Air Speed Record for piston powered seaplanes

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    In 1934 Macchi set what was then the absolute world speed record for aircraft - 440mph. This record would stand until 1939 when it was beaten by the Heinkel He 100 and then the Messerschmitt Me 209 V1, both land planes.

    But the record for piston powered sea planes has not been beaten to this day.

    Could modern day racers, such as Rare Bear and Strega, beat that record if fitted with floats? Bearing in mind that the Macchi, as a Schneider Trophy design, had to pass seaworthiness tests.
     
  2. WJPearce

    WJPearce Active Member

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    If fitted with floats they could beat the old record, but fitting with floats is the tricky part. Obviously a modern attempt on a seaplane record would not have the Schneider Trophy requirements re flotation and distance. In addition, technology has progressed so that wire bracing is no longer needed, a single float support can be used, and the materials used would be stronger and lighter.

    The general yet unofficial consensus is that on a a good day Strega, Rare Bear and Dago Red (when it was together and funded) would be able to up the 3 km record above 540 mph. I think Voodoo is very close to that too, if not already there. Rare Bear did achieve a speed of 545 mph on one of the runs when it set the record at 528 mph. But, Strega is "for sale," Rare Bear is rebuilding their program, Dago Red is in pieces, and Voodoo is focused on Reno. A 3 km attempt is hard enough, so that adding floats to go after the MC.72's record becomes crazy.

    In the late 1980s / early 1990s, there was a scratch-built racer called Tsunami. It was designed by Bruce Borland and owned by John Sandberg. It was Merlin-powered and loosely resembled a heavily modified P-51. Again, it was scratch-built and was NOT a P-51. One of the grand plans for this aircraft was to fit it with floats and go faster than 440 mph. The aircraft had teething trouble but showed great promise. During a 3 km record (non-seaplane) attempt (really a test run for a later timed attempt), the gear collapsed on landing (after a hard bounce). It was repaired for Reno and eventual further attempts on the 3 km were planed. In 1991, the aircraft and Sandberg were lost. Its remains were in storage for many years. The last couple of years, Sandberg's grandson has been rebuilding the aircraft.

    So, the Tsunami team thought that they could put floats on the aircraft and get the 3 km seaplane record. I do not know if the same can be said with Rare Bear and Strega and others. I'm sure the speed is there, but I do not know if the various racers could be modified to support the floats.

    Personally, I like the fact that the MC.72 still has that record. It was such a wild aircraft that missed out on its whole purpose of being built. It is nice that it has held an aviation speed record longer than any other (I think).
     
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  3. pattle

    pattle Member

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    A very impressive record and a very impressive aircraft, 700 kmph + must have seemed unbelievably quick in 1934.
     
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that Strega or any of the others could break the seplane record if fitted with floats. They are heavy enough that the floats would be very large. The real issue is that nobody is building high-output piston engines to day for aircraft.

    To break the record one would have to design and build a new plane from scratch, and that could be done. But there is no prize for it today and the expense would be large, so the incentive is small. The engine would be the main issue. One of the souped up Merlins, Allisons, or possibly a radial could be used. Again, the incentive is very low.

    So I think the record can be broken, but that it won't be done anytime soon ... and we are in the critical phases of the remaining lives of the WWII piston engine. Parts are available, but for how long? I think if nobody does it in the next 25 years, then nobody WILL do it due to lack of suitable engines, even if they were so inclined.
     
  5. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    That might be the easy part. Two V-12s (your choice) mounted nose to nose with a gear and shaft arrangement taking power from the middle of the "engine" down the sides of the forward block to combine again (or not?) with the prop drive. Forward engine drives forward prop and rear engine drives rear prop?

    Late model double Mamba gear box is good for about 4000hp?

    Designing the rest of the airframe and cooling system might be more of a problem.
     
  7. WJPearce

    WJPearce Active Member

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    I don't remember the MC.72 looking quite so nice as in the last photo from Aozora.

    I'm not sure you would need to make a V-24 (via two V-12s). The FIAT AS.6 for the MC.72 produced around 2,850 hp for the 3 km speed runs. A race-prepped Merlin can make 3,400 hp. The biggest issue is investing cubic dollars in an airframe, whether it is modifying an existing one or creating a scratch-built one. Scratch-built would be better. But what is the point? All you really have is the "Because it was there." response. There is no money to be had by breaking the record and the technology applied to such a racer would not be directly applied to anything else that is in mass use. I think if some eccentric multi-million/billionaire wants to do it, it will get done.

    Don't get me wrong; I'd love to see a project like this. In fact, I'd like to see new designs and new engines push the limits at Reno (although I love the old stuff doing what it does). Again, no real point behind it other than just because.

    I guess what I'm trying to say in my posts is that the record would fall if a serious attempt were made. That serious attempt would require the backing of very serious money with little to no hope of a return on the investment. But you would be in a number of magazines!
     
  8. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    But after a few years, those sleek Italians require more structure, which means weight. The number and size of bracing wires increases, the skin cooling no longer works so well and becomes bloated and wrinkled.

    Good in their day though.
     
  9. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    In the AS6 the forward engine drove the rear prop and the rear engine drove the forward prop. The system you propose would (probably) have to do the same.

    The AS6 had the drive in the vee.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    There is always the option of starting with a V-3420 (GregP can help you there). The downside of that is the frontal area is more than twice that for the V-1710.


    That also applies to the Land Speed Record. Yet comapnies still try for it. It is sort of analogous to the wheel driven LSR, where enthusiasts build cars to compete. There is no prize, of which I am aware, for LSR competition.


    It would require a good set of sponsors.

    Also, not sure of the prize money at Reno, but I would be surprised if it was more than the investment required to run a competitor.
     
  11. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Ralph Pegram, Schneider Trophy Seaplanes and Flying Boats - Victors, Vanquished and Visions has a weight breakdown for the Supermarine S5 (unfortunately not so for the S6B and MC72).

    Code:
    Fuselage            239 lb
    Wings               298 lb
    Floats              508 lb
    Tail Unit            46 lb
    Struts  Wires       98 lb
    
    Engine (Lion VIIB)  928 lb
    Engine Accesories    53 lb
    Instuments           15 lb
    Propellor            65 lb
    
    Water Cooling       367 lb
    Oil Cooling          32 lb
    Oil  Tanks          62 lb
    Fuel                380 lb
    
    Pilot               160 lb
    
    Total Weight       3250 lb
    The Napier Lion VIIB was good for ~875hp.


    The weight grew when Supermarines made the S6 S6B.
    S6 - empty weight 4030lb (1828kg), gross weight 5250lb (2381kg)
    S6B - empty weight 4590lb (2082kg), gross weight 6086lb (2761kg)

    MC72 - empty weight 2500kg (5512lb), gross weight 2907kg (6409lb)
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The AS6 also had one supercharger feeding all 24 cylinders. I don't know which would be harder. Building the gear boxes/shafts or building and testing a new supercharger/intake system, I am betting the supercharger intake system would be harder. Italians had quite a bit of trouble with theirs including one fatal crash. But we know the cause and with modern sensors it would be a lot easier to diagnose and solve.

    Or just run the heck out of a Griffon if you can find one.
     
  13. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Depends if you are using existing equipment as a basis or if you are designing from scratch.

    With direct fuel injection the AS6's major problems - fuel distribution and backfires - would be negated.
     
  14. WJPearce

    WJPearce Active Member

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    (mhuxt, roger that!)

    I totally agree on all counts. But teams like the Bloodhound SCC are going for the top—the premiere record. Taking the seaplane record for piston aircraft would have two asterisks by it: 1) landplanes are faster, and 2) jet seaplanes are faster. But yeah, I'd donate (a laughable amount because that is all I can afford) toward the project. As a side note, there has always been a level of cross-pollination between Reno air racing, Unlimited Hydroplane racing, and LSR (and drag racing back in the day). I guess the same can be said in the Schneider days too. Both the Lion and R found their way to land and water applications.

    In years past at Reno, 1st place would basically cover your costs for showing up the week. That is not to mention what you have invested in the aircraft or power plant or what you have spent the previous 51 weeks. They changed it this year and many people (slower Unlimited participants) did not like the new purse so they stayed home. It is possible that he top finishers got a little more than they used to, but yes, still not enough to do much.

    All these projects are a labor of love. Just like our hobbies I'm sure. I'm sure we are all envious of anyone who gets paid doing something that they would do for free.
     
  15. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    My point is that even in the world of LSR there are subcategories.

    Like fastest wheel driven car.
    Fastest motorbike
    Fastest production car
    Fastest steam powered car

    Steam-Powered Race Car – Land Speed Record for Steam Car - Popular Mechanics

    (FWIW, if you had the backing you could probably take the wheel driven record with a car powered by steam.)

    And many of thos records are held by less than professional teams/indivuals - enthusiasts.
     
  16. BobR

    BobR Member

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    I came across these posts while checking what had been spoken of here in the past.

    As far as enthusiasts and speed records, yes, desire is the only real thing driving it along.
    Approx. twenty years ago there were few, to the point of one or two, cars running that were even in the 300 mph range in the U.S.; now there are enough cars breaking 400 mph that for U.S. sanctions new categories were created so a 400 mph run was not discarded because it did not break the record properly.

    With today's more advanced knowledge of air-frame construction, and CNC metal machining abilities a cleaned up and faster sea-plane's only difficulty in setting a new record is probably not cubic-inches but a lack of cubic-dollars.
     
  17. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    What's needed is a Modern day equivalent of Howard Hughes with plenty of money
     
  18. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Just don't let him test fly it ;)
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    If there was anybody that would be qualified, it would be Hughes.
     
  20. Token

    Token Active Member

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    Discussions of seaplane speed records and things like the Schneider Trophy always, to me, bring up Bill Baldwins “Helmsmen” series of Sci Fi books.

    This series is not particularly good Sci Fi, although really not that bad either, best fitting the “space opera” description. I read it to catch and figure out the WW I and WW II references. Bill Baldwin appears to have taken historical events and used them as models for the universe of his series. The series starts with what appears to be WW I Royal Navy modeled vessels and general feel…set at faster than light speeds. But the third book shifts to a more RAF in WW II feel, centered on battles that are almost mirror images of Dunkirk, The Battle of Britain, and other WW II encounters, again set in space at astronomical distances. A portion of one book seems to be an almost step by step rework of a chapter from Pierre Clostermann’s book, “The Big Show”.

    The third book, “The Trophy”, is set in a period of comparative peace between two major conflicts. The book describes the “Imperial Starflight Society’s” (the ISS) quest to win the “Mitchel Trophy”. Obvious parallels here are that the real world Schneider Trophy Supermarine aircraft were designed by Reginald Mitchel, and all of the ISS space craft are described and named resembling the Supermarine aircraft of the chase for the Schneider. In the book the spacecraft involved are developed at the “Sherrignton Starship Works”, ala real world “Supermarine Aviation Works”.

    The progression of spacecraft in the book starts with the “Sherrington M-4”, powered by a “Lyon Napier” drive, which was destroyed in an occurrence of high speed “resonance flutter”. In the real world the Supermarine S.4 was designed for competition in the 1925 Schneideer Trophy races. The S.4 was powered by a Napier Lion VII engine, and ended up being destroyed in a crash brought about by wing flutter.

    The next competitive spacecraft in the books is the “Sherrington M-5”. The next real world Supermarine entry into the Schneider was the Supermarine S.5. Following this was the development (in the books) of the Sherrington M-6A and M-6B, and Supermarine S.6A and S.6B in real life. In real life the Supermarine S.6B retired the Schneider Trophy after winning it for the UK for the third time, as did the (book universe) Sherrington M-6B.

    All of these real world Supermarine aircraft culminated in the Supermarine Spitfire, the prototype of which was designated “K5054”. In the books the Sherrington aircraft culminated in the Sherrington Starfury, registration number K5054.

    Other spacecraft in the “Mitchel” trophy races in the book have similar aircraft names and designations to real world Schneider Trophy participants.

    There are many other real world aviation “parallels” in the series of books.

    The (book world) ED-4, based on description and usage, is without a doubt modeled on the real world DC-3 (note that each letter and number is one off of the DC-3 designation). The ED-4 was powered by the “SGR-1820” drive crystal, and a common power plant for the early DC-3 was the Wright R-1820 Cyclone.

    A revolutionary new enemy spacecraft is described, with a shape resembling a “double chevron”, probably swept wings. In the book the project is called the “P.1065” and eventually becomes designated the Gorn Hoff 262A-1A. I suppose it is only coincidence that the first really operational models of the real world Messerschmitt Me-262s were the 262A-1a, and the proto type for this aircraft was called “P.1065”

    T!
     
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