M.Simons The World's Vintage Sailplanes 1908-45
Hans Jacobs' Rhoenadler had proved a great success but clubs felt the need of a sailplane to bridge the gap between the Grunau Baby and the big Adler. In 1933 therefore Jacobs designed the Rhoenbussard for Alexander Schleicher.
With span about a metre more than the Grunau Baby, and the same wing section, it was a natural step up for the pilot, whilst its streamlined fuselage, higher aspect ratio and the absence of drag from struts, ensured a better performance. The wing loading was higher than the Baby. The Bussard was also very strong.
Sailplane structures had by now become almost standardised and there were no innovations in the Rhoenbussard. The wing planform was simple, with a rectangular centre section and tapered lips, the ailerons extending over more than half the total span. There was no dihedral, thus avoiding the complications in construction involved with the increasingly fashionable ‘gull’ form. The fuselage was short and stumpy, with a pylon to carry the wing. The cockpit was large enough to take any pilot, which made the front end rather bulbous. To keep the centre of gravity in the right place, the pilot’s back had to be close to the main fuselage frame under the wing spar, hence there was unfortunately no upward view from the cockpit under the wing leading edge.
To rig the Rhoenbussard it was necessary to join the wings together on the centre line first, before lifting the whole onto the fuselage mounting. The main steel pins joining the spars were inserted vertically. Though the joined wing was not heavy, to lift it into place required several people. Two horizontal pins, running across from side to side of the pylon, held the fuselage to the wing.
The prototype appeared at the Rhoen in 1933. It drew favorable attention and the orders came in. At the 1934 Rhoen meeting 16 Rhoenbussards competed, outnumbering all other types except the Grunau Baby. It was capable of a very good performance and could be used for aerobatic displays. Bussards were also exported. The first to reach England was aero-towed there in stages in 1934, and toured the country with Cobham’s Flying Circus. The pilot was Joan Meakin. Her routine included multiple loops, chandelles and stall turns, followed each time by a meticulous spot landing. On one occasion she was told to attempt a cross-country flight and thus became the first English woman to do a distance flight in a glider.
At least one world record should have gone to a Bussard. This was the height climb by Hermann Seele on 23rd June 1936. He climbed into a cumulus cloud near Hirzenhain, found strong lift which carried him rapidly up to more than 5000 metres, a world record, but he lost control in a high speed spiral dive. He was severely battered and bruised by large hailstones, and the Rhoenbussard broke up. As he struggled out of the cockpit he tried to save the precious barograph but failed, and finally fell clear. The wreckage of the Bussard nearly hit him as he descended, half frozen and badly hurt by the hail, but he landed without further injury in trees and was rescued by local peasants. The Rhoenbussard was scattered widely and the barograph was never found.
Three Rhoenbussards still existed in 1979, two of these in serviceable condition. One had ailerons much shorter than standard, and square wingtips, having been modified in postwar times by a German student group in the hope of improving performance. All three known examples are in England. Others may well exist awaiting restoration in Germany and elsewhere.
The weights and performance figures given below were measured by the DFS and reported by W. Spilger in 1938.
Rhoenbussard: Span, 14.30 m. Wing area. 14.00 sq m. Aspect ratio. 14.6. Empty weight, 135 kg. Flying weight. 240 kg. Wing loading. 17.1 kg/sq m. Aerofoil, Goettingen 535 at root and centre section, tapering to symmetrical tip. Best glide ratio. 1 : 19.8 at 67.3 km/h. Minimum sinking speed 0.88 m/sec at 57.7 km/h. Sink at 100 km/h. 2.08 m/sec.
One of only two airworthy Rhoenbussards known at the time of publication, though several others exist in storage. This aircraft, now based at Dunstable but seen here at Sutton Bank, was modified by a German student group. The ailerons were shortened and the wingtips squared. The German registration, D-5700, is still painted below the port wing.
A 1937 Rhonbussard, flown by Chris Wills from the 11,300ft Jungfraujoch.
A Rhoenbussard fitted with airbrakes and flown by the British Air Force of Occupation gliding club at Scharfoldendorf (Ith) in post-war years. It was painted very dark red, with the nose cap in natural aluminium and the Scharfoldendorf number in cream.
COMING IN: Miss Meakin landing at Heston after her flight from Lympne.
"- SOMETHING DONE": Miss Joan Meakin in her "Rhonbussard" glider.
A Rhoenbussard named Korschen and marked with the Olympic Games linked rings, as many sailplanes were in Germany during 1936. The Bussard probably participated in the display at Staaken which was arranged for the Games opening ceremony.
The Rhoenbussard at the British Championships in 1950. Winch launching was originally developed in the early 1930s.
One of the four Rhoenbussards which competed at the British National Championships in 1938, flown by R. P. Cooper and Joan Price (nee Meakin). It placed sixth.
Mr. C. Nicholson piloting the "Rhon Buzzard" an efficient German-built sailplane.
ON SILENT WINGS: A striking picture of the "Golden Wren" sailplane and a Rhon "Buzzard" soaring over Bradwell Edge, Derbyshire, which is proving an increasingly popular centre with Midland and Northern gliding enthusiasts.