Edward A "Eddie" Stinson,
master aviator, proudly introduced the first of these "Detroiter" biplanes
on a flight from Selfridge Field, Michigan, on Jan. 25 in 1926. It was a
trim, fully enclosed cabin biplane with seating for 4 and was powered with
a Wright "Whirlwind" of the popular "J4 series". This airplane, shown
here, was the culmination of much planning, and with the gracious help of
Alfred Verville, it was planned to incorporate some very advanced ideas
for these times. Fred Verville, generous of heart and willing to share his
tremendous experience and knowledge in aircraft design, helped "Eddie"
Stinson through the rough spots in the design, of this first "Detroiter".
Among some of the more outstanding features built into this airplane, were
individual wheel brakes, and emergency parking brake, an electric engine
starter to eliminate "propping" by hand. The fully enclosed cabin had a
fairly efficient exhaust-manifold type heater which kept it reasonably
cozy inside. "Eddie" just loved to show the "Detroiter" off and spent
considerable time demonstrating it's features and abilities. Though it was
a cold winter in Michigan, he often flew in shirt-sleeves to prove his
ship's comfort and utility. Needless to say, "Eddie's" enthusiasm and his
countless demonstrations were effective and it went over big! Quite a few
men of "big business" were favourably impressed and became interested in
the airplane's future. Shortly thereafter, the Stinson Airplane
Corporation was formed in Detroit to begin it's manufacture. Stinson
acquired buildings for the Northville plant (a suburb out of Detroit) in
May of 1926, and the first production model was produced in August. With a
few more ideas always up his sleeve, Stinson had immediately laid plans
for an improved mode, so in Aug. of 1926 a new "Detroiter" biplane was
introduced; with some modifications that were definite improvements. The
new model had a much deeper and better faired fuselage with an improved
tail-group; the power plant was still the reliable J4 and all-round
performance was a good bit better.
This model soon proved
itself popular as a passenger and mail carrier on some of the early
air-lines such a Florida Airways and Northwest Airways, and also served
double duty by hauling passengers and all sorts of cargo with Noel Wien in
Alaska and Patricia Airways in Canada, to name a few. Northwest Airways
started scheduled passenger service with their "Detroiters", one is shown
here, in July of 1927 and were of the first to offer air-travel in cabin
comfort in the U.S. The "Wayco Air Service" formed by Ed Schlee and his
brother, were operating an air-taxi-service out of the Detroit area in May
of 1927, using two "Detroiter" biplanes; one of these is shown here.
TheSB-1 was also very popular as a personal transport plane and was used
by numerous business executives.
Two "Detroiters", only
slightly modified, were used by Geo. Hubert Wilkins on his Arctic
exploration expedition of 1927; after many successful sorties, on
crash-landed on the Arctic ice and had to be abandoned, the other one was
later sold in Alaska for "bush flying" duty. A "Detroiter" cabin biplane
was flown by "Eddie" Stinson in the 1926 Ford Air Tour and finished in 3rd
place amongst a stellar field of tough competition.
One of the illustrations
pictures here a classic incident that shows the first "Detroiter" biplane
crashing through a hot-dog stand, this was the incident that motivated the
perfection of an emergency parking brake! As the story goes, "Eddie" was
forced to "prop" by hand so he left his passenger inside to mind the
throttle; when the engine started off with a roar, the excited
"throttle-watcher" instead of reducing the r.p.m., shoved the throttle to
wide-open and that's when plane met the hot-dog stand! "Eddie" was out a
good propeller and some cash for the damages to the stand. Needless to
say, a parking brake was rigged up very soon afterwards.
The 1926-27 model of the
SB-1 is pictured here in various views, a few of the later type were
powered with the new "J5 Whirlwind" of 220 h.p. About 19 of the
"Detroiter" biplane were built in 1927; from August 1926 some 22 were
built and sold in less than a year. The type certificate number for the
"Detroiter" SB-1 was issued in Jan. of 1928 but this was more or less a
token gesture because the "Detroiter" biplane had already been
discontinued in favour of the "Detroiter" monoplane by this date.
Production of the "Detroiter" biplane was discontinued in June of 1927.
For accounts of the Stinson "Detroiter" monoplane, see chapter for ATC 16
in the volume. The Stinson Aircraft Co. at Northville, Mich, manufactured
the "Detroiter" biplanes, all except the first one.
Listed below are
specifications and performance data for the "Whirlwind" powered Stinson
"Detroiter" biplane model SB-1; span upper and lower 35'10", cord both
63", wing area 350 sq. ft. airfoil U.S.A. 35B, length 28'10", height
10'3", empty wt. 1700, useful load 1200, pay load 600, gross wt. 2900 lb.,
max. speed 118, cruise 100, land 45, climb 800, ceiling 12,500 ft., gas
cap. 70 gal., range 600 miles. The following wts. Were given for the later
type that was powered with the J5 engine; empty wt. 1815, useful load
1465, payload 800, gross wt. 3280. The performance remained about the same
with the possible exception of a landing speed of 48, and a climb, of
about 750. The "manufacturers performance figures" differed somewhat from
those shown; they were inclined to be optimistic in most instances. Price
at the factory averaged around $11,000.
The fuselage framework was
built up of welded chrome-molly steel tubing, faired to shape and fabric
covered. The wing panels were built up of spruce spars and wood built-up
ribs, also fabric covered. The fuel supply of 70 gal. was carried in two
tanks that were mounted in the upper wing. The fabric-covered tail-group
was built up of welded steel tubing, the fin was ground adjustable and the
horizontal stabilizer was adjustable in flight. Wheel brakes, metal
propeller, and engine starter, were standard equipment. The SB-1 was
tested with pontoons and an experiment.
engine: WrightJ-5 radial 220 hp
cruise speed: 105 mph
range: 700 miles
fuel capacity: 90 gal
max speed: 122 mph
service ceiling: 14,000 ft
wing span upper: 45' 10"
gross weight: 3485 lbs
rate of climb: 750 ft/min
price: $12,500 at factory