Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Look... it's a bird... no! It's a plane! Uh... it's a plane that came from a plant?

Alrighty, here's one that's fascinated your blogmeister for some time.... the Taube. This crate really does look like a bird, doesn't it? A dove, to be more specific, and that is indeed what the German word 'Taube' means... 'dove'.

National Geographic January 1918 (Brown & Dawson)

Yeah, well, apparently the design was actually inspired by a particularly aerodynamic seed pod of the Zanonia, a monotypic genus in the flowering plant family Cucurbitaceae. (Don't write in asking what the hell any of that means... we've no clue.) Look, let's forget seeds and plants and all that... truth be told, nobody here at Stringbags has a green thumb and we much prefer the bird angle anyway, so we'll fly with it. (See what we did there?)

Anyhoo... this-here plane that looks like a bird even though it was inspired by a plant was designed by an Austro-Hungarian guy named Igo Etrich (we're willing to bet that he had a green thumb) and first flew in 1910. Long story short, the design was licensed out for production to a few manufacturers, including Rumpler of Germany. Rumpler played along with Etrich for a while, labeling their version of the plant bird as the 'Etrich-Rumpler Taube'... but then they apparently got greedy or something and pruned Etrich out entirely, changing the bird's name to 'Rumpler Taube' and stopped paying royalties and such. Etrich gave up, abandoned his patent, stomped off, and went home... probably to do some gardening.

A Rumpler Taube after takeoff from Köln-Longerich, 1913-14.


Still trying to keep a long story short(ish), the Taube was the first mass-produced military aircraft in Germany and filled pretty much every role conceived for military aviation at that time. Ultimately, though, as is the case with many designs, the Taube was relegated to training duties... having served Germany and a few other nations well in the pre-war years, it was found to be quite lacking as a war machine once hostilities erupted in 1914 and more advanced types began sprouting up.

Nevertheless, the Taube did see a good deal of use in combat during the early months of The Great War, primarily as an observation platform. The two photos below show one example that was captured by the French and displayed in the courtyard of the Army Museum at Les Invalides, Paris.

Project 914 Archives

Project 914 Archives

And now to wrap things up, here's a super-freakin' groovy painting of a Taube by Russell Smith. Check out more of his excellent work on his Facebook page...

Okay... that's it for now. Time to make like a tree and get outta here.

Fade to Black...