Burgess-Wright Model F Flyer - United States, 1911
Detailing the development and operational history of the Burgess-Wright Model F Flyer Biplane Aircraft.
Entry last updated on 7/20/2015; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com
The Burgess-Wright Model F Flyer of 1911 became the first license production aircraft in the United States of America.
American William Starling Burgess made quite a name for himself across various industries and was recognized as one of the great geniuses of his time. At one point, his Burgess Company became the largest employer in Marblehead, Massachusetts. In 1905, he founded a shipbuilding company at Marblehead to specialize in yachts for the rich. In 1909 he combined assets with Augustus Moore Herring (formerly of the Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company) to form the Herring-Burgess Company to begin designing aeroplanes for serious use. His construction techniques employed soon caught the attention of the Wright Brothers (the Wright Company) who wanted Burgess to begin serial production of their "Model B Flyer" (as the "Model F"). This marked the first-ever license-production deal undertaken anywhere in the United States. The Burgess company went on to manufacture some 100 of the type at about $5,000 each.
Design of the Model F was typical of the period, seating the pilot in an open-air operating environment between the upper and lower wing elements (the aircraft's general configuration was that of a biplane). Parallel struts were used along the wing's span which resulted in several "bays" being created. A skid system was featured forward of the aircraft with double-wheeled units attached under the mass of the aircraft for ground running. The engine was fitted next to the pilot's position (along starboard) and drove a pair of two-bladed propeller systems in a "pusher" arrangement. The tail section fitted vertical surfaces along a wooden strut network. Control and support cables were featured extensively throughout the design. Construction was largely of wood with fabric skinning. Power was served through 1 x Wright 4-cylinder inline reciprocating engine developing 35 horsepower - propelling the craft through the air at a then-impressive 42 miles per hour.
The Model F was eventually manufactured for both civilian and military markets. In service with the latter, the Model F was utilized by the Army Signal Corps - forerunner to today's United States Air Force (USAF) - and the United States Navy (USN) as a trainer and a observation / reconnaissance platform. It was also used as a testbed for early bomb-sighting devices as well as bomb-dropping equipment.