Canopy Design

Discussion in 'Technical' started by kool kitty89, May 2, 2008.

  1. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Besides visibility, what advantages and disadvantages do various canopy designs offer, and what effect on performance do they have. How does this apply to different a/c (particularly fighters), compared to their original canopies?

    The ones I was most wondering about are:

    P-47
    P-51
    Bf 109
    Fw 190
     
  2. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    I think the best type of canopy is the Malcolm hood. The bubble canopy has good visibility, but slightly less pilot protection compared to a "razorback" type. But the razorback had less visibility. The Malcolm hood had a good combination of both.
     
  3. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    If you will notice, almost all post WW2 US fighters have bubble canopies whereas most Soviet fighters (after Mig 15,17) had a kind of razorback type design. There must be some drag factor working there. From my tiny experience flying an L39, one is strapped in so tight you can't turn around and look behind very far anyway. I have a friend who was an IP in Huns at the Fighter Weapons School(2000 hours in Huns) whom I asked about that. He said it was difficult to see much of the rear 180 degrees and he knew one hot pilot who in ACM disconnected most of his harness so he could utilise the bubble canopy.
     
  4. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I think it depends on the circumstances, and the speed operated.

    THe argument Bill and soren got into was with the P-51, it turned out a study had shown pressure distribution and the teardrop bubble canopy resulted in less drag than the razorback/turtleback configuration, though the fact that the bubble canopy had a more sloped windscreen threw in a problem as well.

    In the case of the P-47 the performance change is much more significant going from 435 down to 426 mph, the changes being the canopy and a gain in 500 lbs gross weight. (fuel capacity the same) The weight alone shouldn't have that much of an effect. (D-22 vs D-23) http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/p-47/p-47-tactical-chart.jpg

    However it isn't clear if the figures were also due to addition of wing pylons, but since it lists fuel levels and ranges with 3x drop tanks for all models, this would be implied that wing racks were fitted. (plus racks were standard on the D-22 iirc)

    In the Case of the P-47 the initial razorback canopy had less of a slope, but it also didn't have a flat windscreen, rather 2 pannels mounted at a rather sharp angle when viewed from above. Compared to the round slab screen of the bubbletop versions. (malcolm hood versions had the same configuration as the razorback save for the bulged frameless hood.


    Of course there's also cases when fairing the canopy into the fusalage isn't the most practical, but a full bubble canopy isn't added either, even though the decking behind the cockpit closely resembles a bubble canopy shape.
    Examples:
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Keep in mind that pilots in the late 1930s the technology to make Plexiglas with complex compound curves wasn't there. In other words bubble canopies. Look how the Zero compensated for that!
     
  6. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    Was aware of the plexiglass issue but never put it all together in ref to the Zero canopy
     
  7. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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    well, I like the bubble canopy. more visibilitymakes you feel more free. while the razorback kinda makes you feel confined, and part machine.
     
  8. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I have to admit that it mas my understanding that the Bubble canopy generally cost you a small decrease in spead but the additional visibility was a more than acceptable payback.
    It also worth noting that a number of aircraft fitted with the teardrop canopy normally had to have an addition of some sort made to the tail, increasing the size, adding a piece to the base, whatever solution was chosen.
     
  9. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, the true bubble canopy would be a difficulty, but frames like the P-38 and P-39 (particularly XP-39) were close, Westlant Whirlwind, and to a lesser extent the Brewster Buffalo. And IMO the Nate/Oscar's canopy was better than the Zero's, smaller, simpler, cleaner and less framing.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    But the Miles M.20 seems to be the first example of a full clearview teardrop canopy.
    [​IMG]

    But before any of those, the Gladiator had something close and with relatively little framing, carried on to the F.5/39 design
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  10. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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    nice pictures, Kitty! I love the Zero! I do like the canopy of the Zero. it's kind of a combination of a bubble canopy and a razorback. and what I mean by that is the cage-like look the Zero canopy has. I like that. and that's one of the reasons why I like the BF-109
     
  11. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Oh if you want a real bubble canopy razorback shape cross-over how about this:

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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    ah yes, the Brewster Buffalo. that is a nice looking aircraft, but I prefer it to be in US pacific colors

    (correct me if that's the wrong plane, please. :))
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Well the Finns Brewsters came before the Buffalo name was given by the British, and either way the Finns never called their B-239's that. They were usually referred to as "brewsters" or sometimes Taivaan helmi ("Sky Pearl") or Pohjoisten taivaiden helmi ("Pearl of the Northern Skies").
    (Other nicknames were Pylly-Valtteri ("Butt-Walter"), Amerikanrauta ("American hardware" or "American car") and Lentävä kaljapullo ("flying beer-bottle").)

    But yeah it's a Brewster, but the US colors are kind of boring, though the the older symbols (meatball type) look good on it. (and it doen't look right with the spinner removed as was done to alot of F2A-3's)

    This one's nice
    [​IMG]

    And of course, the dazzel camo: The Art of McClelland Barclay in the Naval Art Collection.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The good thing about the Buffalo canopy was that one could have a green house and grow petunias back there.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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  16. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Well, while still frameless canopies, as mentioned earlier there were a number of interceptors like the MiG 21 and Mirage III that had the canopy faired into the fusalage.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Those fighters were designed at a time where air-to-air combat was thought to be a thing of the past. The MiG-21 was an interceptor designed to bring down bombers. Look at the MiG-21F, the first version - it was a day interceptor and still had a bubble canopy. It was the later Mig-21 models that had the turtle back and a bunch of avionics shoved into them.
     
  18. buzzard

    buzzard Member

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    A fair number of jet fighters were designed without bubble-type canopies. The F4D Skyray, F-8, F-5, F-102, F-106, Tu-128, MiG-23, MiG-25, Mirage III, Draken and Viggen come to mind. Some of these were designed as pure intercepters, but the F-8 certainly wasn't...

    Aircraft designers know that performance numbers impress the people who ultimately pay for the planes (politicians) more than less quantifiable qualities such as a pilot's ability to maintain situational awareness. And as Flyboy J mentions, trendy theories and doctrine also play a big role in the design of combat aircraft. Who needs to see what's behind you if automated BVR missile engagements are the way of the future?

    Pre-WWII air doctrine was dominated by the bomber prophets, and WWI type dogfighting was largely seen as passe. With fighter designers concentrating on sheer performance, (with bomber interception as the primary role) they regarded streamlining as more important than rearward vision. Until the dogfights began...

    The slight protection offered by the fuselage behind the pilot may have been of some use when rifle-calibre armament was the norm, but against .50 cal and cannon fire, most pilots would probably prefer to see the enemy coming, rather than be announced by shells rattling thru the 'razorback'. The Malcom hood is no substitute for a true bubble canopy. Even the post-war Spits had them. And since even fighters spend most of their time at cruise speed, being able to see a 'slower' enemy diving in on your six is worth a few MPH.

    I've always wondered how many '109 pilots died because of that crappy canopy. If they could make something like the Me 262, you'd think that, at the very least, the Galland hood could have been introduced by '42.
     
  19. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    The prone position and their associated canopies must have made it very difficult to look 'behind'.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Trebor

    Trebor Well-Known Member

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    the hell kinda plane is THAT? I've never seen anything like that.
     
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