Heavier-than-air flight was proven possible prior to the events of World War 1 (1914-1918) but it was the war that drove innovation of certain concepts - sometimes to the extreme. The de Bruyere C1 was an example of one of the more extreme design attempts to come out of the Great War period with its canard-winged configuration coupled to pusher engine arrangement and tricycle landing gear. However, the unorthodox approach did not succeed for the sole prototype - intended as a fighter - barely made it airborne on its first flight, promptly crashing after just having achieved a shallow altitude.
French engineer Marcel de Bruyere was credited with this rather forward-thinking design which was built around a rounded, smooth fuselage structure seating one pilot ahead of midships in an open-air cockpit. The engine installation was immediately to his rear and drove a multi-bladed propeller unit in "pusher" fashion at the rear of the fuselage. This positioning left the nose unobstructed and, with its sloped-down attitude, offered inherently excellent vision for the pilot out-of-the-cockpit when compared to biplane contemporaries. The nose also fitted the canard (small wing foreplanes) unit which was apparently of an all-moving design for maximum control - another nod to future combat aircraft development. While the canards served to control pitch for the aircraft there were ailerons of full wing chord situated at the upper wing element for controlling roll during flight.
The De Bruyere C1 had a single-bay biplane wing arrangement and these were the typical "over-under" planes though left staggered with the upper element moved slightly forward of the lower. From the front profile, the wings were of unequal span with the upper element given more surface area than the lower. Bracing the two members were inverted "V-type" struts and the necessary cabling common to Great War period aircraft. The mainplanes were positions at midships.
The tail unit was as unique as any other part of this interesting aircraft, incorporating a single dorsally-mounted vertical tail fin which was of low profile, rounded design appearance. There was a ventral vertical plane as well and both tailplanes were seated just ahead of the spinning propeller blade at the extreme rear of the aircraft. Under the ventral fin was positioned a tailskid in the event the aircraft took a "nose-up" attitude at any point near (or on) the ground.
Beyond its various forward-thinking qualities, the C1 was also to use a tricycle undercarriage in which all three units were wheeled. While these units remained fixed in flight, it arrived at a time when nearly all aircraft utilized a "tail-dragger" undercarriage arrangement.
Known structural dimensions included an overall length of 24.6 feet and a wingspan of 26.10 feet.
Power and Performance
Internally, the aircraft carried a single Hispano-Suiza 8Aa V-8 water-cooled piston engine and this was used to drive a two-bladed wooden propeller in the aforementioned "pusher" arrangement - that is the engine would serve to "push" the aircraft through the skies as opposed to "pull" it; as in aircraft mounting the engine and propeller unit at its usual place in the nose. Because of the C1's short time in the air, no official performance specs were ever recorded so any such numbers on this page are estimates on the part of the author.
The C1 was (rather optimistically) envisioned to fulfill the role of combat fighter so proposed armament was to center on a single 37mm Hotchkiss automatic cannon - giving it a powerful "bite" against contemporaries including enemy bomber aircraft. It is believed the desire to mount this powerful weapon is what prompted de Bruyere to adopt such an unorthodox design for this fighter proposal.
First - and Last - Flight
The first, and only, flight of the C1 occurred during April of 1917 as World War 1 continued to rage on. The flight was had at Etampes in France and, during this action, the aircraft reached an altitude of just twenty-five feet before entering an unexpected roll. The airframe ended up on its back on the ground though the pilot at the controls managed to survive without being crushed. This appears to be the last that was heard from the C1 design for it was not repaired, flown again, nor evolved at any future point during the war.
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