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Renard & Kerbs La France
Chalais-Meudon La France




In 1884, under the direction of Renard and Krebs of the French army aeronautical establishment at Chalais Meudon, successful experiments were made employing electrical power with the airship La France.
At the French military balloon establishment at Chalais Meudon, in 1884, engineers Charles Renard and Captain A.C.Krebs designed and constructed the airship La France which was to prove capable of steady, navigable flight, and eas able to describe circular flights against the wind and return to its departure point.
La France, with a capacity of 66,000 cu.ft, was 165 ft long with a diameter of 28 ft, the envelope being made from Chinese varnished silk and of streamlined form. Below the envelope an enclosed car, 108 ft in length, contained a Graham electric motor, developing 8.5-9 hp for a weight of 210 lb, together with the chromium-chloride batteries that drives a cloth covered tractor airscrew of 23 ft diameter.

The France was thirty-two feet in maximum diameter and nearly 200 feet long, the empennage planes aggregating about 400 square feet were placed forward of the stern.

Steering in the horizontal plane was effected by a large rectangular rudder at the stern, while vertical movement and attitude were controlled by a sliding weight mounted within the body of a car assistd by an ‘elevating rudder’.
In a series of trials the airship demonstrated controlled flight, achieved a speed of 14 mph and made several flights over Paris. The weight of the batteries, limited range and carrying capacity prevented further development.
The first trial of La France took place on 9 April 1884. The flight proving a limited success: making a circular flight of 5 miles in twenty-three minutes at a speed of around 12.5 mph in still air, then returning to its starting point – the first time this had ever been done. Six other flights were made during 1884-85, including two over Paris.
Chalais-Meudon Renard-Krebs "La France"
Engine: 1 x Elektromoteur Gramme electric: 9 hp
Batteries: Chromium chloride
Contained volume: 65,695 cu.ft / 1860 cu.m
Length: 165 ft / 50.0 m
Width of hull: 27.887 ft / 8.5 m
Height: 60 ft
Gross lift: 2.0 ton
Useful lift: 0.1 ton
Max. speed: 13 mph / 11 kt / 20 km/h
Crew: 3
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