Belgian Armand Deperdussin, a cabaret singer and silk salesman, had been excited by Blériot’s Channel flight and the great 1909 Rheims air show. Though lacking technical training, Deperdussin hired Louis Béchereau. In 1913 the young engineer designed the most advanced racing airplane of the pre-war years. A monoplane with parallel-chord wings with the spars made of hickory and ash, and ribs made of pine. The revolutionary monocoque construction delivered structural strength in its skin, like an eggshell, and required no internal bracing or external birdcages of struts and wires. It was covered with three-ply sheets of tulip wood and varnished cloth to enhance its streamlined aerodynamic characteristics and was powered by a 140-horsepower Gnôme rotary engine. For additional streamlining a large spinner was fitted over the hub of the propeller and the undercarriage was an aerodynamically clean design made from a pair of U-shaped plywood frames. The aircraft is noted for winning the Gordon Bennett Trophy in 1912 and 1913, and for raising the world speed record for aircraft to 130 mph (210 km/h). Deperdussin was later jailed for five years in 1917 for embezzling FF 32,000,000 from his company. A reorganised company controlled by his rival Blériot went on with designer Béchereau to produce one of the most famous fighters of World War I, the SPAD VII. [Monash Engineering Faculty, Melbourne].