Jan 012018
 

This piece of art depicts the McDonnell-Douglas “Drawbridge” orbiter in orbit delivering a satellite. Note that the wing are deployed, even though they would be folded up during entry. The geometry of the craft was such that in order to get the cargo bay door open and payloads safely in and out, the wing needed to fold down out of the way.

This points out one of the reasons why you don’t often see a whole lot of “cool” stuff in aerospace… everything has tradeoffs. And needing the wings to constantly go up and down is a bit of a headache. When it comes to spacecraft, mass is a primary priority; the mechanisms needed to deploy the wings weight a lot… never mind the mechanisms needed to retract the wing again. As an example, the real space shuttle orbiter had no landing gear retraction system. And why should it? The landing gear is hardly something the Orbiter would ever need to retract. That could be done by the ground crew without adding weight and complexity to the craft itself.

Note that the Orbiter and the payload here seem to have not NASA markings, but Red Cross markings. I suspect that a number of variants of this piece of art would have been produced with several different markings (NASA and Pan Am being the obvious ones), but why exactly Red Cross? Dunno.

Also note that this might not be an actual “Drawbridge” design, as no extension mechanism for the wing s in evidence. This might be an oversight on the part of the artist; it might be that this was a fixed-wing design. Given the RCS thrusters on the wingtips, this is most likely *not* a Drawbridge.

I’ve uploaded the high-rez version of this artwork (11.2 megabyte 6271×4763 pixel JPG) to the APR Extras Dropbox folder for 2018-01, available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in accessing this and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

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 Posted by at 3:59 pm
Dec 302017
 

The rewards for APR Patrons have been issued. This month:

CAD Diagram: Marquardt hypersonic burning ramjet booster

Diagram: Convair Class VP Airplane High Performance Flying Boat

Document 1: Apollo Exploration Shelter System

Document 2: Chrysler Work Station Capsule (“work pod” for astronauts)

Document 3: Sikorsky S-97 “Raider” brochure

 

If you are interested in helping to preserve (and get copies of) this sort of thing, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

 

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 Posted by at 12:06 pm
Dec 252017
 

This piece of art depicts the McDonnell-Douglas “Drawbridge” orbiter staging off the manned flyback booster, showing the wings still folded against the sides of the fuselage. The wings served no purpose during ascent; they would only be used after-re-entry. Of course, in the event of a mission abort shortly after launch, the wings would need to deploy fairly quickly. There are no doubt numerous abort scenarios where the orbiter would be left intact after separation from a presumably stricken booster (or after a main engine failure on the orbiter stage), but would nevertheless still be doomed due to inability to get the wings deployed in time.

I’ve uploaded the high-rez version of this artwork (5 megabyte 3951×2121 pixel JPG) to the APR Extras Dropbox folder for 2017-12, available to all APR Patrons at the $4 level and above. If you are interested in accessing this and other aerospace historical goodies, consider signing up for the APR Patreon.

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 Posted by at 4:18 pm
Nov 142017
 

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.

 Posted by at 12:28 pm
Oct 062017
 

I have a number of new aerospace cyanotype blueprints available. Until I can repave the catalog page, I have slapped together a PDF catalog of the new items. Until Wednesday, I’m making these new 12X18 prints, as well as the earlier 12X18 prints, available. The earlier 12X18s are viewable HERE. The new items are in the following PDF file:

Cyan catalog addition 2017-10

If any are of interest, Paypal to the email address in the PDF file, and add a note in the order which items you want…. AND what your mailing address is (PayPal doesn’t automatically add the address to payments like this).

After Wednesday the prints will be again unavailable for a little bit while I retool and work on some things.

 

UPDATE: over for now. After some retooling I hope to have all the cyanotypes, small and large old and new, available for regular sale.

 Posted by at 10:06 am
Sep 252017
 

Another rare piece of early Dyna Soar color art. This one shows the Dyna Soar heading to space atop the centaur upper stage of an Atlas booster. And if you think you are seeing corrugations on the back of the spaceplane, you are correct. At this stage in the design process the Dyna Soar *did* have some fairly massive, un-aerodynamic corrugations, and for the same reason why the SR-71 has corrugations on the wing: to allow for thermal expansion. Why exactly the Boeing Dyna Soar corrugations run crossways to the airflow, I’m a little unclear on. Terrible aerodynamics, but I imagine that’s just the way the structure wanted to flex.

The corrugations rarely appear on the usually simple diagrams you see of early Dyna Soar configurations, but they were there on full-scale mockups.

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Sep 212017
 

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:

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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:

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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.

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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
Sep 182017
 

A rare piece of color art of an early Dyna Soar being lofted atop an Atlas/Centaur. Color artwork of the Dyna Soar was created in some considerable abundance, but it was mostly reproduced in B&W, and its sadly rare for even those B&W reports to have been printed well, rarer still for them to have been scanned or copied well.

 Posted by at 7:33 pm
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

 

Support the APR Patreon to help bring more of this sort of thing to light!

 

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 Posted by at 2:23 am
Aug 122017
 

The H-33 orbiter was designed in early 1971 to be launched atop a reusable manned flyback booster, a truly giant supersonic vehicle. The orbiter itself was similar in configuration to the Shuttle Orbiter as actually built, but it differed in that it had internal liquid oxygen tanks and expendable external hydrogen tanks, rather than a single large ET. The NASM has some good photos of a display model of the full system.

The H-33 was a popular design, at least at Grumman. A number of display models were made of it, including this detailed “cutaway” model made – seemingly – of plexiglas.

I have uploaded the full-rez images to the 2017-08 APR Extras Dropbox folder, available to all $4 and up APR Patrons. If interested, wander on by the APR Patreon and sign up. Lots of aerospace goodies available.

 

 Posted by at 10:11 pm