Skip to content

Bright Bronco

26 April 2017

OV-10 Bronco—Crown Copyright image

OV-10 Bronco—Crown Copyright image

RAF C-130 centenary art

24 April 2017

Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules ZH880 painted in No. 47 Squadron colours celebrating the Squadron’s Centenary—Crown Copyright image

Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules ZH880 painted in No. 47 Squadron colours celebrating the Squadron’s Centenary—Crown Copyright image

Royal Air Force C-130J Hercules ZH880 painted in No. 47 Squadron colours celebrating the Squadron’s Centenary—Crown Copyright image

Lancaster Mk X in flight

21 April 2017

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster Mk X—Crown Copyright image

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster Mk X—Crown Copyright image

Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum Lancaster Mk X—Crown Copyright image

THAAD—machine-v-machine

19 April 2017

THAAD launch—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) is a mobile system is meant to destroy incoming missile warheads in their terminal phases. Since these warheads would be destroyed over friendly territory the THAAD missile works using a direct hit instead of proximity explosions—the kinetic kill—to not disperse the warhead materials wider than minimally possible.

X-band radar (microwave frequencies from 7–11.2 GHz) ground units guide the 125 mile ranged missile with an altitude capability of 93 miles. The ER (extended range) version, if development is successful, promises to be useful against hypersonic glide vehicles.

The speed of incoming warheads, as well as hypersonic glide vehicles, make shooting them down a machine-v-machine affair as there is a matter of ten seconds or less to acquire, launch and kill the incoming threat.

THAAD launch—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

THAAD missile burning its way to a test interception—U.S. Missile Defense Agency image

Norge—the airship first bringing humans to the North Pole

17 April 2017

Norge was built for a single purpose and that was as transport for arctic exploration. Airships were the vehicle of choice back in the day (in this case the early 1920s) as they were faster, more reliable and longer ranged than aircraft—as well as free from the maritime constraints  of ships.

Famed polar explorers Roald Amundsen and Lincoln Ellsworth combined efforts to fly over the North Pole as well as transit the arctic ice cap for a flight in 1926. Equally famous as an airship pilot and airship designer Umberto Nobile was engaged to modify his N-1 airship design as well as pilot the airship Norge on what became known as the Amundsen–Ellsworth 1926 Transpolar Flight.

The Norge was a semi rigid airship with a cruciform tail recently indebted by the Schütte-Lanz company (becoming the standard in Hindenburg designs as well). Metal framing gave shape to the nose and tail with a flexible metal keel aiding in the length dimension. Pressurization of the enveloped then gave the final aerodynamic shape with hydrogen filled gas cells providing lift (displacement, really). A control gondola and three engine gondolas completed the overall design. 16 men formed the Norge’s compliment on the expedition. Although not landing at the North Pole the expedition flew over it on 12 May 1926, dropping flags of Norway, the United States and Italy to signify the accomplishment of being the first to the North Pole.

The Norge was 347′ 9″ in length and has a payload capacity of 20,900 pounds using 670,000 cubic feet of hydrogen gas. Three Maybach Mb.IV could power the Norge to 71 mph.

The airship Norge on the island of Svalbard—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

The airship Norge aloft and looking from the bows (note the dangling ground handling lines)—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

The Norge coming into the hangar (note the photographer behind a tripod in the foreground)—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

Airship Norge aloft over Svalbard (note the reindeer drawn sled)—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

The airship Norge comes to a mooring mast (a mooring mast is the airship equivalent of laying at anchor)—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

The Norge elegantly sailing over her home country of Norway—Nasjonalbiblioteket image

MOAB and MOP—the USAF’s two options for big non nukes

16 April 2017

Recently, the USAF dropped the MOAB (Massive Ordinance Air Blast or GBU-43) against insurgents in Afghanistan. The weapon works, as its name implies, by detonating a huge explosive charge just above ground. The blast creates a shock wave called overpressure (a 10 psi overpressure will destroy all but concrete buildings). Once related by parachute extraction on a pallet from its MC-130E Combat Talon steering vanes steer the device to its target. Obviously, air supremacy is required for use of the MOAB. It is the largest non-nuclear bomb used in hostile action to date.

MOAB at the USAF Armament Museum—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

MOAB, the green bomb, at the USAF Armament Museum—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

The two sensors on the MOAB’s nose give the MOAB the capability to explode above ground—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Winglets, steering vanes and GPS allow for the MOAB’s accuracy—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

A closer view the the MOAB’s steering vanes which gimbal in use—photo by Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

That is for above ground and in the presence of air supremacy. The USAF also has a massive weapon for below ground use and when the fight for air supremacy is on—such as the onset of hostilities when elimination of command and communication bunkers is desired. Hence the MOP (Massive Ordinance Penetrator or GBU-57) which outweighs the MOAB by 8400 pounds, is also non-nuclear and can be delivered by a B-2 stealth bomber. Like the MOAB it also has winglets, steering vanes and GPS for accuracy. Unlike the MOAB, the MOP is designed to penetrate as far as 200 feet into the ground prior to detonation.

MOP Drop—a MOP GBU-57 is dropped in a nonexplosive testing of the weapon from a B-52 though the MOP would likely be delivered by B-2 in wartime—USAF image

A wee tale of two museums and their bags

15 April 2017

Farnborough Air Sciences Trust (FAST)—Joseph May: Travel for Aircraft

A simple merchandise bag with clever artful advertising—a souvenir in itself—and only a few pence in the UK (which has retailers charge for them to encourage folks to bring their own bags which are used over and over saving the planet from choking on trash).

This bag, of course, came from the FAST Museum—the original grounds of British aviation development. Artful and clever in design.

There is no image of a similar bag from the IWM–Duxford—that massive museum complex of world-class calibre. Why is that? Well…they do not have merch bags for a few pence but they do for about £2 and are the type meant to re-use in shopping, with fancy design on them to be sure. Seemingly, it appears to be all about the money. So, if you don’t want to purchase a merch bag there wear clothing with many pockets 😉

Make sure to go to the FAST Museum, though 😉