Three examples, two being flyable, of the Dayton-Wright PS-1 monoplane interceptor were built to a USAAS interceptor requirement in the early 1920s.
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The Dayton-Wright Company was founded during the fighting of World War 1 (1914-1918) in 1917 with Orville Wright not only lending his name to the venture but also serving as a consultant. The concern went on to have a short operational life for it was defunct as soon as 1923 with few aircraft to its name - including the equally-short-lived Dayton-Wright "PS-1" detailed below.
While the biplane-wing fighter form, proven in aerial combat during World War 1 (1914-1918), continued its dominance as the principle frontline attacker for military air services of the world, there were some aeronautical minds still attempting to develop a viable monoplane-winged alternative. The PS-1 attempted to fulfill the void but ultimately proved a disappointment for the United States Army Air Services (USAAS) (forerunner to the United States Air Force).
The PS-1's overall design was heavily influenced by Dayton-Wright's previous attempt at a streamlined racer, the one-off "RB-1" ("Rinehart-Bauman Model 1") single-seat, single-engine racer (also known as the "Dayton-Wright Racer"). This aircraft carried a cantilever wing arrangement and retractable main landing gear members - a mechanical system developed in-house by the Dayton-Wright Company in 1920. The aircraft gained some press but ultimately failed to impress for its short time in the air (its September 1920 racing attempt in France derailed by a cable failure).
One of the more unique qualities of this proposed interceptor was its manually-operated retracting undercarriage in which the main members were raised into the design after take-off and lowered for landing - this at a time when fixed undercarriage were still the norm. The unique undercarriage retraction system was controlled by the pilot and involved a chain-and-sprocket approach. Raising the main members took all of ten seconds while lowering them could be done in about six seconds. Both the RB-1 Racer and the PS-1 installed this system.
The aircraft was to have its monoplane wing assembly seated high on the fuselage, braced in place by a pair of struts running from the lower section of the aircraft's body.
The military derivative of the racer was, more or less, the "PS-1". The PS-1 differed in having an open-air cockpit in place of the racer's streamlined covered workspace and the cantilever wing mainplanes were replaced by a parasol-type arrangement. Power was from a Lawrence J-1 air-cooled radial of 200 horsepower (instead of the Hall-Scott L-6a of 250 horsepower) and used to drive a four-bladed wooden propeller at the nose. Ahead of the pilot's position were fitted the wing mainplanes but their position made for poor forward vision out-of-the-cockpit. Of particular note here is the mainplanes carried flaps at both its leading and trailing edges. The fuselage was stout, slab-sided, and of mixed construction - steel tubing used for the underlying framework, wood at all of the horizontal wing sections, and fabric skinning across the fuselage and at the vertical tail plane.
Dimensional specifications included a wing span of 30 feet, an overall length of 19.1 feet, and a height of 7 feet. Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW) reached approximately 1,720 lb. Maximum achievable speed was 146 miles per hour with a useful range out to 235 miles.
Dayton-Wright developed its PS-1 to a USAAS requirement, "Pursuit Alert (Special)", seeking a quick-reaction interceptor armed with 2 x 7.62mm Browning air-cooled machine guns. The service eventually contracted for three prototypes to be operated in flight trials under the "XPS-1" designation in June of 1921. The first prototype was set aside as a static test article.
It was quickly found in November of 1922 that the design was unsatisfactory for USAAC officials which requested a reworking of the undercarriage and lower forward fuselage section. The second prototype was completed with most of the changes in place and this example went to the air for the first time in July of 1923 but failed to impress. Mounting disappointments in the program ultimately led to its quick demise with the two flyable forms ending their days in storage at McCook Field (Ohio). No more is known of this aircraft line beyond April 1926.
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