PB4Y-2 Privateer — best long-range patrol aircraft of WW II?
The Convair PB4Y-2 Privateer was a significantly improved Consolidated B-24 Liberator model built for long-range patrol requirements from the U.S. Navy. Notably the dual tail fins disappeared in favor of a tall single vertical fin. Less obvious but no less significant are round (instead of oval engine nacelles) since the super and turbo chargers were eliminated (patrolling was flown below 10,000 feet), the addition of powered side turrets as well as a top turret (for a total of two) and a seven-foot plug fuselage extension between the cockpit and wing.
The Navy had a powerful long-range patrol aircraft possessing long legs, extremely heavy defensive armament as well as state-of-the-art search technology. The single vertical fin improved the flying qualities to a great degree and the powered turrets could slew from one side to the other in about one second. Privateers were as heavily armed as the unsuccessful YB-40 (heavily defensive arms) but enjoyed much more success — likely due to the lower mission ceilings placing less power drain on the engines.
The Davis high lift wing, long-range, presence of lengthy airstrips after 1943, heavy defensive fire capability and a complete search suite all made the Privateer what many argue the best patrol aircraft of World War II — and also ushered the end of the flying boat age.
Next Wednesday a review of what is probably the authoritative book on the Privateer is scheduled for publishing.
Junkyard Jets, James Douglas Scroggins III and Nicholas A. Veronico, 2010, ISBN 10 0-9830-6063-0, 192 pp.
Junkyard Jets is a delightfully hefty book on a subject unknown to most. Packed to almost overflowing with unique photographs this book is also insightful, teaching many surprising aspects of this vital industry that most of us unknowingly benefit from everyday.
Naturally, the re-purposing and recycling of aircraft is addressed in a conversant way whereby the details of the industry are easily understood. Then there are the delightful discoveries, such as the many photos of how junkyard jets have been used on TV and film sets (cinema art as it is termed in the book).
Scroggins and Veronico’s book doesn’t skip around, rather, this is an expert book on the subject so its various aspects are intelligently illustrated. The chapter headings show the breadth and intrigue within the book:
- Airliner Retirement and Storage
- Jetliner Dismantling and Recycling
- Incident Aircraft
- Airframes for Testing
- Aviation Cinema Art
- Major Aircraft Storage & Dismantling Facilities
The book’s hundreds of images (aircraft is all manner of rest and distress) and dozens of information gems (such as the SOFIA project and cockpit sections for trainers as well as museums) make this a great book not only for the aviation historian but a wonderful book for film buffs, as well.
FLL’s Artful Air Force in Terminal 1
26° 04′ 23″ N / 80° 08′ 22″ W
Terminal 1 of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) is laid out long like a cigarette carton. Along its roof is a sinuous track used to suspend aircraft sculptures which are imaginative and playfully designed. They range from paper airplanes to the conventional and are in a variety of colors — though most travelers do not appear to notice though they have plenty of time as they wait in line.
F-102 — too slow at first
47° 07′ 55″ N / 122° 28′ 59″ W
This Convair F-12 Delta Dagger sits in the Heritage Hill Air Park which is part of the McChord Air Museum. Designed in the during the Cold War during and era when missiles were thought to have made guns into relics the Delta Dagger was built for speed. Armed with missiles as well as rockets the original design was a failure — thought its delta wing and sharply faceted canopy gave the F-102 a sleek look it was in fact slow. Fortunately for Convair Richard Whitcomb had been studying wave drag when he experienced an epiphany one day, after much research. He realized that the entire aircraft had to be considered as a whole when considering high subsonic and transonic air flow and this led to one of the 20th Century’s greatest aerodynamic breakthroughs — Area Rule. Essentially this meant to look at the fuselage and wing’s overall cross-sectional area as a whole and relate that value to the theoretical optimum design known as the Sears-Haack body. Where the value is too high then thin it out and when too low then thicken it.
Convair reduced some of the fuselage cross-sectional area which gave the F-102 its paradigm setting “coke bottle” fuselage shape. Area Rule became a design constraint for any aircraft made to fly at transonic speeds or higher — including airliners such as the B-747 and A380.
Note: more has been written about the F-102 as well as the McChord Air Museum — the search window will take you there :)
Boneyard Nose Art
Boneyard Nose Art: U.S. military aircraft markings and artwork, Nicholas A. Veronico, Jim Dunn, and Ron Strong, 2013, ISBN 978-0-8117-1308-5, 171 pp.
As so well mentioned in this book’s forward by John Brennan military aircraft nose art is temporal, not meant to last. If you will, nose art on military aircraft is performance art — there and gone in but a few of history’s moments — as military and, especially, combat flying takes its cold and unfeeling toll.
Art is an expression and military aircraft nose art as a collection expresses wants or desires of the crews who fly to serve — most often in exotic and uncomfortable places.
Boneyard Nose Art is much more than documentary, it is sincere recollection which shares with readers insights into the flight crews of a broad aircraft spectrum. Fighters, bomber and patrol aircraft, tankers and transports as well as helicopters and special use aircraft are addressed in hundreds of high-quality color photos. Some images aren’t recommended for young children and some nose art are multiple element murals — some are sarcastic and some are crudely done. The gamut of human experience and emotion are described in the art of the aircraft slowly and surely returning to nature.
Thanks to Veronico, Dunn and Strong for saving this performance art for us in this excellent book.
The Telescope and The Blimp
The New York Times published an article on 25 August 2014 regarding the potential of using lighter-than-air flight in blimps to carry telescopes aloft in Joshua A. Krisch’s article, Modern Research Borne on a Relic. The article is intriguing for its description of the challenges of long-duration high-altitude lighter-than-air flight as well as its potential advantages to the science specialities of astronomy as well as climatology. [Though animal migration studies also come to mind as well as geological studies.] Krisch has done his research in detailing the recent U.S. Army funded Hi-Sentinel communication blimp projects as well as the Keck Institute for Space Studies at California Tech.
This article is well worth a read as it may be a new dimension to future studies which will not only effectively gather information when it could not have been gathered before but to gather information over the long-term for more representative (and more accurate as well as more insightful) analyses.
Aviatik D.I — the rare Berg Scout
The Aviatik D.I sits in the Personal Courage Wing of the Museum of Flight and, like the Caproni Ca.20 which is also in the same display area, is a rare surviving example of as World War I fighter aircraft. Designed by Julius von Berg as fighter in Austrio-Hungary— explaining why it was more commonly known as the “Berg Scout” — the Aviatik D.I is the first Austrian fighter aircraft. It was especially reputed to possess excellent climbing ability with its 200 hp / ~150kN Austro-Daimler six cylinder in-line engine designed by Ferdinand Porsche (yes, the person who founded the Porsche car company). The fighter weighed 1350 pounds / 610kg empty and was a formidable aircraft which had 2½ hours flight endurance, a maximum level speed of 115 mph /185kph and an operational ceiling of 20,200 feet / 6150 meters. Five companies manufactured this aircraft type with this specific aircraft produced by the Thone and Viala company of Vienna.
The restoration of this Aviatik is quite a story beginning with its rescue by Art Williams and subsequent restoration after acquisition by famed restorer Doug Champlin. Famed for original restoration to flight condition Chaplin did no less with this Aviatik D.I — including the complicated hand-built radiator as well as the rare pair of 8mm caliber Schwarzlose aircraft machine guns (the fighter’s primary armament).