Apr 212018

APR Patrons contributing more than $10 per month were today sent a 1969 diagram of a preliminary design for what would become the AWACS plane… close, but with eight engines rather than four. This design was illustrated in color artwork from time to time.

And for APR Patrons at the $4 and above level, a diagram of the 777 and scans of a McDonnell-Douglas brochure on the “Med-Lite Family” of launch vehicle concepts have been uploaded to the 2018-04 APR Extras folder on Dropbox:

If you are interested in these and a great many other “extras” and monthly aerospace history rewards, please sign up for the APR Patreon. What else are you going to spend $4 a month on? Taxes?


 Posted by at 8:50 am
Apr 192018



I’m on record with being impressed by the A-10, and I think the USAF should have built a bunch more of them. And so should the US Marine Corps. And the US Army. But they didn’t, so… shrug. There it is. Anyway, impressed as I am, the shots of the A-10 trying to tear up a *motionless* Hummer are a little disappointing. A whole lot of rounds that hit *around* the target, but not *actually* the target.

 Posted by at 1:49 pm
Apr 112018

Some old-school animation showing the AH-56 as a recon and targeting vehicle being used in Someplace Much Like Viet Nam. If you’re at all like me, you’ll watch this and think, “I don’t recall this episode of Jonny Quest.”


 Posted by at 2:11 pm
Apr 102018

I’ve never gotten into the Gerry Anderson puppet shows (probably just weren’t shown in my area when I was a kid), but I do know that a lot of people are quite fond of them. And I do *kinda* get it… in the era before computer graphics made filling the screen with spaceships of wildly varying designs easy and cheap, Andersons shows were the only ones that featured a whole bunch of different designs. Other shows like Star trek you had pretty much just the one ship, and that was mostly stock footage used over and over. And it seems to me that the most popular of the Anderson ships would be either the Eagle from “Space: 1999” or the Thunderbird 2 from “Thunderbirds Are Go.” And if you want a bignormous T2, well, crack open your bank account, here it comes.

Thunderbird 2 | 1:144 Scale

This is a model kit, but it’s not one you get all at once.Instead it’s a subscription kit, paid for and shipped a bit at a time. There are two options available, 12 month and 24 month; it’s a little unclear, but I *assume* that with the 12 month option each month you get twice as much stuff as you’d get per month in the 24 month option. And in the end, you get this:

The thing is freakin’ GIGANTIC:

And it’s spendy as heck. For the 12-month option, it’s £79.99 per month, or £959.88 total. .. about $1,400 at current exchange rates.


Seems like a slightly more affordable option would be this 1/350 scale conventional model kit, a steal at forty bucks:


But hey. If’n ya want a gigantic Thunderbird 2, let it never be said I didn’t point one out to you.

 Posted by at 2:52 pm
Apr 062018

As shown in the autoplaying video news story in the link below, the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum has built a full scale replica of the “hotel room” from the end of “2001.”




It’s an interesting thing to be sure. But for *me,* they could have chosen other sets that would have been more interesting and compelling. Of course, there are problems with most.

The Aries 1b passenger compartment would be easy. Nice and flat. The Space Station V habitat area would be possible but the built-in curvature of the floor would make it challenging, as well as potentially enormous. The Clavius Base conference room? Easy, but boring. The TMA-1 dig site? Oh, my, giggitty yes, but challenging.

Pod bay? Cool, but cluttered. Centrifuge? Terribly expensive and difficult to actually do anything with… you couldn’t really put people in it, it would not be compelling from the outside; the best you could do is split it in half and have people walk between the to halves as they rotate. Discovery bridge or moonbus interior? Too small.

There is one set that I’ve wanted to build since I was a kid during the 1970’s: the passenger compartment of the Orion III spaceplane. Why? Dunno, shut up. This would be a relatively easy set to construct.But here’s the thing; don’t construct it inside some Smithsonian museum building. Built it – or perhaps several, if they’ll fit – inside a widebody jetliner. There are two possible things you could do with this set:

  1. Use it as an actual jetliner interior for long distance (transoceanic) flight. Notice how it seems like it might actually be comfortable?
  2. Say, “alright, let’s shoot for awesome” and send that jetliner onto vomit comet parabolic trajectories. for thirty seconds at a time, the passengers could ride in the replica of a spaceplane and actually *feel* like they were in a  spaceplane.

Silly? Perhaps. Expensive? Oh, you betcha. More compelling than a strange hotel room? Hell yes.

Look what the future used to have! Spaceplanes! Commercial space travel! Atomic-powered pens! LEGROOM!

 Posted by at 4:56 pm
Mar 292018

An old NASA video describing the HL-20 lifting body. In the 90’s NASA spent a lot of time and trouble trying to get an HL-20 built for a Personnel Launch System, a vehicle smaller than the Space Shuttle but capable of carrying as many passengers and riding a much smaller launch vehicle. For transporting passengers to and from the Space Station, it would have been much more economical and sensible than the Shuttle. And while the HL-20 was never built, the basic geometry has survived in the form of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, which *might* actually fly to space someday.


 Posted by at 12:01 am