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Deperdussin TT

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Fritz Kempf
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BerichtGeplaatst: 29 Nov 2012 8:59    Onderwerp: Deperdussin TT Reageer met quote

Notwithstanding the Caproni Ca.20 of Italy, the first single-seat aircraft armed with a machine gun, one of the earliest attempts to provide an armed fighting machine to any of the Air Services was the Deperdussin TT, a two-place monoplane built in France in relatively small numbers by the SPAD firm starting in 1912.

An armored gunnerís position equipped with a Hotchkiss machine gun was installed to fire over the whirling propeller in the nose of the aircraft in February 1914, but tests showed it to be somewhat impractical.

The Deperdussin was originally conceived as a racing aircraft and was one of the fastest machines of its day, winning the Gordon Bennett Cup in 1913. About one hundred Deperdussins were built and by the summer of 1914, two squadrons had been formed with the machines in the French Air Service, Escadrilles D.4 and D.6 (the "D" standing for Deperdussin). Some were armed with Colt or Madsen machine guns instead of the more prevalent Hotchkiss.
The aircraft was understandably unpopular with the gunners since they had to get out of their cockpit and attempt to fire the machine gun at enemy aircraft while the pilot was conducting sometimes violent combat maneuvers. Imagine the hurricane-force wind blowing against you in this exposed position.

The Deperdussin TTs were used as armed reconnaissance scouts on the Western Front, but due to their frailty and the shortcomings of their means of defense, the aircraft were only used until the end of 1914 and then transferred to training units. A few were also used by the Royal Flying Corp, the Royal Naval Air Service, and two served in the Belgian Air Service early in the war. Deperdussins competed for inclusion in the Imperial Russian Air Service and even though it did not fare well in the contest with other aircraft, it was ordered to be built by the Lebed factory. These machines, augmented by French-built aircraft, were used extensively on the Eastern front until mid-1916.

By December 1914, the Deperdussins had outlived their usefulness and it seemed fitting that, in the same month, Roland Garros would approach the Morane Saulnier works to inquire about installing protective wedges on the back of the propeller of his Morane Saulnier ďLĒ in line with a machine gun mounted directly in front of the cockpit. The purpose would be to deflect any rounds that struck the propeller blades when firing. It was about as impractical as the Deperdussinís standing gunner, but Garros would achieve a greater measure of success with his device than the TT gunners ever did.

When Garros was forced down on a bombing mission in April 1915 and failed to destroy his armed aircraft, it would take only a few months for Germans designers, among them Anthony Fokker, to create an effective interrupter system for their machine guns to fire through the propeller arc, and the words ďFokker ScourgeĒ would shortly be added to the worldís vocabulary.

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