French Aircraft Before the Great War,

here is all Info about Andre Dumoulin gyroplanes.
 

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hesham

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From Aviation Francaise 1947,

a strange drawing to Lacoin helicopter.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

a good article about Damblanc helicopter is on Aviation Historical magazine,issue 31.
 

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From Icare 200.
 

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hesham

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In 1921, a quad-lifting propeller compound was built at the Sanchez-Besa Plant near Paris by Albert Toussant. The design was depicted in his patent, shown in Figure 3. To allow the aircraft to glide in the event of engine failure, five arrays of 10 very high aspect ratio tiltable wings (like venetian blinds) were used, one in the front, three just aft of the pilot, and one in the rear.

Power: Le Rhône 60 hp (45 kW) rotary engine

Propeller: The lifting propellers were 2.7 m (8.85 ft) in diameter; the propulsive propeller diameter was 1.5 m (4.93 ft).

Overall width: 6 m (19.6 ft)

 

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hesham

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From Aerophile 1923.
 

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