Nov 232015

In 1963 the Curtiss Wright Corporation ran an ad in Missiles & Rockets magazine illustrating their participation in the Titan III/Dyna Soar program. The main illustration in the ad depicts the launch vehicle in flight; it is not, sadly, a wholly accurate depiction. The N2O4 thrust vector fluid tanks  for the SRBs aren’t included, nor are the separation motors; the two engine bells on the Titan core are shown clocked out of alignment. Still, a reasonably nice illustration.

missilesrockets1219unse_0529 missilesrockets1219unse_0528

 Posted by at 9:19 pm
Nov 192015

A poor-quality photo of a display model of the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, made partially of plexiglas to permit a view of the interior. Appears to have been made by or for Air Force Space Systems Division. Image published in the February 17, 1964, issue of Missiles & Rockets magazine. This would have been an early design of the MOL. It’s difficult to determine size/scale of the model, but it looks reasonably large… probably at least 1/24 scale. Note that the transstage is shown attached, but it represented at low fidelity.


 Posted by at 10:51 am
Nov 132015

A few months ago, Airbus Defence and Space Sas received a US patent for a nearly hypersonic passenger transport. The vehicle has a number of different engines… rocket engines for vertical boost and acceleration, ramjets for hypersonic cruise, turbojets for subsonic flight including takeoff and landing. It would take off conventionally with turbojets, fire the rocket to shoot almost vertically to about 35 kilometers altitude (going supersonic in the process), then level off and cruise under ramjet power at Mach 4.5. The extreme altitude, about 3 times higher than normal jetliner traffic, would mean that the sonic boom should be greatly attenuated by the time it got to the surface.

The wingtip fins would rotate through 90 degrees to maintain center of pressure from subsonic through supersonic.

Unusually for a patent, this one provides dimensions. Fuselage length (dimension 11 in Figure 1) is 52.995 meters; overall length (dimension 110, Figure 3) is 57.63 meters; maximum span (dimension 126, Figure 5) is 27.188 meters.

Interestingly, the design looks like a mishmash of WWII-era designs… the “gothic wing” designed by Michael Gluhareff of Sikorsky merged with the wingtips of the Blohm & Voss P.208-2 or Skoda-Kauba SL-6.

This is US Patent 907661B2. At the moment the Google page for this patent seems a little non-functional; the PDF of the patent won’t download for me. Fortunately, the page for the patent application is functioning just fine. You can download the PDF file of the patent application directly from THIS LINK RIGHT HERE.

Some pages of diagrams:

Pages from US20120325957_Page_1Pages from US20120325957_Page_2 Pages from US20120325957_Page_3

Here is a video description of the design.

The interior views of the vehicle show one of the problems with rocket-boosted transport aircraft: The majority of the interior volume isn’t people and cargo, but propellant.

Much more aerospace stuff is available via the APR Patreon. If this sort of thing interests you, please consider signing up… not only will you help fund the search for obscure aerospace history, you’ll gain access to a lot of interesting stuff, not available elsewhere.


 Posted by at 12:50 pm
Nov 072015

Color artwork from NASA circa 1964 depicting Apollo-derived logistics spacecraft. The BALLOS (BALlistic LOgistic Spacecraft) was studied by several corporations such as Lockheed and McDonnell-Douglas as well as NASA; the artwork was done *for* NASA, but it’s unclear if it was done *by* NASA.

The full resolution versions of these artworks have been posted into the 2015-11 folder in the APR Extras Dropbox. Please check out the APR Patreon!

S64-06336 S64-01800

 Posted by at 2:06 am
Nov 032015

Now available… a new additions to the US Aerospace Projects series.

US Bomber Projects #17

USBP #17 includes:

M.C.D. 392: A wartime design for a global-range bomber
Martin Model 194: A strategic bomber somewhat larger than the B-29
Lockheed CL-285-815: A supersonic nuclear powered concept with five engines
Consolidated Model 36: An early design for the B-36 with twin tails
Boeing Model 701-290: A supersonic bomber on the road to the B-59
Thiokol 260-inch ICBM: An unreasonably large ICBM concept
ARFL ESAV: A recent concept for a stealthy supersonic bomber
Convair GEBO II: An ancestor of the B-58, carried aloft under a B-60

USBP#17 can be purchased for downloading for the low, low price of $4.



 Posted by at 8:55 pm
Oct 312015

Not exactly a “PDF” review, but this should be of interest to many here: “Missiles & Rockets” magazine, a weekly periodical published from 1958 into 1968, was much like Aviation Week except with a more specific focus. And it has been made available on  I’ve found the search function to be somewhat ineffective, but the system allows for fairly straightforward navigation along with easy downloading of individual pages as high-rez JPEGs. The collection is not complete, sadly; it doesn’t look like it’s being completed, but there are nevertheless a fair number of issues available.

Much more aerospace stuff is available via the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 8:51 am
Oct 302015

Two McDonnell Douglas illustrations showing versions of their “Big Gemini” logistics spacecraft, and a similar concept for an Apollo-derived 9-man logistics spacecraft (not, seemingly, named “Big Apollo,” though that would have been appropriate). Both featured enlarged capsules to transport crew up and down, with an attached propulsion/cargo module which would be jettisoned to burn up.

bigapollo biggemini

 Posted by at 11:46 am
Oct 262015

All through the 1960’s – or at least up until the last few years, when “Great Society” spending ate into NASA’s budget – the assumption was that NASA would soon have numerous space stations in orbit and some preliminary lunar bases, with Mars missions soon to follow. In order to support those, NASA would have to have a cost effective means to launch sizable crews into orbit. A number of approaches were proposed, including Big Gemini and, in the end, the Space Shuttle. One approach that probably would have been quite workable was to simply scale up the Apollo capsule into something capable of holding more than three; a slight scaleup seats six, a further scaleup seats twelve. These would have been launched atop the Saturn Ib and/or Saturn V boosters, and would come with their own basic orbital maneuvering systems, and could carry up some amount of cargo in the conical transition/propulsion sections. At the end of the mission, the capsule would return to Earth for recovery, refurbishment and reuse; the propulsion module would be allowed to burn up.

Of course, none of these were ever built.

The full resolution versions of these artworks have been posted into the 2015-10 folder in the APR Extras Dropbox. Please check out the APR Patreon!

Apollo 6 Man Logistics Apollo 12 Man Logistics

 Posted by at 10:11 am
Oct 242015

A three stage vehicle to transport 10 passengers to space stations and the like. I’ve recently come into possession of a whole bunch of reports on the Reusable Aerospace Passenger Transport and Reusable Orbital Transport programs; at some point these might make the makings of an APR article.

The third stage bears a vague similarity to the Boeing Dyna Soar in configuration, but is an entirely different vehicle. This concept helped set the course towards the Space Shuttle.

Pages from 1963 Reusable 10-Ton Carrier Lockheed Phase 1 Final Oral Presentation_Page_04 Pages from 1963 Reusable 10-Ton Carrier Lockheed Phase 1 Final Oral Presentation_Page_05Pages from 1963 Reusable 10-Ton Carrier Lockheed Phase 1 Final Oral Presentation_Page_06 Pages from 1963 Reusable 10-Ton Carrier Lockheed Phase 1 Final Oral Presentation_Page_07

 Posted by at 9:47 pm
Oct 152015

A Convair illustration of the Model 54, a proposed operational version of the NX-2 nuclear powered aircraft. The Model 54 was a missile carrier, but with an internal bomb bay. It was also strictly subsonic, so its survivability over Soviet territory would undoubtedly have been seen as minimal in the supersonic-obsessed 1950’s. By carrying long-range cruise missiles (type unclear), the Model 54 could spend days orbiting outside Soviet controlled airspace and, when war breaks out, dash in at low altitude, unleash its missiles hundreds of missiles from the target (and from the air defenses), and then run home. Of course, the Model 54 was never built.

A full-rez version of this has been made available to $4+ Patrons of the APR Patreon, in the 2015-10 Extras Dropbox folder. If you’re interested in obtaining this, and/or helping the cause of preserving aerospace history, please check out the APR Patreon.


 Posted by at 7:02 pm