Monday, October 31, 2011
The AC-130 gunship's primary missions are close air support, air interdiction and force protection. Missions in close air support are troops in contact, convoy escort and urban operations. Air interdiction missions are conducted against preplanned targets or targets of opportunity. Force protection missions include air base defense and facilities defense. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Saturday, October 29, 2011
An A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany flies over southern Germany. A-10s are the first Air Force aircraft specially designed for close air support of ground forces. They are simple, effective and survivable twin-engine jet aircraft that can be used against all ground targets, including tanks and other armored vehicles. The A-10 has excellent maneuverability at low air speeds and altitude, and are highly accurate weapons-delivery platforms. They can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate under 1,000-foot ceilings (303.3 meters) with 1.5-mile (2.4 kilometers) visibility. Their wide combat radius and short takeoff and landing capability permit operations in and out of locations near front lines. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)
American Airlines publicity photo of its DC-3 airliner flying over the Statue of Liberty, 1939.
Aircraft flying over The Statue of Liberty, New York...:
Aircraft flying over The Statue of Liberty, New York City, circa 1935.
A KC-135 from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing, McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas refuels a B-2 Spirit from the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri. The 22nd Air Refueling Wing's primary mission is to provide Global Reach by conducting air refueling and airlift where and when needed. It operates in that role as part of the Air Mobility Command's commitment to Global Reach providing Air Force assets in support of world peace through readiness and the deterrence of armed aggression. This commitment also includes supporting the Department of Defense in many contingency situations, from strategic force projection and strategic force mobility, to humanitarian assistance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Rose Reynolds)
ATLANTA, October 25, 2011 – Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (Generation Orbit or GO) announced operation today as a new venture dedicated to the creation of a fast, flexible, and dedicated nanosatellite (1-30 kg) orbital payload delivery service. The service, called GO Launcher, will use existing high-speed jet aircraft and mostly existing rockets. Generation Orbit was officially announced today at the 2011 Commercial and Government Responsive Access to Space Technology Exchange (CRASTE) conference being held in Atlanta, GA.
GO is developing a new United States-designed and operated nanosatellite launch system called GO Launcher, an air-launch rocket architecture composed of an existing, reusable high-speed aircraft launch platform and expendable rocket stages. GO Launcher is designed to reduce the time it takes to get to space (under the mantra of “Your Orbit, On Time”) for the emerging field of nanosatellite customers.
“There are an estimated 250 nanosatellite projects globally today with market projections showing about 100 nanosatellites per year that will need launches in the latter part of this decade. The nanosatellite wave is real and is upon us. Yet these types of satellites currently have to launch as secondary payloads. GO is going to change that, giving these small satellites the freedom to launch when they want and to choose their orbit,” stated Mr. A.C. Charania, CEO of Generation Orbit. “GO Launcher presents a near-term, low tech approach for a growing class of customer. GO is bringing together a focused and capable team of aerospace and aeronautical experts including aerospace launch vehicle designers, former military fighter pilots, aircraft operators, and rocket system developers. We look forward to utilizing the significant aerospace technical expertise within our firm and its partners to develop a responsive nanosatellite transport service for government, commercial, academic, and international customers.”
Two service lines are planned: GO Launcher 1 (GO1) and GO Launcher 2 (GO2). GO1 is an initial demonstrator utilizing mostly existing solid rockets. GO1 could mature into an operational capability in the 1-10 kg class (LEO payload delivery capability, 250 km circular orbit). GO2 is a larger operational system than GO1 that offers a minimum payload delivery service in the 20-30 kg class (LEO payload delivery capability, 450 km circular orbit) with the potential for future growth. GO2 benefits from the experience gained from GO1 to reduce overall risk and prove the “Your Orbit Your Time” fast operations model. GO2 would also include options for inclusion of new technologies.
The initial concepts for GO1 and GO2 involve use of an existing air launch carrier aircraft, either in the “fighter” jet class (F-15D, Su-27, F-4 Phantom II) or in the business jet class (Gulfstream II, Gulfstream III). GO is examining various test and operational launch sites for its service including NASA Wallops Flight Facility/Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC)/Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, and Cecil Field Spaceport.
News and information can be found on the Internet at www.generationorbit.com.
About Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc.
Generation Orbit Launch Services, Inc. (Generation Orbit or GO) is a nanosatellite orbital payload delivery service company. GO has offices in Atlanta, GA and Washington, DC. GO is privately held.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
An early production Fiat G.50 Freccia with fully enclosed canopy
Monday, October 24, 2011
Sunday, October 23, 2011
Friday, October 21, 2011
The F-15 is a twin engine tactical fighter capable of operating in any kind of weather conditions and was designed by the renowned McDonnell Douglas. Their design was selected in 1967 to give the US military a dominant air-superiority fighter, which would become one of the most successful fighters in modern times with over 100 aerial combat victories and no air-to-air losses. The F-15′s first flight was in July 1972. It went through rigorous trials and entered service in 1976 and is expected to remain in service with the US military until 2025. Since it’s production, the Eagle has also entered service with the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Japan and Israel. Originally envisioned as a pure dogfighter, the F-15 has been further developed into 2 upgraded models. The F-15E Strike Eagle which is equipped with more advanced avionics and electronic warfare capabilities. The F-15SE is a stealthy version, complete with internal weapons bays and radar-absorbent materials.
The F-15 was developed in the F-X program of the late 1960′s in response to fears that the Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat could outclass current American fighters. McDonnell Douglas beat out heavy hitters like General Dynamics, Fairchild Republic and North American Rockwell to snatch up the lucrative fighter contract. The Eagle’s design incorporated the best aspects of older combat jet aircraft like the F-4 Phantom and combined it with the best in new technology and advanced designs like the “look down/shoot down” radar that could distinguish low-flying targets from ground clutter, a new canopy that provided unparalleled visibility, and all-new avionics and computer information systems.
Being the first strictly air-superiority fighter developed by the US since the F-86 Sabre from the late 1940′s, the production of the F-15 also required an overhaul in the design of advanced air-t0-air weaponry. The revolutionary canopy and heads up display allowed the single pilot to conduct air combat and fly the plane as safely and effectively as possible. It can be outfitted with several types of missiles including the Sparrow, AMRAAM, or Sidewinder. It also features an internal M61A1 20 mm Gatling gun under the right wing.
The Eagle has seen extensive combat use, mostly by Middle-Eastern militaries in regional conflicts. The first air-to-air kill was scored by an Israeli Air Force ace in 1979 and during Israeli raids into Lebanon in 1979-81, F-15As shot down 13 Syrian MiG-21 Fishbeds and 2 Syrian MiG-25 Foxbats. F-15s served in the 1982 Lebanon War where they shot down 40 enemy planes, 23 Syrian MiG-21 Fishbeds, 17 MiG-23 Floggers and 1 Syrian SA.342L Gazelle helicopter. In 1984, Saudi F-15C pilots shot down 2 Iranian F-4E Phantoms. In 1985, F-15s were used in a ground attack role to bomb a PLO headquarters in Tunisia. Saudi pilots shot down 2 Iraqi Mirage F1s during the Gulf War. The Eagle is also capable of being equipped with a satellite killer missile and has performed numerous successful tests. The USAF deployed F-15C, D, and E models to participate in the First Gulf War where they accounted for 36 of the 39 aerial victories. As of 2008, the aerial combat record for the F-15 from all operators stands at 104 kills and 0 air combat losses.
Number built: 1,198
Unit Cost: F-15A/B: $27,900,000. F-15C/D: $29,900,000
- Crew: 1: pilot
- Length: 63 ft 9 in (19.43 m)
- Wingspan: 42 ft 10 in (13.05 m)
- Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.63 m)
- Wing area: 608 ft² (56.5 m²)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A006.6 root, NACA 64A203 tip
- Empty weight: 28,000 lb (12,700 kg)
- Loaded weight: 44,500 lb (20,200 kg)
- Max takeoff weight: 68,000 lb (30,845 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney F100-100 or −220 afterburning turbofans
- Dry thrust: 17,450 lbf (77.62 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 25,000 lbf for −220 (111.2 kN for −220) each
- Fuel capacity: 13,455 lb (6,100 kg) internal
- Maximum speed:
- High altitude: Mach 2.5+ (1,650+ mph, 2,660+ km/h)
- Low altitude: Mach 1.2 (900 mph, 1,450 km/h)
- Combat radius: 1,061 nmi (1,222 mi, 1,967 km) for interdiction mission
- Ferry range: 3,450 mi (3,000 nmi, 5,550 km) with conformal fuel tanks and three external fuel tanks
- Service ceiling: 65,000 ft (20,000 m)
- Rate of climb: >50,000 ft/min (254 m/s)
- Wing loading: 73.1 lb/ft² (358 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 1.12 (−220)
Thursday, October 20, 2011
Sometimes Plato (427 BC – 347 BC) hit the nail on the head; when he said ‘necessity (who) is the mother of invention’, he was obviously predicting what would happen to certain WW2 fighter aircraft and their engines! After the prototype Grumman F6F Hellcat flew, someone thought it would be a good idea to replace the Wright R-2600 Cyclone with the magnificent Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp. The Hawker Tornado programme was dumped because the Rolls-Royce Vulture engine it shared with the Avro Manchester was failing (engine fires in the Avro Manchester – although it could have been sorted for a fighter application, maybe), so the Napier Sabre engine won out and the RAF got it’s sister aircraft, the Typhoon.
It was 1945, and the Japanese were losing the war – badly. Boeing B-29s were razing their cities to the ground, and they need a high-flying interceptor, fast. Using the Kawasaki Ki-61 Hein as a basis, the IJAAF try to build a manouverable fighter with genuine high-altitude performance, the Ki-61-II-KAI. Unfortunately, the temperamental inline of the new fighter – the Kawasaki Ha-140 - was unreliable, and when the factory where most were being built was flattened by a B-29 raid, the IJAAF was left with several hundred engineless airframes laying around. In desperation, the slim fuselage of three of these useless airframes were modified to take the only high-performance engine available, the 1,500 hp Mitsubishi Ha-112-II Kinsei …..the result wa the Ki-100-1b Goshikisentoki (or ‘Type 5 Fighter’). This was an absolute winner of a fighter ‘plane – the first examples of which reached Homeland Defence units in July, 1945 - and despite having a maximum speed of only 360 mph, they were manouverable, hard-hitting (2 x 20 mm Ho-5 cannon in the nose, 2 x 12.7 mm Ho-103 machineguns in the wings) and a danger not just to B-29s but even Mustangs, Hellcats and Corsairs. Fortunately for the Allies, the number of conversions and new-built aircraft were only enough to equip a handful of IJAAF Sentai because of the general disruption and destruction of the war industries.
The example you can see here was on display in the ‘Milestones of Flight’ Gallery at the RAF Museum, London, during my visit earlier this year (it is now on its way to RAF Museum,Cosford, as part of a general movement of airframes between the two sites). It was one of only four captured Japanese aircraft brought back to the U.K. after the end of the war for further study, out of over 60 selected by Air Intelligence Units - shipping space was given over to returning PoWs, of course. Two of the others ended up in museums – a superb Mitsubishi Ki-46 “Dinah” at the RAF Museum, Cosford, and the cockpit section of a Mitsubishi A6M5 “Zeke” in the Imperial War Museum, London. I have a distant link to the fourth airframe, in that the Kokusai Ki-86a Army Type 4 biplane trainer, a licence-built version of the Bücker Bü 131 Jungmann (and which would now be the only survivor) was burnt by RAF authorities at the then-RAF Wroughton in the 1950s - long before I got there as part of the Science Museum staff.
This Ki-100-1b is now the sole survivor of its type in the world, and its current state of preservation is a credit to the staff of the RAF Museum. If you are visiting the U.K. track it down, and view a marvellous example of aeronautical improvisation.
THE FASTEST EVER AIRCRAFT
All aircraft enthusiasts and the ones that have been working in aerospace for decades know that the fastest ever is the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. It looks like a “Star wars” aircraft but it is what we can call a conventional aircraft, what means that it takes off and lands as any other aircraft. Some other aircraft could be faster, as the X-15, but they did not take off by themselves.
But why talk about the Blackbird, as it is not operational any more and can be seen only on aircraft museums? The reason is quite simple: working with the new generation of aerospace engineers and designers, exposed to the slogans of the aerospace giants of today (“high-technology”, “state-of-the art” engineering tools, “Next” and so on), few of these young professionals know that there was a period of the aerospace history when the things were done and well done, without all the “high-tech” tools available today. A period when engineers and designers were making aircraft (and also space ships) that would be impossible to be done today in the timeframe and cost of those magnificent engineering achievements. If you do not agree with our words, we will present data, at the end of the article, of the new designs of today and you may conclude by yourself
The SR-71 originated from a similar design that was the A-12. In the early 60’s the reconnaissance aircraft used by the USA (the U-2) was vulnerable due to its low speed, so that a new design for a faster reconnaissance aircraft was necessary. The contract for development of the A-12 (predecessor of the SR-71) was awarded to Lockheed in August 1959 and a contract for production of 12 aircraft followed on January 1960. The first flight was on April 1962. At this time the engines were P&W JT-75, as the JT-58, developed for the A-12/SR-71, were not fully operational. On January 1963 the aircraft was fitted with the P&W JT-58 and reached speeds in excess of Mach 3. It is important to note that from contract award to first flight it took 2 years and to fly at Mach 3 a little more.
The contract for production of the SR-71 was awarded to Lockheed on December 1962 and the first flight was on December 1964, just 2 years after. The engineer leading the Blackbird development was Clarence L. “Kelly” Johnson.
BASIC DATA AND PERFORMANCE
Even today there is no aircraft that could get close to the performance of the SR-71. It can fly at Mach 3.2 at 85,000ft with a range of 3,200 nautical miles (without refueling). The SR-71 settled on 1976 speed and altitude records (Altitude in Horizontal Flight: 85,068.997 ft – 25,929 m and Speed Over a Straight Course: 2,193.167 mph – 3,529.6 km/h), unbeaten up to now. The table below presents some basic data of the Blackbird. More information can be accessed with the links.
WHAT WAS NEW FOR THE BLACKBIRD
Reading the news today about recent developments and their delays, the most common excuse for the inability of today’s management to handle any development in time and cost is always about “new”. New materials, new manufacturing process, new systems, new software, new supply chain management and so on. For the SR-71 there were also “new” things and , in fact, almost everything was new and it was still developed in a short time. The main “new” things on the blackbird:
New engine – the P&W J-58 was a new engine that could operate for extended time at high Mach numbers with afterburner, It was developed for the A-12/SR-71 aircraft.
New fuel – due to the temperature op operation of the Blackbird, the J-58 engines used an special fuel. The JP-7 fuel has low volatility and is flash-resistant.
New structural material – Titanium, the basic material that the Blackbird is made of, was a new material at those days and the only available metal that could resist the high temperatures that the airframe was exposed on cruise flight. The main landing gear is up to today the largest titanium forget part use in aircraft.
New Aerodynamics – just looking at the aircraft, it is shaped for high speed, what was something completely new at those times. Even today it is still ahead of anything flying our skies.
New tires – the rubber compound of the tires was developed to resist high temperatures, having aluminium powder and filled with nitrogen (not a practice at those days).
Just not to extend too much, the crew escape system, the control of the engine spike with an analog computer and many other details were completely new. Even with all these “news”, it still had a development time of 2 years.
WHAT DID NOT EXIST DURING THE SR-71 DEVELOPMENT
Does not make any difference where you work today, you will have a PC and/or a workstation at your desk, connected to a network, and software for the type of engineering activity you work with. But how was it is the early 60’s?
Calculations were done with slide rules. Not even the simplest electronic hand calculator existed, so no calculators, no PC’s, no mainframes.
As there were no computers, structural analysis was done by what we now call “hand calculations”. No finite element models and calculations, no pre and post processors.
Drawings were real drawings, in paper, no drawing and design programs like CATIA and similar.
Aerodynamic calculations also using traditional calculations and testing, no CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) programs.
Manufacture of milled parts were done by workers without any numerical control machining.
Information inside the design office and communications with shop floor was with paper and telephone. No e-mails, conference calls, etc. Not even the fax machines existed at those days.
And, with all these “no’s”, it was still made in 2 years.
SOME DEVELOPMENT DATA
In order to position the incredible (at least for today’s companies) development time of the fastest ever aircraft, a table and a chart with the approximate development time for some known aircraft are presented below. Numbers are indicative only, as companies have teams that study new designs before official go-ahead. Note that some of these aircraft are with the “new” ingredient: Comet is the first pressurized airliner. The Boeing 747 is the first airliner to be equipped with a high by-pass turbo fan engine and high redundant systems. The A300 is the first twin engine wide body and incorporated composite parts (not common when it was designed). The A320 is the first commercial aircraft with flight-by-wire controls and side stick. The A400M is the first military transport to have extensive use of composite materials on wings and the Boeing 787 is the first airliner with composite wing and fuselage. So, all these designs have the “new”, but not at the extension of the Blackbird.
Note: Assuming that the A400M will be delivered on December 2011.
Note that most of these aircraft developments have the “new” ingredient: Comet is the first pressurized airliner. The Boeing 747 is the first airliner to be equipped with a high by-pass turbo fan engine and high redundant systems. The A300 is the first twin engine wide body and has many composite parts (not common when it was designed). The A320 is the first commercial aircraft with flight-by-wire controls and side stick. The A400M is the first military transport to have extensive use of composite materials on wings and the Boeing 787 is the first airliner with composite wing and fuselage. So, all these designs have the “new”, but not at the extension of the Blackbird.
The Blackbird will keep its records for a long time. Nothing compares with its capabilities and today, even with all tools available, a similar development will take what, 20 years? By the evolution of development times of new projects, maybe more. Industry today lost the track of doing the things focused, with chief designers like Kelly Johnson (A-12, SR-71, F-104) or Ed Heinemann (Skyraider, Skyhawk). The result is clear in all new developments: delays, technical problems and cost overrun. Some good examples: A380, A400M, Boeing 787, F-22, JSF, just to mention the well known.
TO KNOW MORE
Research for this article was done using many sources. The list of links here is just part of it. All them have additional information.
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Article written on October 2011. No restrictions for non commercial use as long not altered and referencing the source.
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A record setting Neptune called The Turtle — or was it The Truculent Turtle?
There is no doubt that this aircraft with its two piston engines is special, setting a long distance unrefueled flight record which remained standing until a B-52 Stratofortress claimed the title. What is in doubt is the name of the aircraft. Many records, including the museum page, say it is the Truculent Turtle — however, the nose and earliest references say The Turtle. Truculence aside, the ship was aptly named since the average cruise speed of the flight was an unremarkable 200 mph (320kph) but for a fantastic distance of 11,235 miles (17,976km). The flight took off from Perth Australia with the intention of landing at Washington DC but weather over the Pacific Ocean and the Rockies cut into the fuel supply, so the flight terminated in Columbus OH instead. The flight crew of four pilots, along with a kangaroo, were aloft for 55 hours and 17 minutes.
Naturally, The Turtle was no ordinary P2V Neptune since it was modified to fly for such a long distance. Incredibly, so much more fuel was carried that it took off weighing 2.7 times its own weight and required the assistance of JATO bottles to get airborne. The aircraft can be seen in the National Naval Aviation Museum suspended from a hangar ceiling with its landing gear deployed.
The record setting Lockheed P2V Neptune known as "The Turtle" though some say "Truculent Turtle" — photo by Joseph May
Four men flew The Turtle for a bit over 55 hours to set a world endurance record — photo by Joseph May
- A page on the Truculent Turtle and with more information
- Another page on The Turtle
- Yet another page on The Turtle, but with maps
Thanks to David McLay, of the Florida Aviation Historical Society, a friend and retired Neptune pilot advises that as of the 1960s those in the Navy knew the aircraft as the Truculent Turtle. He also mentioned that the Neptunes also equipped with jet engines used those engines when taking off, for high speed mine laying runs or emergencies. Many thanks for the information.