Wills’s Aviation Card #63 – The Etrich Monoplane

Etrich F 001.jpgHistory Behind The Card: The Etrich Monoplane

Card #63 of 75, W.D.& H.O Wills, Aviation series 1911, Capstan Navy Cut – Green back issue

  •  Igo (Ignaz) Etrich, December 25, 1879, in Trutnov, Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic)February 4, 1967, Salzburg, Austria.
  • Franz Xaver Wels, February 10, 1873 in Maribor, Slovenia – October 18, 1940, Wien, Austria.

First things first. I already did card No. 63 of the Wills’s Aviation series, but that was for the Black back cards.

The Capstan Navy Cut backs of the 75-card series came in both a Black and a Green back series… while most of the cards were identical, some like the Green series offered a completely different card featuring a completely different topic.

Card No. 63 of the Green Back series is one such example. It’s not one of my prettier cards. Finding the 75- and 85-card series is always a challenge, and finding them in good shape is even more so. Finding the green-backed cards… well… it just seems to be even more difficult.

By the way, I’m going to set up a Trade Shop soon, where aviation card collectors need not worry about paying stupidly high prices in shipping or for the card themselves… we just trade… one for one… to help each other complete our collections.

I figure I’ll post images of the cards I have for trade, you tell me what you want, I’ll tell you what I’m after, and then we trust each other to post the card safely. We pay our own shipping costs to send the card to each other. Easy-peasy. No one gets ripped off.

Back to this card:


Is it just me, but does Igo Etrich look a lot like Bud Abbott (of Abbott & Costello)?

Igo Etrich is the designer of the Etrich Monoplane… born in the Czech Republic to a textile manufacturing father (Ignaz Etrich – 1839-1927), Etrich was, in fact, an Austrian.

A pioneer in the early days of aviation (obviously, the Wills’s card is from 1911), Etrich’s monoplane (fixed wing) designs utilized wings shaped like a bird’s wings.

An unorthodox design all around as biplanes were thought to be more stable in the air than monoplanes, the Etrich wings were slightly swept back and turned upward. The tail (note that there is no vertical) was also designed to look like a bird’s tail.

The aeroplane’s model was nicknamed “Taube“, a German word for “dove”.

Along with the wings, the wheels and skid mount at the front of the aircraft were all cable-braced together to the fuselage to provide additional stability – you can see that in the image above.

Anyhow… let’s see what we can discover about Etrich himself first.

We know that his father owned a textile factory, so we can assume the family had some money, which was how he was able to attend schools in Leipzig.

It was at school that he learned of the glider work of the famed Otto Lillenthal.

The elder Etrich also became intrigued by gliders and with his son they constructed their own glider laboratory to study and experiment with flight.

Igo Etrich was also intrigued by birds and how they flew, and felt that using wings curved like a birds would create better lift for their gliders. But they didn’t build any gliders in this form at this time.

When Lillenthal died in 1896, Etrich’s father purchased two of the gliders for their studying: Sturmflügelapparat” (storm wing apparatus)  and “Flügelschlagapparat” (flapping/flying apparatus).

A year later in 1897 the Etrich’s read about a scientific paper by a Professor Ahlborn who described the see of the Zanonian macrocarpa—now known as the Alsomitra macrocarpa or Javan cucumber (see below)—that when detached from the plant would glide through the air.


Dad and son Etrich attempted to build a glider in 1900/1901, but were unsuccessful in their attempts of flight.


Franz Wels in 1908.

Igo Etrich and Franz Xaver Wels decided they would design and construct an unmanned glider based on this cucumber seed—eventually getting it to fly successfully in 1904.

Subsequent attempts to motorize it with an engine he purchased failed to get it to fly as an aeroplane, but a manned non-powered glider version did successfully fly in 1906.


Etrich-Wels “Leaf” glider in 1906. Image from Flying Wings: http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/etrich.html

In the Wiener Prater district in Vienna in 1907, Etrich set up a second experimental aviation laboratory.


1908 Etrich Nurflugel. Image from Flying Wings:  http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/etrich.html

He designed and built the Etrich “Nurflügel” (Flying Wing) tractor monoplane in 1907-8, and the Etrich Taube (Dove) tractor monoplane in 1909.

The Flying Wing had its first flight attempt on October 2, 1907, flying a distance of 225 (~738 feet) meters at a height of between 15-17 meters (~49-56 feet).

Later that year (1909), he built the Praterspatz (Prater Park Sparrow) – also known as Etrich I, an improved version of the Dove.

But because the aircraft was using an under-powered 24-horsepower motor, the aeroplane was unsuccessful.

He set up two hangars at the newly developed Wienr Neustadt airfield later in 1909, and working with partner Franz Wels they improved the Etrich I by adding a stronger engine.

It flew.

It used foot adjustable side rudders for control, and added a car’s steering wheel to act as a steering horn to provide height control.

By 1910, Etrich had designed and built the Etrich II Taube (Dove) two-seater tractor (motor in front) monoplane. Monoplanes are fixed wing aircraft just like single wing aircraft we have today.

Problem arose between Etrich and co-designer Wels after the latter had traveled to Paris to see the Wright Brothers demonstrate their Wright Flyer. Wels believed that a biplane would be a better wing configuration, leading the two to dissolve their partnership.

The Etrich II Taube made its maiden flight in early 1910… but during a later test flight the plane crashed with Etrich as pilot, nearly breaking his back.

The scare, and perhaps the physical damage to his body allowed Etrich to name Karl Illmer as his test pilot.


Igo Etruch (left) and pilot Karl Illmer – 1912.

Thanks to the successful test flights, two things happened:

  1. The Austrian government wanted him to build them aeroplanes, so further refinements were made to the Etrich II Taube. The military wanted Etrich to ensure that the Taube could land safely on a freshly plowed field.
  2. Etrich signed a contract with German Edmund Rumpler allowing Rumpler the right to build the Taube II in Germany under the name of Etrich-Rumpler-Taube.

However, because the German patent office did not give Etrich a patent, it meant t hat anyone could use his designs to build the Taube for free.

So that’s what Rumpler did, having private companies construct the Taube II under the name of Rumpler-Taube. In fact, there are known to have been some 14 companies that built the Taube with some variations to each… and not a pfennig (German penny, essentially) going back to Igo Etrich. D’oh.


Go ahead… build your own 1913 Taube.


Rumpler claimed to be the designer of the Taube… so Etrich sued him, keeping the battle ongoing until WWI broke out in 1914, when he dropped the lawsuit and patriotically made his aviation design of the Taube available to anyone.

Even while this was going on, in 1912 Etrich founded Etrich Fliegerwerke in Liebau (now part of Poland) and designed an aircraft with the first fully-enclosed cabin for the passengers, which he named Luft-Limousine (aka Air Limousine or the Etrich VIII – yeah, I’m skipping some), The Luft Limousine was a four-seater high-wing monoplane. A German named Ernst Heinkel was in charge of the design office. 


The 4-seater Etrich Luft-Limousine… what a beautiful-looking aircraft! And this is 1912?!

Heinkel was one of Germany’s top aircraft designers through WWII – you might have heard of him. Excellent planes, good Nazi.

Etrich R 001.jpg

The caption reads: The most powerful machine in the “Daily Mail” Circuit of Britain second £10,000 prize. This monoplane was driven by Lieutenant Bier, who also carried a passenger. The wording at the reverse is choppy… and as such, the reader couldn’t be sure if the aeroplane won second place, or if this was the second Daily Mail contest. By the way… you’ll notice the offer for an album to hold these and other tobacco cards – the bane of the future collector, as people would glue them in, even though that meant you couldn’t read the back of the cards!

Let’s take a look at the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain… since these are cards issued in 1911, we can assume the contest was either in 1910 or early to mid-1911.

So… looking that up, we find that the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain was a British cross-country air race which took place from 1911 until 1914, with prizes donated by the Daily Mail newspaper.

The 1911 race took place on 22 July and was a 1,010 miles (1,630 km) event with 11 compulsory stops and a circular route starting and finishing at Brooklands in Surrey.

Look at the results, I see that the Etrich Taube II monoplane flown by  Lt. H. Bier did not do very well.


From 1913 Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft pubication.

The winner was Jean Conneau in a Blériot XI who took 22 hours, 28 minutes to complete the course at an average speed of 45 mph (72 km/h) and received the first prize of £10,000. The runner up was Jules Védrines in a Morane-Borel monoplane with James Valentine, in a Deperdussin coming third.

The Taube II was damaged during a landing at Codicote near Hatfield after suffering radiator problems.

That sucked… however, the Taube II was well-respected, at least in the media, because, as the reverse of the Wills’s card states, it carried a passenger… and was the only aircraft in the competition to do so, with Lt. Bier flying fellow officer Lt. C. Banfield.

The Wills’s card is also correct in calling the aeroplane powerful. It probably should have stated why.

The motor used on the Taube II was a 120 horsepower Beardmore, manufactured by William Beardmore, who had first designed and built it for then-Austrian car manufacturer Austro-Daimler. Chief engineer there was Ferdinand Porsche (yes, later founder of the Porsche automobile company), who also had a hand in fine tuning the 120 Beardmore motor.

From what I understand, after Lt. Bier crashed his Taube II in the race, the engine was kept and re-sold to Samuel Franklin Cody, who would use the engine to help him set a speed record in 1914.


A Taube II version from 1913.

By the way, these Taube II Dove aeroplanes were used by Germany and Austro-Hungary during WWI as an observation vehicle, and for training purposes. They had been used as fighters early on,  but their lack of speed relative to the enemy’s planes caused them to be merely training aircraft, with most all German pilots during the war receiving their initial training on a Taube/Dove.

However, back in 1911, the Taube was the first aeroplane used to drop bombs, doing so over the Balkans… and was the first in WWI over Paris in 1914.

Don’t get all excited, there was no bomb release door… the pilot or passenger would physically hold a bomb in their hands, lean over the side and bomb’s away.

According to Flying Wings blog, the Taube II Specifications are:

  • Width (wings): 46 feet 8 inches;
  • Length: 32 feet 4 inches;
  • Take-off Weight: 1,759 pounds;
  • Engine: 100/120 horsepower Mercedes water-cooled six-cylinder in-line (original); later a 200 horsepower Ranger water-cooled six-cylinder upright conversion (representation);
  • Maximum speed:  60 mph.

I can neither confirm nor deny these specs. My data shows the Taube used a 120 Beardmore engine from Austro-Daimler… Daimler was involved with Mercedes, who later partnered with Benz. That company is equally as convoluted when it comes to history.


A 1914 version of the Taube II.


In 1913, Etrich moved to Germany, and founded Brandenburgische Flugzeugwerke aeroplane manufacturing. In 1914, he sold the business to fellow Austrian banker and stock-market player Camillo Castiglioni, who moved the factory from Liebau (now Poland, but prior to WWI a part of teh German Republic) to Brandenburg an der Havel (Brandenburg, Germany), and took chief designer Ernst Heinkel with him.

Known commonly as Hansa-Brandenburg, by August of 1915, the company became Germany’s largest manufacturer of military aircraft, adding two more factories and employing over 1,000 people.

I can’t figure out just what Etrich was doing during WWI… but I can confirm that after it, he was working as the owner of a textile manufacturing plant and worked on developing a flax processing machine in Trautenau (now Trutnov), then of the newly-formed Czechoslovakia.

After WWI, Germans and Austrians, in particular, were forbidden from creating aviation in any format – part of their punishment for their role in the war.

Bitten by the aviation bug once again, Etrich thought, so it is claimed, that he would try to build and sell a low-cost aeroplane that could be used for low-cost transportation purposes.


The Etrich Sport-Taube was a very small plane, as you can see.

So he built the one-seater, closed cockpit Sport-Taube aircraft inside his textile factory, flying for the first time in 1929.

It used a small 40 horsepower engine, but it seemed to be more maneuverable and faster than any other aircraft the Czechoslovakian military had at that time.


Working with the military, the authorities said that Etrich had built the Sport-Taube as a means to perform smuggling operations and took the aircraft away from him.

Utterly fed up, Etrich never again designed or built another aeroplane again, concentrating instead on his textile business.

After WWII, his textile business expropriated, he moved back to northern Bohemia in October of 1946, settling in Niederbayern.

In and around 1955 he developed a high-speed stretch for fiber tapes used in the worsted yarn industry, that made him successful again.

I’m not sure when the first marriage occurred, but in 1950 he moved with his second wife to nearby Freilassing, though the textile plant remained. He moved to Salzburg, Austria in 1961, and was named honorary president of the Salzburg Aero Club.

Other awards include the Knights Cross of the Franz Joseph Order in 1911, the Federal Cross in 1955 and the Dr. Karl Renner Prize in 1959.

He died an old man of 87-years-old in Salzburg.

The Etrich II can be seen at the Technisches Museum in Vienna, Austria. The Sport-Taube can be seen at the Technischen Museum Prague in the Czech Republic.

Here’s a list of aircraft built by Igo Etrich:

  • 1909  Etrich “Nurflügel” (Only Wings) tractor monoplane;
  • 1909  Etrich Taube (Dove) tractor monoplane;
  • 1909  Etrich-Wels “Praterspatz” (Prater sparrow) tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich II “Taube” (Dove) 2-seater tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich II modified “Taube” (Dove) tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich III “Möve” (Seagull) tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich IV “Taube” (Dove) tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich V “Taube” (Dove) tractor monoplane;
  • 1910  Etrich VI “Taube” (Dove) tractor monoplane;
  • 1911  Etrich “Etrichapparat” monoplane;
  • 1911  Etrich IV “Manövertaube” (Military Dove) Type B military 2-seater monoplane;
  • 1911  Etrich VII “Renntaube” (Racing Dove) 3-seater racing monoplane;
  • 1912  Etrich VIII “Luft-Limousine” (“Air Limousine”) 4-seater high wing monoplane;
  • 1912  Etrich IX “Schwalbe” (“Swallow”) monoplane;
  • 1912  Etrich X —-no evidence it was built, but numbering begins later with XII;
  • 1912  Etrich XI —no evidence it was built, but numbering begins later with XII;
  • 1912  EFW Etrich XII “Rennapparat” (“Racing Machine”) 2-seater bomber monoplane;
  • 1912  Etrich “Manövertaube” (“Military Dove”) Fype F 2-seater military monoplane;
  • 1913  EFW Etrich Taube Type 1913 2-seater bomber monoplane;
  • 1914  Type A-1 & A-2 were military airplanes;
  • 1929 Sport-Taube monoplane.



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.
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4 Responses to Wills’s Aviation Card #63 – The Etrich Monoplane

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