Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Monday, April 13, 2015

An American-Built Fighter for the AEF: The Packard-Lepere Lusac 11


Designed in 1917 by Capt. Georges LePere, a French aeronautical engineer working for the U.S. Army Air Service, the LUSAC 11 was the result of efforts to get an American-built fighter into combat as soon as possible. The acronym "LUSAC" stood for LePere United States Army Combat. LePere designed the LUSAC 11 to be a combination fighter, light bomber, and reconnaissance aircraft that carried a pilot and an observer/gunner. 

Capt. LePere, along with several other French aviation engineers, worked on the design at the Packard Motor Car Co. of Detroit, Mich. Packard provided design and fabrication space and additional engineers, and the first prototype was completed in April 1918. After the three prototypes received generally favorable reviews from test pilots at Wilbur Wright Field, Ohio, the Bureau of Aircraft Production planned to order as many as 3,525 LUSAC 11s. 


At war's end in November 1918, however, the Bureau cancelled its contracts, and only 28 production aircraft were built (with only seven of these built before the Armistice, none saw combat). The aircraft continued to fly in the Air Service, and a specially modified LUSAC 11 became famous by setting a number of altitude records at Wright Field in the early 1920s.

The aircraft on display, the only LUSAC 11 in existence, originally went to France just before the end of the war. In 1989 the museum acquired it from the Musée de l'Air in Paris, France. After extensive restoration by museum personnel, it went on display in 1992. It is marked as it appeared while at the Allied test facility in Orly, France, in late 1918.

TECHNICAL NOTES:
Armament: Two .30-cal. Marlin and two .30-cal. Lewis machine guns
Engine: Liberty 12 of 400 hp
Maximum speed: 136 mph
Cruising speed: 118 mph
Range: 320 miles
Ceiling: 20,200 ft. (modified LUSAC 11 up to 39,700 ft. with turbo supercharger)
Span: 41 ft. 7 in.
Length: 25 ft. 3 in.
Height: 10 ft. 7 in.
Weight: 3,746 lbs. loaded
Serial number: SC 42133

Source:  The USAF National Museum

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