Best Non-Strategic Material?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Clay_Allison, Feb 2, 2009.

  1. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Ok, I've been kicking around ideas about a light, cheap fighter made of non strategic materials that would be capable of successfully engaging the main fighters of the war if it had some kind of edge (surprise, pilot experience, numbers, etc.) for a while now.

    My specific ideas have been responded to intelligently and I have gotten some support for the concept. But a central question has remained, which is the best way to build one?

    There seem to be three choices:

    1. Plywood and some steel framing;

    2. Tubular steel and doped linen

    3. Mixed construction, some cloth, some plywood, some steel.

    The type of fighter I want is simple: highest horsepower:weight that can be attained with good flight characteristics, highest possible streamlining for speed. Should be modular enough to accept different engines' "power eggs" as availability permits. Proposed armament is 3x20mm cannon, two in the wings, one in the prop-hub or cowling.
     
  2. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    Kind of like the Bell XP-77?

    I would have to say wood and fabric. Wood structure and fabric covered.
     
  3. Murray B

    Murray B Member

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    The de Havilland Mosquito was made out of plywood but did not need surprise to defeat the enemy.

    It had two Rolls-Royce or Packard Merlins which gave top speeds up to 425 mph depending on model and ceiling up to 44,000 feet also depending on model.

    Common armament was four .303 Brownings with 8000 rounds total and four 20mm Hispano cannons with 1200 rounds total. All together 7,781 were built in factories in Britain, Canada and Australia.

    Typical combat range was 1,860 miles. So far I can find nothing on its radar cross section but I don't expect that wood reflects radio waves very well.
     
  4. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    The XP-77 tried to use a cheap crappy engine and realized no advantages. I would want to use front-line production engines that don't suck.The Miles M.20 is a better example.
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Wood was probably the best up front but it was difficult to maintain and repair in the field and the environment could play havoc as well. In essence, expect a "throwaway" airplane with a maximum airframe life of around 500 hours as the norm. Proof of that is the Mosquito which pretty quickly disappeared after the war.

    Tube and fabric are probably the best for quick repair, again a bit of skill is required. Steel can be used for structural attach points and landing gear but you would have to watch corrosion, especially when placed around "dissimilar metals."
     
  6. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    ??? The Mosquito served with Bomber Command into the 1950's and in other roles into the 1960's both in the UK and overseas. The ones used in the movie 633 Sqn had only just been retired from service, hence their availability.

    Its construction also used a balsa/plywood sandwich which allowed for a monocoque structure which was extremely strong and also very light without the added weight of a separate internal skeleton. This would probably be a good example to follow, being both lighter and stronger than a fabric covered wooden frame.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    This depends on the nation. Germany had plenty of aluminum during the late 1930s. What they lacked was high octane aviation fuel. Later nickel, tungsten and chrome would become a problem. Britain had high octane aviation fuel. What they lacked was aluminum.

    These national strategic material shortages dictated weapons design. Britain got serious about building a high performance wooden combat aircraft. Germany looked for alternatives to sabot ammunition (required tungsten) and skipped production of the Jumo 004A engine in favor of the Jumo 004B which used less nickel and chrome.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Take a Mossie from the UK and send it to a warm environment, especially during the winter months....For that matter do that to any wood aircraft. I guarantee you will have components that will shrink, and that will happen regardless of the process used for construction and no matter how well the aircraft is built.

    Those that served into the 50s and sometimes into the 60s were not hard flown and had to be carefully maintained. Many of the post war Mossies still in use by commonwealth air forces were performing secondary roles. The IDF got Mossies and they didn't last too long as a front line combat aircraft.

    It is difficult to do wood repairs and many times you are not going to restore the damaged area to its original integrity.

    I agree about the strength of the Mossie's structure - it’s the ability of the airframe to be properly maintained and repaired as well as its degradation to the elements that would make it essentially a throw-away aircraft.
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    If you want high performance - Plywood.

    Tubular steel/doped linen has distinct deficiencies regarding 'go fast/take g's

    The aluminum skin/shear panel/riveted airframe was the best compromise - but rivets were an amazingly high component of weight (and cost).

    Plywood and more modern composites are not easy to repair.

    Doped fabric is ok for speeds below 300+ kts for control surfaces but are not suitable as fuselage or wing coverings in a high performance fighter (WWII vintage and beyond)

    Steel tubing requires welding for attach flanges, etc - a more labor intensive QC process.
     
  10. Marshall_Stack

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    Did the Brits have this mindset regarding the Mossie?
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Not really but I think many designers and builders weren't expecting their aircraft to last more than a few hundred hours anyway.
     
  12. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    I see what you are saying, it was just the line you put about the Mossie disappearing soon after WW2 that got me, because it didn't. Its true that the Mossies built during WW were not built for a long life, but does that also mean that they couldn't be? I don't know.

    One of the major problems of the Mossie went sent to more tropical climes was that they literally came unglued, often in the air, which is unforgiveable. But I think this was brought about by the nature of dispersed unskilled manufacture rather than the nature of the concept of a wooden aircraft, extremes of temp notwithstanding. Did the original post referred to at the start of the thread specify tropical conditions? I only joined the idea with this thread.
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Either not from the wood fabricatrion process or if they were kept in hangars with some type of climate control.
    More the enviornment that would cause just about any wood airframe to fall apart if not carefully maintained and stored.

    And again, although the Mossie was around in the post war years, examine their numbers and who operated them. When you're involved in "special ops" or flight test its a lot easier to really maintain your aircraft as more than likely you're only dealing with one or two airframes.
     
  14. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Speaking of glue, that in itself can be a problem if you are short of appropriate manufacturing industries. The Ta-154 Moskito (geddit?! :lol: ) literally came unstuck because German factories were producing substandard glue that would not hold the airframes together in flight conditions, even in a coll temperate climate like Germany's. Something to think about before building a wooden wonder....
     
  15. Marshall_Stack

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    I don't get the joke, and I usually pride myself by being one of the few Yanks who understand British humour (such as Monty Python).:p
     
  16. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Not a joke as such, the Ta-154 was referred to as the Moskito, and this cannot be a coincidence, as like the de Havilland Mosquito, it was a wooden twin-engined aircraft. Like certain marks of the Mosquito, it was also intended for night-fighting. It seems that Kurt Tank was very explicitly acknowledging the British design when he created his own. More info here:

    Focke-Wulf Ta 154 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  17. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Could you give an example of a plane that was made this way?

    Wood is probably what I'm looking at then. I want a high performance stopgap plane to arm the Chinese airforce (and others unable to get planes because America was only exporting to the UK and USSR). I think i would ask Fairchild to help convert the Miles M.20 design to Duramold (plastic impregnated heat-molded plywood) and get someone at Allison to make a "power egg" compatible with the design for the V-1710. Since it's an American idea, I'd probably arm it with 4x.50MGs with 250 rounds each. It's decent armament and almost exactly the same weight as the original 8x.303x350each.

    I think the plastic impregnated duramold would be less moisture sensitive in particular and less elements-sensitive in general.
     
  18. bigZ

    bigZ Member

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    Supermarine made 2 Plastic(Aerolite) Spitfire fuses in order to save on strategic materials. It was a failure.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The wood laminate is excellent strength to weight ratio (like aluminum) and trades off bonding/glue for drill/rivet construction. The wood weighs more than the aluminum, the glue/bonding less than rivets.
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    If it contains any type of wood material it can be susceptible to shrinkage. Additionally you're still running into the repair issue, especially in the field where you're going to have to have skilled workers and in some cases a controlled environment.
     
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