Flight, November 1923
THE " SCHOETTLER I" BIPLANE
A Successful Chinese-Built Aeroplane
WE have just received the accompanying illustrations and a few brief particulars of what is claimed to be the first successful aeroplane built in China. Whilst much has
been written about aviation and its progress in China, so far little or nothing has been heard about the construction of aeroplanes in this ancient land of the East, and it is only just recently that reports appeared in local newspapers telling of the tests at the Lunghwa Aerodrome of the machine under review.
As a matter of fact, several attempts have been made at building aeroplanes in China, but without, it would seem, satisfactory results. Perhaps the principal reasons for this state of affairs have been lack of suitable raw materials, want of skilled workmen, and the restrictions placed upon the import of such materials to be used for the manufacture of aeroplanes. In consideration of the above-mentioned points aeroplane construction in China was considered an impossibility amongst foreign experts, but if some of them could see the work done at the Lunghwa Aerodrome during the past sixteen months they would give a different opinion.
The first machine - of a series to be completed soon - to be produced at this aerodrome is a two-seater tractor biplane, fitted with a 160 h.p. Mercedes water-cooled engine, has been completed. This machine has been designed and built by F. L. Schoettler, a German engineer, and it is known as the "Schoettler I."
The work of construction has been done without any of the modern machinery with which foreign aircraft works are equipped. Every part had to be made by hand from the raw material, without trained workmen, and in an open workshop. The latter, in fact, was little better than a matshed, offering but poor protection from the by no means favourable climatic conditions peculiar to China.
Considerable assistance in the construction of this machine, however, was obtained from Messrs. F. A. Welti and Son, of London, who supplied many of the important materials - such as instruments from S. Smith and Sons; dope from Titanine Ltd.; and wheels from Palmer Tyre, Ltd. The engine, instruments and wheels were the only "ready-made" items imported from Europe, everything else having been made in China.
From this it will be gathered that aeroplane building in China, although no longer an impossibility, would be - owing to the small number of skilled workmen available to assist the foreign engineer to bring out the finished product - a far from simple proposition, calling for a plentiful supply of brains and energy in order to carry on under the present conditions.
The work at Lunghwa will be the first step and the trial for greater schemes. Aviation, no doubt, will take one of the most important places later on amongst the means of communications in China, because it can be inaugurated with less money than that necessary for the building of long-distance roads and railways, and there is a larger field for aviation in this great country (China), except America, than in any other country in the world. On the other hand, commercial aviation is an impossibility in China as long as there are no engineers and trained workmen, to be able to keep up the routes, to repair every damage, and, consequently, to rebuild or even to construct new machines. Perhaps the future will prove that the trial at the Lunghwa Aerodrome has been the foundation of aeroplane building in China, placing this country amongst the nations producing aircraft.
"Schoettler I," as may be seen from the accompanying illustrations, is a very conventional two-seater tractor fuselage biplane, resembling closely in general appearance the German "Aviatik" or "Albatros" type of machine. Constructionally also, we believe, this 'bus departs very little, if at all, from usual practice. The fuselage is of rectangular section girder construction, tapering somewhat finely to a vertical knife-edge at the rear. The covering is fabric, except for the engine portion, which is metal, and the deck over the cockpits.
The radiators for the engine cooling water, of which there are two, are of the honeycomb type, mounted outside the fuselage, one each side of the engine compartment. They are provided with shutters for the purpose of regulating the temperature.
Both top and bottom planes are of equal span and chord, and both are set at a dihedral angle of 2°. The top plane, which is staggered forward about 2 ft., is in two sections, being attached at the centre to two pairs of inverted V-struts on the top of the fuselage. The bottom planes, also in two sections, are attached direct to the sides of the fuselage. There are two pairs of interplane struts a side, and lift wires are doubled. Ailerons are fitted to top and bottom planes, and are interconnected. The tail surfaces, which are of ample proportions, do not call for any special comment. A conventional V-type landing gear is fitted, the struts of which are, we believe, steel tubes with wood fairings.
The following is a report on a test flight made by Mr. W. E. Holland (late Major, R.A.F.) on July 19, 1923 :-
Controls. - Lateral controls slightly stiff; this would improve by use and suggest balancing the ailerons. Rudder. - Very good. Elevator. - Fully loaded would be very good indeed.
Visibility. - The position of the pilot makes visibility exceptionally good; it is impossible to suggest improvement.
The machine flies well, is very well balanced in the air, and answers controls cleanly.
Speed. - Air speed obtained, full throttle at 1,000 ft., 126 miles per hour, but this speed could not be maintained; best cruising speed about 98 miles per hour.
Climb. - The machine climbed about 1,000 ft. a minute near the ground; was unable to test climb at a height.
Cooling. - The cooling system seems to work very satisfactorily, but would suggest a larger blow off.
General Remarks. - The machine gives great promise, and if flown from a larger aerodrome could be handled by the average pilot quite successfully.
I was very pleased with the machine's general behavior and look forward to seeing the result of future models. The weight-carrying capacity has been under-estimated. Position of observer is such that he can obtain a vision of practically 360° arc.
The principal characteristics of "Schoettler I" are: Span, 39 ft. 6 ins.; chord, 5 ft. 6 ins.; o.a. length, 27 ft. 4 3/4 ins.; height, 10 ft. 3 ins.; gap, 5 ft. 6 ins.; stagger, 1 ft. 11 1/2 ins.; dihedral angle, 2°; wing area, 401 f sq. ft.; weight empty, 1,634 lbs.; weight laden, 2,558 lbs.; loading per h.p., 15-9 lbs.; loading per sq. ft., 6-3 lbs.; speed range, 45-122 m.p.h.; duration, 4 1/2 hours.