Saulnier, Raymond

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. late eighteenth century France
d. mid-twentieth century
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French designer of aircraft, associated with Louis Blériot and later the Morane- Saulnier company.
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When Louis Blériot made his historic flight across the English Channel in 1909, the credit for the success of the flight naturally went to the pilot. Few people thought about the designer of the successful aeroplane, and those who did assumed it was Blériot himself. Blériot did design several of the aeroplanes bearing his name, but the cross- Channel No. XI was mainly designed by his friend Raymond Saulnier, a fact not; broadcast at the time.
In 1911 the Morane-Saulnier company was founded in Paris by Léon (1885–1918) and Robert (1886–1968) Morane and Raymond Saulnier, who became Chief Designer. Flying a Morane-Saulnier, Roland Garros made a recordbreaking flight to a height of 5,611 m (18,405 ft) in 1912, and the following year he made the first non-stop flight across the Mediterranean. Morane-Saulnier built a series of "parasol" monoplanes which were very widely used during the early years of the First World War. With the wing placed above the fuselage, the pilot had an excellent downward view for observation purposes, but the propeller ruled out a forward-firing machine gun. During 1913–4, Raymond Saulnier was working on an idea for a synchronized machine gun to fire between the blades of the propeller. He could not overcome certain technical problems, so he devised a simple alternative: metal deflector plates were fitted to the propeller, so if a bullet hit the blade it did no harm. Roland Garros, flying a Type L Parasol, tested the device in action during April 1915 and was immediately successful. This opened the era of the true fighter aircraft. Unfortunately, Garros was shot down and the Germans discovered his secret weapon: they improved on the idea with a fully synchronized machine gun fitted to the Fokker E 1 monoplane. The Morane-Saulnier company continued in business until 1963, when it was taken over by the Potez Group.
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Further Reading
Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War I, 1990, London: Jane's (reprint) (provides plans and details of 1914–18 Morane-Saulnier aeroplanes).
JDS

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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