AVIATION Page 2 aviation air plane Roosevelt Field Curtiss Mitchel Floyd Bennett hangar George Dade Lindbergh rail road Cradle museum historical Berliner Joyce EEMCO ERCO Ercoupe Aircoupe Paul Mantz Cole Palen Rhinebeck aerodrome Bell Airacuda FM-1 SE-5
Updated:  27 Jan 2003, 11:40  ET
[Ref:  This is aviatn-2.html  (URL http://home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/aviatn-2.html)]

S. Berliner, III's


Continuation Page 2

Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"
Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

AVIATION - continued

This page has now been visited times since the counter was installed.

Because of page size limitations, this page is a continuation of the Aviation page.

World War I Eberhart SE-5E
(American-built Version of the Royal Aircraft Factory's SE-5a)
Image from USAF Museum Site.


(Greatly curtailed to save space)

On the preceding page:
  George C. Dade
  V-1 Buzz Bombs
  Bell FM-1 Airacuda
  Boeing 307 Stratoliner
  StromBecKeR Kits

On this page:
  Berliner and Aviation
  More on the Bell FM-1 Airacuda.
  Junkers Ju52/3m.

On the Continuation Page 3:

(overflow from the main and second AVIATION pages, moved 27 Jan 00)
  LTA - Lighter Than Air
  More Aviation Apocrypha.
  Long Island Chopper - H34 to fly again
{so far}, plus miscellany.

On Aviation page 4:
  All-Time Favo(u)rites - My Choices (moved from the main page 29 Mar 2002)
  Marine Air Terminal (La Guardia).
  Casey Jones' Academy of Aeronautics.
  Dinky Meccano Aircraft Models.
  Comet "Authenticast" 1:432 Aircraft Models.

BIG NEWS! - the full set of original Comet brass dies are for sale!

On Aviation page 5:

P-38 Lockheed Lightning
F-82 Twin Mustang
FW 189 Uhu
He 111Z "Zwilling"
  Me 321/323 "Gigant"

Nota bene - I am a passenger; NOT a pilot!  Although I logged many hours in the Link trainer at NYC's late (and, by many, lamented) Museum of Science and Industry, I only had the command controls once, ca. 1980, in the right-hand seat of a Cessna 210, when our pilot seemed determined to B-25 the Empire State Building and I conned us away from that fate.

You might visit my other pages which are replete with aviation-related historical information, such as railroads, Emile Berliner and his son Henry A. Berliner*), Chrysler and SS and Jaguar, the ordnance page, and the Fairchild Aerial Survey page..

Berliner and Aviation

I write extensively elsewhere about Emile Berliner and his son Henry A(dler). Berliner, of gramophone fame, and their extensive contributions to aviation.

A kind gentleman formerly in the employ of Henry Berliner's Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) in the early 50's e-mailed me 08 Feb 00 with the following (edited only very slightly):

"When the light airplane market folded in the early 50's, Henry had the foresight to get into the flight simulation business which proved to be very sucessful.  He sold the business (ERCO) to ACF Industries {formerly American Car & Foundry}.  It later was sold to General Precision Inc. and later to The Singer Corporation.  The ERCOUPE business was sold prior to that to a company which later produced the design as the AIRCOUPE."

[For more on this venture, see also the Hebrew History Federation, Ltd. Website
where there are two pages devoted to "Emil{sic} Berliner; An Unheralded Genius",
"Part I - The Early Years", and and "Part II - The Later Years", by Samuel Kurinsky
(links below).  The two pages noted here represent a highly-detailed and slightly different
and most interesting take on the life of this most inspired and inspiring man, with
lots of new material on his various inventions (gramophone, helicopter, Ercoupe, etc.);
I strongly recommend that you look at them, but do come back.

"Henry was very visible at his ERCO plant and knew most of the employees on a first-name basis.  We had about 2,000 when I first started working there.  He was a very gregarious type of person and treated his employees with great respect.

He continued to experiment with all manner of gadgets -- a propeller driven car, an aluminum hull cabin cruiser, one of the first hovercraft, a twin-engined version of the ERCOUPE airplane, and many other interesting projects.

You can find a photo of him flying his father's helicopter at College Park Airport on the Web at Aerofiles* {formerly Aero Data Files}.  The museum at College Park Airport now has the helicopter on display -- I believe.  {I requested permission to reproduce the photo here and received it 11 Feb 00.}

Henry Berliner in Helo
[Image courtesy of Aerofiles - provenance as noted - all rights reserved.]

Henry Berliner flying the "Berliner 1921 single-wing, rotary-powered, helicopter with deflector vanes at the wingtips (Aviation)" - text from Aerofiles (by permission); described as "the first helicopter to achieve controlled horizontal flight -- a war-surplus Nieuport biplane fighter with tilting tail rotor, and a short-span upper wing with 14'0" helicopter blades at the tips."  Clearly, there was no upper wing or tail rotor at the time this photo was taken.

As I've noted elsewhere, one of the nicest things about this Website is the wonderful people who contact me; on 05 Dec 02, I heard from Richard Sanders, a grandson of Emile Berliner and nephew of Henry A. Berliner, and he confirms that the Berliner helicopter is, indeed, at the College Park museum, writing {slightly edited}:   new.gif (06 Dec 02)

"The Berliner Helicopter was developed at College Park Airport, which you may know is the oldest operating airport in the world {I did NOT know}.  It was here that the Wright Brothers taught the army officers to fly.

Currently there is a small museum located just off the remaining east-west runway.  In this museum is the helicopter that Henry Berliner built for the military.  Unlike the first machine, this model has wings to be used in case of engine failure.

My brother and I took over Ercoupe sales and service and had Erco produce just over 200 aircraft.  We developed the Model 'G'; with the 'kiddy' seat which my daughter occupied on a delivery trip to California."

[Living history sure beats apocrypha, hands down!]

The Berliner-Joyce Aircraft Corporation produced some of the most advanced aircraft designs of the day and should not be forgotten as one of the pioneering aircraft corporations."

Henry Berliner went to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, in 1927 as a spokesman and partner of a group who operated Hoover Field in Washington and opened and operated The Gettysburg Flying Service, Inc., in Gettysburg.  By 1929, Henry had apparently sold out and went back to manufacturing airplanes.

* - This Aerofiles site has some of the most amazing aircraft information I have ever seen; I heartily recommend it to you.  Their page on Berliner, alone, is worth every moment.

01 Oct 00 - A gentleman whose late father-in-law, Slim Mayfield, was a barnstormer and pilot of every kind in the late 20's until he retired from American Airlines in 1969 writes that his father-in-law owned a Berliner-Joyce CM-4 with the OX-5 motor from 1930 to 1936 and flew this aircraft in eastern Pennsylvania as a barnstormer for almost all of those years.  Mayfield mentioned to him once that a man named Emile Berliner had developed the first aircraft radio and successfully used it around Long Island for a short period but there was no interest in it and he quit trying to promote it.  I don't recall ever hearing of or reading of any such in EB's biography, which is packed away, so I can't readily check on this.  I seem to remember the facts are right but not the inventor.  Does anyone know better?

(Incidentally, George Dade's NYS license plate was "OX-5".)

More on the Bell FM-1 Series Airacuda

Here, courtesy of the Confederate Air Force's Air Group One, is the YFM-1 for your delectation:


FM-1 series Specifications (from AirPage):

Bell (USA)

Bell YFM-1 "Airacuda" Fighter*, 1937

Development:  YFM-1 was developed as a heavy escort fighter.  First prototype XFM-1 flew
  on September 1, 1937.  The aircraft was equipped with Allison V-1710-13 1133 hp engines
  and achieved the top speed of 490 km/h.  It was decided to build an experimental series of
  13 aircraft, first of which was completed in September 1939.  However, the aircraft never
  entered mass production.


  YFM-1A - V-1710-23 engines
  YFM-1B - V-1710-41 1073 hp engines

Service:  None.

Data for YFM-1A:

Crew: 5
Wingspan: 21.3 m
Length: 14.0 m
Height: 3.9 m
Wing area: 55.8 sq. m
Empty weight: 6200 kg
Takeoff weight: 8190 kg
Max. takeoff weight: 8650 kg
Engines: 2xAllison Y-1710-23, 1072 hp each
Max. speed: 431 km/h
Cruise speed: 383 km/h
Landing speed: 123 km/h
Climb rate: 7.5 m/s
Ceiling: 9300 m
Cruise ceiling: 7000 m
Range: 2880 km
Range with maximum payload: 1510 km Payload: 146 kg of bombs or rockets
Armament: 2x12.7 mm cannons, 2x7.62 mm machine guns

* - however, see Eric Shilling's description of the FM-1's purpose, following.

======= * ======

From Eric Shilling of the American Volunteer Group (Flying Tigers) on a CAF page comes this reminiscence of flying the YFM-1

(I reproduce this here because it is such a memorable bit of American flight history):

Subject: Bell Airacuda (YFM-1) Date: 24 Jul 1996 19:09:25 GMT

"Another airplane I flew was the YFM-1 Airacuda, made by Bell Aircraft Corporation in Buffalo, New York.  It was a pusher built around two exhaustdriven turbo-charged Allison engines of 1040 horsepower each.  It was new in type and concept.  The design's hypothesis was that it would be used as a bomber-destroyer.  It had two thirty-seven millimeter cannons, one in the nose of each nacelle, but little in the way of defensive weapons.  Several other innovations were being explored on the Airacuda that were not used on any previous military airplanes.  Because some of the innovations were impractical, they haven't been used since.

Flying the Bell Airacuda was a new experience for me, since it was the first pusher aircraft I'd ever flown.  Its handling characteristics were foreign to anything I had ever had my hands on.  Under power it was unstable in pitch, but stable with power off.  While flying straight and level, if a correction in pitch was required, a forward push on the control resulted in the airplane wanting to pitch over even more.  Pitch control became a matter of continually jockeying the controls, however slightly, even when the aircraft was in proper trim.  The same applied if pulling back on the control.  It would tend to continue pitching up, requiring an immediate corrective response.  The same happened in a turn.  With power off, the Bell became stable in pitch.  This was fortunate because during approach and landing, it was very stable, and a nice flying airplane.

It was built around several new ideas never tried before, and was unlike any other fighters up to that time.  First, it wasn't designed to be a fighter plane, although many had the mistaken idea that it was.  It could be better described as a bomber destroyer.  The tactics suggested by its designer were based upon the machine being used as a flying antiaircraft platform.  It was a defensive weapon to be used only against incoming bombers that were beyond the range of escorting fighters.  Although it had some defensive weapons, I think they were more psychological in nature, for the benefit of the YFM-1 crew, than practical.

The tactics envisioned were that the Airacuda would fly in trail, just out of range of the enemy bomber formation's guns.  Up to that time bombers had 30 and 50 caliber weapons.  It is important for the reader to keep in mind that the Bell would be used only against enemy bomber formations that were out of range of protective fighter escort.  The YFM-1 had little or no effective firepower for its defense, and as a consequence, would be a sitting duck against agile fighters.  The front of each engine nacelle housed a 37 mm, gyro-stabilized cannon. With the longer range of the 37 mm guns, they could pluck the enemy bombers off, one by one.  In other words, it was a mobile antiaircraft gun platform.

The primary function of the men in the nacelles was loading the guns, although they could be fired by the gun crew in an emergency.  Initially, the pilot of the plane aimed the airplane in the general direction of the formation. Further correction in aim would then be made by the gun control officer, and fired by him.  His station was directly behind the pilot, using an inverted periscope that came out through the belly of the ship to aim the guns.  The fire control officer would clutch the guns into the gyros, which stabilized them.  From that moment on they would stay on target.  The person operating the guns could then make any further correction and fire away until the bomber was brought down.  His position had swingout flight controls, and in an emergency he could fly the airplane.  If it was necessary to abandon the aircraft, the pilot would have to feather both engines to prevent the propellers from chewing the men to pieces, especially those in the nacelles.  The flight manual said they would feather in six seconds; that's a long time in my book.

In addition to being a pusher airplane, the YFM-1 also had other unusual features.  It had only one engine-driven accessory, an emergency fifty-ampere generator on the left engine.  The Bell Airacuda was an electrical nightmare.  All normally driven engine accessories, such as fuel pumps, hydraulic pumps, vacuum pump, and the gyros stabilizing the guns were electrically driven.  Because of all the electrical energy required, the ship had to have a full-time auxiliary power unit.  The auxiliary power unit was driven by a powerful four-cylinder gasoline engine which ran all the equipment.  Since the aircraft was required to operate at high altitudes, the APU also had to be turbo-supercharged.  To do this, a dual bleed came from the same exhaust turbo-chargers that super-charged the Allison engines.  The power unit was the weak link in the system.

Changing fuel tanks was simple.  There was no fuel selector as we normally think of one.  Each fuel tank had its own fuel pump.  Tanks were changed by flipping the switch on for the electric fuel pump of the desired tank.  The gear and flap selector was similar in appearance to the C-47's fuel selector.  Gear and flaps were activated by rotating this control to the appropriate position.  It only had three positions--takeoff, fly and land--and could be turned only in a clockwise direction.  In the takeoff position, the flaps were retracted.  In the fly position, the gear was retracted, and in the land position, both gear and flaps came down.  The flaps immediately followed the gear.  Unfortunately the two were not isolated from each other, and that posed a minor problem.

To get gear only, such as on downwind, the pilot would watch the gear as it extended.  When almost all the way down, he tripped the circuit breaker.  Then on final, when the flaps were required, the breaker was turned back on.  At the completion of the landing roll, the pilot would select fly position, retracting the flaps.

The engines had no cooling fans, so in summer the airplanes had to be towed to the takeoff position before starting.  As soon as there was an indication of an oil temperature rise, the pilot immediately started the takeoff run.  When landing, if the oil temperature was on the high side, the pilot would have to shut the engines down and have the ship towed to the parking area.  If the airplane had only a short distance to taxi, it could continue to its parking place under its own power.

One recurring problem experienced by pilots flying the Airacudas was that the auxiliary power unit would all too frequently stall or quit.  The reverse current relay would stick and motorized the generator.  Since this would drain most of the current from the battery, all electrical systems became inoperative: NO fuel pressure, NO vacuum, NO hydraulic pressure, NO gear, NO flaps and NO ENGINES.  The first time I lost both engines, I was in the landing pattern on base leg just about to turn final when the APU quit, then a second later so did both Allison engines.

Fortunately, it occurred right after the gear locked down, and I was able to make the runway without power.  Although the airplane had a wobble pump, the handle was only four inches long.  It was impossible to supply two Allison engines with the wobble pump, since they consumed over three hundred gallons of fuel per hour at full power.  Its only purpose was to start the engines.

The second time the problem occurred, I was flying on instruments, but again I was fortunate.  They both quit not too long after I had started into the overcast.  I knew there was a couple thousand foot ceiling under the cloud base, so I dove out of the cloud before the gyros tumbled.  All the while, the crew chief was trying to restart the APU, which started with room to spare.  With the APU going, the fuel pumps came on and both Allison engines began producing power.  The remainder of the trip to Langley was uneventful and I made a safe landing there."

Erik Shilling was a Flight Leader in the 3rd Squadron, AVG (Flying Tigers), and is the author of "Destiny: A Flying Tiger's Rendezvous with Fate".

The Aerofiles site noted under "Berliner", above, is one of the most amazing amassments of aircraft information I have ever seen; I heartily recommend it to you.  Their page on Bell has some info. on the Airacuda.

I ran across another aviation site with an Airacuda photo and new text: Walter J. Boyne's "Walt’s Web Hangar, with Walt's Aircraft Picks:

"The Bell Airacuda was a brilliant attempt by Bell to break into the airplane business by building something different -- a long range multi-place interceptor.  The great Ben Kelsey was behind the airplane, and did the first test flights, just as he did with the P-38.  He was a Lieutenant at the time, but had more authority than many generals do today.  The Airacuda looked good, but it had too much drag, the engines were almost impossible to keep cool, and escape in an emergency would be problematical.  Most went out of service with a handful of hours logged. Ben was a good friend of mine later in life, and a fund of information."
  new.gif (26 Jan 03)

(Quoted verbatim from, and © 2002, Walter J. Boyne, by specific written permission - all rights reserved)

(Photo from, and © 2002, Walter J. Boyne, by specific written permission - all rights reserved)

Notice the differences from the CAF YFM-1 photo above; the 37mm guns are not emplaced and there are greenhouses but no air scoops and no waist-gun blisters.  Might one safely assume that that's the inverted periscope sticking out in the airstream under the cockpit?   rev.gif (27 Jan 03)

Walt confirmed that nacelle crewmen could wriggle through the wing roots* to and from the main fuselage and my reaction was that that must have been an uncomfortable moment if the APU and those electricals were all cutting out!  Walt added that, if he recalled his interviews with Strickler and Kelsey correctly, "they had difficulty getting people to ride in the nacelles, because obviously you were not going to get out in any sort of out-of-control situation" (not to mention the props, if one DID manage to get out and they were still milling!).   rev.gif (27 Jan 03)

* - see thick roots at Stratosphere Jim on my next aviation page.

The Junkers Ju52/3m:

About 05 Sep 1990, Lufthansa brought their newly restored 1941 Ju-52/3m, "Tante Ju" (Aunt Judy) to Republic Field in Farmingdale here on Long Island for a visit; I didn't get a ride but I did get a nose-to-aluminum inspection of her.  She was Martin Caidin's old Norwegian baby, "Iron Annie", w/n 5489, LN-DAH, originally named "Falken".&nsnp; Ca. 1947, after arduous Luftwaffe duty, she was rebuilt with the stronger fuselage of Ju-52/3mg8e, w/n 130714, and renumbered LN-KAF, using the new fusleage s/n and nicknamed "Askeladden".  Then, in 1956, after flying for DNL and SAS, she was sold to Transportes Aéreos Orientales of Quito, Ecuador, and was being towed on her floats to a freighter when her floats split and she sank!  Raised, stripped, and rebuilt yet again, she was finally shipped to Quito, 9,000' above sea level, where, as HC-ABS, she was put back in service.  The jungle (and the urine that streaked back from her evacuation tube) finally got to her and she started rotting away until rescued by one Lester Weaver, reregistered as N130LW, and ferried here in 1970.  Later reregistered as N52JU by Caidin, who completely restored her from the ground up in 1975, she was bought back by Lufthansa and returned to Germany and reregistered (sound familiar?) as D-AQUI.

DNL Ju52 LN-DAF CAF Ju52/3m landing Ju52/3m D-AQUI in flight

Left:  DNL Ju52 LN-DAF at Forsvarsmuseets Flysamling , Bodo, Norway (museum photo).

Center:  CAF Ju52/3m landing - sure looks like "Iron Annie"(photo by Canadian Aces).

Right:  DL Ju52/3m D-AQUI in flight (over monument) (H. Duddeck photo).

Ju52/3m D-AQUI over fields Ju52/3m D-AVUP from below Ju52/3m D-AQUI over Gorch 

Left:  DL Ju52/3m D-AQUI in flight (over fields) (Deutsche Lufthansa photo).

Center:  DL Ju52/3m D-AVUP in flight (from below) (photo provenance lost).

Right:  DL Ju52/3m D-AQUI flying over the tall ship Gorch Fock (Deutsche Lufthansa photo).

All photos (except as noted) are from Horst Zoeller's The Junkers Aircraft Type Pages, Part 3: Hugo Junkers' Final Aircraft Designs (1926 - 1932) - Ju52 photo gallery;
this is a FANTASTIC site - NOT to be missed!

Devotees of the Ju52 should (MUST) read Caidin's book, "The Story of Iron Annie", Doubleday & Co., Garden City, New York, 1979, LoC 78-1189, ISBN 0-385-13350-2,
from which much of this information was excerpted..

Kurinsky's Fact Papers, noted at the top of this page, are at:

"Fact Paper 27-I The Early Years", and

"Fact Paper 27-II The Later Years".

As you are obviously air-minded (take that as you choose), you must see the Lion Air site!  I'd be Lion if I didn't warn you to keep your tongue in your cheek on this one!

On a more serious note, if you like aero engines, see Steve Vardy's Aero Engine Central.

Glenn Whitener has a great model helo index.

Because of page size limitations, this page is a continuation of the Aviation page. Visit it and the Aviation Continuation Page 3, et seq.

U.S.Flag U.S.Flag


THUMBS UP!  -  Support your local police, fire, and emergency personnel!

S. Berliner, III

To contact S. Berliner, III, please click here.

prevpage.gif  =  frstpage.gif    nextpage.gif
of this series of Aviation pages.

© Copyright S. Berliner, III - 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003 - All rights reserved.

Return to Top of Page