|In 1920 Burnelli teamed up with T. T. Remington, and the Airliner Engineering
Corporation of Amityville was formed at Long Island, New York, to build
the first Burnelli aeroplane to incorporate his lifting fuselage. Designated
RB-1, this 74ft span biplane transport looked like nothing else that had
been built up to that time.
The main feature was its enormous slab fuselage, shaped like an aerofoil in section and sufficiently wide at the nose to house two 55 h.p. Scottish-built Galloway Atlantic engines side by side without the propeller arcs overlapping. The fuselage retained the same width from front to rear, tapering in section to a knife edge at the tail and providing a useful lifting area of 504 sq ft Although the parasite drag of two individual engine nacelles was eliminated, it was considered by some that the disadvantages of having two propellers situated so close to one another, their consequent blanketing effect, and the effect of the thick aerofoil section's airflow around the tail rather outweighed any advantage gained by such an arrangement. The fuselage was built up on three transverse plywood partitions and covered with corrugated duralumin. The forward section housed the two pilots, in open cockpits, while the middle section contained the roomy passenger cabin with cushioned seats for 32 passengers and the tapering tail section supported the tail unit.
The wings of the RB-1 were built on an orthodox wooden framework and were fabric covered. It appears that the RB-1, bearing the serial number 9182, did all that its designer claimed, except that it lacked good directional control. It was very sluggish in turns, which had to be made with as little bank as possible. The first RB-1 was lost at Staten Island, New York, in 1923, when a violent storm immersed it in salt water and rendered it irreparable.
Evidence suggests that a second RB-1 was built within a year of the first machine's appearance. Similar in basic outline, it was powered by a pair of 420 h.p. Liberty XII engines, had twin-wheel main undercarriage units reminiscent of those on the Vickers Vimy, extra cabin glazing, balanced ailerons and reduced fin area. The large frontal radiators of the Liberties were eventually replaced by vertical units mounted against the forward centre section struts.
This aircraft probably became the next machine, the RB-2 of 1924, claimed to be the world's first freight aeroplane. Following the loss of the RB-1 No 1 in 1923, that machine's Galloway Atlantic engines and single-wheel main undercarriage units were apparently installed in the RB-1 No 2, which had its original, fabric covered wings replaced by new units covered in corrugated duralumin, making the RB-2 a completely metal covered aircraft Its fuselage contained an 18ft x14ft passenger cabin capable of accommodating 25 passengers in "parlour car" comfort, there being ample stand-up headroom. Alternatively, the RB-2 could be converted to carry 6,000lb of freight, plus a crew of three.