Military Wiki
M-1 Messenger
Role Single-seat communications biplane
Manufacturer Sperry Aircraft
Designer Alfred Verville
First flight 1921
Primary user United States Army Air Service
Number built 42

The Sperry Messenger was an American single-seat biplane designed by Alfred V. Verville working for the Engineering Division of the United States Army Air Service and built under contract by Sperry Aircraft Company of Farmingdale, New York. The aircraft was later designated the M-1 and MAT by the USAAS. Sperry produced approximately 50 Messengers and the civilian two-seat version, the Sport Plane, between 1920 and 1926.[1]


In 1921 the Engineering Division of the USAAS designed a simple single-seat biplane to be used as a messenger aircraft to replace motorcycles. The aircraft was built by the Sperry Aircraft Company as the Sperry Messenger. The Messenger was a conventional biplane with a fixed tailskid landing gear and a nose mounted 60 hp (45 kW) Lawrance L-4 radial engine. In 1924 the military aircraft were given USAAS designations M-1, M-1A and MAT. The prototype was used by Lawrence Sperry who disappeared in 1923 flying a Messenger across the English Channel from France to England.

Operational history

The Messenger's small size, simple construction, and inexpensive cost made it ideal for testing and experimentation. As well as the original communications duties, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics used one in its pioneering aerodynamic research programs from 1923 to 1929. Sperry modified twelve into the radio-controlled Messenger Aerial Torpedo, an early flying bomb, and developed the apparatus for a Messenger to make the first successful airship hook on and release in December 1924.[1]


A Sperry M-1 at NACA Langley, in 1926.

Sperry designation, 42 built later given USAAS designations M-1, M-1A and MAT.
Messengers used in communications duties, 26 built and known by the USAAS as the Verville-Sperry M-1[2]
Messengers with increased fuel capacity, 16 built.
Messengers used as aerial torpedoes (Messenger Aerial Torpedo), eight conversions.


United States

Specifications (M-1)

General characteristics

  • Crew: 1
  • Length: 17 ft 9 in ( m)
  • Wingspan: 20 ft 0 in ( m)
  • Height: 6 ft 9 in ( m)
  • Wing area: 160 ft2 ( m2)
  • Empty weight: 623 lb ( kg)
  • Gross weight: 862 lb ( kg)
  • Powerplant: × Lawrance L-4, 60 hp (45 kW)


  • Maximum speed: 97 mph ( km/h)
  • Rate of climb: 700 ft/min ( m/s)


  • none
  • Gallery

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    See also


    1. 1.0 1.1 Kinney, Dr. Jeremy R. (January 1986). "Aviation Today". Access Intelligence, LLC. 
    2. NASM Article on Verville-Sperry M-1 Note: Make sure to click on "View Long Description" for information on official name
    • Taylor, Michael J. H. (1989). Jane's Encyclopedia of Aviation. London: Studio Editions. 
    • The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Aircraft (Part Work 1982-1985). Orbis Publishing. pp. 2955. 

    External links

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