History Behind The Card: “Jerme” Biplane.
Card #47 of 50, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1910
- Charles-Marie-Joseph Germe, in France
This one was a challenge to find out all the information I wanted to discover.
I couldn’t even find out the designer’s birth or death information… but I did come across a very important factor about this Card #47 – namely that the name of the plane, and its creator, is spelled incorrectly.
It is Germe with a “G”, not a “J”.
Charles-Marie-Joseph Germe does not appear to have been more than a minor footnote in the history of aviation, despite his immortality in this card series.
From what I can fathom, Germe only ever built two aircraft—biplanes that were inspired by the Wright Flyer.
According to the back of the Wills’s card, the Germe plane(s) were based on the Wright Flyer aeroplane built by the Wright Brothers, as well as those built under the Herring-Curtiss Company banner.
I would assume that most successful biplane from that era would be based on something the Wright Brothers or Curtiss had built. It would have to be.
Here’s a crappy English translation of the patent Germe received for his aircraft (noting that I have shortened it for brevity), that was given out on May 10, 1911.
French Republic, National Office of Industrial Property
Marine and navigation, Ballooning, aviation
Improvements on airplanes
“The present invention relates to improvements to the various parts of airplanes. These improvements include:
- The displacement of the propeller around one of its points, and in his plan;
- The shift variable of the rear part of the wings, and;
- The augmentation of braking of the landing pad by adding a pad articulates.”
Okay – I was going to provide an entire English translation of the patent, but Google Translate – combined with my failure to type out the French words with the appropriate accents gave me a moderate translation but still with enough things to make me go “Huh” as I tilt my head in confusion. So… no… the gist above will suffice.
I do know that the patent cost a whopping 1 French Franc.
Germe No. I, for lack of a better term… this is MY naming of the aircraft, was actually entered to fly during the 1909 City of Douai North Aviation Competition held Monday June 28 – through Sunday July 18th, 1909 at the town of Douai in France.
Top prizes offered by the village of Douai was:
- FF (French Francs) 3,000 francs for a speed competition over two kilometers (the Prix du Nord, sponsored by the railway company Compagnie du Chemin de Fer du Nord, the regional council of the Nord department and the town of Douai);
- 1,000 francs for a one kilometer speed competition (the Prix Mahieu, named after its sponsor)
- 10,000 francs closed-course distance competition (the Grand Prix de Douai, sponsored by the town);
- A cross-country distance competition to be contested over the flat fields between Douai and Arras, 25 kilometers to the west.
There were, of course other races and prizes offered throughout the meet, with a total prize amount of FF26,000 offered.
Twelve airplanes and 11 pilots were entered into the event:
- Louis Blériot (Blériot monoplane);
- Louis Breguet (with two Breguet biplanes);
- Pierre de Caters (Voisin biplane);
- Charles-Marie-Joseph Germe (Germe biplane);
- Jean Gobron (Voisin biplane);
- Lasternas (Lasternas biplane);
- Hubert Latham (Antoinette monoplane);
- Louis Paulhan (Voisin biplane);
- Henri Rougier (Voisin biplane);
- “F. de Rue”/Ferdinand Ferber (Voisin biplane);
- Paul Tissandier (Wright biplane)
But… because the Germe No. I biplane only first flew on August 11, 1909 over Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, the air meet was long over.
The engine on the Germe No. I has two screw propellers each with two blades mounted one behind each other (so it looks like a single propeller).
Specifications Germe No. I:
- Wingspan: 12 meters (39.37 feet);
- Weight: 400 kilograms (881.85 pounds);
- Motor: Anzani three-cylinder engine putting out five horsepower.
A second plane was built and tested throughout 1910, but its first test flight was in February of 1911 – and it crashed.
I have no idea if the second Germe aircraft was different from the first, but I’m guessing it was – perhaps with a stronger engine, or a different wing length… something…
Perhaps the crash of Germe No. II was straw that broke the camels back, as either Germe lost his private funding, he, himself was now broke, or lost his nerve.
Regardless, no further aircraft were built with Germe involvement, despite having a very picturesque Wills’s Aviation card.