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Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane

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Title: Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane  
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Subject: Flight airspeed record, List of aircraft (pre-1914)
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Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane

Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane
Role Racing aircraft
National origin France
Manufacturer Société de Production des Aéroplanes Deperdussin
Designer Louis Béchereau

The Deperdussin 1912 Racing Monoplane was an early French aircraft built by Société de Production des Aéroplanes Deperdussin. It is notable for being the first aircraft to exceed 100 mph (161 km/h) in level flight[1]

Design and development

The 1912 Deperdussin Racer was a high-wing monoplane with wings with an unusual planform, the wings being tapered so that their chord was greater at the tips than at the root, possibly to increase the effect of the wing-warping used for lateral control. The fuselage consisted of a wooden box-girder entirely skinned with plywood, with the rounded top and bottom built up from laminations of wood. This type of stressed skin construction, pioneered by the Swiss engineer Eugene Ruchonnet, was extremely advanced for its time, and was followed to its logical conclusion in the Deperdussin Monocoque which appeared later in the year.

Great attention was paid to producing an aerodynamically clean design: the tailskid was arranged so that its bungee cord springing was inside the fuselage, the spokes of the wheels were covered with a disc to reduce drag, and the wing-warping control wires were carried inside the inverted-v cabane struts.

It was initially powered by a 100 hp (75 kW) Gnome double Omega 14-cylinder twin-row rotary engine and had an undercarriage with twin skids as well as a pair of wheels, similar to earlier Deperdussin aircraft, and a triangular tailplane mounted on top of the fuselage, together with a triangular fin with an unbalanced rectangular rudder hinged to its trailing edge.

It was first flown late in 1911 or early in 1912: aviator Jules Védrines is recorded as making "fast flights" in the aircraft on 2 January 1912. A number of record-breaking flights followed, and on 22 February Jules Védrines succeeded in flying it at over 100 mph (160 km/h), flying a distance of 200 km (120 mi) in 1 h 15 min 20.8 s, an average speed of 169 kilometres per hour (105 mph)[2] By this time the engine had been replaced by a more powerful 140 hp (100 kW) Gnome double Lambda engine.

It is probable that this aircraft was the aircraft being flown by Vedrines when he crashed at Épinay on 29 April during an attempt to fly from Brussels to Madrid in a single day.[3]

Specifications (first example)

Data from Flight International[4]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 7 m (23 ft)
  • Wingspan: 6.25 m (20 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 9.3 m2 (100 sq ft)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome Lambda Lambda 14-cylinder twin-row air-cooled rotary, 140 kW (190 hp)
  • Propellers: 2-bladed Chauvière


  • Maximum speed: 169 km/h; 91 kn (105 mph) (speed measured flying a circuit)


  1. ^ Hallion, Kenneth, Taking Flight, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, p320
  2. ^ Védrines Regains the Speed Record Flight 2 March 1912, p. 198
  3. ^ The Accident to Vedrines Flight International 4 May 1912
  4. ^ The Deperdussin 100 hp Racer Flight International 12 February 1912

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