May 312017

Currently there is a large, expensive auction on eBay for several hundred pieces of Marquardt concept art. The per-piece price of about ten bucks is pretty good, but the sum total is just a whole lot. Anyway, the auction listing provides a look at a *few* of the pieces, including one that depicts a “space sled.” This was a maneuver vehicle for a single astronaut, with much greater performance than the various maneuvering backpacks that had been designed over the decades. Instead of strapping it on, the pilot sits on it somewhat as if it was a motorcycle. The propellants are almost certainly cold gas (nitrogen) thrusters, which means specific impulse was really low. But it also made them very, very simple devices.

While Marquardt did some serious design work on space sleds, including building one that is currently on display at the USAF Museum in Dayton, it’s unclear how serious this one is. The space suit, after all, is pretty weak. There appear to be only two thrusters, both providing “forward” thrust; steering looks like it might have been by actually tilting the whole assembly. This would have provided only minimal thrust vectoring, and would have provided little to no pitch or roll control, and no braking thrust. My guess is that this was either the art department coming up with a concept on their own without much engineering input, or it was a very preliminary and perhaps unfinished piece.

 Posted by at 9:13 am
Dec 272016

Recently sold on EBay was a sizable (something like 4′ long) wind tunnel model of the Curtiss Wright Model 90 AAFSS submission. This was a derivative of their X-19… more or less a quad-tilt-rotor. The Model 90 would have been fairly highly armed, designed to fulfill the same role that the winning AAFSS design – the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne – was designed for: transporting troops and tearing up ground targets. The US has not had an operational vehicle like this; the Soviet “Hind” helicopter is the closest, though substantially slower, analog. EDIT: Senior moment. Not a troop transport, just a blowin’-up-stuff-on-the-ground-real-good vehicle.

The Model 90 wind tunnel model was formerly on display at an aviation museum in Teterboro, New Jersey. No idea where it ended up, but hopefully it found a good home. I made a half-assed effort to crowdfund this one, but I think the lack of a good way to split the spoils among the funders doomed the concept. How *do* you reward funders for a purchase like this? Best idea was to have the thing 3D scanned, and distribute the scan among the funders, but unlike a scan of a drawing or a document, that’s not going to be readily useful for most people.

What I’d hoped to do was to disassemble the model, male fiberglass molds of the components, reassemble and restore it to like-new-ish condition then send it on to an appropriate and willing museum, possibly Ft. Rucker (since they’re all about Army aviation and have themselves an AH-56). Then make a few fiberglass copies from the molds, converting the “wind tunnel models” into detailed display models. Alas.

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 Posted by at 10:37 pm
Oct 152016

Currently on ebay is a single slide, a photo someone took in the 1960’s. It shows a family standing in front of a full-scale mockup of the SV-5, what became the X-24A. This is hardly an unknown mockup; it has been shown elsewhere many times. But I thought this particular view might be of interest to some. It is shown on the back of a truck for transport, attached to a transition section that would, on the real vehicle, then attach to a launch vehicle such as a Titan II or III.


 Posted by at 6:45 am
Aug 262016

Currently on eBay is a vintage Greek “Biscuit Card” featuring a simplified artwork replicating an internal-detonation nuclear pulse rocketship illustrated by Frank Tinsley. The original artwork was for a magazine ad for Arma Bosch in 1959 and is *not* any sort of official engineering design, just a magazine artists impression.

I’ve never seen the biscuit card version. I’ve no idea if this was a local Greek production, or the card was published in multiple languages.

Here’s the biscuit version:

ebay nuclear rocket tinsley 2 ebay nuclear rocket tinsley 1

Here’s the Tinsley original.


 Posted by at 10:42 pm
Jul 172016

Every now and then something pops up on eBay that is historically terribly important, and I’ve sat here and watched the auction shoot *way* past my  financial means. The items get sold and disappear into a black hole. Well, no more, dagnabbit. I just scored a treasure trove of vintage Convair F2Y “Sea Dart” documents and diagrams. The final price was about $400… well beyond my means. But as there were 15 contributors, it broke down to about $24.55 per person. Each of the contributors will receive a full set of 300 dpi color or grayscale (where appropriate) scans of everything in the lot. And the actual items themselves? When I’m done scanning and checking them, they will be donated to the San Diego Air & Space Museum. This is appropriate not only because they have an archive of Convair files, they also have an F2Y sitting on a pole out front.

The crowdfunding effort was announced and made available via the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon. I fully intend to do this again; I wish I had a time machine to do it with a couple of frustrating Boeing 2707 and hypersonic  auctions from a number of months ago… So if you’d like to be in on this sort of thing in the future, check out the APR Patreon.


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 Posted by at 9:15 pm
Jun 092015

The apparently original concept painting of the McDonnell-Douglas MD-12 showed up on eBay a few days back. The MD-12 was the last new aircraft that McD designed before being absorbed by Boeing; like the Boeing NLA and the Airbus A380, it was a big fat double decker designed to haul large numbers of passengers at once.

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 Posted by at 10:37 am