Knoll Aircraft Company

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Knoll Aircraft Company
Aircraft Manufacturer
Fate Assets purchased
Successor Yellow Air Cab Company
Founded October 10, 1928[2]
Defunct October 28, 1929[1]
Headquarters Wichita, Kansas
Key people
Felix W. A. Knoll, T.M. "Tommy" Thomas, George Bruce, C.V. Snyder, D.E. Sauder, Harold Zipp

Knoll Aircraft Company was an American aircraft manufacturer based in Wichita, Kansas.[3]

Design and Development[edit]

The Knoll Aircraft Corporation received its state charter on October 10, 1928.[4] Felix Knoll, formerly of The Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company (Germany) and later the Chief Engineer of the Heinkel Aircraft Company, immigrated to the United States from Germany for better opportunities. Within weeks of being in the country, Wichita business leaders recruited Felix to come to Wichita and start a company of his own. Engineering work, stress calculations, and drawings for the first model, the KN-1, were completed in Room 623 of the Broadview Hotel.[5] Felix and Herbert Schwenke; another German immigrant from The Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company, worked on the plans together.[6]

George Siedhoff, who owned and built the Broadview Hotel where the KN-1 was designed, was selected to build a new 50,000 square foot factory on a 148-acre tract of land at the northeast corner of Kellogg and Webb Road.[7] The building featured two stories, a mezzanine area, clear story windows, and adjacent runway.[8] Assets such as machinery, tools, and equipment were purchased from the bankruptcy of Laird Whippoorwill Airplane Company. The company set up a temporary shop at 471 W 1st street in the former building of both the Travel Air Company and Laird Whippoorwill.[9] By the end of December, 1928, the first airplane was ready to fly.

Over five hundred spectators gathered around the East Airport to watch the KN-1 first flight. Amongst the crowd were Lloyd Stearman, Walter Beech, reporters, and motion picture cameramen.[10] The December 30, 1928 first test flight was so successful that pilot Howard Jones chose to double the planned time and stayed in the air for thirty minutes. He took the airplane through loops, rolls, and power dives.[11]

The KN-2 and KN-3 models shared the common airframe of the KN-1, though they were upgraded with more powerful 300 and 425 horsepower engines. The KN-3 also had an open-place cockpit in back of the cabin, allowing the seating of one additional passenger inside.[12] Art Goebel, a pilot famous for winning the 1928 Dole Air Race from San Diego to Hawaii, was to have a larger custom built KN-4 to race around the world.[13]

Operational History[edit]

On June 12, 1929, test-pilot Russell Dick flying the Knoll KN-3, beat the US Army’s Lieutenant Walker piloting a Thomas-Morse pursuit plane in a race performing at the Wichita Air Show.[14] On June 21 he performed again at the Aerial Wedding of Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Texas. He did steep power dives from 3000 feet to 100 feet, thrilling the crowds and demonstrating the strength of the airframe.[15]

The first and fourth aircraft produced were purchased by Mexican interests at a time of civil war.[16] The delivery of the aircraft were later held up by political and registration issues en route. On June 2, 1929 the new factory building under construction at Kellogg and Webb road was severely damaged by a storm.[17] On June 16, 1929, 6,000 new shares of capital stock were released.[18][19]

Closing[edit]

In July 1929 the company was not paying its bills. The company assets were found to be embezzled soon afterward.[20] Demand for new aircraft in the summer of 1929 was softening.[21] Arguments between the board of directors and management broke out over the necessity of building the new factory, the hiring of too many engineers, and also the Yunker contract work.[22][23] Payment for the Yunker work was to have been stock in the Yunker Aircraft Company.[24] The lack of funds, and sales combined with the depression, halted production with three new aircraft in development. The company was placed into receivership on August 26, 1929, under the management of Ray Theis.[25] The company began moving into the new factory on August 27, 1929.[26]

On October 28, 1929 the company was shut down and on December 18, the assets were liquidated at auction. Roy Buckley purchased the manufacturing machinery and equipment. He would later found the Buckley Aircraft Company. George Siedhoff purchased uncompleted airframe sections and parts, as well as the rights to X8899. C.V. Snyder bought the new plant and grounds.[27] The Yellow Air Cab Company, in turn, bought it in late 1930. The airport property was then purchased by Beechcraft in 1940 and became their Plant II.[28]

Aircraft[edit]

Summary of aircraft built by Knoll Aircraft Company
Model name First flight Number built Type Engine Horsepower Registration[29]
Knoll KN-1 1928 3 Cabin biplane Wright J-5 220 X9090, X8861, *
Knoll KN-2 1929 1 Cabin biplane Wright J-6 300 X8899
Knoll KN-3 1929 1 Cabin biplane with open cockpit aft Pratt and Whitney R-1340 425 X9950
Knoll KN-4 0 Cabin biplane (planned derivative)
Knoll KN-5 0 Sport biplane (in development)
Knoll KN-6 0 Amphibian (in development)
Knoll KN-22 0 Multiengine seaplane (in development) Packard 3A-2500 V12 (8 qty) 800 each
  • One airplane was destroyed by fire on February 1, 1929 while sitting idle; when a Laird aircraft landed on top of it.[30]

Technical Staff[edit]

Knoll Aircraft Company Engineering and Technical Employees
Name Title Country Other Employment
Felix Knoll Vice-President and Chief Engineer Germany Chief Designer of Heinkel Aircraft, Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company[31]
Herbert Schwenke Engineer Germany Chief of Airplane Design, Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company[32]
Alfred Longardt Engineer Germany First Assistant of Airplane Design, Heinkel Aircraft[33]
Dr. Friederich Dawid Engineer Germany Professor at German Aeronautical Technical University[34]
Karl Ziller Engineer Germany Chief Engineer at Dornier Flugzeugwerke[35]
Ernst Froelich Engineer Germany Departmental Chief of Engineering, Rohrbach Metal Aeroplane Company[36]
Egon Winter Engineer Germany Statics Department Head, Dornier Flugzeugwerke[37]
Gerhardt Schmidt Engineer Netherlands Wing Department Head, Fokker Company[38][39]
Harold Zipp Engineer USA Went on to co-design the Model 70 Stearman biplane.[40]
Dick Bollby Welding Department Head[41] USA
Russell Dick Test-pilot[42] USA Went on to become Braniff, then TWA Captain[43]
Howard Jones Chief Test-pilot[44] USA Went on to Dept of Commerce/died Fleet monoplane crash Buffalo NY[45][46]
Charles Quick Factory Superintendent[47] USA Quick Air Motors founder and inventor[48]
Emil Zeck Sheetmetal Construction Specialist[49] Switzerland

Specifications (KN-1)[50][edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Capacity: 3 passengers
  • Length: 23 ft 3 in (7.09 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
  • Wing area: 264 ft2 (24.5 m2)
  • Empty weight: 1,800 lb (816 kg)
  • Gross weight: 3,050 lb (1,383 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Wright J-5-9, 220 hp (164 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 140 mph (225 km/h)
  • Range: 1,200 miles (1,931 km)
  • Service ceiling: 14,000 ft ft (4,267 m)
  • Rate of climb: 800 ft/min (4.1 m/s)

Specifications (KN-3)[51][edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: One pilot
  • Capacity: 4 passengers
  • Length: 24 ft 3 in (7.39 m)
  • Wingspan: 33 ft 6 in (10.21 m)
  • Wing area: 264 ft2 (24.5 m2)
  • Empty weight: 2,100 lb (953 kg)
  • Gross weight: 4,000 lb (1,814 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × R-1340-9, 425 hp (317 kW)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 175 mph (282 km/h)
  • Range: 800 miles (1,287 km)
  • Service ceiling: 18,000 ft (5,486 m)
  • Rate of climb: 1,200 ft/min (6.1 m/s)

Specifications (KN-22 Twin-Hull Amphibian)[52][edit]

General characteristics

  • Crew: 10
  • Capacity: 22-40 passengers
  • Length: 91 ft 10 in (28.0 m)
  • Wingspan: 160 ft 0 in (48.76 m)
  • Wing area: 3,000 ft2 (278.7 m2)
  • Empty weight: 53,500 lb (24,267 kg)
  • Gross weight: 72,600 lb (32,931 kg)
  • Powerplant: 8 × Packard 3A-2500 V12, 800 hp (596.6 kW) each

Performance

  • Maximum speed: 226 mph (363.7 km/h)

External links[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Receiver's Report of Sale". District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas No. 70423. October 28, 1929. 
  2. ^ "New Factory". The Wichita Beacon. October 11, 1928. 
  3. ^ "Knoll Aircraft Company". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "New Factory". The Wichita Beacon. October 11, 1928. 
  5. ^ "New Aircraft Firm to Complete First Plane in December". The Wichita Beacon. October 12, 1928. 
  6. ^ "Plane to be a Revelation". The Wichita Beacon. December 12, 1928. 
  7. ^ "Knoll Aircraft Breaks Ground". The Wichita Beacon. November 28, 1928. 
  8. ^ "How Knoll's New Factory Will Look". The Wichita Beacon. February 22, 1929. 
  9. ^ "Start Work Today on New Type Plane". The Wichita Eagle. October 18, 1928. 
  10. ^ "Wichita's Newest Plane is Ready for Its Maiden Hop Sometime Sunday". The Wichita Beacon. December 30, 1928. 
  11. ^ "Knoll Plane is a Big Sensation". The Wichita Beacon. December 31, 1928. 
  12. ^ "Knoll KN-3". Western Flying. August 1929. 
  13. ^ "Goebel Plans 125 Hour Non-Stop Flight Around World". The Pittsburg Press. February 13, 1929. 
  14. ^ "12,000 See Wichita Air Show". The Wichita Eagle. June 13, 1929. 
  15. ^ "Aerial Wedding a Huge Success". The Wichita Beacon. June 22, 1929. 
  16. ^ Wichita Eagle. 24 February 1929. p. 3.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  17. ^ "Captioned Photo". The Wichita Eagle. June 4, 1929. 
  18. ^ "The Knoll Aircraft Company". The Wichita Beacon. June 16, 1929. 
  19. ^ "Sturdy Construction and Supreme Performance". The Wichita Beacon. June 19, 1929. 
  20. ^ "Knoll Aircraft". Retrieved 15 August 2012. 
  21. ^ "Many a Wichita Aircraft Firm Crashed During the Great Depression". The Wichita Eagle. January 28, 1985. 
  22. ^ "Ray Theis Selected Manager of Knoll". The Wichita Eagle. August 27, 1929. 
  23. ^ "George C. Bruce Vs The Knoll Aircraft Corporation". District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas No. 70423. August 24, 1929. 
  24. ^ "Intervening Petition of George C. Yunker and the Yunker Aircraft Company". District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas No. 70423. October 22, 1929. 
  25. ^ "Ray Theis Selected Manager of Knoll". The Wichita Eagle. August 27, 1929. 
  26. ^ "Into Its New Factory". The Wichita Eagle. August 28, 1929. 
  27. ^ "Receiver's Report of Sale". District Court of Sedgwick County, Kansas No. 70423. December 18, 1929. 
  28. ^ Flying Magazine: 69. September 1991.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  29. ^ "The Knoll Airplanes". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  30. ^ "Kansas Aviation Historical Anniversaries". Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  31. ^ "Knoll Aircraft Breaks Ground". The Wichita Beacon. November 28, 1928. 
  32. ^ "Knoll Aircraft Breaks Ground". The Wichita Beacon. November 28, 1928. 
  33. ^ "Plane to be a Revelation". The Wichita Beacon. December 12, 1928. 
  34. ^ "Knoll's Staff is Enlarged". The Wichita Beacon. January 13, 1929. 
  35. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  36. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  37. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  38. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  39. ^ "Expert Joining the Knoll Firm". The Wichita Beacon. January 6, 1929. 
  40. ^ "The Stearman Model 70". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  41. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  42. ^ "Aerial Wedding Huge Success". The Wichita Beacon. June 22, 1929. 
  43. ^ "Captain Russell J Dick". TARPA Topics. May 1989. 
  44. ^ "Wichita's Newest Plane is Ready for Maiden Hop Sometime Sunday". The Wichita Eagle. December 30, 1928. 
  45. ^ "Wichita Pilot Dies in Crash on Test Trip". The Wichita Eagle. June 16, 1929. 
  46. ^ "Up in Test Flight". The Wichita Beacon. June 16, 1929. 
  47. ^ "Wichita Gets New $75,000 Plane Plant". The Wichita Eagle. November 28, 1928. 
  48. ^ "Super Rhone Engine". Retrieved 19 March 2013. 
  49. ^ "Expert Joining the Knoll Firm". The Wichita Beacon. January 6, 1929. 
  50. ^ Aero Digest: 102. March 1929.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  51. ^ "Knoll KN-3". Western Flying. August 1929. 
  52. ^ "Wind Tunnel Test Number 732. Knoll Twin Hull Amphibian". Daniel Guggenheim School of Aeronautics. September 1934.