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Fafnir glider history

Fafnir glider history



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Published by cesarederobertis
The history of one of the most famous german gliders of the 30's.
The history of one of the most famous german gliders of the 30's.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: cesarederobertis on Aug 02, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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(A mythical Dragon)The short history of a 1930 German Sailplaneand of it’s pilot,
Günther Groenhoff 
Collected and translated by Vince Cockett in support of his scale radio control plans made freely available to all modelers - 2004 
Alexander Lippisch -
Designer of the Fafnir
November 2, 1894 - February 11, 1976
Alexander Martin Lippisch
was a German pioneer of aerodynamics who made importantcontributions to the understanding of flying wings and ground effect craft. His most famousdesign was the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket-powered interceptor.Lippisch was born in Munich, Germany. He later recalledthat his interest in aviation was first kindled inSeptember 1909
by watching a demonstration in Berlin
by Orville Wright. He was, however, planning to follow inhis father’s footsteps and enter art school when WorldWar I intervened. During his service with the GermanArmy from 1915 – 1918, Lippisch had the chance to flyas an aerial photographer and mapper.Following the war, Lippisch worked for a while with theZeppelin Company, and it was at this time that he firstbecame interested in tail-less aircraft. In 1921 the firstsuch design of his would reach fruition in the form of theLippisch-Espenlaub E-2 glider, built by GottlobEspenlaub. This was the beginning of a researchprogramme that would result in some fifty designsthroughout the 1920s and 30s. Lippisch’s growingreputation saw him appointed the director of Rhon-Rossitten Gesellschaft (RRG), a glider research group.
Günther Groenhoff takes control of his “beloved Fafnir” 
The Following is an extract from Martin Simons book “Vintage Sailplanes 1908-1945” 
The Fafnir was designed by Alexander Lippisch and built by the RRG workshops on theWasserkuppe, for the 1930 Rhoen competitions. It was made to fit the body contoursof Guenther Groenhoff, a small, but as it proved, very skilful pilot. All the main principlesaffecting the performance of a sailplane were known to Lippisch by now. Struts like those onthe Wien, were eliminated. The aspect ratio remained almost as high. To avoid excessiveweight the root of the cantilever structure had to be made very deep. The Fafnir wing wasstrongly tapered. At the root, the thick, very greatly cambered aerofoil, Goettingen 652, wasused, this changed progressively to Goettingen 535 at the mid-span station and thence toClark Y, at the tip. This change of profile plus several degrees of negative twist or 'washout',prevented tip stalling at low airspeeds, and improved aileron control.The wing was slightly cranked to give the attractive 'gull' form. Lippisch's liking for this shapewent back to the tailless Weltensegler of 1921. The reasons usually given for it were that itraised the wing tips clear of the ground during landings and take offs, and it was also thoughtto improve stability in turns. Both could have been achieved by giving the wing a slight, straightdihedral angle. Still, the Fafnir was acclaimed as the most beautiful sailplane ever built and seta fashion, which persisted until the 1950s.The wing had three spars, a main, box beam at the one- third chord position, with two auxiliary'I' beams fore and aft. The leading edge was plywood covered, as was usual by now. The ribswere more closely spaced than on other gliders, to preserve an accurate profile. Lippisch gavea great deal of attention to the junction of the wing and fuselage. The centre section was builtintegrally with the fuselage and a very elaborate, three-dimensionally curved fairing was builtup out of numerous small strips of plywood. In service, several modifications were tried toimprove the airflow near the leading edge. To reduce drag from the open cockpit, a woodencanopy was constructed and was faired into the nose and wing roots, with portholes on either side. There was no landing wheel, the skid being cleverly sprung by means of a row of tennis

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