May 312012

Because eventually your supersonic nuclear powered seaplane is going to fail, you are going to need a way to bail out at speed and at altitude. Obviously ejector seats are out of the question… you’d get shot distressingly close to both the reactor and the radioactive exhaust. Additionally, punching a hole in the massive lead cockpit shield big enough  to get an ejector seat through *without* torching the crew would be problematic at best. So, Convairs solution to the problem, as shown in this 1956 diagram, was to eject the entire cockpit as a capsule. This is similar to the method used on the F-111 and the B-1A.

Note that the three parachutes are shown hilariously out of scale.

 Posted by at 11:58 pm
  • Cthel

    I can’t help noticing a worrying lack of floatation devices on the (very heavy) lead box; considering the system was designed for a SEAplane that would appear to be something of an oversight

    • Anonymous

      They might have realized that there wasn’t a flotation bag big enough to float that much lead.

      Hmm, die quickly on the sea floor or die slowly through radiation poisoning?

      • Perhaps the idea was to slow things enough for a manual bail out once the cockpit was clear?

        • Anonymous

          Note that the capsule is described as having stabilized for ground or water. None of the drawings I’ve seen show much in the way of penetrations for ejector seat, which would have a problem with the capsules chutes anyway.

          Not shown are, almost certainly, inflatable floatation devices. Floaties, of a sort.

    • Peter Hanely

      I’m thinking that once you’re well clear of the reactor in the downed aircraft, drop the lead shield.

      • Anonymous

        How? Keep in mind, the lead shield here is a *box* the crew sits in, not a plate they sit in front of.