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Model L was the first – and only – true "second generation" aircraft
produced by the Wright Company. A single-seat tractor biplane with
standard control surfaces, it was similar in appearance to
many of the biplanes being produced for World War I. It was designed
for high speed military reconnaissance – a light "scout." It could
fly at speeds up to 80 mph (129 kph) and might have achieved higher
speeds if it weren't for the drag created by its oversized tail,
inherited from the Model K. Its modest performance, boxy appearance,
and lack of streamlining made the Wright Model L inferior to many
other biplanes that were being produced at the time. It failed to
secure any military orders and few were produced.
Wright Model L specifications:
- 29 ft (8.8 m) wingspan
- 6.5 ft (198 cm) chord
- 5.7 ft (174 cm) separation
- 360 sq ft (33.4 sq. m) wing area
- 1:20 camber
sq ft (1.9 sq m) horizontal rear elevator
- 8.5 sq ft (0.8 sq m) twin movable vertical rear rudders
- 24.2 ft (7.4 m) overall length
- 850 lbs (386 kg) total weight (without pilot)
- 6 cylinder engine, 75 hp running at 1400 to 1560 rpm
- Single direct-drive propeller, 8 ft (244 cm) long
- 25 to 80 mph (40 to 129 kph) speed range
This was the last airplane produced by the Wright Company. By
this time Orville Wright was no longer with the company but we was
retained as a consultant, so the Model L is considered the end of
the line of aircraft designed with the input of at least one of the
With the commercial failure of the Model L, the Wright Company
concentrated on the development of high-powered engines for
airplanes and automobiles. The company was working on a motor for
the Simplex automobile in August 1916 when it merged with the Glenn
L. Martin Company to form the Wright-Martin Aircraft Corporation.
The Wright Model L was a "second generation" aircraft, characterized
by a tractor (propeller first) configuration, and enclosed fuselage,
and standard control surfaces – rudder, elevator, and ailerons.
The chain drive and distinctive Wright "bent-end" propellers were
replaced with a single high speed scimitar-shaped propeller mounted
directly to the front of a Wright 6-60 engine.
The fuselage, although boxy, was torpedo-shaped, tapering back to
the tail. This shaped had first been suggested by the Wright's
nemesis Alfred Zahm in 1901 and it had since become a standard in
There were no rudder pedals in the Model L. The rudder was
controlled by the light-colored grip on the right side of the yoke.
Top, front, and side drawings of the 1916 Wright Model L.