Here is a transcript of the article by Dr. R. E. Nichol, in his regular 'Engine of the Month' column in "Engine Collectors' Journal" June / July 1969. Reproduced by permission of Tim Dannels, editor ECJ.

David Stanger's Pioneer Engines

This is a story of Mr. David Stanger, an English automobile engineer, his engines and his aircraft. Being an experimenter as well as an aviation enthusiast and an automotive engineer, he was caught up in the relatively new medium of flight. In the period from 1900 to 1925, if you wanted a gas job, you most likely would have to design and bild your own engine as well as the airplane to fly it in.

By 1908, we know that Stanger had constructed a model airplane engine. A few engines had been advertised, starting in about 1909, but these were usually adopted marine engines and didn't work out too well in aircraft. So, if you wanted performance, you had to do it yourself.

The first information we find on Mr. Stanger appeared in the following article, quoted from the then newly founded "AERO" Magazine, No. 16, 1907.

"Sir, I have taken the "AERO" from #1, and I have read with great interest your readers various opinions, etc., on small motors for aeroplanes. I therefore venture to send you a couple of photographs of the engine that I have made for my aeroplane, which I am sure will be very interesting to your readers. I believe it to be the smallest and lightest four cylinder petrol engine in the world. It is air-cooled, and develops about 1-1/4 HP at 1,300 RPM. The cylinders are of steel and the heads of cast iron, aluminum crankcase, steel flywheel, double float feed carburetor, ignition by a single coil and distributor; weight of engine, complete as shown is under 8 pounds. Some idea of its size can be gathered by comparing it with an ordinary sparking plug. The engine drives a 2ft pitch propeller at 1,300 RPM". D. Stanger.

The original engine of Mr. Stanger, shown in Figures 1 and 2, had the following vital statistics:

7.36 cu. in., 4 stroke / cycle, V-4
1.25" bore x 1.5" stroke; weight, 86 ounces with tank and carburetor (minus ignition gear).
Porting - Pushrod operated overhead intake valves and automatic exhaust valves.
Crankshaft - Built in two sections and bolted together at the center, running in two bronze bushings.
Crankcase - Cast aluminum.
Pistons - Cast iron with two rings each.
Cylinders - Steel, without cooling fins.
Heads - Cast iron with cooling fins.
Carburetor - Gravity feed float valve.
Tank - Brass, small, mounted over carburetor.
Performance - Rated at 1.24 HP, 1,300 RPM with 30" dia. x 22" pitch prop.

See Figure 3.

By 1910, Mr. Stanger had made several successful flights with his "machine". In these early pioneering days of flight, it was quite an accomplishment to make flights of even a few seconds. Stability was a big problem as the aircraft of the day used no dihedral. It is evident that flying could be accomplished only under the most ideal of conditions and with lots of luck, maybe the model would land safely without damage after short hops. The following report of Stanger's activities appeared in the "FLIGHT" Magazine, May 28, 1910: (Click here or on link in left hand margin to view the Flight 1910 article).

The model flying "machine" seen in his photographs (accompanying the 1910 article) had a wingspan of 8-1/2 feet. Note the dihedral and rudder area built into the lower wing of the biplane arrangement. He must have made several flights before he was able to obtain the action flight photo shown. The photograph itself was quite an accomplishment for those days.

Mr. Stanger, with these flights, became the first person in England to make free, open air flights with a petrol engine driven model. He had no way of knowing about the research and experiments going on in the U. S. at that time. Manly and Balzner had built and flown a model radial engine - internal combustion - in one of Langley's Airdrome models on August 8, 1903.

In 1906 Herring was displaying a two pound gas engine in a biplane model, but no reports of its flights are in evidence. Ray Arden, then 16 years old, chummed around with Herring and learned all he could about Herring's engine. By 1907, Arden had built a single cylinder engine and by 1908 he had flown a six foot model with the engine for a distance of 100 yds. By 1910 Arden had further refined his engine and plane to the point where he was making flights of over one mile. This engine also used one of Arden's most famous contributions to the modeling world, the Glow Plug.

These efforts do not detract in the least from Mr. Stanger's efforts in the model aircraft pioneering, as he was a real pioneer of model flight in his own country and by his own right. The efforts of others are only mentioned here as a matter of historical record.

By 1914, Mr. Stanger had built a second engine. This engine was very similar to the V-4 in design and construction. In fact it was half of the V-4, a V-2 twin cylinder design. This engine was also of the 4 stroke/cycle type and displaced 3.7 cu. in. Weight was 42 ozs. less ignition components. It had a stiffer, one-piece crankshaft with the connecting rods using split lower ends.

It was with this engine (see drawing by Alan V. Denham, Figure 6) that Stanger set up the first official flight record for a gas model airplane. In 1914, before an official observer and timing group of the Royal Aero Club, Stanger made a flight of 51 seconds to set an official record that was to stand unbroken for 18 years!

The record was set using a canard biplane with the V-2 pusher arrangement (Figure 7). The model had the following statistics:
Wing span - 7 ft., Chord - 1 ft., Gap - 13"
Elevator - 30" span, 8" chord
Total model length - 4-1/2 ft.
Total model weight - 10-3/4 lbs.

At the 1914 Aero Show at Olympia, a now long standing event for model performance, Stanger flew his record machine and a new monoplane with the original V-4 engine. The monoplane, shown in Figure 8, had a 10 ft. span and a 2 ft. chord. The fuselage was of triangular section braced with 300 lb. test piano wire. The V-4 engine drove a 30 in. dia x 22 in. pitch prop at 1,600 RPM and the total weight of the monoplane was 20 lbs. Stanger made a number of very successful flights with this monoplane that day and even more successful were the flights that he made with the record canard biplane.

David Stanger built 3 more engines that I know of. Figure 9 shows a beautiful 3 cylinder inline OHV 4 stroke/cycle engine. It is notable that this engine embodied push rod operated intake and exhaust valves whereas his V-4 & V-2 engines had automatic, or atmospheric, spring loaded exhaust valves.

Another beautiful engine was the Stanger 15cc, 3 cylinder inline 2 stroke/cycle petrol engine shown in Figure 10.

It is also reported that Stanger built a single cylinder engine, but other than that, I have no information on it, or on any of the other aircraft he must have built.....................REN

Click on the links below for further articles on David Stanger, Model Aviator:

Flight - 28th May 1910

Flight - 25th April 1914

Model Aircraft - January 1959

Aeromodeller Annual 1969-70

SAM Speaks - 2001/02

BMFA News - August 2012