Heating, ventilating, and comfort in WW2-era combat aircraft

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by swampyankee, Sep 3, 2013.

  1. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    As a topic related to http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/pilot-seating-fighters-38307.html, did air forces place any significance on the comfort of pilots and aircrew on ww2-era aircraft? A comfortable environment, especially in aircraft performing long missions (P-51, MPA, heavy bombers, etc) could have considerably improved crew efficiency. And was there any sort of "human-element range extension" equipment, like condom catheters?
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,334
    Likes Received:
    402
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    In the Armstrong Whitley maritime patrol version there was so little space the radar operator had to sit on the chemical toilet to operate his set. In the Avro Lancaster the Radio compartment was where the heating hot air entered the fuselage, the radio man was often roasting hot whilst his crewmates were freezing. Not aircraft but the driver of a Vickers Archer self propelled gun had to get out of his seat sharpish as the gun breech at full recoil would have taken his head off. I reckon British designers thought the crew were a necassary evil that got in the way :lol:
     
  3. waroff

    waroff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2008
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    9
    Trophy Points:
    18
    the french pilot or crew had a flying suit with internal electrical heating for the fligh at hight altitude or winter condition.

    Seen in the spare list of french Curtiss Hawk 75, the funnel hangs on the left seat:
    vide vite.jpg
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    These bombers had to be among the worst for crew comfort. Operating at 25,000+ feet unpressurized and unheated. I'm not surprised real world bombing accuracy was poor. Comfortable aircrew perform better.
     
  5. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I remember reading Leonard Cheshire's book, (I think it was called simply Leonard Cheshire VC) Cheshire was a renowned RAF bomber pilot and target marker having flown many types including the Lancaster, Mosquito and even the Mustang. Anyway in his book Cheshire was an observer in one of the B29s that flew in the Nagasaki raid, witnessing the dropping of the atomic itself changed Cheshire's life but one of the points that Cheshire took great care to mention very clearly was how advanced the B29 was in comparison to the other World War Two planes he had flown in and how much more crew comfort there was in it. Cheshire was struck by this as he understood that it had relevance to the future of warfare. There are probably other aircraft that were in use before the B29 that I can not think of that gave similar comfort to crew but I think the B29 was a big step up from earlier aircraft and moved things on to a different dimension. The B29 showed that aircraft designers had realised that crew comfort was a big factor in the crews ability to carry out high tech missions and that not being distracted by discomfort helped them concentrate on the mission.
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,905
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    The P-38 was terrible at first becuase the pipe where the heated air (from an exhaust muff) went to the cockpit was too long and got cold before it got to the cockpit. Pilots froze.

    Later, they corrected this easily with an electric heater and the P-38 became a very comfortable aircraft. Early on, it was torture.

    The P-47 is comfortable and has a lot of cockpit room ...WITH a floor. The Hellcat is comfortable.

    The P-51 is comfortable but tight. I can only class a P-39 cockpit as scary. There is a driveshaft running between your legs ... I'd want a drag racing scatter shield over it in my plane.

    Here is Reno Race 232 starting up for a test flight today.

    IMG_0186.JPG

    Here is one of two shots of the cockpit I have:

    IMG_0212.JPG

    There is no place from which to get a good shot. It is way up off the ground, leans rather steeply back on the gear, and is usually slick ... so the footing is rather precarious. There is ONE retractible step in the side of the plane and you can use it to get into the cockpit, but not really to stand on for a good shot ... you need both hands really to hold on unless you're getting out. Then you hit the wing, sit down and slide off (intentionally or not) with an oil spot on your bottom.

    I'd need a tall ladder to do any better, and it leaves for Reno tomorrow early.
     
  7. LDSModeller

    LDSModeller Member

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2010
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Location:
    Auckland, New Zealand
    #7 LDSModeller, Sep 4, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
    RAF Sunderlands had most of the niceties of home (or close to it)

    The Sunderland (all Mk's) had a WC/Head/toilet located Starboard lower deck
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e242/hkins/Sunderland/Sunderland Interior/Toiletcopy.jpg

    The crew had a galley to prepare meals/tea/coffee (in flight) especially on the long patrols
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e242/hkins/Sunderland/Sunderland Interior/DSCF2755copy.jpg

    A table to eat at (usually when on the water for weather watch etc)
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e242/hkins/Sunderland/Sunderland Interior/DSCF2753copy.jpg

    A bed to sleep in (generally not in flight - unless you were wounded in a fight with the enemy)
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e...derland Interior/FILE0250copy_zps359aea76.jpg

    A place to hang your hat/coat
    http://i40.photobucket.com/albums/e242/hkins/Sunderland/Sunderland Interior/shot0019copy.jpg

    Early Sunderlands (Mk I/II) had sockets for the crew to plug in to electrically heat their flying suits

    Regards

    Alan
     
  8. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    637
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    I have read that heat came into the P-51 cockpit down by one of the pilots feet and consequently that foot roasted and the other foot froze in the cold thin air over Europe. I'm sure it happened in other theaters also.
     
  9. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2010
    Messages:
    9,724
    Likes Received:
    194
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Bridge & Highway Construction Inspector
    Location:
    Chicago, Illinois
    The last of the P-47's the P-47N was designed for long range missions in the pacific and had features for pilot comfort not found in any other P-47s including an auto-pilot, Folding arm rests for the seat, and rudder pedals that folded forward so the pilot could stretch out his legs.

    It's not much, but the later model B-17s and B-24s had inclosed waist gun positions to reduce the large number of frostbite cases among waist gunners.
     
  10. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    28
    P-51s had an ashtray. In the Banff Strike wing book, one pilot tells how useful it was......
     
  11. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Some of the later American fighters also came equipped with cup holders and a fold down dining table, and were armed with quarter pounders.
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Glad you mentioned this, I remember being told of this little nicety.
     
  13. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    637
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Heard the Brits were impressed with the ash trays at the gunners stations in the B-29/Washingtons they "rented".
     
  14. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Yes, just shows you how the Americans thought far more about pilot comfort than the Germans ... Galland had to have an ashtray specially fitted to his 109 ... heaven forbid.:lol::lol:
     
  15. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,334
    Likes Received:
    402
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Smoking in a plane full of fuel fumes whilst sitting on the fuel tank. Hmmm.
     
  16. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2013
    Messages:
    549
    Likes Received:
    31
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Don't forget the oxygen system. I'm sure there were fighter pilots who smoked; I suspect that the number who smoked when at 20,000 ft on oxygen was roughly nil.
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,511
    Likes Received:
    943
    Trophy Points:
    113
    You can't smoke at high altitude with a mask on and at low altitude you can either open a ventilation panel (in the canopy or elsewhere) or slide the hood on most aircraft.

    As a non smoker I'm amazed that they'd bother. Smoking and high octane fuels are a bad mix, but then I suppose the risk seemed minimal when compared to people shooting at you.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    People seem to think high octane fuel is more likely to explode than lower octane fuel, or will explode more violently. Not true.
    The lead and other additives in gas to get to that high octane makes the gas burn, or explode in a more controlled manner.

    When I was in the USAF we mixed most of our own napalm using 80 octane, mogas. Which they ran the trucks and tractors on.
    During the Tet Offensive of 1968 we made so much napalm we ran out of mogas, and had to mix it with 115/145 octane aviation fuel.

    The pilots that dropped the napalm bombs mixed with the 115/145 was at our bomb dump office the next morning complaining about our dud napalm bombs. They still exploded, but had quite a bit less of a explosive burn. They didn't like them.
     
  19. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,334
    Likes Received:
    402
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    Dying in a ball of flame or dying in an exploding ball of flame! which would you prefer :lol:
     
  20. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,480
    Likes Received:
    108
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    I'm just saying high octane gas is no more likely, or less, to go off than any other gas.
     
Loading...

Share This Page