M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45
THE SPALINGER SERIES
The Swiss, Jacob Spalinger, had already built and tried to fly his own glider, the Spalinger S-1, before 1918. By the early 1930s he had a number of increasingly successful designs to his credit. The S-15 of 1934 established
itself as the most popular Swiss-designed sailplane of this period. At least 20 were produced as advanced trainers in the Grunau Baby class. Like the GB, the S-15 was a strut-braced, high wing sailplane with hexagonal box-shaped fuselage. The wing was tapered and had ’gull' dihedral. When it first appeared, the S-15 was widely used by advanced pilots. With one example Fritz Glur in 1936 set a duration record of 16 hours 10 minutes. Subsequently as better sailplanes came along, the S-15 reverted to its intended role. It handled well, although considered rather sluggish in response to aileron movement.
The S-16k followed. It had a smaller span of 13.5 metres but was otherwise very similar to the S-15. Four or five were built and the next in the series, the S-17, with even smaller span, flew in 1935. Spalinger then decided to develop a more advanced aircraft.
The S-18 had a 13.3 metre span with a streamlined fuselage and cantilever wing. Spalinger’s approach to fuselage design was rather like that of his compatriot, August Hug. A central keel, like that of a primary glider, was first built, with controls and seat all mounted, before the cross-frames (laminated hoops of lens or almond-shaped outline in Spalinger's case) were added and then the plywood covering. The fashionable gull wing form was retained. The test flights were carried out successfully in May 1936 and two Spalinger 18s took part in the 1936 Olympic displays in Berlin.
The next development provided Swiss soaring pilots with the S-18-II, which became very popular indeed and was built in quantity by the firm Bau A G Wynau. The span was enlarged with a consequent increase in performance. The prototype flew in June 1937. At the same time, Hermann Schreiber built, from plans supplied by Spalinger, the S-18 T, which was like the S-18-II in all respects except that Schreiber gave its wing a more pronounced ‘gull’ bend to improve the stability in turning flight. This S-18 T was flown at the 1937 Wasserkuppe Internationals by Godinat. In September of this same year a Spalinger 18 won the first Swiss soaring championships. Production continued steadily and in 1939 the Swiss distance record of 216 km was set by Schachenmann in an S-18-II. For control on approach to landing the S-18-II was fitted with spoilers on the wing upper surface. About 25 were built before the S-18-III came out with airbrakes and a more refined fuselage which included a contoured canopy. It was one of these aircraft that Eric Nessler used in 1942 to set a world duration record of 38 hours 21 minutes, at La Montaigne Noir. The record was not recognised officially by the FAI.
By 1943 the Swiss National Championships were dominated by the Spalinger 18 and more than 60 Spalinger sailplanes, including the old S-15s, were registered.
An aerobatic version, with straight wings, the S-18A, was produced post-war. Other examples were modified by amateurs.
After the S-18, Spalinger continued as a prolific designer of new types. The Spalinger 22, the best Swiss-designed sailplane of its time, appeared in 1938. Further designs up to the S-25 two-seater followed. In 1969 Spalinger’s achievements were recognised by the FAI when he was awarded the Tissandier Diploma.
S-18-II: Span, 14.30 m. Wing area, 14.25 sq m. Aspect ratio. 14.35. Empty weight, 135 kg. Flying weight, 215 kg. Wing loading. 15 kg/sq m. Aerofoil at root. Goettingen 535, tapering to thin symmetrical at the tips. Best glide ratio, 1:21. Minimum sinking speed. 0.715 m/sec.
Willi Schwarzenbach’s modified Spalinger 18-2. The fuselage depth is less than on the standard S 18-2. The color scheme is typical of older Swiss sailplanes.
A Spalinger 15. Swiss designers seem to have changed their rudder designs frequently, this one showing the rounded form.
The Spalinger 15K, an aerobatic version. The fuselage belly was painted, probably yellow, but the rest of the machine was clear doped and varnished.
A version of the Spalinger 17, with a steel tube framed, fabric-covered fuselage.
The Spalinger 18 prototype ready for a test flight. The cockpit canopy at this time was a very simple affair made from three curved pieces of plastic on a wooden frame. Later, more refined canopies were introduced.
A Spalinger 18-I soaring in the Engadin Alps.