Mar 152014

A General Dynamics/Astronautics film from 1962 describing the ORCA Weapon System. This was a seafloor deployment concept for solid-rocket ICBMs similar to the Polaris; the missile would be installed within a sealed watertight canister and lowered to the seafloor. There is would sit until called for by a sonar device. Upon receipt of a proper coded audio signal, ballast tanks  would be filled with air and the canister would shoot to the surface. Upon breaching, the “nose” of the canister would jettison and the missile would launch out and, presumably, fly to the target.

[youtube YyJjfCpfnI4]

While the idea had some merit, including low cost compared to a Minuteman or a ballistic missile sub, it also had some pretty unfortunate problems. Not least of which is that the US Navy would basically just be dropping nuclear missiles on the seafloor. The canisters would probably have been fairly easily detectable via active sonar, so they would have to have been watched in some fashion to make sure nobody came along and simply strolled off with one. And the security would help to point out where they were. The Soviets and SPECTRE would be forever tripping over each other searching for these things (though that raises the notion of the US Navy making a show of lowering hundreds of these capsules… each of which turns out to actually be a miniature sub that wanders back to base. The Soviets would tear their hair out looking for missiles that don’t exist)

So, obviously, these were never fielded. But as the film shows, the concept was built and apparently successfully tested. In contrast to today where such a concept would get years worth of Powerpoints, here… they just went ahead and built a 1/4 scale functional model of the thing including a sizable “model rocket” that successfully launches from the canister upon breaching.

orca 3

orca 2

Shown here is a diagram of a 47,000 pound missile in a 108-foot-long capsule. There is considerable resemblance between this idea and the concept, almost 20 years prior, of V-2 rockets in capsules towed behind U-Boats for use against the US.

orca 1

The rather artsy style of having three guys in business suits posing on the seashore seems a bit odd.

 Posted by at 6:16 pm
Jul 022013

At last: issue V3N3 of APR is now available. The first article covers the proposed use of bombers, specifically the B-52 and B-70, as launch platforms for the Dyna Soar manned military spaceplane.



The second article is on the Martin Astrorocket, a series of early-sixties design studies of reusable low-cost manned launch systems for the USAF.


The next article covers the development of the Douglas XC-132 turboprop transport/tanker plane throughout much of the 1950’s. This would have been by far the biggest turboprop plane the us would have built… had it been built. Article contains a number of good photos of the full-scale mockup.




Next is an article on the A-12 Avenger II stealthy strike plane for the US Navy. This article includes info and drawings on the Northrop competitor, as well as a number of rarely seen and all-new detailed diagrams of the A-12.



A brief article on a trio of Grumman designs from the 1989-1993 time period, VTOL lift-fan combat aircraft, including the Future Attack Air Vehicle (FAAV).


Last but not least, an article describing a trio of seemingly unrelated – yet possibly related – designs: a “landing boat” for Project Orion, a lifting body design for the Apollo program, and a fighter jet designed to be launched via booster rockets. Included is information on the logistics Landing Vehicle, General Dynamics’ equivalent of the Douglas ICARUS/Ithacus troop transport rocket.


And two “Aerospace History Nuggets,” a Ryan concept for a VTOL jetliner and a concept from Bell for linking two helicopters together to forma  single heavy lifter.


Here’s the complete issue V3N3 layout:


It is available in three formats. Firstly, it can be downloaded directly from me for the low, low price of $8.50. Second, it can be purchased as a professionally printed volume through Magcloud; third, it can be procured in both formats. To get the download, simply pay for it here through paypal.



To get the printed version (or print + PDF version), visit my MagCloud page:


Also available: the V3N3 Addendum. This contains 30 pages formatted for 11X17. Includes larger and improved versions of all the CAD diagrams produced for V3N3, including:

  • 1/72 versions of the A-12 diagrams
  • Scans of the original A-12 diagrams
  • 1/144 versions of the XC-132 diagrams
  • 1/288 versions of the XC-132 antecedents
  • 1/250 versions of the Dyna Soar/bomber launchers
  • 1/72 versions of the Landing Boat, “Space fighter” and Apollo lifting body
  • 1/200 version of the Nova/LLV


The V3N3 Addendum can be downloaded for only $3.00!


 Posted by at 8:58 pm
Oct 142012

Literally years in the making, I’ve put together two versions of a photo essay of several surviving examples of the AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile. Available free for the downloading is Stagger Around #3: AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile, Abridged Edition as a 13 page PDF booklet. This contains photos of the AGM-129s on display at Hill Aerospace Museum in Utah, the USAF Museum in Dayton and the Strategic Air & Space Museum in Nebraska, ready to print.

Also available is Stagger Around #3: AGM-129 Advanced Cruise Missile, Full Edition. This 34-page edition includes more photos of these missiles, along with the missile at the San Diego Aerospace Museum restoration facility, a rare General Dynamics display model, official USAF photos of the AGM-129 in test and in service and drawings of the missile, including 1/32 scale layout diagrams. This is available through MagCloud, either as a downloadable PDF ($5.75) or as a professionally printed and bound edition ($11.80).

Don’t forget to check out my other MagCloud publications, including Justo Miranda’s Reichdreams Dossiers, Aerospace Projects Review, Historical Documents, and Photographing Stuff.

And don’t forget to check out Stagger Around #1, F-104A Starfighter, and Stagger Around #2, Starship Enterprise.


If you liked this and want to see more like it… feel free to toss fifty cents, a buck, a hundred bucks, whatever, my way. Think of it as a donation to a worthy cause. Or a bribe. Whatever you’re more comfortable with.

 Posted by at 12:58 pm
Jun 172012

Rodney King dead at 47

Famous ass-whoopin’ victim, amateur driver and booze-addled dumbass Rodney King has died. Given his life spent in the orbit of drugs, I would have expected him to get shot in a drug deal gone bad. But as it turns out, he apparently spent his last day getting drunked up, and decided to top it off with a swim to the bottom of his swimming pool, where he stayed until emergency personnel fished him out. Interestingly, while his fiance called 911 when she found him at the bottom of the pool, apparently she didn’t try to pull him out. Now, THAT is love and devotion.

In honor of Mr. King’s most noteworthy accomplishment, here is Chris Rock giving some tips on “how to not get your ass kicked by the police.” Some NSFW language, but on the whole, some remarkably good advice.

[youtube haiHGlo7O4o]

 Posted by at 11:13 am
Dec 082011

The Iranians have put on display what appears to be the RQ170 that went down. The color is odd, though. Could be a mockup. If it is the real thing, it’s in really good shape… indicating less of a shootdown and a crash than, perhaps, a hacking and rough landing.

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Given that the Obama administration has shown itself willing to send weapons to the enemies of the US so that they can be used against the interests of the US in order to push the administrations social-change-ideology… one can be forgiven for wondering if perhaps this high-tech stealth aircraft was essentially “given” to the Iranians, who can be relied upon to share the technology with the Chinese and perhaps Russians. This would reduce Americas military technology lead… just the thing if your goals include knocking the US down a peg or three.

 Posted by at 11:55 am
Mar 182011
An article here:

Has the last, really unpleasant open-casket photo of Soviet Cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov… and further down, an audio recording of his last words. Would any Russian-speakers be interested in translating?

The article (which, coming as it does from NPR, somehow fails to blame everything on Republicans) describes the forthcoming book Starman by Jamie Doran and Piers Bizony. Komarov seems to come across as a certifiable hero, while the Soviet governmental system comes across as a nightmare (again, surprising coming from NPR). Komarov apparently knew he was doomed *before* he even got in the capsule… and he only did so because if he had refused, the Soviets would have tossed in the backup cosmonaut, one Yuri Gagarin. Komarov’s last conversation (with Alexsei Kosygin) is described as him yelling that he’s been murdered.
 Posted by at 10:27 am