Curse you, Red Baron!
December 23, 2006 12:58 PM   Subscribe

Triplane Madness presents photos of a large selection of triplane (and quad- and quint- and more) experiments in avionics conducted in a wide variety of countries in the early days of aviation.
posted by mwhybark (8 comments total)
this is some fun stuff, thanks!
posted by Busithoth at 1:08 PM on December 23, 2006

How about a flying machine with 200 wings?
posted by paulsc at 1:24 PM on December 23, 2006

You could always build your own.
posted by Tenuki at 2:00 PM on December 23, 2006

Or perhaps no wings
posted by mattoxic at 4:03 PM on December 23, 2006

I know of only one pilot who can take down The Red Baron.
posted by sparkletone at 4:10 PM on December 23, 2006

So, what's a triplane form factor merit you? Slightly higher lift over drag, with a weight penalty?
posted by pax digita at 6:24 AM on December 24, 2006

pd: AFAIK you're right that triplanes allowed early designers to increase the lift without having to build wider wings which were been difficult to build using the canvas-over-frame structure used at the time. However all that extra exposed support structure also increased the drag, so extra wings yielded diminishing performance returns (That's why you never saw any successful examples of quad or greater planes).

When designers changed to aluminum monocoque frames, they were finally able to build wings strong enough to not need external bracing. Unreinforced monoplanes allowed them to increase the lift without incurring a form drag penalty, and they haven't looked back. Good discussion here.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:25 AM on December 24, 2006

"So, what's a triplane form factor merit you? ..."
posted by pax digita at 9:24 AM EST on December 24

The Fokker tri-plane's wings being narrower, particularly the middle and bottom wings, afforded it greater stability in takeoffs and landings from the unimproved fields often used as short term aerodromes, near front line positions, than wider winged bi-planes. But landing Fokker triplanes was always a challenge, particularly if there was any crosswind component. The high drag of a triplane was useful there, too, as the landing speed being as little as 40 mph, the roll out could be as short as a few hundred feet. This allowed for the standard configuration of a forward aerodrome field with the windsock in the middle of the field, as the aiming point for planes returning to land, being able to come in directly into the wind, from any point of the compass.

In flight, a tri-plane's large wing area generally translates to a high maximum rate of climb, for a given amount of power. And because a tri-plane will generally have a greater ratio of drag to lift than a bi-plane or mono-plane, it can be slipped to produce much faster sink rates, which make tri-planes excellent for strafing ground targets and for low level aerial reconnaissance.
posted by paulsc at 10:52 PM on December 24, 2006

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