FSV Darmstadt FSV-5 - FSV-10
Страна: Германия
Год: 1910

M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45

M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45


  In 1909 a couple of 15 year-old schoolboys from Darmstadt visited an Aviation Exhibition in Frankfurt am Main. There was a number of powered aeroplanes on show but these were far beyond the means of any schoolboy. What most attracted Hans Gutermuth and Berthold Fischer were the hang gliders flown from a small artificial hill near the exhibition hall. On returning home they gathered round them three friends and formed the Flugsport Vereinigung Darmstadt (FSV. Darmstadt Sport-flying Club). There, were at first five members: Gutermuth and Fischer the founders. Fritz Kolb. Karl Pfannmueller and Willy Nerger. None was yet sixteen years old. Except that they had seen gliders flying and could copy existing aircraft, they had no theoretical knowledge. The boys began with models made from paper and wood but soon progressed to their first full-sized glider, the FSV-1. This was a monoplane with a fixed stabiliser in front on an outrigger, and a cruciform tail unit behind. Bamboo poles were used for the ribs and spars with wire bracing to a central kingpost. Joints were made between the lengths of bamboo by means of socket screws. The surfaces were fabric covered and the whole thing could be de-rigged and rolled up more or less like a tent, for transport. New members joined the club, swelling the numbers to ten: Eugen and Ernst von Loessl, Albrecht Bischof, Carl Ruetgers and Heinrich Watzinger. Others, no doubt, came and went.
  The first flight trials were made in a large timberyard in Darmstadt where there were stacks of wood up to three metres high. These soon proved too small. The boys moved to a sandhill which gave six metres' altitude and allowed a running launch into an easterly breeze. Hops of up to six metres length were achieved.
  The FSV-1, Mark 2, was a great improvement, with an enlarged wing, better kingpost and all-round stiffening. Flights of 16 metres distance were managed. Soon the FSV-2, a biplane, was built with a total wing area of 30 square metres. Bamboo cane and steel wire were still the basic materials, with good-quality cotton shirt fabric, starched, for covering. The sandhill was no longer high enough and the glider was taken to a 40 m hillock, the Prinzenberg, which had clear slopes all round. By the end of 1909 two more improved versions of the FSV-2 had been built and flown. With the second, Fischer made a glide of 75 metres. The third and most sophisticated had controls worked by levers, with a proper seat for the pilot and a landing skid. They continued with new designs and test flights throughout 1910.
  Unknown to the Darmstadt group, experiments in England by Jose Weiss had already resulted in some short soaring flights, first by Weiss’ tailless models and later, in 1909, by E. C. Gordon England in a man-carrying version. The Weiss glider gained about 10 metres altitude in the slope lift at Amberley Mount on 27th June, and landed about 800 metres distant from the starting point. This was later recognised as the first true soaring flight by a piloted glider.
  The Wasserkuppe is a dome-like, boggy mountain in the Rhoen where the headwaters of the Fulda river rise above the small town of Gersfeld. After a preliminary trip to investigate the terrain in Spring. 1911, camping out, half frozen, in the pine forests, the boys sought permission to use the pastures around the summit for gliding tests. They were directed to the Gersfeld Cattle Breeding Association, who controlled the grazing. Not realising what they were letting themselves in for, the Association agreed to allow the FSV to camp on the summit near the Fulda springs, and play with their gliders.
  A new glider, the FSV-8, was quickly finished and loaded on a railway wagon bound for Gersfeld. On the first day of the holidays, after cycling ten hours to get there, the club unloaded the rail truck. The FSV-8 was a biplane with wingtip ailerons, elevator ahead of the wing, and fixed stabiliser behind. It was controlled by a single lever, or joystick. The rudder had a separate lever. After a day spent rigging, another was lost in frustration as low cloud and mist, a common condition on the Wasserkuppe at 950 m above sea level, obscured everything. The next day, things were hardly better but, unable to waste any more time, the glider was made ready and Ernst von Loessl won the draw for the first flight. Pushed off by his launching crew of four, he glided into the mist. The others ran after him. The Wasserkuppe had seen its first glider flight; it was to see many more. The FSV flew every day till the end of the month, with many heavy landings and some breakages. As experience increased they were able to steer the glider confidently. The greatest distance in the end was 330 metres.
  In July 1912, the group returned. The FSV-10 was their most advanced glider so far, with swept-back, biplane wings, rear tail unit, an open lattice framed fuselage and a wingspan of 10 metres. Various changes were made to the design whilst actually on the mountain, and several crashes necessitated repairs. In spite of these, many good flights were made, culminating in Gutermuth’s world record distance of 843 metres, with a duration of 112 seconds. Sometimes, just after launching, the glider would soar upward 30 or even 50 metres, but the young pilots did not realise at this stage the possibility of slope soaring.
  They did not know that Orville Wright had achieved a soaring flight on 26th October 1911 over the dunes at Kitty Hawk, of more than 9 minutes.
  During the winter of 1912-13, a new affiliation of aero clubs had taken place in the Darmstadt region and the resulting Darmstadt Aviation Association, dominated by power flying interests, invited the FSV members to join. Since this would give them better financial support and access to proper training facilities, the group agreed and the gliding club came to an end as a separate organisation. The following year came the First World War. Gutermuth, Fischer, Ernst von Loessl, Nerger, Pfannmueller and Kurt Milkau (who had not been to the Wasserkuppe) were killed during the struggle.
  In 1920 gliding at the Wasserkuppe began again. It was their recollections of the Darmstadt boys’ achievements that led the later pioneers to return to the place.
  The Darmstadt Akaflieg, which was to become famous and in the following decades played a leading role in the development of new aircraft, was formed in 1921 by students of the Darmstadt Technical University. There was no direct connection with the FSV.
The FSV-8 in flight. In spite of the poor quality of this photograph, it nevertheless conveys some impression of the excitement of these early flights by the Darmstadt schoolboys.
The FSV-5 Mark 2 biplane of 1910. The span was six metres and total wing area 20.8 sq m.
The FSV-10 was a direct development of the FSV-8.