Paper fuel tanks??

Discussion in 'Other Mechanical Systems Tech.' started by ralphwiggum, Dec 17, 2008.

  1. ralphwiggum

    ralphwiggum Member

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    I'm reading the book "To Command The Sky" I was surprised to read that the U.S. fighters escorting the 8the Airforce bombers used auxiliary fuel tanks made of ----paper! :shock: Can anyone provide me w/more info on this?
    It's kinda hard for me to believe!
    Thanks everybody:whdat:
     
  2. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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  3. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    One more use for them:
    WWII OBSERVATIONS by Charles D. Mohrle - 510th Fighter Squadron
     
  4. fly boy

    fly boy Member

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    they used a thick paper with some form of drop system
     
  5. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I beleive the British were the major (only?) useres of such tanks. They were constructed of layers of paper laminated with plastic. They could not hold fuel for extended peroids of time, but worked quite well for the time spent on a mission. (they had to be filled just before the airfraft left for the mission)

    Such paper tanks would be discarded if retained on landing. (if a plane had to abort the mission) In the case of the P-47's 200 gal paper belly tank (early model P-47's only) it had to be dropped before landing due to the danger of rupturing. (according to the previously posted article, similar procedures were necessary for the Mustang's 108 gal paper tanks)

    The most common used were the cylindrical 108 US gallon tanks somtimes used by the Mustangs (opposed to the smaller 75 gal teardrop steel tanks). These were also used as ferry tanks on the Hurricane and in combat with the Tempest and Typhoon.

    In combat, the Hurricane II used 44 imp gal tanks. (I think these may also have been paper)

    There were also several countries using wooden drop tanks. (Japan, I beleive Russia had some, and Australia had a plywood belly tank in use)


    Here's a pic from the P-47 loadout thread:
    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/technical/p-47-loadouts-14154.html
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Hi KoolKitty. You are right about the construction of the 'paper' drop tanks. They were made from laminations of paper card, with a plastic resin impregnation, and moulded rather like a papier mache 'model'. They were even sometimes referred to as 'papier mache' tanks, and were, to an extent, an early form of what we noe know as fibre glass, with paper rather than extruded glass fibres.
    However, their use was mainly by the 8th USAAF, and rarely by British forces (RAF or FAA), as the requirement was for use by the longer range escort fighters of that Force.
    The original cigar-shaped 108 US Gallon tanks were delivered from British sources, and had a 'smooth' exterior, being constructed from mild steel. But, due to the need for this 'precious' metal for more important uses, a paper version was designed, the thinking being that, why waste valuable steel on a 'use once then throw away' product.
    Tanks of 108 US Gal capacity in steel were still used by the USAAF, but these became more common from American production sources. These could be identified by their finish in Neutral Gray paint. The British - produced paper tanks, distinguishable by their 'ribbed' appearance and silver doped finish, were used on the P47 and P51, as well as the 'tear drop' steel under-wing tanks on the latter, and the early steel belly tank, and later, flatter belly tank on the former.
    The British 'cigar' shaped belly tank, of a slimmer design, was used on the Spitfire IX on, and was generally of steel construction. Plywood laminate tanks were used also, by the RAF (some Mosquito wing tanksfor instance) and the Luftwaffe. The most common of the latter was the belly tank, used on both the FW190 and Bf109, very similar in shape and appearance to its steel counterpart. By the end of WW2, experiments with glass-fibre tanks had already begun, although protracted use was overtaken by events.
    Please note that the above refers to those tanks in use in the ETO, by units of the 8th and 9th Air Forces; the use of tanks in other theatres may have, and probably did, differ.
    Hope this has been of use.
    Terry.
     
  7. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Hi

    Does anyone know if the 108 gallon tanks were used by the USAAF in Italy in summer 1944? I'm doing a model project of a P51 and have only seen photos with the 75 gal tanks.
     
  8. dcniner

    dcniner New Member

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    During WW2 my father was a supervisor of an assembly line manufacturing paper fuel tanks for P-51's.
    The factory was a paper mill located in the town of Bury ,county of Lancashire,England.
    The tanks were made of Kraft paper laminated with resorcinol glue.There were three main components.The nose cone,tail cone ,the middle body.These were shaped over wood forms.
    The paper was wound around the main body because it was a simple cylinder.The cones were more complex and were hand laminated.The paper that covered the cones was cut like flower petals.As each layer was aplied with glue it was squeegeed with a specially shaped squeegee.After forming wood baffles were riveted in place.Other pipes and fitting were added.The interiors of the three sub assemblies were coated with glue and then sprayed with fuel resistant shellac laquer.The three assemblies were bonded together in a horizontal hand cranked press.Once the tank was cured it was pressure tested to 6 psi.
    Acceptable tanks were then given two coats of cellulose dope.They were then given two coats of aluminum paint applied by spray.Stenciling was then applied.13,166 tanks were made.

    dcniner
     
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  9. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    thx for the info!
     
  10. seesul

    seesul Active Member

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    DonĀ“t you know please how many times the tank could be theoreticaly reused? What was its life (if not dropped or damaged)?
     
  11. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the detail cdniner. It sounds like they were single use.
     
  12. Ivan1GFP

    Ivan1GFP Member

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    I remember reading somewhere that the tanks would start leaking after about two days, so they could not be used to store fuel. They were filled up on the morning of the flight and dropped several hours later, so this storage "problem" really wasn't a problem.

    - Ivan.
     
  13. sgt_carter

    sgt_carter New Member

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    A photograph of interest to this thread, I am with Mssr. Roger Hugenin in Remy, France in 1998 with one of three known surviving paper mache' USAAF drop tanks. One is in the Smithsonian, another at the USAF Museum in Dayton and this example was retrieved from Mssr. Hugenin's field the day after the attack on a German train at Remy on 02 august 1944 by the 364th Fighter Group, he saw one of the "top cover" P-51s drop this during the attack, so it belonged to a ship from either the 385th or 383rd Fighter Squadron of the 364th. This third surviving example was retrieved from Hugenin's barn and presently resides in my cellar inHolly Springs, Mississippi. Chelius H. Carter

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/asset.php?fid=163955&uid=41730&d=1302586233
     

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  14. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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  15. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Very impressive, learn something new every day
     
  16. Park

    Park Member

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    It's funny I've been interested in WWII aircraft since the mid 70's and learned that the drop tanks were made of this material only a few years ago.
     
  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The entire 8th AF converted their Mustangs to accept the 110 Gal (108 useful) capacity tanks in mid May 1944 - so highly probable 15th AF was also using them by late spring.
     
  18. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for that. I never did find a picture at the time so ended up leaving the tanks off my model.
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It may be one of those old myths that are around, but i've read they developed the paper tanks to cut back on all the free aluminum they were giving the enemy whenever aluminum drop tanks were used.
     
  20. BikerBabe

    BikerBabe Active Member

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    In a documentary - "Wings of Defeat" - that I watched earlier this evening about Tokkotai pilots (popularly known as "kamikaze" pilots), it was mentioned that the japanese air force used bamboo drop tanks, covered with some kind of substance that sealed the tank.
    They did this, simply because they didn't couldn't afford to use the metal to make drop tanks.
     
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