Flight, March 1925
AVIATION IN MEXICO
IT is not, perhaps, generally known - on this side of the Atlantic at any rate - that the Republic of Mexico has, for a considerable number of years, devoted much attention to aviation, principally on the military side.
They have possessed an air service which has been developed year by year into one which, as far as our knowledge goes, is now a fairly efficient, although small, air arm. At first they relied on foreign machines, consisting mainly of Avros, Morane-Saulnier parasols, Salmson biplanes, F-type Farman bi-motored biplanes, etc. For various reasons difficulty was experienced in obtaining aircraft and engines from foreign sources, so it was decided that these should be produced in Mexico itself. Late in November, 1915, therefore, a National Aircraft Factory was established at Valbuena, Mexico City, equipped with up-to-date machinery, etc. Here several monoplanes of the Bleriot and Morane-Saulnier type were constructed, as well as a training biplane fitted with a Mexican-built "Aztatl" engine, of the Anzani type, developing 80 h.p.
A curious single-engined pusher twin-fuselage biplane was also produced at the factory, and about the year 1918 a neat tractor-fuselage scouting biplane, the "Microplano," was built, which gave, we believe, satisfactory results. It was fitted with a 160 h.p. Hispano-Suiza engine, which engine, it may be mentioned, was built under licence at a specially-equipped branch of the factory at Valbuena. The "Micropiano'' possessed several interesting features, and was a single-bay biplane, with the top plane very slightly larger in span than the lower one. A somewhat unusual arrangement was adopted for the interplane struts, which in addition to sloping outwards were staggered as regards their fore-and-aft location, i.e., the rear struts were further out from the fuselage, so that the distance from the wing tips, which had a considerable rake, was the same for both rear and front struts.
Lateral balance was by wing warping, and there were no fixed tail surfaces - rudder and elevators being of the balanced Morane-Saulnier type. The girder fuselage was very deep forward, but tapered sharply towards the rear to a point. The "Microplano" - which was some 26 ft. in span - had a speed of about 125 m.p.h., and weighed, all up, 1,400 lbs., the useful load being 400 lbs. The tractor air-screw was also of Mexican manufacture.
Just recently the National Aircraft Factory produced three interesting machines, which we illustrate by the accompanying drawings of the plan, side, and front elevations of each type. We also reproduce a photograph of one of these machines, which differs slightly from the model shown in the drawing. All three machines are monoplanes of the "semi-cantilever" type, having thick wing-sections of the Jowkowsky breed. Sr. A. de Lascurain y Osio, Director-General of the Factory, is responsible for the design, and during their test nights, piloted by Joe Ben Lievre, they gave every satisfaction, both as regards the construction and the performance.
The first of these machines, the "3-E-130," is a single-seater scout, with the straight main planes mounted above, but very close to, the fuselage, and braced to the latter by struts extending to a point about one-third the total span from the wing tip. The model illustrated by the photograph has a single I-strut each side of the fuselage bracing the wings, whilst the drawings show a pair of struts each side – the arrangement of which does not appear to us to be all that is desired aerodynamically.
The pilot's cockpit is located immediately behind the trailing edge of the wing, which is about level with the pilot's eyes. This machine has thus a good range of vision. It is fitted with a 160 h.p. Gnome-Rhone engine. The principal characteristics of the "3-E-130" are :-
Span 34 ft.
Chord 5 ft. 3 ins.
O.A. length 21 ft. 9 ins.
Height 7 ft. 4 ins.
Area 172 sq. ft.
Weight, empty 1,474 lbs.
Weight, laden 1,892 lbs.
Speed range 47-139 m.p.h.
Ceiling 19,680 ft.
Range 1 hr. 30 mins.
The second machine, the 5-E-132, or "Mexico," is a two-seater school 'bus, also of the parasol monoplane type, fitted with a Le Rhone engine of 80 h.p. The main feature of this machine consists of the unusual plan form of the wings. These have the leading edge swept back from a point about one-third the span from the tips, the centre section being straight. The trailing edge, however, is swept back at the centre section, and is then straight as far as the ailerons. The wings are braced from the fuselage by a pair of struts as in the previous model.
Pilot and passenger are located in one cockpit immediately behind the trailing edge of the wings, the seats being slightly staggered. The main characteristics of the "Mexico" are :-
Span 47 ft.
Chord 7 ft. 6 ins.
Overall length 22 ft. 4 ins.
Height 8 ft. 6 ins.
Area 279 3/4 sq. ft.
Weight, empty 1,276 lbs.
Weight, laden 1,760 lbs.
Speed (maximum) 74 m.p.h.
Ceiling 16,400 ft.
Range 2 hrs.
The third machine, the 4-E-131, or "Quetzalcoatl," is similar to the last, but larger, and is intended for bombing and reconnaissance work. It is fitted either with a 185 h.p. B.M.W. engine or a 400 h.p. "Liberty." The wings have much the same shape as those on the school machine, except that the leading edge of the centre section slopes inward towards the centre, giving the wings a W-shape in plan. The pilot's and observer's cockpits are located behind the wings, where a good range of vision in all directions is obtained. A Lamblin radiator is mounted on each side of the fuselage. The armament consists of a fixed Vickers gun, firing forward, and a twin Lewis gun mounted on a scarff ring in the rear cockpit. It will be noticed that the landing chassis in this machine differs from the others. The principal characteristics of the 4-E-131 are :-
Span 50 ft. 5 ins.
Chord 19 ft. 7 ins.
Overall length 27 ft.
Height 9 ft. 9 ins.
Area 355 sq. ft.
Weight (empty) 2,486 lbs. (B.M.W.); 2,860 lbs. ("Liberty").
Weight, laden 3,850 lbs. (B.M.W.); 4,620 lbs. ("Liberty").
Speed range 46-124 m.p.h. (B.M.W.); 50-155 m.p.h. ("Liberty").
Ceiling 21,300 ft. (B.M.W.); 24,600 ft. ("Liberty").
Range 5 hrs.