Baldwin "Red Devil", 1910 - (scan - 1996)

Red Devil III built for "Captain" Thomas Baldwin by C. & A. Wittemann near Mineola NY. Since Curtiss and the Wrights were the only Americans with facilities and information necessary to build and design original aircraft, most others were like either Curtiss or Wright models. The Baldwin design greatly resembles early Curtiss machines. However, like many other builders, he made certain improvements and changes in design. Baldwin's earlier designs used wood; NASM's was one of the first built with a steel-tube structure which provided some improvement (such as reduced drag and weight) but was difficult to repair. Interplane ailerons, actuated by a metal yoke attached to the pilot's seat, provided lateral control. Baldwin painted all struts and parts of his aircraft a crimson red. After unsuccessful attempt to fly his first aircraft c. 1910--he crashed into some telegraph wires on edge of the airfield--a young girl who saw the crash first laughed at him as he dangled from the cross arm of a power pole. She left him with the sarcastic remark, "Old Red Devil." Apparently, Red Devil appealed to him because he named all of his aircraft Red Devils. In an account of the first flight of NASM's aircraft in Aero, 20 May 11, Baldwin called "the oldest aviator in the world;" maybe also the heaviest at 210 lbs. His aircraft used primarily for exhibition flights to capture prizes generated by Wright and Curtiss exhibition teams, although several sold to his students and others. Baldwin used Red Devil type aircraft in tours of countries of western Pacific including the Philippines. Around 1900, Baldwin was an exhibition performer, parachuting from a balloon, and later graduated to airships. When he first examined a Curtiss motorcycle engine in 1904, he decided he needed one for his new airship, the "California Arrow." Traveled east to meet Curtiss and arranged for the construction of a special air-cooled engine. With Roy Knabenshue piloting the craft, Baldwin won airship event at 1904 Lewis and Clark Exposition in St. Louis. After a fire in Baldwin's California factory in 1906, and because of Curtiss' interest in airship construction, Baldwin decided to move to Hammondsport NY. Success with airships led to a contract to produce one for the War Department, in 1908, specifying a speed of 20 mph and a 2-hour endurance for the engine. In compliance tests that summer, Baldwin was the pilot and Curtiss the engineer; became US Army Signal Corps Dirigible No. 1. Baldwin and Curtiss remained business associates in following years. After training Army aviators from about 1915 on, was commissioned Captain in the Aviation Section in Apr 17 and promoted to Major Jun 18. After discharge Oct 19, became a civilian district manager of balloon production and inspection.


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