Jun 252016

A heavily illustrated USAF brochure on turbine engine technology included, among a vast number of little photos of engines and aircraft, a few illustrations that might be of interest.

Several futuristic concepts here, several old ones. Of particular interest is the “Supersonic Multirole Fighter,” which looks like a cross between the old Lockheed Hopeless Diamond concept and the Northrop XST design… tailless with an inlet on top, with features reminiscent of the F-117, but blended rather than faceted.



Of these “Emerging Concept Needs,” several are distinctly old. The middle row of three designs are all 20+ year-old concepts.



 Posted by at 6:08 pm
Jun 222016

A General Dynamics concept for a logistics spacecraft (personnel and cargo transfer to/from space stations) from 1966. The VL-3A was a narrow lifting body design to be launched by a Titan IIIc, and featured flip-out wings and turbojets for runway landings. The VL-3A and other spaceplanes were presented in US Spacecraft Projects #2.

ussp 02-06-3

 Posted by at 9:34 am
Jun 132016

A piece of artwork yanked out of a Russian book, attributed to Rockwell. This appears to show a Mars-bound (or perhaps Mars-orbiting) spacecraft equipped with two biconic entry vehicles. The long truss structure and radiators would indicate a nuclear powered vehicle, presumably NERVA.

rockwell mars art

 Posted by at 10:28 am
Jun 112016

An early Boeing concept for the 767. This was designed for cruise at high subsonic speeds; the unusual “wasp-waisted” fuselage was to give the configuration the area ruling needed for low-drag transonic flight. This concept, studied by Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed, NASA, Bell and others, arose after the spike in oil prices in the early 1970’s and the demise of the SST program. The goal was to create a jetliner that could fly just as fast as possible while still being economical with fuel. But production costs of the curvy fuselage and wings doomed the effort.

This scan is from a print currently on ebay.


 Posted by at 5:37 pm
Jun 102016

This one is new to me… apparently the Germans used standard railway tracks and RATO-bottle-boosted sleds to launch replica Messerschmitt Me 163’s, with variable success. Given the fuel-hoggishness of the rocket plane, anything that would get them up to speed and into the air quickly would seem to be an advantage.

 Posted by at 6:16 pm
May 302016

I’ve recently figured out how to get reliably good-quality vector graphic PDF files from my AutoCAD diagrams.These differ from standard “raster” graphics like GIFs and JPGs in that they are composed of scalable lines rather than pixels; this means that they can be printed off at many scales and they’ll retain clarity.

I think a lot of the diagrams would look quite good printed in large format; I’ve previously mentioned that I’m working on a few diagrams specifically for printing off on large format (24X36) mylar, but I’ve others that I think would also look good scaled for 18X24. I’m making these first seven diagrams available, formatted and scaled for 18X24. They can be viewed on screen, printed on a standard printer or printed by a large format printer all with equal clarity.

If this idea appeals, be sure to tell your friends, family, foes, anyone you think might be interested. Also be sure to comment if there are any diagrams I’ve previously created for APR, USXP or elsewhere that you’d like to see in this format. Some of them would be best as multi-sheet diagrams. Suggestions on how to improve also appreciated.


CAD 007: Northrop Low Altitude Penetrator

A 1/72 diagram of a 1979 design for a B-2 alternate configuration

Download for $3



CAD 006

A 1/96 scale diagram of the 1979 Rockwell D645-4a spanloader bomber.

Download for $3



CAD 005

A 1/144 scale diagram of the Manned Spacecraft Center MSC Orbiter 020, a 1972 Space Shuttle concept with a single 260″ solid rocket booster.

Download for $3



CAD 004

A 1/350 scale diagram of the 1971 Boeing Resource Air Carrier (AKA RC-1, AKA “Brute Lifter”) designed as a flying oil tanker for the arctic.

Download for $3



CAD 003

A 1/72 scale diagram of the Martin-Marietta “Zenith Star” experimental space-based laser for the Strategic Defense Initiative.

Download for $3



CAD 002

A 1/24 diagram of the Lockheed “Harvey,” the initial concept for a low radar cross section strike platform that eventually became the F-117.

Download for $3



CAD 001

A 1/32 diagram of the North American Rockwell D-541-4 “Surprise Fighter” from 1973, an early stealth concept designed to sneak up on Soviet AWACS planes.

Download for $3


Download all seven for $18.90 (10% off)


 Posted by at 1:36 pm
May 252016

SpaceX’s successes with the Falcon 9 is forcing the rest of the launch industry to come up with new ideas. Orbital Sciences has released a bit of info on the Next Generation Launcher, which is based on a Space Shuttle booster first stage with a new Blue Origin third stage (which *might* indicate that the third stage is to be recoverable). And like Falcon 9, the NGL is designed with a heavy version… which has not only a pair of solid strap-on boosters, but a different first stage solid rocket.

Can’t say as that really make a whole lot of sense to me. But I guess we’ll see. First, we’ll see if OSC is truly serious about this, and they actually forge ahead.

With luck a clearer version of this chart will be made public.

 Posted by at 9:22 am
May 162016

A 1977 Rockwell concept for how to expand the utility of the Shuttle system: move the payload from the Orbiter and put it in a shroud ahead of the External Tank. This would have allowed for much larger-diameter payloads to be carried. The ET would of course have had to go into orbit with the Orbiter itself. More info and diagrams of this are in US Launch Vehicle Projects issue 1.

uslp 01-07-1

 Posted by at 9:24 pm
May 162016

From back when General Motors was studying spacecraft, here’s an early 1960’s video showing tests of three means of surface propulsion for lunar vehicles:

The Archimedes Screw system was interesting, but it seems to me that there’s virtually no chance that it would be a good idea on the moon. The rough, razor-sharp regolith would seem likely to sandblast those shiny metal screws in little short of no time.

 Posted by at 12:40 am
May 142016

A 1952 film describing the turboprop tailsitter. The film apparently had no audio, so a wholly unnecessary bit of “film projector noise” was added.

The film shows some interesting stuff, such as animations of the craft in action, and artists impressions of what must have been early alternate designs including a ducted-fan design and one with an odd delta wing with a cutout for the props.

 Posted by at 12:27 am