Gallaudet Military Tractor
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Gallaudet Military Tractor

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deaftom, 04.04.2011

Edson F. Gallaudet conducted experiments with a warping-wing kite-glider in 1898, two years before Wilbur and Orville Wright did the same thing not knowing of Gallaudet's earlier work. Unfortunately, Gallaudet did not pursue a patent, or publicity, at the time. This kite-glider now hangs in the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum's "Early Flight" gallery. The Gallaudet Engineering Company, established 1908 in Norwich, Connecticut and later moving to East Greenwich, Rhode Island, is said to be the first company ever established specifically for the design and manufacture of aircraft. In 1917, it became the Gallaudet Aircraft Corporation, lasting until 1924 when Major Reuben Fleet acquired its assets and used them as the core around which he founded Consolidated Aircraft Corporation (later Convair, then General Dynamics' aircraft division, now Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth division).

Gallaudet built several aircraft in addition to the two shown on this website: the A-1 Bullet (1912), said to be the world's fastest aircraft at the time but which was destroyed in a non-fatal crash while practicing for the Gordon Bennett Cup race; the improved A-2 Bullet; the C-1 and C-2 Military Tractors (shown above), distinguished by slight wing differences and engine power; the Chummy Flyabout, an early attempt at a small personal airplane; a small flying boat version of the Chummy Flyabout; the C-3 Liberty Tourist, a rebuilt DH-4 with an all-new wing design; the PW-4 described on another page on this website; the DB-1 and DB-1A (1924, I think), a pioneering all-metal bomber for the U.S. Army; and Gallaudet's best-known designs, the D-1, D-2, and D-4 (1916-1918), which were fast floatplane bombers for the U.S. Navy and distinguished by having a propeller turning around the mid-fuselage behind the second cockpit. Gallaudet also built the J.V. Martin-designed K-4 "Kitten" with one of the first retractable landing gears, and the Army Engineering Division-designed CO-1 all-metal observation plane.

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