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Coanda 1910 Thermojet-Powered Aircraft (1910)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/21/2010

The Coanda 1910 was effectively the world's first jet-propelled aircraft.

This invention by Romanian inventor Henri Coanda amazingly appeared in 1910 as the world's first jet-propelled aircraft - just seven years after the Wright Brothers historic first flight and four years before the great air battles of World War 1. The "Coanda 1910", as it came to be known, was showcased at the Paris Second International Aeronautical Exhibition and was a technological marvel for its time. Unfortunately, the world of aviation remained quite content with the proven power and capabilities of the gas-powered piston engines of the time and the Coanda design fell into relative obscurity.

In most respects, the Coanda 1910 was of a traditional aircraft design for the time, appearing as a biplane with front-mounted engine. In fact, the Coanda design was actually of a sesquiplane layout with the lower wing installation shorter than that of the top. The "jet" engine was mounted at the extreme front of the pencil thin fuselage, made up mostly of wood covered over with fabric (along with struts and wiring) and possibly some metal added to the wings. The pilot was to sit behind the engine in an open-air cockpit with very little protection from the elements. The undercarriage was fixed just under the lower wing and featured two wheels and complimented with a landing skid. The tail section ended in a cruciform-type arrangement.

In terms of its "jet" powerplant, the Coanda 1910 featured a system unlike that as found in later turbojet developments. The Coanda operated with a type of "thermojet" technology in mind - in general terms it was a combination of piston engine and jet engine power - relying on internal combustion and not a gas-powered turbine common to turbojets. The traditional combustion engine provided power to a compressor to generate compressed air. The compressed air was then mixed with fuel, ignited and forcibly extracted from special chambers mounted on either side of the fuselage. The resulting force of the expelled reaction was to provide forward momentum for the aircraft.

The Coanda 1910 achieved a single short flight in an accidental sort of way. While ground testing the engine with Henri Coanda at the controls, the powerplant forced the plane airborne for a short time. As Henri himself was not a pilot by trade, he quickly lost control of the aircraft and crashed to the ground throwing him clear of the burning wreckage (though not without slight injuries). Despite the loss of the machine, Henri noted an effect occurring with the expelled gases and how they seemed to conform to the sides of his aircraft. This observation alone would lead Henri to research that would span decades more in what would eventually culminate in the "Coanda Effect" being named in his honor.

Whether or not pursuing this technology so early in the century would have had much of an impact in making a faster fighter design remains in the imagination. As one side argues it would have been an improvement over propeller-driven designs, the other side equally argues that the practice of thermojet propulsion would not have made a significant impact in terms of performance gains. Obviously the old "wood and wire" approach in construction would have had to have been reviewed to produce a design capable of accepting the stress and rigors of this new form of propulsion. In any case, the world was not yet ready for Henri Coanda and his thermojet approach to flight.

In the end, Henri Coanda's 1910 invention was never furthered into practical use - no doubt the complexity of the propulsion method and the fact that his design was realistically years ahead of anything else available in 1910. Decades later, the Italian Campini-Caproni CC.2 turbojet and piston-powered design would take to the skies in the middle years of World War 2. In this instance, the technology was outplayed by the development of the turbojet by both the British and German researchers, basically making the CC.2 an aerial wonder to behold yet inevitably a technological dead end.

Henri Coanda went on to have a successful aircraft design career with several firms including Bristol while his "thermojet revolution" never took hold.

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Specifications for the
Coanda 1910
Thermojet-Powered Aircraft

Focus Model: Coanda 1910
Country of Origin: Romania
Manufacturer: Henri Coanda - Romania
Initial Year of Service: 1910
Production: 1

Crew: 1

Length: 41.01 ft (12.5 m)
Width: 33.79 ft (10.30 m)
Height: 0.00ft (0.00 m)
Weight (Empty): 0 lb (0 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 926 lb (420 kg)

Powerplant: 1 x 4 cylinder in-line water-cooled engine developing 50hp driving a compressor for 450lbf of thrust.

Maximum Speed: 0 mph (0kmh; 0 kts)
Maximum Range: 0 miles (0km)
Service Ceiling: 0 ft (0 m; 0.0 miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet-per-minute (0 m/min)

Hardpoints: 0
Armament Suite:

Coanda 1910