These models are currently on display at Jet Age Museum, Staverton, Gloucestershire GL2 9QL courtesy of Mr Robin Kilminster.
Designed with an open ash-framed fuselage, the XI became the first heavier than air vehicle to cross the English Channel on 25 July 1909 . In August 1909 Bleriot took another XI to a World air speed record of 46mph and in 1910 Italian examples became the first aircraft to go into combat. The Royal Flying Corps received its first Bleriot XIs in 1912 and used them for bombing, observation and training duties in the opening stages of the Great War.
In fact on 4 August 1914 Bleriots were part of the first military force to leave Britain other than by sea when 60 aircraft of 2,3,4 and 5 squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps took off from Dover and flew to Bologne, following the coast to the mouth of the Somme and then upstream to Amiens. However, en route to Dover from Netheravon, Wiltshire, a Bleriot flown by Lieutenant Robert Skene with Air Mechanic Raymond Barlow seated behind him crashed on take off, the two dead men becoming the first casualties of the British Expeditionary Force.
MORAINE SAULNIER TYPE N
First flown on 22 July 1914, the Type N entered French military service in April 1915 as the MS 5C.1 and later equipped four Royal Flying Corps squadrons as the MS Bullet, the name deriving from the large metal “casserole” propeller spinner which in fact did little to improve streamlining but deflected air from the Le Rhone rotary engine, causing it to overheat. The Type N was armed with a single machine gun firing through the propeller arc and used metal plates on the inside of the blades to deflect bullets. This model represents one of the Type Ns exported to Imperial Russia and carries the Adam’s Head (skull and crossbones) markings of pilot Ivan Smirnov’s unit.
A Sesquiplane – or “one and a half winger”, the Nieuport 17 – first flown in January 1916 – had a lower wing thinner than the one above. This made it agile but tended to disintegrate in steep dives.
SPAD S VII
The first of a series of successful biplane fighters, the S VII was designed for Societe Pour L’Aviation et ses Derives (SPAD) by Marc Birkight of Switzerland around a Hispano-Suiza V8 automobile engine. First flown in April 1916, technical and sub-contracting issues meant that it did not reach the front in large numbers until 1917 when new tactics evolved around its speed and diving ability. This example – now preserved in France – is in the French yellow camouflage used until that year and was at one time flown by ace pilot Georges Guynemer who considered the aircraft a steady mount for its Vickers machine gun synchronised to the propeller.
SPAD S XIII
Building on the strength of the S VII, the S XIII first flew on 4 April 1917 armed with two Vickers machine guns and an uprated Hispano-Suiza engine. Also one of the most-produced Allied aircraft, this model is the mount of Captain Eddie Rickenbacker of the US 94th Aero Squadron, America’s leading fighter pilot of the Great War.