A while ago an ebay seller had a display model of a maneuverable re-entry vehicle, a warhead for an ICBM.There was apparently no documentation to go with it, so details are pretty much utterly lacking. Still, it does look reasonably likely to have been a “real” display model built by or for the USAF or a defense contractor. It’s simple… a cone with four sides shaved off with four added flaps for control. This basic geometry has been popular for maneuverable warhead concepts for decades; McDonnell-Douglas used a similar shape (explicitly stated as having been derived from their maneuverable MIRV studies) for their Delta Clipper SSTO, and an even closer shape for their X-33 and follow-on concepts.
Currently being sold on ebay is a display model of a missile, a “Martin ASM.” ASM almost certainly means “Air to Surface Missile,” but otherwise there’s no further info. Seller seems to think it’s related to the Assault Breaker project, but it looks vaguely like a Skybolt-ish air-launched ballistic missile.
Now available: two new US Aerospace Projects issues. Cover art was provided by Rob Parthoens, www.baroba.be
US Bomber Projects #20:XB-59 Special
US Bomber Projects #20 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #20 collects all the previously published articles and diagrams of the XB-59 antecedent designs and updates them. Additionally, more antecedent designs have been included as well as several designs that followed along after the XB-59. The biggest USXP publication yet!
USBP 20 includes twenty nine unique aircraft concepts (the usual issue of USXP has eight designs) from Boeing Models 484 and 701 showing how Boeing evolved the XB-59, their competitor to the Convair B-58 “Hustler.” Beginning with subsonic flying wings, the concept saw concepts both conventional and unconventional before eventually settling on Model 701-299-1, the final XB-59 design. This issue includes a half dozen Model 701 designs that followed along after the cancellation of the XB-59 program.
USBP #20 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $8:
US Launch Vehicle Projects #04
US Launch Vehicle Projects #04 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #04 includes:
- Space Carrier Vehicle: A US Army lunar rocket with 8 F-1 engines
- Convair Reusable Helios: A stage-and-a-half monster with a gas core nuclear engine
- Boeing Model 896-111: A 1980’s two stage transatmospheric vehicle
- Project RAND Satellite Rocket 3-Stage: A 1947 satellite launcher
- Convair Saturn V-R: An idea on how to make a fully reusable Saturn V first stage
- Lockheed STAR Clipper: A 1968 stage-and-a-half lifting body Space Shuttle
- Shuttle-C: The Shuttle derived vehicle design that came closest to being built
- Titan III Growth/156-inch boosters: A more powerful version of the Titan III for Dyna Soar launch
USLP #04 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $4:
Also recommended, these previous Specials:
US Bomber Projects #14: System 464L Special
USBP#14 brings together the competitors to Weapon System 464L, the first major effort in the Dyna Soar program. These designs were previously shown individually in prior issues of USBP; here they are brought together, with some updates, as well as a few extra diagrams and a section of diagrams formatted for 11X17 printing. This issue includes info and diagrams of the Lockheed, Republic, General Dynamics, McDonnell, Boeing, Douglas, Northrop, North American and Martin-Bell entries as well as their various booster systems. Also included are detailed diagrams of the ultimate Dyna Soar design, the 2050E.
USBP#14 can be purchased for downloading for the low, low price of $6.
US Bomber Projects #16: The B-52 Evolution Special
Boeing Model 444 A: A late war turboprop heavy bomber
Boeing Model 461: An early postwar turboprop heavy bomber
Boeing Model 462: A large six-turboprop ancestor of the B-52
Boeing Model 462-5: A six-turboprop B-52 ancestor
Boeing Model 464-17: 1946 four-turboprop strategic bomber, a step toward the B-52
Boeing Model 464-18: a reduced-size version of the 464-17 turboprop strategic bomber
Boeing Model 464-25: a modification of the 464-17 turboprop bomber with slightly swept wings, among other changes
Boeing Model 464-27: a slightly-swept turboprop B-52 progenitor
Boeing Model 464-33-0: A turboprop B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-34-3: A turboprop B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-40: The first all-jet-powered design in the quest for the B-52
Boeing Model 464-40: The first all-jet-powered design in the quest for the B-52
Boeing Model 464-046: A six-engined B-52 predecessor
Boeing Model 464-49: The penultimate major design in the development of the B-52
Fairchild M-121:A highly unconventional canard-biplane
Convair B-60: A swept-wing turboprop-powered derivative of the B-36
Douglas Model 1211-J: An elegant turboprop alternative to the B-52
With additional diagrams of the B-47, XB-52 and B-52B
USBP#16 can be purchased for downloading for the low, low price of $6.
Recently on ebay were a set of 8X10 glossies, vintage Convair artwork depicting early spacecraft and launch vehicle concepts. I had my bid in… and was sniped in the last few seconds. Oh well. Anyway, one of the more interesting images was this one of the Convair “Helios” developed by or for Krafft Ehricke… a chemical rocket first stage equipped with wings for glide recovering and a nuclear powered second stage with a “tractor” arrangement to separate the nuclear engine from the payload – essentially a small manned laboratory to land on the moon. The second stage would unreel something like half a miles worth of cabling and drag the payload along behind it, relying on distance rather than physical radiation shielding. The second stage would take the payload all the way to the lunar surface, gently lowering it down at the end of the cables, then land Way Over There Somewhere. A modern design would, I would hope, include electrical cables and would serve as a power generator.
A middling-resolution scan of the same image was posted back in January. One day I shall get a clean high-rez version. If that day is a particularly glorious day, it will come not only with the other images created for the Helios project… but they’ll also be in color.
New to YouTube:
Every month, patrons of the Aerospace Projects Review Patreon campaign are rewarded with a bundle of documents and diagrams, items of interest and importance to aerospace history. If you sign up, you get the monthly rewards going forwards; the “back issues” catalog lets patrons aid the APR cause by picking up items from before they signed on. The catalog, available to all patrons at the APR Patreon, has been updated to include everything from the beginning of the project back in 2014 on up to February, 2017.
Below are the items from 2016 (and the first two months of 2017):
If you are interested in any of these and in helping to fund the mission of Aerospace Projects Review, drop by the APR Patreon page and sign up. For only a few bucks a month you can help fund the procurement, scanning and dissemination of interesting aerospace documentation that might otherwise vanish from the public.
The Pluto nuclear ramjet is often considered one of the crazier (or perhaps more accurately, “badass”) weapons systems ever considered by serious people. In short, it used a nuclear reactor as the heat source for an airbreathing ramjet; it would fly at a few hundred feet altitude at Mach 3 with nearly unlimited range. Several American aerospace corporations vied for the contract; LTV won the contract to build the airframe in 1961. The “Tory” nuclear ramjet was static ground tested with some success, but the program was cancelled in 1964.
Convair gave the concept considerable study from the beginning of the program in 1957 until at least 1961. Their “Big Stick” concept has been reasonably well known, but they had another idea that was somewhat further from the basic idea. It was mentioned in at least two briefings that I’ve come across; some amount of serious work was done on it, but the information I have is fragmentary. The concept was called simply the “Submersible Nuclear Ramjet.”
Pluto and Big Stick were unmanned cruise missiles. They would be launched from the ground with solid rocket boosters (some though was given to launching from ships, subs and aircraft) and would fly “grand tours” of the Soviet Union, spitting out a number of individual nuclear bombs. They would leave in their wake a line of ruin… the shockwaves from their passage would likely shake apart civilian structures, and the reactors would constantly spit out radioactive particles. At the end of the mission the missiles would crash into one final target.
But the Submersible Nuclear Ramjet would work a little differently. For starters… it was manned. There would be a crew on board throughout the mission.
Rather than starting off at some Air Force base, the Submersible Nuclear Ramjet would actually start off as a submarine, floating around on its own in the ocean. Propulsion would be provided by the nuclear reactor, serving as a “water ramjet” by heating seawater and expelling it. Feeding salt water, diatoms, kelp, fish and all the rest of the junk the ocean has to offer directly through a nuclear reactor seems a bit dubious.
When the order to begin an actual mission comes in, the propulsion system would be reconfigured from seawater-burning ramjet to seawater-burning rocket. The vehicle would expel stored seawater through the reactor, generating a large amount of thrust, enough to launch the craft vertically out of the water and up to high speed. The craft would then angle over towards the horizontal; the propulsion system would reconfigure once again, this time to an airbreathing nuclear ramjet. The vehicle would then fly a mission essentially similar to Plutos… low altitude, screamingly high speed, ejecting nuclear weapons as it goes. At the end of the mission, unlike Pluto it would *not* crash itself into one final target. Instead, the manned vehicle would return to secure waters and slow to subsonic speed. It would enter a vertical climb and slow to a stop; the ramjet would again reconfigure, this time back to rocket mode. Four drag brakes would deploy around the nose and the vehicle would back down into the water for a soft “splashdown.” It would of course land with nearly empty tanks, so it would be quite buoyant; until the tanks refill, it would likely sit tail-down in the water.
I’m going to try to find out more about this concept, but I have minimal hopes. I’ve gone all this time without hearing about it until just a few weeks ago.
Because why no, I’ve made a basic model of the concept. Complete accuracy is not assured… I have a top view and an inboard profile; as with a distressing number of concept aircraft diagrams, the views seem to conflict on things such as the cockpit canopy, and the inlet configuration is only partially shown. Still, it’s a really interesting concept.
If you’re interested in Pluto, take a look at Aerospace Projects Review issue V2N1. There is a very large, highly illustrated article on Pluto in that issue. If you are interested in the Submersible Nuclear Ramjet, keep an eye on US Bomber Projects… it will show up in the next issue or two.
The renders below show the Convair Submersible Nuclear Ramjet to scale with the LTV Pluto.
This was Convairs idea for the Pluto project… a nuclear ramjet cruise missile. Capable of Mach 3 flight at an altitude of 500 feet, it would be virtually impossible to intercept, and would have virtually unlimited range. The YouTube video:
There is more on the Big Stick, including diagrams, in issue V2N1 of Aerospace Projects Review:
Now available: two new US Aerospace Projects issues:
US Transport Projects #07
US Transport Projects #07 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #07 includes:
- Lockheed L-279-9: an early SST
- Convair HST – Phase II Variable Sweep Configuration: A mid-1960’s hypersonic transport
- Lockheed CL-1373: a short-haul turboprop liner
- Boeing Model 702-134(4): a large nuclear-powered logistics hauler
- McDonnell-Douglas Swept Wing Spanloader: a heavy cargo carrier
- Lockheed Hybrid Wing Body: a current design for an efficient military transport
- NASA Cut-Down 747 SCA: a 1973 idea for a Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
- Rockwell Boost Glide Transport: An early 1970’s rocket transport
USTP #07 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $4:
Also available, the first in a new series:
US Recon and Research Projects #01
US Recon & Research Projects #01 is now available (see HERE for the entire series). Issue #01 includes:
- General Dynamics “FISH”: 1958 concept for Mach 4 parasite
- NACA-Langley X-Tail X-15: early hypersonic rocket plane concept
- “Jake’s Jeep”: WWII-era motorjet design
- Lockheed “Archangel”: The first step on the road to the SR-71
- Boeing Model 853-21 “Quiet Bird”: A 1961 stealth platform
- Northrop Tacit Blue: Operational version of the early stealth experiment
- Convair Pilotless Airplane I-40 Inhabited: WWII-era design of a manned test for a flying bomb
- Lockheed CL-278-1-1: a proto-U-2
USRP #01 can be downloaded as a PDF file for only $4:
So very, very close on the next two US Aerospace Projects issues. I’m only lacking cover “art”and have to deal with a bit of “dead air” in the middle of US Transport Projects #7. Usually I can shuffle things around well enough to not have this sort of thing, but this time it just hasn’t worked out. I suppose it doesn’t really matter all that much, but it does look kinda lazy like that.
It’s been about a year since I released the last USxP issue. That last issue was the first time where I used vector diagrams embedded within the issue, rather than raster images; getting the diagrams from AutoCAD into Word was a bit of a chore back then. And in the intervening months… I forgot how I did it. So I had to figure it out again, and the process is different. I have to walk the AutoCAD diagram through Rhino 3D and save as a WMF and blah, blah, blah; end result is it works just fine. I’ve done some further refinement… the main outlines are set at 0.25 mm width and the ends of the lines have been reset to rounded and mitered, so sharp corners now look more like sharp corners.
Hoping to have these two out in a day or two. The other three will be rather longer.