Aug 132017

As a followup to the photos of the H-33 display model, here’s a Grumman report from July, 1971, giving a pretty good and well illustrated description of the H-33 orbiter.

The abstract on NTRS can be seen HERE.

The PDF file can be directly downloaded here:

Alternate space shuttle concepts study. Part 2: Technical summary. Volume 2: Orbiter definition


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 Posted by at 2:23 am
Jul 142017

A 1972 Teledyne Ryan report on modifying their supersonic BQM-34E Firebee II target drone into RPV’s for testing new aerodynamics, wings and area-rule add-ons and the like. Numerous diagrams are included.

Here’s the link to the NTRS abstract.

Here’s the direct link to the PDF.



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 Posted by at 11:48 pm
Jul 112017

Seems I’ve been a wee bit lax  on the PDF Reviews I will attempt to rectify that in the future.

Here is a Air Force conference paper from May, 1964, describing the X-20 Dyna Soar program and vehicle. At this point the program had been cancelled for some months; the configuration shown in the paper was essentially the final design. It’s a decent overall view of the Dyna Soar.

Here’s the link to the abstract:

The X-20 (Dyna-Soar) Progress Report

Here’s a link directly to the PDF.


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 Posted by at 11:35 pm
Jun 182017

Here’s an interesting one: a detailed large-format diagram of the US Space Shuttle orbiter… as drawn up by Soviet draftsmen in 1976. Interestingly, the top view includes, in red, the basic outline of the Soviet “Buran” shuttle orbiter. A surprisingly high-rez version of this diagram can be FOUND HERE.

The diagram is not entirely accurate, especially with regards to the OMS pod. The rear end of the pod in the side view is distinctly inaccurate. But note the faint lines just ahead of the OMS pods in the top and side views. One of the last noticeable changes to the Orbiters configuration was the change to the forward end of the OMS pod; originally, the pods continued forward onto the cargo bay doors. This continuation was just an aerodynamic fairing; all the equipment an tanks were in the pod aft of the doors.


 Posted by at 2:12 am
Feb 102017

NASA has just released a report on a Europa lander mission. I haven’t read all the way through it (in fact, I’ve just glanced through it), but it seems fairly extensive. The lander design itself seems pretty preliminary. It also looks like a walking “rover,” but the legs are just long in order to allow the lander to safely come to rest on whatever terrain it happens to land on.

The lander would have instruments meant to look for the signs of life. Pretty obviously, the chances of life appearing *anywhere* near the surface of Europa are as close to zero as you can get. However, assuming that many, many kilometers below there is a liquid water ocean, and assuming that there is recognizable life swimming or floating around in the water, chances are fairly good that bits of it, everything from biochemicals on up to actual critters, would get trapped in the ice. Over extremely long periods of time the cold, icy equivalent of geological processes might drag that stuff up to the surface, where it might be detectable.

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You can download the report here:

Europa Lander Science Definition Team Report

Some of the illustrations:

Europa Lander Image1 Europa Lander Image2 Europa Lander Image3 Europa Lander Image4 Europa Lander Image5 Europa Lander Image6


 Posted by at 8:49 pm
Nov 242016

In 1965, the US Army briefly examined a need they didn’t know they had: firearms for use in space and on the Moon. The US Army Weapons Command in Rock Island, Illinois, put out a brochure detailing some ideas for lunar weapons… “The Meanderings of a Weapon Oriented Mind When Applied in a Vacuum Such as on the Moon.” While not a detailed engineering study, it nevertheless provides and interesting look at the sort of weapons that might be developed for use in a low gravity space environment.


Conventional firearms would work just fine in space… at least for a while. A vacuum would cause most lubricants to outgas and turn to waxy solids or hard rubber-like crud. The extreme differences in temperatures between sunlit and shaded would cause many metals to warp and mechanisms to seize up. And there’s always the possibility of vacuum welding, where two similar metals will simply stick together, fusing into one. And recoil that gives a shooter a good kick on Earth might knock them over on the Moon, or send them tumbling in freefall. The authors described these problems and pointed out potential solutions. Additionally, they provided a number of notional concepts for hand-held weapons, ranging from modifications to the normal sort of firearm, to guns powered by springs (with, it must be said, rather optimistic muzzle velocities) to gas-guns and handheld mini-rocket launchers. It’s odd that the Gyrojet was not included. A laser weapon is said to probably be just the thing, but development of such a thing would take 20 years. A man-portable laser weapon capable of doing useful damage in a  combat situation remains sadly unavailable.

Note that the weapons have quite unconventional ergonomics. Some don’t even have proper pistol grips; those that do have triggers roughly the full length of the grip. This is so that a space-suited hand can squeeze the trigger, something very difficult for a conventional single-finger trigger.


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The brochure ends with several pages of useful math, providing calculations for ballistic range in other gravity fields, penetration capabilities and muzzle velocities and gas pressures.

The report can be found here:

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 Posted by at 2:43 am
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
Mar 172016

Seems I’ve sorta fallen off the PDF Review Wagon. So here’s a hastily slapped-together review of a great report (the scans, sadly, aren’t so great, but whatreyagonnado…

V/STOL Concepts and Developed Aircraft. Volume 1. A Historical Report (1940-1986)

Report Number: AFWAL TR 86-3071 Volume 1
Author(s): B. Lindenbaum
Corporate Author: Universal Energy Systems
Laboratory: Flight Dynamics Laboratory
Publication Date: 11/1/1986
Pages: 458
Contract: F33615-83-C-3000
Project: 3038
Task: 303800
AD Number: ADA175379
Photo Enhancement: Complete

Abstract Text:

The purpose of this document is to present a comprehensive, in-depth review of the serious efforts made in the development of VTOL and V/STOL concepts and aircraft other than the helicopter. The time period covered is from the beginning of organized government-sponsored activity in the late 1940’s through the present, during which a very large study and development activity has taken place. Conventional helicopters are not included because their development history is a sizeable subject in itself and one which is already well-documented. Included are V/STOL aircraft which do use rotors but are aimed at providing cruise speeds and aerodynamic efficiencies similar to those of conventional airplanes. Although not aircraft in the conventional sense, wingless VTOL vehicles which use direct thrust (rocket or turbojet/turbofan) for lift in all flight modes also are included since such machines do have a close relationship to some of the more commonly accepted forms of VTOL aircraft. This volume contains an introductory review of V/STOL aircraft concepts and the rationale behind them. The concepts are categorized by propulsion system. This volume contains definitive information and technical reviews of the rocket belt, turbojet/turbofan platform type (wingless) vehicles, and turbojet/turbofan vertical attitude takeoff and landing aircraft.


Two scans of this are available online.

Direct link to PDF copy 1.

Direct link to PDF copy 2.

 Posted by at 5:24 pm
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.

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 Posted by at 12:50 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.

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 Posted by at 8:51 am