Does the F6F-5 Hellcat's Drop Tank Have a Fuel Gauge?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by BSquared18, Aug 4, 2014.

  1. BSquared18

    BSquared18 New Member

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    Hi, the title pretty much says it all concerning my question.

    I'm working on a model of the F6F-5 Hellcat for the X-Plane flight sim program. I'm getting down to some last-minute, nitty-gritty features. The model will include the 150-gallon drop tank. I've seen images of the Hellcat's fuel gauge, showing three needles--for the two internal wing tanks and the center-line, internal fuselage fuel tank.

    I haven't found any references to how the pilot determined how much fuel was left in the drop tank. Was there a gauge? If so, where was it located? If not, how did the pilot keep track of the fuel situation for that tank? Wiggle the wings and listen for the slosh? Or what? Does anyone know?

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  2. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, when your engine starts to sputter, switch to internal!
     
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  3. BSquared18

    BSquared18 New Member

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    #3 BSquared18, Aug 4, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2014
    Seems simple enough. Why didn't I think of that!

    Follow up: Does anyone know where I might find an image--photo or drawing--of what the fuel-tank selector switch looks like for the four tanks? Any info would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    Bill
     
  4. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    ...and make sure the fuel pump is on!
     
  5. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  6. BSquared18

    BSquared18 New Member

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    Thanks,

    I do have that manual. Your tip got me looking, and I found what I wanted on page 26: "Fuel Tank Selector."

    From there to National Naval Aviation Museum Virtual Tour, to see a more clear, color image.

    Now, to build the darn thing.

    Bill
     
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  7. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    like capt vick said they just used them until they either got into combat or the engine quit. i know several pilots who said they always got a more than a little un-nerved when that happened...no matter how many times they did it.
     
  8. Stand am

    Stand am New Member

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    Sole to an old friend who flew them. No gauges on drop tanks. It sounded almost Teutonic with putting gauges on engine cowlings ( Henschels' etc.) good luck in your venture.

    Peace to you.

    Stan
     
  9. BSquared18

    BSquared18 New Member

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    Thanks all. A venture and an adventure, it is.

    I've come to appreciate how sophisticated planes from that era were, given that just thirty years before that they were flying cloth-and-wire crates.

    Bill
     
  10. BSquared18

    BSquared18 New Member

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    I've finished building a custom three-needle gauge for my Hellcat, modeled after the real thing.

    Now that I'm ready to build a selector switch, I do have one question. Does anyone know if the Hellcat's drop tank was tied into the selector-switch system, or did the plane simply start out drawing fuel from that tank, and once it was almost dry, then the pilot would use the selector for the other three, internal tanks? Any details on this process would be very helpful.

    Thanks again,
    Bill
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Shortround6, Aug 12, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
    I don't believe any plane started using the drop tanks. Initial engine start, warm up, taxi and take-off was done on the main tank for several reasons, one being that there were fewer things to go wrong (loose connections, etc) and anotehr was that the fuel pumps could pump more fuel than the engine needed at times and the overflow from the pump/carb was routed to the main tank. A bit like many cars today have a return line from the engine to the tank for emission purposes. With the amount of fuel being used by an airplane engine per minute even a few seconds can result in a sizable fuel spill. Combine that with possible fuel expansion due to temp change (tanks filled in early morning hours) and it was safer to have a bit of expansion space in the main tank for excess fuel to go to.
    Perhaps some of our pilots/maintenance people could correct me.
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Fuel management during startup and use of drop tanks should be mentioned in the flight manual.
     
  13. Ivan1GFP

    Ivan1GFP Member

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    Fuel tank arrangements are all over the place. If you can imagine it, someone probably built it that way.

    Sometimes the overflow / surplus from the carburetor was piped back to one of the wing tanks such as the SBD Dauntless.
    Some internal tanks also did not have a gauge such as the wing tanks on a F4U-1A Corsair.
    Some tanks were only selected as pairs even though they were physically multiple tanks. The Japanese typically had their wing tanks selected in pairs. The Macchi C202 / C205 selected a combination of three tanks as a single main tank.
    The Germans typically didn't have a selector for the drop tank at all. A Pressurised air line was piped into the DT and pushed the fuel into the main tank and the selector was on the main tank until the gauge showed it dropping below full at which point the pilot knew the DT was empty.
    Some aircraft have a "Standpipe Reserve" which means two siphons into the same tank. The main was not at the bottom and could only draw until there was something like 30 gallons (or whatever the reserve volume was) left at which point, you needed to switch to reserve to get that last little bit.
    The Fokker Eindecker had a main fuel tank behind the pilot but drew fuel from a little tank behind the firewall which the pilot had to periodically fill by hand pump.

    As I stated earlier, the fuel arrangements vary quite a lot.

    I also build aircraft for Combat Flight Simulator and need a bunch of custom gauges though I haven't had much luck programming them yet.
    I can't get a modern compiler to use the SDK macros and still be able to compile a DLL that Windows 98 will run.

    - Ivan.
     
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