Apr 182012

An animation from NASA-Langley, 1972, showing structural/vibrational responses of an early Space Shuttle configuration. While hardly “Avatar,” it’s certainly interesting to see such early CGI.

[youtube D-b6ko4wbZ0]

Three years later, Case Western Reserve University produced another structural response video, this time of an SST configuration. In those three years, some pretty obvious advances were made.

[youtube LsN1V8d7-8c]

 Posted by at 12:25 am
Apr 172012

Awesome, if true:

Spitfires buried in Burma during war to be returned to UK

…  in July 1945, officials fearing a Japanese occupation abandoned them on the orders of Lord Louis Mountbatten, the head of South East Asia Command, two weeks before the atom bombs were dropped, ending the conflict.

“They were just buried there in transport crates,” Mr Cundall said. “They were waxed, wrapped in greased paper and their joints tarred. They will be in near perfect condition.”

Giggity. Now, if only the same could be said of a six-pack of B-29s…

 Posted by at 1:00 am
Apr 152012

I missed it by a day:

Sixty years on, the B-52 is still going strong

It was 60 years ago today, on April 15, 1952, that a B-52 prototype built by Boeing took off on its maiden flight. The 1950s-vintage B-52s are no longer in the U.S. Air Force inventory, but the 90 or so that remain on active duty (a total of 744 were built, counting all models) aren’t that much younger. They’re all the H model of the B-52, delivered between May 1961 and October 1962.

The B-52 is expected to make it to at least 2040.

On the one hand, it’s impressive that the design has lasted this long. Ont he other hand, it’s sad that nothing better has come along.

 Posted by at 11:55 pm
Apr 152012

The proposed X-15A-3 was a stretched, delta-winged version intended for extended duration flight at Mach 6+. As with the X-15 and X-15A-2 versions, the plan was to launch the X-15A-3 from a B-52 underwing pylong. However, North American Aviation proposed launching it from atop a B-70 bomber. The theory was that the B-70 could get the X-15 up to around Mach 3 prior to separation, thus greatly improving the rocketplanes performance. However, launchign winged vehicles from the back of supersonic aircraft is non-trivially difficult… as the M-21/D-21 crash demonstrated.

A high-rez of this can be downloaded HERE.

 Posted by at 7:45 am
Apr 112012

From the Fifth Semiannual Report to Congress (NASA, 1961) comes a photo of a supersonic transport wind tunnel model. This configuration would have been quite difficult to translate into a practical airliner design; while the dedication to area ruling would have made it quite low drag at supersonic, it would have made manufacturing a nightmare. Additionally, the severe wasp-waisting of the fuselage would have made not only the structural design of the pressure vessel a challenge, it would have made the passenger seating layout quite a mess.

 Posted by at 6:11 pm
Apr 102012

This card shows an early McDonnell-Douglas design for NASP. A relatively fat lifting body design, this has many similarities to hypothetical “Aurora” hypersonic spyplane designs bandied about at the same time. This is not surprising… this NASP design is similar to any of a number of hypersonic configurations tested in NASA wind tunnels and shown publicly.

Note that the text on the back of the card describes a vehicle somewhat different than what NASP was supposed to be. The claim is made that the scramjets could power the vehicle Mach 25, orbital velocity… of they could allow the vehicle to cruise at Mach 6 for long range hypersonic transport. Early on in the program, the “Orient Express” was touted as a logical result of NASP work, but that quickly faded.

High resolution versions of these can be downloaded HERE.

 Posted by at 12:22 am