The Général de Montluisant letter 1924
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 Captive balloons1875 - 1882 : Les ballons captifs1882 - 1884 : Le dirigeable La France
The "La France" dirigible1888 - 1891 : Le sous-marin Le Gymnote
The "Gymnote" submarine
1885 - 1896 : Le service incendie de la Ville de Paris The Ville de Paris fire department

1897 - 1916 : Panhard & LevassorThe Panhard & Levassor cy management

Documents in English
Scientist et military officer
Automotive pioneer
Providential manager
© Philippe KREBS :

French officer and inventor


Three voyages in the USA
  • 1885 - For the Ville de Paris Fire Department.

  • 1895 - For the Ville de Paris Fire Department.

  • 1906 - The Selden affair where Arthur Krebs pleaded joint to Henry Ford :  (see below)


Aironautics pioneer
  • 1884 - ON FLYING AND BALLOON STEERING, by Henry Coxwell, from the Contemporary Review : page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

  • 1889 - FEASIBILITY OF AEROSTATION by Karl Blind, in the North American Review : page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7

  • "General W. N. Hutchinson [in his book "The Navigable Balloon in War and Peace"] remarks : Much has been done since in Germany and elsewhere, and attempted in Russia. In France, the brothers Tissandier, M. de Lôme, and, recently,, Captain Renard, and M. Krebs, liberally assisted by their Government, have scientifically and energetically taken up the task so admirably entered on by Henri Giffard. In September and November, 1885, they (Renard and Krebs) made highly successful trips from Chalais-Meudon in a fish-shaped balloon, about one hundred and heighty feet in length and nearly forty in diameter, supporting a car one hundred and height feet long, six and a half deep, and four and a half broad, sometimes carrying three aeronauts in cruses of about three-quarters of an hour.

    On one occasion, a nine-mile breeze blowing, they travelled at the rate of fourteen miles an hour, head to wind, thus gaining on the wind, when it was dead ahead, at the rate of five miles an hour. After sundry evolutions, to convince the most sceptical of the permfect obedience of their little vessel to its helm, they returned to the extact spot they had quitted.

    Electricity was their motive power. Such unquestionable feats stimulated the heads of the military departments of other countries to strenuous exertions towards yet further improvements, in the convinction that success, besides immensely increasing their efficiency in war, would, by reason of navigables superseding far costier armaments, lead to great economy."

  • 1910 - Blackwood's magazine - NEW WARS FOR OLD : The submarine menace, The airship menace, A reply to critics By COLONEL À COURT REPINGTON, C.M.G. (see below)
  • 1997 - A History of Aeronautics by E. Charles Vivian : Chapter V.- British Airship Design

  • "Private subscription under the auspices of the Morning Post got together sufficient funds in 1910 for the purchase of a Lebaudy airship, which was built in France, flown across the Channel, and presented to the Army Airship Fleet. This dirigible was 337 feet long, and was driven by two 135 horse-power Panhard motors, each of which actuated two propellers. The journey from Moisson to Aldershot was completed at a speed of 36 miles an hour, but the airship was damaged while being towed into its shed. On May of the following year, the Lebaudy was brought out for a flight, but, in landing, the guide rope fouled in trees and sheds and brought the airship broadside on to the wind; she was driven into some trees and wrecked to such an exteent that rebuilding was considered an impossibility. A Clement Bayard, bought by the army airship section, became scrap after even less flying than had been accomplished by the Lebaudy."
  • 2000 - Anatomy of a blimp (Goodyear)

  • 2002 - The Quest for the Sky monument, at Felicity (California) : FIRST DIRIGIBLE

  • "After failed attempts to steer balloons, the first proven success. On 9 August 1884 the dirigible "LA FRANCE" completed a preset 7,6 kilometers closed circuit course at Chalais-Meudon. The report was accepted by the Academy of Sciences."
  • 2003 - The US Centennial of Flight Commission : First Flights of the Airship

  • "In 1884, Charles Renard and Arthur C. Krebs, inventors and military officers in the French Army Corps of Engineers, built an elongated balloon, La France, which was a vast improvement over earlier models. La France was the first airship that could return to its starting point in a light wind. It was 165 feet (50.3 meters) long, its maximum diameter was 27 feet (8.2 meters), and it had a capacity of 66,000 cubic feet (1,869 cubic meters). Like the Tissandiers' airship, an electric, battery-powered motor propelled La France, but this one produced 7.5 horsepower (5.6 kilowatts). This motor was later replaced with one that produced 8.5 horsepower (6.3 kilowatts). 

    A long and slender car consisting of a silk-covered bamboo framework lined with canvas hung below the balloon. The car, which was 108 feet long (33 meters), 4.5 feet (1.4 meters) wide, and 6 feet (1.8 meters) deep, housed the lightweight batteries and the motor. The motor drove a four-bladed wooden tractor propeller that was 23 feet (7 meters) in diameter but which could be inclined upwards when landing to avoid damage to the blades. Renard also provided a rudder and elevator, ballonnets, a sliding weight to compensate for any shift in the center of gravity, and a heavy guide rope to assist in landing.

    The first flight of La France took place on August 9, 1884. Renard and Krebs landed successfully at the parade ground where they had begun—a flight of only 5 miles (8 kilometers) and 23 minutes but one where they had been in control throughout. During 1884 and 1885, La France made seven flights. Although her batteries limited her flying range, she demonstrated that controlled flight was possible if the airship had a sufficiently powerful lightweight motor."

  • 2005 - Airships : Misconceptions and Myths : "A better proposition comes in 1884 with La France which is recognized as the first real, although hardly useful, dirigible. It is equipped with a 9 HP electrical engine and a propeller with four blades. On August 9, 1884 two officers from the French Engineering Corps, Captain Charles Renard (1847-1905) and Lieutenant Arthur Krebs make a 18 km trip returning to the launch site! Of course, the weather is co-operating with light winds, but still the two share the honour of being the first crew of a real airship. The trip takes 23 minutes, and it starts and ends at the French military balloon head-quarters at Meudon, south-west of Paris.

  •      La France also has the distinction of being a contributory reason why a German count [von Zeppelin] and officer got interested in airship designing."
  • 2005 - Airplane Mathematics by Joyce Bryant : "The first fully controllable airship, also powered by electricity was built by Charles Renard and Arthur Krebs with a heavy eight horsepower electric motor fed by storage batteries."


Underwater navigation pioneer


Automobile pioneer
  • 1895 - Science Museum London : Preserving the Panhard et Levassor "The first car to be imported into Britain".

  • 1896 - The Krebs' light car English patent :  page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 
      This patent includes, the first time, the POSITIVE CASTER ANGLE principle :
      "To ensure stability of direction by means of a special arrangement of fore-carriage, that is to say, to re-establish automatically the parallelism of the two axles of the vehicle when there is no tendency to keep them in any other direction, or after a temporary effort has caused them to diverge from said parallelism. [...] The axle of the fore-carriage is situated a suitable distance behind the projection of the axis of the pivot-pin in order to ensure the stability of direction above referred to."

      This patent includes the "Three point suspension system" that Ford will widely use in his Model T in 1908  (see below) : 
      "The rigid framing C, which supports the whole of the motor mechanism is indicated diagrammatically in doted lines in Figs. 1 and 2. It is suspended from the sides A A at three points C1 C2 C3 provided with pivoted joints, each of which allows in a certain degree the framings C to have an independant relative movement. It will therefore be understood that since by this means the framing C is not fixed to the frame of the carriage in an absolutely rigid manner, the framing is thereby placed out of the influence of the deformations to which the frame of the vehicle is liable to be subjected during motion."
  • 1898 - The Clement-Panhard light car patent,.which includes the "Three point suspension system" as the 1896 patent. 

  • 1898 - Krebs' generalization of the steering wheel on the C.S.ROLLS album (Science Museum Archive) :
  • 1899 - RECENT PROGRESS IN AUTOMOBILISM IN FRANCE by the Marquis de Chasseloup-Laubat : page 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14 - 15 

  • 1901 - THE AUTOCAR - "A VISIT TO THE PANHARD WORKS" : (see below)

  • 16 January 1901 - The PANHARD & LEVASSOR THREE POINT SUSPENSION patent, filed by Krebs then Managing Director of  the P&L Co : Krebs' 1902 hand written note (see below)
    • "Three point suspension.
      That disposition places the mechanism out of the elastic distortions which the frame of the car is always liable during motion ; it avoids two pivoted joints and reduces friction from 8 to 10 %. "
  • 1902 - Krebs hand written note : "Note about the origin of the Société Anonyme des Anciens Établissements Panhard et Levassor".  :

  • 1904 - Rolls-Royce 10 hp : "Carburation was effected by a Krebs carburettor of French design."

  • 1906The Selden affair where Arthur Krebs pleaded joint to Henry Ford :

  • The book "Monopoly on wheels: Henry Ford and the Selden automobile patent", by William Greenleaf, Detroit, Wayne State University Press, 1961, mentions the Krebs' expertise.
  • 1907 - Speech by Alexander Graham Bell, March 4, 1907 from AMERICAN MEMORY :

  • "The French Military Dirigible, "Patrie," in flight.
    The latest French airship. "La Patrie," is 33¾ feet in diameter by 196 feet long, and has a capacity of 111,195 cubic feet. Driven by a 70-horsepower motor and two propellers, this dirigible has recently made about 30 miles an hour. Its lifting capacity is 2,777 pounds.                                                                Illustration from the Scientific American."
    Info The Patrie dirigible was powered by a 70-horsepower Panhard engine.

    "The New Deutsch Airship, "Ville de Paris," the latest dirigible balloon.
    The peculiar arrangement of twin, hydrogen-filled cylinders forms a sort of balancing tail. This airship has a length of 60 meters (196.85 feet) and a diameter of 10.8 meters (35.43 feet) while its capacity is 3,000 cubic meters (105,943 cubic feet). Its propellers are placed on either side of the body framework, or "nacelle," and at about the center of the latter, which is boat-shaped. The weight which can be carried, outside of the equipment and the fuel sufficient for a ten hours' run, is about 1,100 pounds. A 70-horsepower Panhard motor is used.
    Illustration from the Scientific American."
  • 1908 - The Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers from AMERICAN MEMORY :

  • "THE OUTLOOK ON AVIATION: By the Asst. Editor.
    The November Number of "aeronautics" has at last arrived. It describes, in this issue, the Herring aeroplane. It also contains an article on "The Increased Lifting Effect of Curved Aeroplanes" by Edward W. Smith. There is given quite a detailed account of the aeronautical meet at Morris Park.

    For the first time on record the Wright aeroplane was operated solely by a stranger, M. le Comte de Lambert on Nov. 23. It is reported that a few days later Wright brought his machine to the ground, describing a spiral path, and lighted without accident. There is a report that Wright intends flying with two men besides himself.

    A Russian by the name of Bolotoff is having constructed by the Voisin Bros., a triplane which seems to be arousing considerable attention. It is to be driven by a 100 H.P. Panhard engine and is built, as nearly as can be judged by a very poor accompanying illustration, to resemble the form of a bird. The machine is 33 ft. in length, its wings measure 21 ft. from tip to tip.

    There has been a split in the French Aero Club in the form of a League Nationale Avienne which in a few weeks obtained five thousand supporters and considerable sums in prize money. As a result of the split the Marquis de Dion and M. Archdeacon have resigned from the Mother Club."

  • 1908 - Henry FORD file a patent for the FORD THREE-POINT SYSTEM and widely used it on his Model T :

  • The FORD Model N 1906 brochure
    ""The Motor and transmission gear being combined makes a very compact power plant, and is supported in the chassis frame at three points. The three point suspension principle is carried out extensively throughout the entire car."

    Bruce W. McCalley - 2000
    "Third was the use of so-called “three point” suspension. Previous Fords, and other cars, had employed some sections of the Model T suspension but in the Model T it was carried to its ultimate advantage. By mounting the engine, front, and rear axles in a triangular fashion, the twisting of the chassis caused by the poor roads of the day did not effect the operation of components. In the Model K, for example, a strain on the chassis caused by lifting one rear wheel would twist the engine mount so that a man could not crank the car. Not only did the three-point suspension prevent such stresses from effecting the engine, its very nature greatly reduced the twisting action itself since the front and rear axles could act independently of each other while imparting almost no distortion of the chassis."
  • 1912 - The scientific management (from Taylor) in the P&L works, with Charles de Fréminville (Krebs' brother-in-law ) : (see below)


Automotive industry pioneer
The Panhard & Levassor manager


Motor boat pioneer
  • 1902 - Scientific American - The Marine Automobile : the Recent French Invention of the Automobile Launch 

  • "It is quite natural that the sport of auto-launch racing should receive its baptism in France, the native home of automobilism, for the French, though poor at yachting as a nation, enjoy a well-merited reputation in the line of light craft for pleasure boating. 

    The motor as well as the hull herewith shown were specially designed for racing, and it was found that the motor worked perfectly under all conditions, starting with a half turn of the handle and maintaining its speed smoothly and regularly. The type of motor adopted was made famous by the Panhard & Levassor establishment, makers of the Panhard automobiles. The superintendent of the factory, M. Krebs, selected a 24 horse power gasoline motor and made some minor changes in it to fit the marine equipment of the launch."

  • 1903 - The Rudder (February, 1903, p. 85) : Motor-Boating On The Seine, by Sanford S. Pomeroy

  • "I arrived here two days too late to see the 100 Kilometres (62 miles) Race for motor-boats, promoted by the sporting daily, the Auto. I give you the details of the winner and second, which are interesting, as showing what is being done over here. Both boats were built by Tellier & Son, of Paris, the son designing them. 

    Lutece, the winner, was built in 1902, is over all 49 ft.; beam, 4 ft. 11 in. and depth 2 ft. 7 1/2 in. She is diagonal built, with a double cedar skin, canvas between; and below the water line has a third transversal skin 0.118 in. thick; the second diagonal skin is 0.157 in. thick, and the third longitudinal is 0.236 in. thick. Has light locust frames spaced 39 in. The motor bed frames are of pine. The hull weighs 1,540 lbs. The motor, a four-cylinder 70 H.P. Panhard & Levassor, weighing 660 lbs., fly wheel included, the same as was in the Panhard automobiles in last spring's Paris-Madrid Race. The motor is started automobile fashion, with a handle, and then worked electrically with a switch. The motor runs at 1,000 revolutions. The screw is 2 ft. 4 in. in diameter and has a mean pitch of 31 1/2 in. The builders don't consider this screw satisfactory, as it was put in for the original motor of 60 H.P., turning 800 revolutions. The best hour's run was 21 miles, with 8 turns around mark boats. In the last race, October 25, on the Seine, near St. Germain, over the course of 62 miles with 6 turns, Lutece won in 3 hrs. 10 min. 2-5 s., and Rapee II was classed second. 

    Rapee II is over all 26 ft. 3 in.; beam, 3 ft. 9 in,; depth. 1 ft. 11 1/2 in. The hull weighs 330 lbs. The motor, a four-cylinder 24 H.P. Panhard & Levassor, weighing 385 lbs., including fly wheel. Starting device same as Lutece. Has a three-bladed screw 20 3/4 in. in diameter, and 24 1/2 mean pitch. The motor does 900 revolutions. The Rapee's best hour's run was 19 5/8 miles, with four turns, at Lagny, on the Marne river, Oct. 4. 

    I think you will be surprised at the weights of these motors. That which looks like a funnel in the photos is to carry off exhaust gases, the muffler being the horizontal type just below. The long and sustained effort of the motors over a 62-mile course speaks highly for them. The times quoted above were taken by the official timekeepers of the Automobile Club of France, and are to be relied on. Mr. Tellier, who, by the way, is a subscriber to THE RUDDER, said that he considered THE RUDDER is standing at the head of all nautical publications, and was delighted to give all possible details."

  • 1904 - Scientific American - The Development of the High-Speed Launch or Automobile Boat 

  • "The Panhard boat consists of a complete French auto boat equipment in an American hull. The hull is built upon a light oak frame, which is double planked with elm and mahogany, the latter being on the outside. The 15-horse-power, 91 x 136 millimeter (3.582 x 5.118 inch), four-cylinder motor is placed just ahead of the center of the boat, with the operator's seat in front of it. A regular automobile inclined steering wheel is provided. On each side of the operator is a long vertical lever extending upward from the floor of the boat, by which the propeller shaft, with its two globular universal joints, may be disconnected, while the other reverses the propeller blades for reversing. Attached to the boat on each side of the steering wheel is a small handle that moves over a notched segment. One of these handles controls the spark and the other the throttle.

    The motor is fitted with the Krebs automatic carbureter (described in our issue of February 14, 1903), and it is in every respect like the regular automobile motor.. A horizontal exhaust chamber is fitted just below the smoke stack, and the exhaust gasses pass out of the latter. This is the arrangement used in France, instead of conveying the exhaust through a pipe passing through the hull into the water. The rear cock-pit has luxuriously upholstered individual seats capable of accommodating six persons. The boat is expected to make 17 1/2 miles an hour at 750 R.P.M. of the motor. As the latter can be speeded up to 1,200 R.P.M., the boat should be good for spurts of 20 miles an hour or over. This speed, which seems to be the average aimed at, was exceeded a year and a half ago by a 55-foot, 120-horse-power launch designed by Mr. H. T. Leighton, of Syracuse, N.Y., and run on Oneida Lake at a speed of 23 miles an hour over a mile course that had been measured on the ice and staked off when the lake was frozen. Mr. Leighton had built several fast launches previously, and had had the benefit of a good deal of experience with this type of boat.

    The particular launch in question was 55 feet over all and on the water line, 7 3/4 feet beam on deck, and 6 1/2 feet beam on the water line. She was of the regular launch type, with a torpedo-boat stern, and her engine was an eight-cylinder one of the two-cycle type. This boat, therefore, is the fastest small craft that has yet been built, and her engine is probably the first eight-cylinder gasoline engine to be constructed in the world. Thus it appears that America still holds the palm in the matter of fast launches."

  • 1904 - The PANHARD II plans from the MYSTIC SEAPORT MUSEUM (USA)

  • "Designed and builtt by ELECTRIC LAUNCH CO., Bayonne, N.J., for the American Branch of PANHARD & LEVASSOR Automobile CO, Paris, France.
    RUDDER magazine, 1904, pages 273, 282, 283, 499, 639, gives the following data : engine "PANHARD". One description saiys it was 15 H.P, another says 24 H.P., R.P.M. 1000. In a race in May 1904, she made 16.22 m.p.h. (see 1904 RUDDER articles by C.D. Mower & W. P. Stephens)."


Make dreaming his time


French army power supplier