Ellehammer, Jacob Christian Hansen

SUBJECT AREA: Aerospace
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b. 14 June 1871 South Zealand, Denmark
d. b. 20 May 1946 Copenhagen, Denmark
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Danish inventor who took out some four hundred patents for his inventions, including aircraft.
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Flying kites as a boy aroused Ellehammer's interest in aeronautics, and he developed a kite that could lift him off the ground. After completing an apprenticeship, he started his own manufacturing business, whose products included motor cycles. He experimented with model aircraft as a sideline and used his mo tor-cycle experience to build an aero engine during 1903–4. It had three cylinders radiating from the crankshaft, making it, in all probability, the world's first air-cooled radial engine. Ellehammer built his first full-size aircraft in 1905 and tested it in January 1906. It ran round a circular track, was tethered to a central mast and was unmanned. A more powerful engine was needed, and by September Ellehammer had improved his engine so that it was capable of lifting him for a tethered flight. In 1907 Ellehammer produced a new five-cylinder radial engine and installed it in the first manned tri-plane, which made a number of free-flight hops. Various wing designs were tested and during 1908–9 Ellehammer developed yet another radial engine, which had six cylinders arranged in two rows of three. Ellehammer's engines had a very good power-to-weight ratio, but his aircraft designs lacked an understanding of control; consequently, he never progressed beyond short hops in a straight line. In 1912 he built a helicopter with contra-rotating rotors that was a limited success. Ellehammer turned his attention to his other interests, but if he had concentrated on his excellent engines he might have become a major aero engine manufacturer.
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Bibliography
1931, Jeg fløj [I Flew], Copenhagen (Ellehammer's memoirs).
Further Reading
C.H.Gibbs-Smith, 1965, The Invention of the Aeroplane 1799–1909, London (contains concise information on Ellehammer's aircraft and their performance).
J.H.Parkin, 1964, Bell and Baldwin, Toronto (provides more detailed descriptions).
JDS

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

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