First Diesel Powered Aircraft

The first diesel powered engine was developed by the American Packard Motor Company of Detroit  in 1928, thanks to a collaboration with the German aircraft engineer Hermann I. A. Dorner.  Dorner was later to be a key figure in the development of Nazi Germany’s air force.

Hermann I. A. Dorner, 1930. German Aircraft Designer

Hermann I. A. Dorner, 1930. German Aircraft Designer

The first flight of the test plane took place in September 1928 and was so successful that Packard rushed the engine into production built plant during the first half of 1929 solely for the production of its diesel engine.  The factory employed more than 600 men, and 500 engines a month were to have been manufactured by July 1929.

Alvan Macauley (left), President of the Packard Motor Car Co. and Col. Charles A. Lindbergh with the original Packard diesel-powered Stinson “Detroiter” in the background, 1929

Alvan Macauley (left), President of the Packard Motor Car Co. and Col. Charles A. Lindbergh with the original Packard diesel-powered Stinson “Detroiter” in the background, 1929

The Packard diesel aircraft engine  of 1928 was designed to compete with the Wright J-5 “Whirlwind” which powered Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis” in 1927.

Stinson SM-1DX Detroiter. This airplane, powered with original Packard DR-980 diesel engine, made the world’s first diesel-powered flight on September 19, 1928.

Stinson SM-1DX Detroiter. This airplane, powered with original Packard DR-980 diesel engine, made the world’s first diesel-powered flight on September 19, 1928.

The aircraft engine was fuel efficient and allowed the designers to set a world record for the longest duration flight without refueling. Below is a picture of the test pilot:

Walter E. Lees, Packard chief test pilot (in cabin) and Frederic A. Brossy, Packard test pilot, before taking off on their world’s record, nonrefueling, heavier-than-air aircraft duration flight

Walter E. Lees, Packard chief test pilot (in cabin) and Frederic A. Brossy, Packard test pilot, before taking off on their world’s record, nonrefueling, heavier-than-air aircraft duration flight

The success of the new engine led to its adoption by many aircraft companies. Here is a gallery of some aircraft from the early history of aviation.

Packard-Bellanca “Pacemaker.” This airplane, powered by a Packard DR-980 diesel, achieved the world’s record for nonrefueling, heavier-than-air aircraft duration flight. The flight lasted 84 hours, 33 minutes, 1¼ seconds.

Packard-Bellanca “Pacemaker.” This airplane, powered by a Packard DR-980 diesel, achieved the world’s record for nonrefueling, heavier-than-air aircraft duration flight. The flight lasted 84 hours, 33 minutes, 1¼ seconds.

Early Aircraft: Verville “Air Coach,” October 1930

Early Aircraft: Verville “Air Coach,” October 1930

Packard-Bellanca “Pacemaker” owned by Transamerican Airlines Corporation and used by Parker D. Cramer, pilot, and Oliver L. Paquette, radio operator, in their flight from Detroit, Michigan, to Lerwick, Shetland Islands, summer 1931.

Packard-Bellanca “Pacemaker” owned by Transamerican Airlines Corporation and used by Parker D. Cramer, pilot, and Oliver L. Paquette, radio operator, in their flight from Detroit, Michigan, to Lerwick, Shetland Islands, summer 1931.

The new Packard aircraft engine was used in a number of airplanes designed by other aircraft companies.

Ford 11-AT-1 Trimotor, 1930, with 3 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Ford 11-AT-1 Trimotor, 1930, with 3 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Towle TA-3 Flying Boat, 1930, with 2 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Towle TA-3 Flying Boat, 1930, with 2 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Stewart M-2 Monoplane, 1930, with 2 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Stewart M-2 Monoplane, 1930, with 2 Packard 225-hp DR-980 diesel engines.

Spanish American War

The Spanish American war was a brief armed conflict between Spain and the United States in 1898. The war pitted the new battleships of the American navy against the decrepit and outclassed vessels of Spain. In the result, the United States crushed Spain and acquired most of Spain’s remaining colonial empire including the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Cuba.

The American Battleship U. S. S. MAINE.

The American Battleship U. S. S. MAINE.

The war between Spain and the United States began as a result of the explosion of the American battleship the Maine, while it was docked at Havana harbour, in Cuba, which was then still a Spanish colony. Many Americans blamed the explosion on sabotage by the Spaniards, though this was never conclusively proven.

This is a newsreel documenting the funeral procession of the victims of the U.S.S. Maine.

As tensions escalated between the two nations, US newspapers whipped up anti-Spanish hysteria and urged American intervention on the side of Cuban and Fillipino rebels who were then fighting against the Spanish empire.

Some historians have charged that the newspaper barons promoted the war as a way to increase circulation for their newspapers. Many government leaders saw the war as an opportunity to rid the western hemisphere of a colonial power and also acquire possessions for the United States.

Artist's rendering of American troops storming El Canay

Artist's rendering of American troops storming El Canay

The war was fought primarily in Cuba and the Philippines, with some particularly hard fighting taking place in Cuba where the Spanish put up effective resistance. In the United States, popular support for the war was high. President McKinley called for a declaration of war which Congress soon granted.

The President of the United States During The Spanish American War

The President of the United States During The Spanish American War

“In view of the measures so taken, and other measures as may be necessary to enable me to carry out the express will of the Congress of the United States in the premises, I now recommend to your honourable body the adoption of a joint resolution declaring that a state of war exists between the United States of America and the kingdom of Spain, and I urge speedy action thereon to the end that the definition of the international status of the United States as a belligerent power may be made known, and the assertion of all its rights and the maintenance of all its duties in the conduct of a public war may be assured.

(Signed) “William McKinley.
Executive Mansion, Washington, April 25, 1898.
The Queen Regent, who was the head of the Spanish Kingdom while her son was a minor.
The Queen Regent, who was the head of the Spanish Kingdom while her son was a minor.

Popular sentiment was also high in Spain, which regarded the United States as the aggressor. The Spanish king was still an infant, and his government was entrusted to his mother and ministers. In Havana, the Spanish Captain-General Blanco called for volunteers and addressed a cheering crowd:

“Do you swear to give the last drop of blood in your veins before letting a foreigner step his foot on the land we discovered, and place his yoke upon the people we civilised?”

“Yes, yes, we do!”

“The enemy’s fleet is almost at Morro Castle, almost at the doors of Havana,” General Blanco added. “They have money; but we have blood to shed, and we are ready to shed it. We will throw them into the sea!”

The people interrupted him with cries of applause, and he finished his speech by shouting Viva Espana! Viva el Rey! “Long live the army, the navy, and the volunteers!”

One of the Spanish Commanders in Cuba

One of the Spanish Commanders in Cuba

Admiral Dewey

One of the first blows of the war was struck by the Americans against the Spanish colony of the Philippines. The islands had been a Spanish possession since the great days of exploration and empire when the Spanish galleons had ruled the oceans. Now the islands were poorly defended and threatened by a native uprising.

The American fleet crushed the Spanish fleet defending the islands in the battle of Manila Bay. Here are photographs of some of the American ships that took part in the Battle of Manila Bay.

U. S. S. OLYMPIA

U. S. S. OLYMPIA

U. S. S. BALTIMORE.

U. S. S. BALTIMORE.

THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY.

THE BATTLE OF MANILA BAY.

U. S. S. BOSTON.

U. S. S. BOSTON.

Naval actions also took place off Cuba and Puerto Rico. These are some of the ships of the American squadron.

U. S. S. AMPHITRITE.

U. S. S. AMPHITRITE.

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico by the American fleet

Bombardment of San Juan, Porto Rico by the American fleet

U. S. S. MONTEREY

U. S. S. MONTEREY

U. S. S. MASSACHUSETTS.

U. S. S. MASSACHUSETTS.

U. S. S. NEW YORK.

U. S. S. NEW YORK.

U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD

U. S. S. MARBLEHEAD

U. S. S. VESUVIUS.

U. S. S. VESUVIUS.

U. S. S. TEXAS.

U. S. S. TEXAS.

After the Spanish naval resistance had been broken, the Americans were free to land troops throughout the island of Cuba. One contingent, the Rough Riders, was led by Theodore Roosevelt, a former American President:

Teddy Roosevelt

Teddy Roosevelt

The Attack on San Juan Hill During the Spanish-American War

The Attack on San Juan Hill During the Spanish-American War

The end of Spanish resistance came when their last effective naval force was completely annihilated.

THE DESTRUCTION OF CERVERA’S FLEET

THE DESTRUCTION OF CERVERA’S FLEET

U. S. S. INDIANA

U. S. S. INDIANA

U. S. S. OREGON.

U. S. S. OREGON.

U. S. S. BROOKLYN

U. S. S. BROOKLYN

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