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Aeroplane - Duigan Biplane, Mia Mia, Victoria, 1910 Object Reg. No: ST 012368

Aeroplane built at Mia Mia, Victoria, by John Robertson Duigan, 1909-1910. It is a pusher type single-seat biplane with a moving foreplane elevator and lightweight undercarriage. Constructed of wood, metal and rubber coated cotton fabric, made by the Dunlop Pneumatic Rubber Co. since replaced. Fitted with a 25 horsepower (19 kW) vertical four-cylinder, four-stroke, water-cooled petrol engine made by J. E. Tilley, Melbourne. Bore & stroke: 93 x 108 mm; engine weight: 63 kg. The engine is coupled by on open chain drive to a 4-lamination white pine propeller of 2.6 m diameter, with a 3 m pitch mounted behind the pilot's position facing rearwards.

Recognised as the first Australian designed and built aeroplane to successfully achieve controlled, powered flight.

Duigan was born at Terang, Victoria, on 31 May 1882, and studied electrical and motor engineering in London, before returning to join his younger brother, Reginald at the family property 'Spring Plains' at Mia Mia, in central Victoria.

Inspired by the many flights of Wilbur Wright in France in 1908, Duigan built a Wright-type glider from a postcard photograph sent by a friend in Britain in late 1908 and managed to fly it in a strong wind tethered to 110 metres of fencing wire. Following this success, Duigan began work on a powered aircraft, which he first flew on 16 July 1910 but he considered his first true controlled flight occured on 7 October 1910. Further modifications and improvements were made until he managed sustained flights of up to a kilometre at heights of 30 metres. In January 1911, Duigan demonstrated his plane to newspaper reporters, and on 3 May 1911 he made several public flights before a crowd of 1,000 at the Bendigo Racecourse following a previous demonstration hop at the April Bendigo Easter Fair. Duigan's achievement is all the more remarkable for the fact that he had never seen or flown an aircraft previously and had little technical information with which to work. His first design was based on little more than a postcard of the Wright Flyer, and theory drawn from Sir Hiram Maxim's 1908 book 'Artificial and Natural Flight' suplemented by information from subscriptions to British aviation journals. With the exception of the engine, parts of the undercarriage and the propeller (made by John Fulton, a Carlton patternmaker), each component was made by Duigan and his brother Reginald in a rudimentary workshop at 'Spring Plains'.

Length Overall: 30 ft 5 in (9.27 m) - excluding tail skid; 33 ft 3 in (10.12 m) including tail skid
Wingspan: 24 ft 6 in (7.47 m)
Wing Chord: 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m)
Front Elevator: 12 ft x 2 ft 6 in (3.66 m x 0.76 m)
Rear Elevator: 12 ft x 3 ft 6 in (3.66 m x 1.07 m)
Rudder: 3 ft 6 in x 3 ft high (1.07 m x 0.91 m)
Propeller Diameter: 8 ft 8 in (2.64 m)
Propeller Pitch: 10 ft (3.05 m)
Propeller Speed: 700-800 r.p.m. (at full engine power)

Engine Type: vertical in-line four-cylinder, four-stroke, overhead valve, water-cooled petrol engine
Bore x Stroke: 93 x 108 mm
Engine Power: 25 horsepower @ 1,800 r.p.m. (19 kW)
Engine-Propeller Drive Sprocket Ratio: 18 teeth to 42 teeth
Engine Weight (including cooling water): 165 lbs (75 kg)
Fuel Tank Capacity: 1 gallon (4.5 litres)
Oil Tank Capacity: 1 quart (0.95 litres)

Take-off Weight Loaded (incl 10 stone pilot): 620 lb (281 kg)
Wing Loading: 3 lb per sq ft
Power/Weight Ratio: 25.2 lb per horsepower
Maximum Air Speed: 40 m.p.h.
Take-off Distance: 100 yards in 4 m.p.h. wind
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Mr John Duigan, 1920
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 2525 mm (Height), 7435 mm (Width), 7000 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: aeroplanes, aeronautics, aviation pioneers, kskkxllllkskfiv, innovation design
Themes this item is part of: Pioneering Flights at Diggers Rest, Victoria, Designing & Building the First Australian Aircraft, John Duigan's Military Service, Centenary of Australian Aviation, John Robertson Duigan MC, Pioneering Aviator (1882-1951), Reginald Charles Duigan, Pioneering Aviator & Inventor (1888-1966), Engineering Collection, Transport Collection
Primary Classification: AIR TRANSPORT
Secondary Classification: Aircraft
Tertiary Classification: propeller biplanes
Designer: Mr John Duigan, Mia Mia, Victoria, Australia, 1909-1910

Designer & Builder of Airframe.
Manufacturer of Component: J.E. Tilley & Co. Pty Ltd, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, circa 1910

Engine Builder
  1. [Book], Mr David Crotty - Museum Victoria Collections, Research & Exhibitions, A Flying Life: John Duigan & the First Australian Aeroplane, Museum Victoria, Melbourne, 2010


Jack Sanderson Posted on 17 Jun 2012 9:13 PM
Unstable underpowered contraption.Not a Drag Queen but a Queen of Drag

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