Wills’s Aviation Card #57 – “Givaudin II.” Triplane.

card-57History Behind The Card: “Givaudin II.” Triplane.

Card #57 of 75, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1911, Capstan Navy Cut issue

  • Claude Givaudan, September 16, 1872 in Caluire-et-Cuire, a suburb of Lyon, France – October 30, 1945 in France.

It’s been a few cards, but we finally have another tractor motor aeroplane… that’s a plane with the motor in front, rather than the rear-mounted motor that is called the pusher-type.

Of course, this being a blog that looks at pioneers of aviation and their sophisticated inventions from 106 years ago, and counting, there is a lot of miss information, as well as a lot of missing information. Card #57 continues that fine tradition of me gathering the facts – playing history sleuth – to provide the most correct place to find out information.

Yeah… I’m tooting my own horn. Sorry.

Card #57R.jpg

According to the reverse of Card #57, the Givaudin II triplane was manufactured by Vermorel Cie (the Vermorel Company) of Villefranche, France.

Unfortunately, most of the information surrounding this company seems to be about its automobile business, with Wikipedia ONLY providing information for the Établissements V. Vermorel, as a French engineering business that existed between 1850 and 1965.

Since Wikipedia‘s entry did not mention the aeroplane business, it led me to wonder if I had the right company… until I noticed that the Vermorel Cie company in 1908 had great success with their first production-made automobile, and that it was due to a new and intelligent engineer named Claude Givaudan… of whom I can only suppose played a large hand in the creation of the Givaudin aeroplanes. But… Wikipedia spells his surname as Givaudan… “an”… not “in”.

Could Wills’s have made an error spelling the French surname? Yes… see the postcard two images below. So… let’s assume the postcard is correct, which also makes the Wikipedia notation of Claude Guvadan’s name correct.

Further references will call the man and the aeroplanes Givaudan.

First, Card #57 shows what is called the Givaudan II triplane, which I’m sure you sharp-eyed people would realize that it must also mean that there was a Givaudan I aeroplane before it.

And there was. For brevity’s sake, let’s simply call it the Givaudan I from April of 1909.

Givaudan I.jpg

The Givaudan I tandem-drum aeroplane. No, I don’t see wings, either.

The first attempt at creating a flying machine, as seen above, does not appear to include wings… just a tandem of drums at either end of the aircraft frame, with what looks like a two-bladed propeller at the nose of the aeroplane.

The pilot sits in the middle of the aircraft’s fuselage, with the entire contraption perched atop four wheels.

Check out the postcard below depicting the Givaudan I:


A postcard from 1909 depicting the Givaudan I aeroplane… note the spelling of Givaudan.

Givaudan, as mentioned, worked for the automobile manufacturer Vermorel, which also constructed motorcycles. Since he was also interested in the new industry of aviation, he used engines from the motorcycle as the base powerplant for his aeroplane designs.

What I can tell from the French translation above, is that the front drum and wheels could swivel, while the rear wheels and drum did not. Also, each drum was 2.4 meters (7.87 feet) wide.

Givaudan tandem drum.jpg

A great view of the forward tandem drum and the V8 motor designed and built by Givaudan seen here on the Givaudan I aeroplane.

Anyhow… what’s missing from his aeroplane – the Givaudan I – are wings. I used the absence of a shadow from the wings in both above images to prove to myself that the missing wings was not an optical illusion… so yes… no wings.

Except that the tandem drums were meant to play the same role as wings to keep the aircraft aloft.

The Givaudan I did not fly.

So… before we even get to Card #57 – the Givaudan II triplane… which I will admit to not being able to find any information on, let’s take a look at what I have found on the designer, Claude Givaudan.

As an engineer, Givaudan’s interest were all over the spectrum, having registered patents from aviation to chemistry.

In 1903, he worked as a manufacturer of car motors on behalf Claude Rochet and the Francisca brothers in Lyon, France.

There, Givaudan not only built engines that his bosses supplied to other manufacturers, but he also designed and built motorcycle motors specifically with his own Givaudan brand name on them.

At the 1903 Paris Motor Show, Givaudan displayed a few of his two- and three-horsepower motors, as well as a few of his own motorcycles.

I can only assume he continued to work at that company building motors and designing his own stuff on the side until about 1906, when he went to work for Vermorel Co.

Now… since the world knew that man could fly a heavier-than-air craft thanks to Alberto Santos-Dumont and his 14-bis aeroplane flying on October 23, 1906 (the Wright Brother’s had kept their fantastic first a closely guarded secret since December of 1903), Givaudan, being a man engineering science was of course fascinated with seeing if he could create a way to fly, as well.

Rather than merely copy what others had done before him, Givaudan went a different way with his tandem drum designs for flight.

By April of 1909, Givaudan constructed a few prototypes using the tandem drum design- (see patent No. 398943, January 29, 1909). But none actually flew.

Here’s what the June 5, 1909 edition of Scientific American wrote about Givaudan’s strange aeroplane, the Givaudan I:

The peculiar aeroplane illustrated on this page is that of M. Givaudan. It has recently been constructed at Vermorel. It is of the multicellular type, and consists of two concentric drums mounted near the ends of a body framework that passes through the center of each, and carries at its forward end a tractor screw. These drums are united by small planes spaced uniformly apart, thus forming a cellular structure. The front cell thus formed is movable in every direction while the rear one is stationary. The carrying surfaces of this machine are so formed, that the machine will have the same amount of supporting surface whatever its lateral inclination may be, so that when it tips to one side in making a turn, or from any other cause the weight carried per square foot of surface chains the same; while, on the other hand, the center of gravity being situated below the center of pressure, the machine will return automatically to its normal position and be in equilibrium. The two cells are laced sufficiently far enough apart, so that the front one will not interfere seriously with the one at the rear. There are no rudders, the movement of the front cell both sideways and up and down being used in place of these to direct the machine both laterally and in a vertical plane.

The Givaudan circular aeroplane ­ a new French machine of novel design.
The radiating planes of the drums act as carrying and stabilizing surfaces. Only the projecting surface of these radiating planes is counted upon as useful carrying surface. Within both the front and rear drums there is a horizontal cross shaft supported upon the main frame. The front cell rests on the main frame by a bearing, which makes it possible for this cell to oscillate about a vertical axis, while the horizontal shaft just mentioned can oscillate upon a horizontal axis.

Inclination of the front cell in a vertical direction varies the angle of incidence, and causes the machine to rise or descend; it thus takes the place of the horizontal rudder. Inclination of the cell in the horizontal direction fulfills the role of the vertical rudder. This double movement of the cell is obtained by means of a rod connecting two levers of sufficient length to make the operation of the cell possible without too great fatigue. The levers have a band-brake arrangement to hold the cell in the position in which it is set.

The machine rests on four wheels, the front pair of which can be turned in order to steer the machine. The wheels are fitted with suitable springs to absorb the shock when landing. The propeller is 2.4 meters (7.87 feet) in diameter, and is driven from the motor through reduction gears. The motor is a special eight cylinder V engine of the air-cooled type. The bore and stroke are 90 and 120 millimeters (3.6 and 4.8 inches) respectively. The motor develops 40 horse-power and weighs 80 kilogrammes (176 pounds) including the fly-wheel, two carburetors, and magneto. All the valves are mechanically operated from a single camshaft. This motor, notwithstanding its light weight and the feet that it is air-cooled, has been run several hours consecutively. M. Givaudan is one of the first men to construct a motor of the V type and place it upon the market.

This new aeroplane is very interesting, but it is doubtful whether a freakish machine of this kind can be made to operate satisfactorily. If any successful trials are made, we shall be glad to apprise our readers of the fact.

The air-cooled V-8 used in Givaudan’s aeroplanes were designed and built by himself. He was working for Victor Vermorel who hoped he could change the way cars were being manufactured at the time to create a small assembly line.

Anyhow, we also know that the Givaudan I was 5.8 meters long.

As for Wills’s Card #57… the Givaudin II Triplane of 1910… it must have been another of his prototypes that never flew, despite the tobacco company feeling (in December of 1910) it had some merit.

I found a photo of it! It had wings! It still didn’t fly, however. It is a beautiful-looking aircraft, though.


The Givaudin II Triplane of 1910.

It is my belief that he gave up trying to create a heavier-than-air aeroplane, and tried his hand at ballooning, because we do know that he earned his balloon pilot license – No. 111 in 1911 from the Aero Club of Rhone and South East (still going on today – see HERE or HERE in its original French).

Givaudan Balloon Pilot License.jpg

What’s interesting to note about this license, is that it only calls him “Monsieur” – Mister Givaudan… and notice the spelling. So I guess I was right.

In 1898, Givaudan, the Boulade brothers and a Mister Augis founded the Aero Club of Rhone & the South East, headquartered in Monplaisir, France.

As well, from 1904 until his death in 1945, Givaudan was the secretary and vice-president of the Aero Club of the Rhone & South East.

At the club’s Bron site, the French Army set up a military aviation center in 1912. A second squadron was set up during WWI.

In 1925, he (Givaudan) started up a military school for aircraft mechanics in Lyon, which was the first of its kind in the world, naming himself Director.

Despite being heavily involved in aviation, Givaudan was not able to fly any of his own aeroplane creations.

Although I can not prove it, I would bet, however, that Givaudan did achieve his pilot’s license for airplanes at some point.

About mreman47

Andrew was born in London, UK, raised in Toronto, Canada, and cavorted in Ohtawara, Japan for three years. He is married, has a son and a cat. He has over 35,000 comic books and a plethora of pioneer aviation-related tobacco and sports cards and likes to build LEGO dioramas. He has written and been an editor for various industrial magazines, has scripted comic books, ghost-written blogs for business sectors galore, and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read. He works on his Pioneers Of Aviation - a cool blog on early fliers - even though it takes him so much time to do. He also wants to do more writing - for money, though. Help him out so he can stop talking in the 3rd person.
This entry was posted in Aviation Art, Balloons, Concepts, Failures, Heavier-Than-Air, Lighter-Than-Air, Motors and Engines, People, Tobacco Card and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Wills’s Aviation Card #57 – “Givaudin II.” Triplane.

  1. GP Cox says:

    I love these contraptions from the past.
    [and I’ve never mentioned it, but I’ve always gotten a kick out of your ‘About’ info below the posts, “he also writes comic books and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read.”]


  2. Pingback: Checklist For Wills’s Cigarettes Aviation 1911 – 75-Card Series | Pioneers Of Aviation

  3. Pingback: Checklist For Wills’s Cigarettes Aviation 1911 – 85-Card Series | Pioneers Of Aviation

  4. Pingback: Checklist For Wills’s Cigarettes Aviation 1911 – 85-Card Series – soon to be updated | Pioneers Of Aviation

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