V/STOL, speed-jeans and Mach 2 + by tallpindo ()
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The one thing missing in the early 1950’s in a turbine engine was excess work to drive a low-pressure fan. Eventually, single applications in terms or requirements could be met by early fan additions but low speed approach there still was the issue of acceleration of the core to recover missing altitude. To accomplish a ferry of 2000 nautical miles with only internal fuel in a tactical aircraft along with all its other requirements pointed to the 70’s. My first acquaintance of an aircraft as anything other than a sheet of paper with printing and graphs was a computer program from McDonnell Aircraft along with a data deck of two F-4J “Phantom-II’s” One of the things the program did was read the data decks (big surprise-Huh?!) Well it is, as aerodynamics usually was done by mathematical equations that related the variables and accepted well defined parameters for wind tunnel tests that had produced coefficients for graphical presentation these then were combined into a more complex mix of coefficients that in addition to the geometric data for the outline of the structure included a wing aerodynamic profile along with items for the control elements that balanced it in stable flight. My center of description for a tactical aircraft has two engines, it has rectangular swept wings and a modified cruciform stabilizer tail with horizontal elements angled down. It has large D shaped inlets with ramps for adjustment of shock position. The nose is ogival and dives a bit with a large long forward section to hold a search and track radar parabolic dish. Under the chin at one time would have been a round nosed body for infra-red-search and track. The J version did not have this nor did the E which had a M-61 Gatling cannon there in a nose derive from the reconnaissance RF version. The last different nose version came quite a bit later and was the Wild Weasel direction finding antenna pod of the G version. The F-100 “Super Sabre” and later the F-105 “Thunderchief” had brought the Wild Weasel anti-SAM version into maturity. In 1969 the sophisticated kinds of table reading and sorting routines were far off in the late 1990’s. Programmer quickly defined routines sufficed. There was no C library to access, only whatever FORTRAN libraries had been purchased which mostly for this program were trigonometric and inverse trig functions and I/O car reading and output routines for fanfold printers. Eventually, disk drive access was established but for this program not until it was restructured from Control Data to IBM word size and FORTRAN language. In those days printing and graphing used logarithmic scales to avoid overflowing on the paper. The fact the program was good for a Mach 2+ aircraft did nothing for a Mach 3 SR-71 or an XB-70 bomber. Missiles were faster but the program did not flyout missiles as it wanted to make carpet plots of many engagements that were very costly on a single run basis. Wasn’t there just one program that could include a STANDARD missile, an F-4J and a C-9B transport? No Couldn’t stability and control be calculated as from Lanchester’s phugoids and attached to the Breguet range equation to define a general airplane good enough to begin? I don’t know. Like the stork, maybe that is where C-5011A Standard Aircraft Characteristic (SAC) charts came from. In 1993 when I got my TI-82 graphing calculator I tried to remember enough to make an intercept of a target at altitude as if by an F-4. I came up with 50 miles. Maybe the fuel flows were wrong. The F-4 used the GE J-79 with afterburner and was not a turbofan. For that profile, the fuel consumption should have been better than a turbofan by a bit as fuel flow depends a lot on thrust and the J-79 had less of that than the fanjet I worked with late in my career. More likely it was the coefficient of drag or the drag induced by lift which had been most of the table values in the data decks I had. Even more likely was the possibility I had tried to model the climb profile of an Improved HAWK based on a hitchhiker I had picked up i9n Key West and taken to Homestead, Florida, stopping along the way to purchase a time share condominium on the 3rd floor of HAWK’s nest on Knights Key.
When I tested one of my models in a recognition program at Princeton University’s site it suggested the best match for a primitive V-8 engine block was a chair. Not too bad really, I had made it sitting in a chair. Like calling long distance in the late 1940’s the conversation was controlled by the operator transfers and the line noise and finally the ring tone at the other end. Was it insistent as in a city or muted as in a small town with separate rings for each party on a party line? The use of tables for data fitted the kind of managers who were accountants and business trained. Graphs were disparaged as confusing. Where were the numbers? Only the axes lines had tic marks and one was vertical! Was this Chinese? At some point flyers reviewed the results. This was how I got involved. While the conclusions seemed OK, the way the program seemed to operate the aircraft to be evaluated seemed suspect. I had to plot the trajectories of adversaries in three dimensions in a way that the prototype of a new scoring tool they had for debriefing showed things. Overall, combat pilots liked their aircraft if they responded to the controls agilely and if they recovered from upsets or uncontrolled flight in a well-behaved way. Bomber pilots followed Army doctrine from WW-II and wanted to be able to fly over a target in level flight find it easily from maps or radar data and deliver their ordnance. A major thesis of consultants was that the Germans had not completed the Battle of Britain because they used small bombloads and dive tactics. If they had flown level and used larger four engine bombers with large bombloads they would have succeeded. They even flew the four engine bombers in dive tactics once they had them. Many of their escort fighters were twin engine and being heavier were less maneuverable than the British pursuit planes that intercepted them.
The F-4J “Phantom-II” had twin engines. It used dive tactics flying in close support of ground troops as the war progressed but even early on used the toss bomb tactics developed for low level penetration with nuclear stores. All the Phantoms had two seats except the German Luftwaffe F-4F. In Air Force Phantoms both seats had a stick and rudder controls. In the Navy and Marine Corps Phantoms, the rear seat was for a Naval Flight Officer and had a radar scope and controls for the Sparrow radar guided air-to-air missile.
The Phantom has taken its place in history. What I am helping with here is why in 1969 were we still talking about it? The answer is in that (unwanted war) baby insight. Something was missing. In 1969, it was not commercial activity or consumer goods it was great war winning systems. In fact, the F-111B was not even going to be built after the long debate about TFX and the way costing could choose any good thing. There was not going to be a joint system based on microminiaturization which would allow multi-mission in one design development. Part of what was not in existence was a program for the F-401 gas turbine engine for the F-111B. Engine and prime contracts were separated to exclude the kind of United Aircraft that included airlines, aircraft, engines and associated items like radios and ordnance. Douglas aircraft had developed low drag bombs and low drag ejector racks for bombs as well as many of the Eye series of weapons but they had spun them off including the Watermaker distillation plants for Navy ships and even the Hexcel paper laminated panels that made up the partitions of my office in the 9- story tower. Corruption was not to be tolerated or collusion for pricing. Limping along was something the USAF very much wanted, the F-111A, later known as the “Aardvark.” In this system which later spawned an FB-111 with strategic range and the near magical NAA Autonetics bomb/nav integrated sub system the recovery from triple sonic very high altitude found in the XB-70 was made exquisite. Just chopping the tips off the B-52 tails and flying them at very low altitudes where celestial manual navigation was handicapped was not enough. Combining an inertial system with Doppler wind estimation and an astrotracker for navigation and a terrain following/terrain avoidance radar to aid low altitude flight gave life to manned aircraft. Khrushchev’s boast that “We will bury you,” had been based on a Soviet move to only missile systems for offense and defense of the homeland. When some of this was deployed to North Viet Nam as surface to air missiles and radar controlled guns the low altitude nuclear strategy was blunted for conventional weapons. Wing born flight later reappeared in the unmanned form as the cruise missile for subsurface and surface Naval combatants in Soviet use. The F-4J “Phantom-II” seemed very tame like a trainer when I met it at Miramar NAS. I had heard about it as a production system at Nellis AFB where no one was overly enthusiastic because they had the F-105 “Thunderchief.” Attrition was diminishing the fleet just as it was with the A-4 “Skyhawk.” Eventually, over 5500 Phantoms of all types were produced. We couldn’t be ground down by losses of Phantoms. It wasn’t that vulnerable and the production line could turn them out much faster than they were lost to all causes. The junior partner of the F-111, the A-7 was coming but slowly and additional Skyhawks filled in from a hot production line. The A-7 and F-111 partnership was by the turbofan TF-30 engine. The F-111A had two and the A-7a had one of these. At first the A-7 had only iron sights for bomb delivery and was confined to delivery profile like the A-4 but it could carry twice as many bombs twice as far from a long enough runway. The A-7B also operated off Navy carriers. In this plethora of coming developments how did the F-4 remain a central focus while the scramble to develop joint systems cleared a path for --- wait for it—the F-14 “Tom Cat.”
Ummm-do you mind drifting to the actual war in Southeast Asia which was supposed to be fought only by the sovereign nations of that area with advisors and limited to surplus post WW-II combat aircraft if any air operations were allowed if at all. The shiny penny here was COIN or Counter Insurgency. Eventually, this meant night operations in the jungle in the rain or day operations in the dry in the rugged highlands. For most of these operations the only opposition to air operations was small arms fire or mortar and suitcase rocket attacks on the airfields themselves. My introduction to the battleground itself was some data from the Navy Safety Center at San Bruno containing repair records for AD “Skyraider” aircraft hit by small arms rounds. There was a desired to reopen production at an empty Douglas facility at El Segundo. This was one more candidate for war winner that even was transferred to the Viet Nam Air Force as it was retired from Navy carrier operations. My encounter with this was brief.
This writing is kept in MyAutomobile file as what occurred because my automobile took me West. In 1966, I bought a Ducati Scrambler motorcycle. That ended up as a dual use desert and road vehicle and in 1968 the desert portion was replaced by a Norton P-11A “Ranger” of three times the displacement and 100 pounds more weight. The road portion which included riding to work each day was replaced by a Ducati 350D single with desmodromic valve control. This significant technical advance in my mind had a single overhead camshaft driven by a tower gear shaft that had positive opening and closing cams for both intake and exhaust. It was of short stroke design like the Chevrolet V-8 in my car and smoothly moved me along in spite of my not knowing that tower gear driven overhead valve was as old as the 1918 “Liberty” aircraft engine. This motorcycle is what I rode to my first meetings with the F-4 community. I later drove my truck which had a V-8 pushrod engine and a Muntz 8-track tape player. The Eagles accompanied me to graduation night. James Taylor altered the hold of Swing and Jazz that played in the Club to set the Navy mood.
Why didn’t I put this in the MyTruck folder? That is because some Congressmen in testimony said they did not want capable bomb delivery, they only wanted “a truck.” That was in relation to the A-7 and carried on with their impression of B-52 operations from Guam that had begun with conventional bombs and racks. The A-4M was not a “truck.” It escaped being lost by having more performance from its newly uprated J-52-408 engine that allowed it to carry a more lethal load with its new ARBS delivery system than even the A-7E with ILAAS could achieve. My motorcycle got updated for developments as a Kawasaki Z1R with ATP turbocharger. My car had become a BMW 530i which featured a single overhead camshaft drive and electronic Bosch Luft fuel injection. This time my car had factory installed Frigidaire compressor. How was I US? The turbo was a Rajay. The Bosch Luft was from Bendix licenses. The Frigidaire was from GM. I really hoped to fly in a SST but even the Concorde eventually faded from view.