Nov 152017

Every now and then something of aerospace history interest and importance shows up on EBay that is too expensive for easy acquisition, and so I will run a “crowdfunding campaign” to procure the funds to purchase the item. In these cases, the item – almost always a document of some kind – is scanned, the funders get complete copies, and the original is then sent to a relevant archive. Another such item has popped up.

In this case, the item is expensive because the seller has put a stupid-high Buy It Now price on it. What they have is a pair of early-1960’s Grumman documents abut manned lifting body logistics spacecraft. Very interesting-looking stuff, the sort of item I’d snap up in a heartbeat for Aerospace Projects Review… if they didn’t cost $800.


So, I’m looking for people willing to join in on purchasing this. I currently have six people lined up, but the minimum this time is fifteen: this would drop the price per person to about $53.50. That’s still a pretty good chunk of change, but the more people who sign on, the lower the price will be.

So if you’d like to sign on, just send me an email or comment below. You won’t be asked to put up money unless the documents are purchased, and that won’t happen until at least 15 people sign up. Check back here for updates.

UPDATE, 11/15/2017-9:37PM mountain time: 10 people signed up. 2/3 of the way there…

UPDATE, 11:17 PM: 12 people.

UPDATE, 11/16/2017-8:29 AM: 14 people signed up. One more and I’ll pull the trigger on this, but I’ll keep availability open for a little while longer in order to hopefully bring in more funders and reduce the per-person cost. Can’t keep it open *too* long, because… sheesh, 800 bucks. My mortgage payment comes due *tomorrow.*

UPDATE, 7:54 PM: Now at 17 funders. The seller is currently away for a few days and it seems unlikely that anyone else will plunk down the $802 for this, so I’ll risk it and leave things open for a few more days to get more funders on board. With 17, the price per person is now $47.17. If it gets to 20, that’ll be $40.10, and so on.

 Posted by at 9:19 pm
Oct 092017

Posted to a NASA Flickr page is this illustration of a 1984 space station concept:

This is the Johnson Space Center’s 1984 “roof” concept for a space station. The “roof” was covered with solar array cells, that were to generate about 120 kilowatts of electricity. Within the V-shaped beams there would be five modules for living, laboratory space, and external areas for instruments and other facilities.

This would probably be a very heavy station for the volume and usable surface area provided. However, once that truss structure is in place, it seems like it would be possible to keep adding on to it without overly stressing the structure, with the possible result of a very capable station. It should also be possible to keep tacking on new truss elements.

The design would necessarily keep most of the station elements shadowed by the solar arrays.

 Posted by at 5:31 pm
Oct 082017

Got them done a little early this time, so here’s a review of what the APR Patrons will be receiving:

Patrons will receive:

A proposal brochure on the C-135A cargo transport

A brochure about the Shuttle-C

A well illustrated NASA-produced booklet from the mid 1980’s describing the space station as them conceived

A large format diagram showing a wind tunnel model of the Titan III/Dyna Soar

A CAD diagram of the ca. 2001 Russian TsAGI Integrated Wing Body large passenger transport jetliner

If these are of interest, please consider signing on to the APR Patreon.

 Posted by at 12:29 pm
Sep 212017

Now available: two new US Aerospace Projects issues. Cover art was provided by Rob Parthoens,

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.



 Posted by at 7:51 am
Jul 162017

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.

 Posted by at 12:49 am
May 032017

A number of vintage 8X10 glossies of aerospace concept art (all apparently North American/Rockwell) were recently sold on eBay. These included Apollo/Skylab, early Space Shuttle concepts, advanced spacecraft (including a manned mission to Jupiter and NERVA tugs) and various space probes and space station designs. Fortunately, the seller provided fairly good scans. I have collected them and uploaded them to the APR Patreon Extras Dropbox folder for 2017-05.  If you are interested in accessing these and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 Posted by at 11:02 am
Mar 202017

One of the oldest and most tiresome of the “Nazi Wunderwaffen” myths is that of the “Sun Gun.” The idea is that the Nazis were found to have been working on the design of an orbital mirror, miles in diameter, that would have reflected sunlight to the surface of Earth in such a way to cause enemy cities to burst into flames. This idea first hit the US press quite soon after the defeat of Nazi Germany, and *before* the nuking of Japan. Several articles appeared in the New York Times on the topic beginning in late June, 1945, and the idea reached its peak with an illustrated article in Life Magazine in July, 1945.

The “Sun Gun” was claimed to be a circular mirror one mile in diameter, orbiting at 5,100 miles. The mirror, it was claimed, would be made from large cubical and pressure-tight blocks, providing *vast* internal volume for the crew and their crop of oxygen-producing pumpkins.

Small problem: it’s BS.

Now, there *were* ideas for vast orbital mirrors. Hermann Oberth had proposed such a thing as far back as the 1920’s, so an orbital mirror was not unknown as a concept in wartime Germany. And in reading the lean details in the articles, it’s clear that what is described is the Oberth mirror as described after a round of “telephone.” The basic idea is Oberths, and Oberth even gets a shout-out in the articles, but Oberths ideas got mutated and bent out of recognition. Not leastways because an orbital mirror a mile in diameter 5,100 miles overhead *cannot* set a city, or even a dry piece of of tissue paper on fire. The basic physics of optics prohibits that. Thought experiment: take a mirror one inch in diameter. Can you use it to start a fire? If it’s precise enough and close enough to the target… sure. Now, move that one-inch mirror 5,100 inches from the target. Gonna set anything on fire *now?*

I suspect what happened is that the the US Army officers who reported on the “sun gun” were simply told about the Oberth mirror – which, by the way, was a far less insane idea than the “sun gun” in that it was essentially foil rather than a large solid structure – by Germans who either wanted to screw with them or, like von Braun, wanted to pump up their apparent usefulness to the US military in the hopes of getting transferred to the US. Given the conditions in post-war Germany and the risks of getting sucked into the black hole of the Soviet Union, it would make sense for *anyone* to try to wrangle a ride to the US for an actual job.

I have gathered together scans of newspaper and magazine articles on the subject and mashed ’em into a PDF file which I have uploaded to the 2017-03 APR Extras Dropbox folder. This is available to all APR Patreon Patrons at the $4 level and above. If interested, check out the APR Patreon.




 Posted by at 10:29 am
Mar 042017

I have posted in the 2017-03 APR Extras Dropbox folder for APR Patrons a small pile of aerospace history images yoinked out of a few reports. Included is a 1944 NACA reconstruction of the German V-1 buzz bomb (generally correct, but off in detail), three photos of a wind tunnel model of the Bell X-1 modified to have variable sweep wings, three pieces of NASA art depicting some then-future applications of space propulsion systems including a one-man lunar flyer, an early concept for what became Skylab, and a more advanced modular space station. The full-rez verions are available to all APR Patreon patrons at the $4 level and above. If interested, please consider signing up. There are  a whole  bunch of other goodies available in past months folders, more stuff coming.

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.


Space Propulsion Systems c Space Propulsion Systems b Space Propulsion Systems a swing-wing X-1 c swing-wing X-1 b swing-wing X-1 a NACA V-1 reconstruction

 Posted by at 5:06 pm
Feb 072017

In December of 1948, American media outlets reported that Defense Secretary Forrestal had announced that the US wanted a space station for military purposes. The US had, in fact, been working on space for military applications since the end of World War II with both the US Navy and US Air Force studying space launch systems as early as 1944. However, the 1948 space station was most likely just a talking point, something that the Pentagon would *like* to have for any of a number of military purposes. So far as I’m aware, no actual designs produced by relevant government or corporate design bureaus have come to light. Still, the lack of anything firm to base an artists impression on didn’t slow down the media; a number of newspaper and magazine artists impressions were produced. Many of them, such as the one below (from the December 31, 1948, Washington Daily News, via an EBay auction), demonstrate a substantial lack of understanding of, well, *everything*. They tended to be a weird mishmash of Flash Gordon sci-fantasy with the V-2 and similar exotic and half-comprehended technologies.

Note that this cartoonish “space station” seems to have it all… radar, giant cannon barrels and a square mirror to reflect sunlight to set the enemy alight. This, of course, would not work.

 Posted by at 10:36 am