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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 😉

 

IWM–Duxford: Air and Sea

14 April 2017

52° 05′ 46″ N/ 00° 08′ 08″ E

The Imperial War Museums are a quintet of museums and the Imperial War Museum–Duxford, IWM–Duxford as it is better known, being a set of museums of itself (like the several hangars of the NASM Udvar-Hazy or National Museum of the U.S. Air Force):

  • The AirSpace Museum
  • Flying Aircraft
  • Air and Sea
  • Battle of Britain
  • American Air Museum
  • Land Warfare
  • Plus smaller buildings and museums within museums as well as flying in a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in a business sharing the same historic airfield as the museum.

IWM–Duxford is anything from a special treat to a wonderland—where visitors can spend  hours or days (yes, days). Family members not wishing to spend days can easily enjoy neighboring Cambridge, so not to worry.

The food available at not one but two cafés is excellent and affordable—better than usual fare. There is a dedicated children’s play area which is an item overlooked in most large museums as children do not maintain control for hours at a time—the energy built up over that time must be expended before it boils over, as we know. Entry for adults is £18 (a hint: if going  to more than one IWM facility consider getting an annual pass) which is hefty until one considers:

  • This is a museum complex with several museums so it is a bargain
  • Upkeep of the static aircraft has a cost but consider the upkeep of the flying and restoration facilities, as well
  • This is one of the best museums in the world in terms of historical location, aircraft on exhibit and the excellent display spaces

Wear good walking shoes though transport is available as there is literally miles that can be involved. That being said, the cafés were wisely placed roughly at either end of the complex. One is in the open going from hangar or building to the next so dress for the weather—once inside the hangar spaces are unusually climate controlled, however. Also take care for restroom locations as they are not necessarily in the next building.

IWM–Duxford is world-class and, in its way, standard setting. Marvel at British aviation as well as the world’s aviation developments in an intimate way as, for the most part, visitors are walking among the aircraft entirely without cordons or barriers.

This is a lovely part of the IWM–Duxford museum complex. Generally more quiet yet filled with a variety of aircraft. Helicopters, the sleek Hawker Siddeley Buccaneer S.2B, unique Sea Vixen with it;s “coal hole” radar operator’s cockpit and Kriegsmarine one man submarine of WW II. Naval aircraft are some of the most challenging to design especially with how various parts need to fold (rotor blades, wings, tail rotors)—being able to be within arms length allows the visitor to marvel that these machines reliably flew in almost any sea state much less weather condition.

Westland Wasp HAS.1—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Westland Sea King HAS.6—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

TBM-3 Avenger—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Westland Wessex HAS.1—Catherine Dowman copyright

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 (two props for two turboprop engines)—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Fairey Gannet ECM.6 (note the unique W-wing fold of the wing)—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Hawker Nimrod—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Hawker Fury—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Tail of the Hawker Fury—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Hawker Fury—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

IWM–Duxford: American Air Museum

13 April 2017

52° 05′ 46″ N/ 00° 08′ 08″ E

An impactful artwork which brings home the number of U.S. aircraft by type and their crews lost during the war with panel after panel after panel…—Catherine Dowman image and copyright

The Imperial War Museums are a quintet of museums and the Imperial War Museum–Duxford, IWM–Duxford as it is better known, being a set of museums of itself (like the several hangars of the NASM Udvar-Hazy or National Museum of the U.S. Air Force):

  • The AirSpace Museum
  • Flying Aircraft
  • Air and Sea
  • Battle of Britain
  • American Air Museum
  • Land Warfare
  • Plus smaller buildings and museums within museums as well as flying in a de Havilland Dragon Rapide in a business sharing the same historic airfield as the museum.

IWM–Duxford is anything from a special treat to a wonderland—where visitors can spend  hours or days (yes, days). Family members not wishing to spend days can easily enjoy neighboring Cambridge, so not to worry.

The food available at not one but two cafés is excellent and affordable—better than usual fare. There is a dedicated children’s play area which is an item overlooked in most large museums as children do not maintain control for hours at a time—the energy built up over that time must be expended before it boils over, as we know. Entry for adults is £18 (a hint: if going  to more than one IWM facility consider getting an annual pass) which is hefty until one considers:

  • This is a museum complex with several museums so it is a bargain
  • Upkeep of the static aircraft has a cost but consider the upkeep of the flying and restoration facilities, as well
  • This is one of the best museums in the world in terms of historical location, aircraft on exhibit and the excellent display spaces

Wear good walking shoes though transport is available as there is literally miles that can be involved. That being said, the cafés were wisely placed roughly at either end of the complex. One is in the open going from hangar or building to the next so dress for the weather—once inside the hangar spaces are unusually climate controlled, however. Also take care for restroom locations as they are not necessarily in the next building.

IWM–Duxford is world-class and, in its way, standard setting. Marvel at British aviation as well as the world’s aviation developments in an intimate way as, for the most part, visitors are walking among the aircraft entirely without cordons or barriers.

The American Air Power Hangar is new and architecturally spectacular. Not a historic hangar but a purpose-built display building with graceful lines and wonderful to experience. Aircraft and exhibits dating from WW II through the Cold War to current day are on the floor or suspended from the ceiling. A partial upper floor lends space for a café (somewhat limited seating) as well as views from on-high of the aircraft exhibited on the floor. Simply fascinating is to walk about the aircraft—taking care to strike a head against a propeller or antenna—and go from the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress to the Consolidated B-24 Liberator with a mere five steps and contemplate the differences in crew duties as well as aircraft performance.

Map of the American Air Power of IWM–Duxford—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

U.S. Navy Vietnam War Era McDonnell Douglas F-4J Phantom II—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Etta Jean II” North American P-51D Mustang—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Etta Jean II” North American P-51D Mustang—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Etta Jean II” North American P-51D Mustang—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (a type stationed at Duxford during WW II)—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt (a type stationed at Duxford during WW II)—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Tabu! Left side tail fin of the Lockheed SR-71—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Right side engine nacelle of the Douglas C-47 Skytrain—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Mission symbols of the Boeing B-52D Stratofortress which was kept busy during the Vietnam War—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Boeing B-29A Superfortress tail gunner station—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

The Boeing B-29A Superfortress’s tail—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Li’L Critter From the Moon” North American B-25J Mitchell—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Dugan” Consolidated B-24M Liberator—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Dugan” Consolidated B-24M Liberator’s Number 2 engine—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Dugan” Consolidated B-24M Liberator’s Number 2 engine—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

“Dugan” Consolidated B-24M Liberator’s Number 3 engine—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress right side nose gun position—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft

Republic A-10A Thunderbolt II—Joseph May:Travel for Aircraft