History Behind The Card: British dirigible ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’
Card #25 of 50, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1910
- Maurice Clément, 18XX – 19XX, France
- Jean-Louis Capazza 1862-1928, Bastia, Corsica, France
This is the last and final card in the series to depict a dirigible! So… after this it’s aeroplanes… okay, it’s not… we’ll depict a couple of historically mythical flights first, and then get to work on the heavier-than air machines.
On to our last dirigible…
Let’s begin with the designer, Maurice Clément, of which very little seems to be known…There is a photograph below depicting a Monsieur Clément, but I can only be sure, however, that his father is the man on the far right because I have seen his image in other photos.
I am guessing that Maurice Clément is in the photo too! Why? Because he DESIGNED the damn dirigible! He would be in this epic photo, as would the pilot Jean-Louis Capazza. But… that’s me guessing.
There does not seem to be a photograph of either Maurice or Jean-Louis that I can lay my hands on. It doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist, only that whomever has photos, has not posted it on-line.
I can not find birth dates, place of birth or even a death date for Maurice Clément. I can also find nothing on the pilot Jean-Louis Capazza.
Pretty much all I could find out about Maurice Clément, however is that he achieved his Aero Club de France aviator’s certificate on June 20, 1910 – the 108th man to do so.I would assume it is for an aeroplane, but that would also be a guess on my part.
Damn – this article was supposed to be easy!
Maurice Clément was the son of the Clément-Bayard company founder, Gustave Adolphe Clément, and would succeed him after his father’s death.
I have spotted a few websites stating that Maurice Clément and his father actually had the surname of Clément-Bayard, but that is INCORRECT. It is just Clément.
The mistake occurs because the Clément family owned a manufacturing firm Clément-Bayard, but the Bayard part of the name was added because I think a statue of a chevalier (French Knight) named Beyard was already placed in front of the factory in Mézières, France was existent. That knight apparently saved the town in 1521 and was immortalized with a statue.
The Clément family further immortalized the knight by adding a chevalier as part of the Clément-Bayard company logo.
Clément-Bayard was a French automobile, airship and aeroplane manufacturer from 1903 to 1922. It also built, from 1908, military dirigibles, and at a few aeroplanes, of which I will detail a bit about in a much later blog.
First off, it must be noted that the picture on the Wills’s card # 25 does not resemble the actual finished product that was the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’.
Below, is an image of the Clément-Bayard No. 1… it looks a lot like the one picture by Wills’s in the card above, but hardly like the finished product of No.2.
As the card correctly states, however, it is a type selected by a British Parliamentary Committee as a possible model to augment Great Britain’s military air fleet. The type described on the card is a lenticular version of the Clément-Bayard that the Maison Clément-Bayard firm never actually constructed.
The actual ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ dirigible was manufactured by the French firm Maison Clément-Bayard, and unlike ‘Clément-Bayard No.1’ that was renamed the ‘Capazza’ by the French (see Wills’s card #24), it was built solely by the company itself for sale to Great Britain.
During testing initial testing (by pilot Jean-Louis Capazza) in France on September 7, 1910, the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ was recognized as making the first aerial wireless communication via 65-kilogram (143-pound) transmitter, sending and receiving messages to the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
At first, the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ was offered at 200,000 French Francs for sale to France’s Army, but even though it was less than half the asking price for the ‘Clément-Bayard No.1’, it was again felt to be too expensive. Offered to Great Britain, it was accepted.
On October 16, 1910 and piloted by Maurice Clement with six passengers, the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ flew six hours and 390-kilometers (240-miles) from Compiègne, France across the English Channel to a Daily Mail newspaper shed constructed by the Great Britain War Office at Wormwood Scrubs near London.
During testing in France, the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ had made over 40 flights and had even participated in a recent French Army maneuver.
After its purchase with the craft in London, it was discovered that the envelope was leaking badly in many places. As well, Great Britain then learned that France had turned down the offer to purchase the same craft, making Britain hesitate in completing the transaction at the requested price.
With aid from The Daily Mail newspaper, private funding was procured to add to monies Great Britain would pay, and so the deal was completed: £12,500 in public money and £5,500 in private funds. = £18,000 or ~175,000 French Francs. The War Office of Great Britain completed the purchase on October 28, 1910.
The ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ had a length of 76.5-meters (251-feet), a diameter of 13.22-meters (43.5-feet) and a volume of 7,000-cubic meters (247,200-cubic feet).
It was powered by a pair of Maison Clément-Bayard engines with 125-horsepower each.
However, after its initial flight to London, the leaky envelope of the ‘Clément-Bayard No.2’ was determined to be too expensive to fix and was dismantled and never flew again.
It almost seems like a fitting end to our look at dirigibles, doesn’t it?