Recently sold on eBay (for $500) was a display model of the Boeing proposal for the C-5 program, which of course lost out to Lockheed. The Boeing design (circa 1965) was vaguely like a Lockheed C-5 merged with a Boeing 747… roughly the configuration and fuselage size of the C-5, but with the raised upper deck and the standard “jetliner” lower tail surface of the 747. I have surprisingly little on the Boeing C-5, but I do have some fairly detailed diagrams of a civilian passenger version, and a few derivatives. Interestingly, while this was clearly part of the genesis of the 747 – which by every metric was a far greater success for Boeing than the C-5 was for Lockheed – it was actually a model 757. As the design effort continued the 747 designation would become the jumbo jet, while the 757 designation would be applied to a much smaller jet.
Coming soonish: the return of USXP publications. Five are under current development and are mostly done. There is a new title in the bunch… USRP. Strictly speaking it should probably be USR&RP… United States Research and Recon Projects. Perhaps Recon and Research aren’t necessarily the most obvious categories to link together into a single title, but apart from the vitally important alliteration, there is this important fact: compared to, say, Bombers, there aren’t that many Recon and Research projects out there.
If there are specific proposals, or general categories you’d like to see in future publications, feel free to comment below.
Bell has unveiled a very sci-fi mockup of a “concept helicopter.” It features some unusual things:
A hybrid propulsion system
Variable geometry rotor tips
Lots and lots of glass
Only a single pilots seat
No physical control.
It’s that last one that’ll probably cause the most consternation. The pilot is meant to wear augmented reality goggles/visor/glasses/whatever; this will place data screens in front of him in an arrangement the pilot prefers. Control will still be manual, but the choppers onboard AI will presumably be able to track the pilots hands as he manipulates phantom controls.
Sure, it sounds cool, but two issues immediately present themselves:
1: Computer goes goofy. Malware, hacking, power surge, EMP, whatever… this thing seems like a deathtrap if the computer goes down.
2: Phantom controls that exist solely in the computers imagination and the pilots visor… sure, that sounds cool, and is certainly a common enough trope in sci-fi. Witness anytime Tony Stark wants to design anything, for instance. But in reality, your hands and arms get tired. You actually rest on the steering wheel or the yoke or the collective. Additionally, pilots really like to get direct feedback, which seems as yet beyond the ability to reproduce virtually. More, with every bump or jolt, the pilots hands will flail around. In a conventional helicopter, the pilots hands will be constrained by the controls they are gripping. In this one… nothing.
I would suggest a compromise: a set of *basic* physical instruments. Just what the pilot needs to safely fly the chopper. And I’d damn sure stick with physical controls. But… keep the augmented reality for the *secondary* instruments. Navigation, radio, air conditioning, whisper mode, thermal vision, fire rearward missiles… that can be via virtual reality. Instrument panels that are called up with a voice command, and recede when not in use.
Not at all related:
Currently for sale on EBay is a presumably-vintage model of a Lockheed C-141 in civilian livery. While the C-141 wound up solely a military transport, it would not be surprising that Lockheed would try to sell it on the civilian market. The model doesn’t depict passenger windows, so this was, presumably, still a cargo carrier.
The Aerospace Projects Review Patreon rewards for January will include a reasonably massive Douglas report on the Saturn V-launched pre-Skylab “Early Orbital Space Station” and a scan of a reasonably gigantic diagram of the Boeing 2707-300 SST. These will be released before the end of January and will be available to all then-current Patrons. So if these items interest you, and/or if you are interested in helping the effort to find and preserve this sort of aerospace history, be sure to check out the APR Patreon.
A meeting of giants at Edwards Air Force Base in the late 1960’s. It’s interesting to compare the size of the “fighter” with the “bomber…” the bomber, as anyone who has ever stood underneath the sole example in Dayton, is Really Big, but the YF-12 is just not that much smaller. Sustained Mach 3 flight is not for the faint hearted… or the small-engined or those with dainty fuel tanks.
I have made the full-rez version of this photo available for APR Patrons at the $4 level and up in the 2017-01 folder of the APR Extras Dropbox site. If interested in getting this and the previous years worth of Extras, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.
A recently sold item on EBay was this piece of artwork depicting a Boeing concept for an airliner powered by two propfans. These engines, popular items of study in the late 70s and into the 80s, were somewhere between turbofans and turboprops, with contra-rotating unducted fans using blades of complex design and contours. The advantage was, of course, fuel efficiency; the shape of the blades meant that they could spin with tip speeds closer to the speed of sound compared to turboprop blades, and could push the plane faster than normally practical for a turboprop.
Given the NASA logo on the tail, this piece of art undoubtedly depicts a proposal for an unducted fan test vehicle. The gray areas on the wing upper surfaces may indicate laminar flow control via suction, as with the Northrop X-21; this would all conspire to make this a very fuel efficient, if also very complex, jetliner.
Boom Technology, a company working towards a supersonic passenger transport, is unveiling in Denver the mockup of their “XB-1,” a 1/3 scale technology demonstrator.
To me the XB-1 looks like the Rose Mach Buster and a T-38 got a little drunk and made the plane with two backs, then slathered the baby with Bondo and sanded real, real smooth.
Boom Technology is working towards a commercial SST with a cruise speed of Mach 2.2, 44 passengers and transAtlantic range. They are hoping to reduce sonic boom to levels low enough that the FAA will let them fly overland, but as the law is currently written I don’t think they could legally do it if their plane was utterly silent. Getting the bureaucrats and politicians to change the regulations that stifle progress is probably a much bigger chore than designing a supersonic jet that’s actually commercially viable.
I’ve been running the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon project for a bit over two years now. Every month, Patrons get rewarded with sets of aerospace history stuff… currently, one large-format diagram or piece of artwork, three documents and, depending on level of patronage, an all-new CAD diagram of an aerospace subject of interest. More than two dozen such packages have been put together so far and distributed. Given that you can get in on this for as little as $1.50 a month (for 125-dpi scans… $4/month for full-rez 300 dpi scans) and you get at least four items, that’s a pretty good bargain compared to the individual aerospace drawings and documents.
Patrons who signed up after the process got underway can now get “back issues” of the previously released rewards packages. A catalog of more than the first years worth has just been posted; each month will see an updated catalog posted for Patrons to order from. So if you are interested, check out the APR Patreon page to see how to sign up; if you are already a patron, check out the catalog here.
Produced by Bell Aerospace around 1960 as a promotional item was this “ticket” for a flight from New York City to Melbourne, Australia. The aircraft shown was a two-stage hypersonic passenger transport; the first stage was essentially a supersonic transport equipped with turboramjet engines; it carried on its back a rocket powered passenger spaceplane. At the time it was pushed by the likes of Walter Dornberger, who had previously publicized a two-stage all-rocket powered hypersonic transport. There was some link between this design and the Dyna Soar program, but it is unclear just how involved the engineering was on the HST. Artwork was produced and a good display model, but it’s hard to tell if it went any further than that.