August 10, 2017 - One of the many unique aircraft present at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2017, a painstakingly-accurate replica of a Morane-Saulnier Type L, is staying in Oshkosh after the Association Héritage Avions Morane-Saulnier granted a request for it to join the EAA Aviation Museum collection.
The Type L was constructed over six years by a group of volunteers, which includes former Morane-Saulnier employees who are now in their 80s and current and former employees of Daher, who sponsored the build and brought the open cockpit, parasol wing airplane to AirVenture. The original plan was for the aircraft to return to France after it graced Oshkosh for the week.
After the EAA Foundation requested that the World War I replica airplane stay, however, the Association Héritage Avions Morane-Saulnier chose to donate it. As a result, Daher has offered to sponsor the construction of a second Type L replica, one that will stay in France.
The Type L is currently displayed at Pioneer Airport, a short tram ride away from the main EAA Aviation Museum building that is included in museum admission. A damaged rudder needing repair is keeping it there temporarily, until it moves to the main museum building.
Director of the EAA Aviation Museum Bob Campbell said the Type L will be displayed near the Wright Flyer that greets museum visitors right near the entrance when it arrives from Pioneer, hopefully before the winter begins.
“The parasol was an extremely important aircraft to the Allied powers of World War I and an important symbol of the friendship between France and the United States during the war,” Bob said. “We are most honored and proud to accept this replica in the same spirit shared between our two great nations during that conflict.”
One of the first fighter aircraft introduced, the Type L was fitted with a machine gun during WWI that fired through the propeller arc, and was the first type to shoot down an enemy aircraft through the propeller. In the days before the introduction of synchronization gear, the prop had to be protected with armored deflectors to prevent damage, and was used by France and other countries during the war.
The American connection to the airplane is that Morane-Saulnier provided training aircraft to the U.S. Army Air Service, so that fledging pilots, some of whom had never flown before, could train in the type before heading to war.
Out of more than 1,000 originally built, no surviving Type Ls exist today, making the replica provided to EAA by the Association Héritage Avions Morane-Saulnier all the more special for museum visitors.