Varioplane Company

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The Varioplane Company Ltd. of 34 & 36 Gresham Street, London, was an aeroplane manufacturer. It was closely associated with Alexander Albert Holle.

This company has 8 patents listed at google patents: https://patents.google.com/?assignee=VARIOPLANE+Co+Ltd We want to include all of those in the database here eventually.

This discussion [1] tells us about the Varioplane Company. Thanks to users Schneiderman and Steelpillow of the secretprojects.co.uk web site. They refer to a related idea, unknown to me (econterms), of an alula wing. Schneiderman says (June 12, 2016):

Alexander Albert Holle, Dutch and originally a tea planter, held many patents. The earliest appears to be UK Patent 12869 for Improvements in Steam and other Fluid Pressure Engines held in association with the S.M. Car Syndicate. He became a resident in Britain sometime prior to WW1
Holle established the Varioplane Co. Ltd in September 1913 to acquire the rights to his patents. Capital was £16000 in £500 shares, directors Holle, G.J.L.Nicholson and G.P.M Van Weel. The Syndicate also held patents in association with others applied for during the war years.
The patent for what became known as the alula wing, named after the small feathers on the leading edge of some birds wings, was applied for in 1918. The aim was to manage the flow of air over the wing’s surface through the application of wash-out and taper and to eliminate the need for drag-inducing ailerons by altering the air-flow and lift over the wing by the use of auxiliary aerofoils on the leading edge.
In 1919 a new company was formed to build and test an alula wing and exploit the potential. This was the Commercial Aircraft Wing Syndicate Ltd, with capital of £30000 in £1 shares. It was a co-venture between Holle, The Varioplane Co Ltd and Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co Ltd. Where Varioplane could appoint three directors and Blackburn two, which probably gives an indication of the split in funding.
A revised patent for the alula wing[,] granted in 1921[,] featured a more refined version of the auxiliary aerofoil. I would think that Handley-Page’s lawyers would have had a close look at this patent as it is very similar to their slot system in some aspects.
The story of the test flights of the alula wing and the projects proposed by Booth have been covered in this thread already.
Holle seems to have lost interest all in aircraft after 1921 as all his later patents refer to road vehicles.

Steelpillow adds (February 04, 2018):

According to H. A. Taylor; "Fairey Aircraft since 1915", Putnam, 1974, p.63, Penrose gives some information about the Varioplane Co. in his "British Aviation: The Great War and Armistice", Putnam. Taylor suggests that (presumably Holle) had been experimenting with flexible wings for some time. . . .
Holle and a colleague called Judge patented a variable-camber aerofoil mechanism in 1916, while with the Varioplane Co. Some drawings are reproduced in L.F. Campanile; "Lightweight Shape-Adaptable Airfoils: A New Challenge for an Old Dream", Adaptive Structures: Engineering Applications (Ed. David Wagg, Ian Bond, Paul Weaver, Michael Friswell), Wiley, 2007, pp.89-129. Check it out on Google Books.

Years of start and end in the template below are estimated based on Schneiderman from secretprojects.co.uk.


Names Varioplane Company
Country GB
City London
Affiliations
Keywords aerofoil, alula wing
Started aero 1913
Ended aero 1921
Key people Alexander Albert Holle
Wikidata id