French Captain Georges LePere was employed by the United States Army Air Service (USAAS) in 1917 when he designed a new two-seat multirole biplane aircraft. The design emerged from the American need to develop an indigenous multi-faceted platform for service in Europe amidst World War 1 (1914-1918) and the growing American involvement in the conflict. As it stood, the aircraft was intended as a fighter, escort fighter, reconnaissance aircraft and light bomber and its arrangement and construction were highly conventional for the period - owing to the need to get this aircraft into the air as quickly as possible and made available in the numbers required of the war effort.
With U.S. entry into World War 1 coming during 1917, the Air Service found itself in need for more modern aircraft of all types. Available to them were many designs of foreign origin, including many French fighters and light bombers, but deliveries were largely at the mercy of overseas need. One solution to the requirement was in bringing over French aeronautical engineers and designs for local development and manufacture. Now American factories could stock American air groups as needed without interference from foreign parties and LePere formed a part of a French engineering team that was paired with the Packard Motor Company of Detroit, Michigan to do just that. The work of 1917 ultimately begat the prototype of 1918 and the aircraft proved itself such a promising design in testing that even Army officials were convinced of its merits and placed an order for 3,525 as the "LUSAC-11" ("LePere United States Army Combat 11"). Production would be handled through Packard as well as the Fisher Body Corporation to help expedite deliveries to the Front. A first flight was recorded on May 15th, 1918.
As finalized the aircraft was given a biplane arrangement of equal span with a two-bay approach. The wing elements sat ahead of the crew positions which included the pilot in the front cockpit and the observer in a rear cockpit - both open-air. The Liberty 12 series engine of 400 horsepower was fitted appropriately at front and drove a two-bladed propeller. The undercarriage was wheeled at the main legs (mounted under the main mass of the aircraft) with a tail skid brining up the rear section. Performance specifications included a maximum speed of 136 miles per hour, a cruising speed of 118 miles per hour and a ceiling up to 20,200 feet. Armament consisted of 2 x 0.30 caliber Marlin machine guns in the forward fuselage (operated by the pilot and synchronized to fire through the spinning propeller blades) and 2 x 0.30 caliber Lewis machine guns paired on a trainable mounting (Scarff Ring) in the observer's cockpit.
Despite this gaining momentum, the war in Europe was drawing to a close until it officially concluded with the Armistice of November 1918. This left only seven completed LUSAC 11 aircraft available by the time the fighting ended and further manufacturing brought the total to twenty-eight before the Army contract for thousands was cancelled. The service did take on a limited stock of this aircraft and operated them for a while into the 1920s with some serving in testing (strafing platforms, triplanes, etc...) and others going on to set altitude records (one modified LUSAC 11 was fitted with a turbosupercharger and managed an altitude of 39,700 feet). A pair of LUSAC-11 aircraft were evaluated in France before the end of the war by the U.S. Army but were found wanting as combat aircraft. At least one was also evaluated by the French though not adopted. The Waterman 3-L-400 was a further development of the LUSAC-11.
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
✓Air-to-Air Combat, Fighter
General ability to actively engage other aircraft of similar form and function, typically through guns, missiles, and/or aerial rockets.
✓Ground Attack (Bombing, Strafing)
Ability to conduct aerial bombing of ground targets by way of (but not limited to) guns, bombs, missiles, rockets, and the like.
✓Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.
25.3 ft (7.70 m)
41.5 ft (12.65 m)
10.6 ft (3.22 m)
2,557 lb (1,160 kg)
3,682 lb (1,670 kg)
+1,124 lb (+510 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Packard-Le Pere LUSAC-11 production variant)
1 x Liberty L-12 V12 liquid-cooled engine developing 425 horsepower.
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