Aircraft development.....

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Aug 21, 2006
In my castle....
Sitting here and think about all the odd aircrafts that showed up during 40's, 50's and early 60's, those that made it to the drawingboard, those that made it to the protype stage. I can't help but wonder what must have been like during that time in the aviation take part in some of these strange looking and futuristic contraptions...
What decade or period in the aviation history do you think is the most interesting??

I think the era from the late 40's til the mid 60's when you had the mix of big noisy smoking jets and the big radial engines . The aircraft were cheaper and thus more "expendable" and many types unlike today.
The 40s would have been perhaps the most exciting to me personally, with the late 50's to late 60's ne next most exciting.

In the 40s we would be squeezing new ideas into proposals in an environment of reall pressure - nobody knew we were gonna win for sure. Slide rules and wind tunnels and weight gestapos all over the prototype design stages. Burning midnight oil with the manufacturing and tooling guys trying to anticipate production runs if the flight tests work out

The risks you weighed and took on approach if you had choices on powerplants - whether to design somewhat safely for evolution or try for a technology leap to solve a real problem hurting us in the field Now...

Money not a problem until 1944-1945 when the B-36 was in mid stream and the B-47 was just starting.

In the late 50s the funding starts to open up again, lots of concepts flowing out of Edwards, USSR breathing down our necks with their new Ballaistic missile capability and we launch into a race for the Moon. B-58 and B-70 and YF-12/SR 71 on the way from Skunk Works - breaking really new ground on Thermal and strength of materilas issues for both airframes and engines. Computers starting with Univac and GE and IBM 'mainframes' starting to do more, then TI and HP bringing out the hand held stuff in late 60's while NASTRAN opens up amazing abilities to model ideas... and CAD/CAM just starting

On Jan1, 1940 you go from perhaps the B-24 being the best heavy bomber, the Spitfire and the Lightning the best fighter and C-47 the best transport to Dec31, 1949 to have the B-47 flying and B-52 well into prototype, F-86 and MiG15 the best fighter and the aluminum overcast C-124 in the air.. and we have learned enough at Edwards with the X1 supersonic flight tests that the F-100 is in design and the F 104 and F-4 are near concept proposal stage

In late 1950's (pick a date) the bombers have moved to B-58 with B-70 in design, YF-12/SR71 coming conceptually and the 707 near... by the end of the 60's we have put a man on the Moon, the X-15 has flown more than 350,000 feet high at Mach 7.

Two awesome decades that get my vote to be at Skunk Works, North American, Boeing or General Dynamics/Convair (or w/Kurt Tank and Messerschmidt and survive) with apologies to the Brits because they always stayed one step in front of us on the 'theroetical' side in the 40's.



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