Hiram Stevens Maxim
1840 - 1916

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Hiram Maxim

Hiram Maxim, who was born at Brockway's Mills, Maine, made a fortune from his invention of the Maxim machine gun, and he used a good bit of that fortune to explore heavier-than-air flight. After moving to England in 1881, Maxim began his aerial experiments at Baldwyns Park, England, in the late 1880's, leading to the construction in 1893 of his enormous biplane Test-Rig, which weighed about 7,000 pounds. The machine's two steam engines each produced 180 h.p. and turned two pusher propellers each 17-1/2 feet in diameter. Since the device was intended to be a test vehicle it was held to a track, preventing it from rising more than a couple of feet.

The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig On Its Track, Rear Quarter View - ca. 1894

Diagrams (Left Side Views) Of The Use Of The Control Surfaces
On The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig, ca. 1894

The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig On Its Track, Front Quarter View - ca. 1894

One Of The Two Propellers On The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig, ca. 1894

Several Of The "Screws" (Propellers) Tested By Maxim
The Screw At Top Center Was The Most Efficient - ca. 1894

Engraving Of The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig And Track - ca. 1894

The Flat Front Control Surface Of The Maxim Test-Rig - ca. 1894

The Maxim Biplane Test-Rig With All Lifting And Control Surfaces Attached - ca. 1894

On the Maxim Biplane Test-Rig's third test run, on July 31, 1894, with Maxim and a crew of three aboard, it lifted with such force that it broke the reinforced restraining track and careened for some 200 yards, at times reaching an altitude of 2 or 3 feet above the damaged track. It was believed that a lifting force of some 10,000 pounds had likely been generated.

Maxim Test Rig after the accident
The Maxim Test-Rig After The Accident Of July 31, 1894

The Test-Rig was subsequently used on a number of occasions to raise funds for charities, rather than raising itself. Within a year or so the Maxim Test-Rig was dismantled. Hiram Maxim designed and built a biplane in 1910 but it was unsuccessful.

Hiram Maxim
The Maxim Test-Rig During A Charity Event Sponsored By The Aeronautical Society
Hiram Maxim On Ground, Center Right

Hiram Maxim
Hiram Maxim And His Unsuccessful Biplane Of 1910

SUGGESTED READING: The Amazing Hiram Maxim - An Intimate Biography by Arthur Hawkey,
Spellmount Publishers, 2001