Farman III

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Farman III
Louis Paulhan flying with a passenger (Mrs. Dick Ferris?) in his Henry Farman biplane, at the Dominguez Field Air Meet, Los Angeles, January 1910 (CHS-5602).jpg
Louis Paulhan in his Farman III at Dominguez Field, Los Angeles 1910
Role Pusher biplane
National origin France
Manufacturer Farman
Designer Henry Farman
First flight April 1909

The Farman III, also known as the Henry Farman 1909 biplane, was an early French aircraft designed and built by Henry Farman[1][2] in 1909. Its design was widely imitated, so much so that aircraft of similar layout were generally referred to as being of the "Farman" type.


Henry Farman's first aircraft had been bought from the Voisin brothers in 1907. Soon after his first flights Farman began to modify and improve the design of the aircraft, which was known as either the Farman I or Voisin-Farman I. During 1908 Farman re-covered the aircraft with 'Continental' rubberized fabric and added the side-curtains, and it was re-designated the Farman I-bis.[3] Following the Wilbur Wright's flying demonstartions at Le Mans in August 1908, Farman fitted ailerons to the aircraft.

The Voisin brothers built another aircraft, to be called the Farman II, incorporating refinements of the design to Farman's specification. Voisin later sold this aircraft to J.T.C. Moore-Brabazon.[4] Brabazon subsequently exported the aircraft to England, where it became known as the Bird of Passage. This episode angered Farman, and caused him to sever his association with Voisin in early 1909 and start aircraft construction for himself.

Design and development[edit]

The Farman III was, like the Voisin, a pusher biplane with a single forward elevator and biplane tail surfaces carried on booms. Farman's design eliminated the covered nacelle for the pilot which also carried the elevator in the Voisin: instead the elevator was mounted on two pairs of converging booms. Lateral control was effected by ailerons on both upper and lower wings. The undercarriage also differed considerably, replacing the pair of wheels with a pair of skids each carrying a pair of wheels sprung using bungee cord.

As first flown in April 1909 the aircraft had vertical fixed surfaces carrying twin rudders on their trailing edges and very broad-chord ailerons. The fixed surfaces had been removed and the ailerons replaced with smaller ones by the time the aircraft appeared at Reims in August. The original engine was a 50 hp (37 kW) Vivinus 4-cylinder inline water-cooled .[2] Farman soon introduced an open tailplane with trailing rudders. Farman also replaced the engine with the new and more reliable 50 hp (37 kW) Gnome Omega rotary engine while the aircraft was at the Grande Semaine d'Aviation at Reims, and the new engine's reliability contributed towards his success there. The aircraft had been entered with the Vivinus engine, and the last-minute engine replacement caused some of his competitors to try to get him disqualified.

The Farman III had enormous influence on European aircraft design, especially in England. Drawings and details of the aircraft were published in England by Flight,[5] and it was so widely imitated that its layout became referred to as the "Farman Type". Among these aircraft are the Bristol Boxkite, the Short S.27 and the Howard Wright 1910 Biplane. The Bristol aircraft was so similar to Farman's design that he considered legal action.[6]

Farman was rewarded by commercial success, and many examples of the type were sold. Farman III aircraft were also built in Germany by the Albatros FlugzeugWerke at Jonannistal as the Albatros F-2.

1910 Michelin Cup biplane[edit]

Produced to make an attempt to win the Michelin Cup long-distance competition, this aircraft had the same basic configuration but differed in having 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) extensions on the upper wing, giving a total wing area of 70 m2 (750 sq ft) and a long nacelle to protect the pilot from the cold. Ailerons were fitted only on the upper wing, and fuel and oil tankage was increased to 230 lt and 80  lt respectively to give an endurance of 12 hours.[7]


In 1909, Henry Farman established two world distance records with flights of 180 km (110 mi) in just under 3 hours 5 minutes at Rheims on August 27 and 232 km (144 mi) in 4 hours 17 minutes and 53 seconds at Mourmelon on November 3, this performance also winning the International Michelin Cup competition for the year.[8]

Differences from Maurice Farman biplane[edit]

Henry Farman's brother, Maurice Farman, constructed his own biplane in 1909,[9] which first flew in February that year.[10] Both machines were derived from the Voisin 1907 biplane, all having similar configurations. Henry's aircraft differed from Maurice's in lacking the pilot's nacelle and not using a Renault inline engine.[9] Maurice and Henry began to collaborate closely in 1912.[11]

Specifications (1909 standard type)[edit]

Data from [12]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 12 m (39 ft 4½ in)
  • Wingspan: 10 m (33 ft 9¾ in)
  • Height: 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in)
  • Wing area: 40 m2 (430.56 ft2)
  • Gross weight: 550 kg (1213 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Gnome Omega 7-cylinder rotary engine, 37 kW (50 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 60 km/h (37 mph)

See also[edit]

Related development
Aircraft of comparable role, configuration and era



  1. ^ Monash University: Hardgrave Histories – Henry Farman History and photos
  2. ^ a b Henry Farman's "No.3" BiplaneFlight, 24 April 1909, p. 235.
  3. ^ Opdycke 1999, p. 264.
  4. ^ "Brab's" First Flights, Flight, 28 May 1964, p. 895.
  5. ^ Drawing of Farman Biplane Flight, 26 October 1909
  6. ^ Barnes C. H., Bristol Aircraft since 1910 (1st ed) London: Putnam, 1964, p.47
  7. ^ "Le Biplan H.Farman Type "Coupe Michelin 1910"". l'Aérophile (in French): 8-9. 1 January 1911. 
  8. ^ "Les Grandes Épreuves de Fin 1910". l'Aérophile (in French): 27. 15 January 1911. 
  9. ^ a b "The Maurice Farman Biplane" Flight, 13 February 1909, p. 78.
  10. ^ "Maurice Farman Flies" Flight 6 February 1909, p. 92
  11. ^ Villard, Henry (2002-12-11). Contact! The Story of the Early Aviators. pp. 42–45. ISBN 978-0-486-42327-2. 
  12. ^ Orbis 1985, p. 1734


  • Opdycke, Leonard E. French Aeroplanes Before the Great War Atglen, PA: Schiffer 1999 ISBN 0-7643-0752-5
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions, 1989
  • Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft. Orbis Publishing, (Part Work 1982–1985)

External links[edit]