Douglas TBD Devastator

An innovative airplane when it entered carrier service in 1937, the Douglas TBD Devastator was already obsolete at the United States’ entry into the Second World War. The aircraft was intended to replace the biplane bombers already in service within the U.S. Navy, and seemed to be a promising aircraft. It seemed to be off to a good start, but the tide-changing Battle of Midway of 1942 resulted in the absolute annihilation of the type, and its career with the navy. However, it did remain in Navy service after the battle, serving as a trainer until 1943.

The 1930’s saw the modernization of the U.S. armed forces as a whole. The Navy was to benefit the most from the funding and modernizing of its equipment by the government, as the pacifists, who were responsible for the underfunded military, felt the Navy would be useful as a branch of self-defense, given the only probable way of invasion be from the sea. Planes were seen as an important component of the U.S. Navy as ship destroyers. Hence, the fast-growing Navy was receiving the top-notch technology, introducing types such as the TBD. The aircraft was intended to replace older types of aircraft in service as to remain in the forefront of technology, and introduced innovative features such as folding wings which allow storage on cramped aircraft carriers, and had a more efficient monoplane design. (Much of this information was given to me from Ken at a great carpet cleaner company carpet cleaners SCV so a shout to him for this.)

The TBD destroyer first flew on Continue reading Douglas TBD Devastator

Nakajima G5N and G8N

640px-Nakajima_G8N_war_booty
“Nakajima G8N war booty” by Unknown – http://www.flickr.com/photos/sdasmarchives/7586031302/in/set-72157630610709398. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nakajima_G8N_war_booty.jpg#/media/File:Nakajima_G8N_war_booty.jpg

Two aircraft that had been forgotten in most of the history books of aviation, the Nakajima G5N Shinzan (Mountain Recess) and the Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range) are as unique as they are unknown. They were one of the very few four-engine Japanese planes built during the war (excluding the H6K and H8K floatplanes), and was overshadowed by the production of smaller aircraft and the general poor performance of the aircraft, along with the shortening of supplies. Derived from a faulty American passenger plane from pre-war years, the G5N, in effect, gave the Japanese a potential strategic bomber force that never materialized. This aircraft essentially remained only in the prototype stage with six being built in two basic versions, and evolved into the Nakajima G8N of 1944, which also remained a prototype and never became an operational bomber.

In 1935, United Airlines put in a request to the Douglas Aircraft Company calling for a large, four-engine commercial airliner with three tails (similar to the later Lockheed Constellation), known as the DC-4E (not to be confused with the famous DC-4 of 1942). This aircraft would have roughly twice the seating as the Douglas DC-3, and was intended to replace the said aircraft (which hadn’t even flown yet!). Several other airlines had put in large amounts of funding for the project, but eventually turned their attention to the Boeing 307, a commercialized version of the B-17 Flying Fortress. In 1939, intrigued by the aircraft’s capability as a large bomber-type aircraft, Japan Airlines Co. bought the sole prototype of the DC-4E and secretly delivered Continue reading Nakajima G5N and G8N

Tree Removal Equipment and Hazards

It’s necessary to remove trees in many areas in order to create a runway for an airplane. Also if you are a pilot in combat the likelihood of bailing out of your airplane is much higher than for any other type of pilot. The odds of landing in trees with your parachute are pretty good. So how do you get out of a tree if you’re hanging from a parachute? Obviously some equipment would be handy to have.

Tree Service
By Chadtreeexperts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Clearing trees takes quite a bit of equipment if you want to get it done quickly and effectively. Sometimes it’s not necessary to remove trees depending on what it is that you want to do. In these cases climbing the tree and trimming the branches in an effective manner is the job of a skilled arborist. These guys have specialized cutting and cleaning equipment and they have a lot of skill so that they don’t fall out of the tree and lose their lives. So using the aid of a skilled tree service would be very wise. For large jobs that require climbing into the tree canopy it is not a wise idea for the weekend warrior to take on.

Climbing is a real art skill and maintaining the equipment that is used only makes sense since it is really a life support system. The ropes used as well as any type of block and tackle type of equipment must be in top working order for a skilled tree removal expert to be effective. Also it is not only deciduous trees that need to be trimmed. Many parts of the world are populated with many species of palm trees. These often times need to be trimmed if they want to be looked at as a beautiful tree. The dead palm fronds tend to create what is known as a beard at the top of the tree underneath the green foliage.

It can be actually quite dangerous to a tree trimmer who climbs a palm tree to trim the beard out of the foliage. Every year some lose their lives surprisingly. What happens is they are strapped around the palm tree trunk with spikes on their boots which allows them to climb. Occasionally this beard of dead palm fronds breaks free from the foliage and slides down. Because it has a donut type shape surrounding the trunk and it weighs even hundreds of pounds disaster can occur. What can happen to the tree trimmer is Continue reading Tree Removal Equipment and Hazards

Nakajima G5N and G8N

Two aircraft that had been forgotten in most of the history books of aviation, the Nakajima G5N Shinzan (Mountain Recess) and the Nakajima G8N Renzan (Mountain Range) are as unique as they are unknown. They were one of the very few four-engine Japanese planes built during the war (excluding the H6K and H8K floatplanes), and was overshadowed by the production of smaller aircraft and the general poor performance of the aircraft, along with the shortening of supplies. Derived from a faulty American passenger plane from pre-war years, the G5N, in effect, gave the Japanese a potential strategic bomber force that never materialized. This aircraft essentially remained only in the prototype stage with six being built in two basic versions, and evolved into the Nakajima G8N of 1944, which also remained a prototype and never became an operational bomber.

In 1935, United Airlines put in a request to the Douglas Aircraft Company calling for a large, four-engine commercial airliner with three tails (similar to the later Lockheed Constellation), known as the DC-4E (not to be confused with the famous DC-4 of 1942). This aircraft would have roughly twice the seating as the Douglas DC-3, and was intended to replace the said aircraft (which hadn’t even flown yet!). Several other airlines had put in large amounts of funding for the project, but eventually turned their attention to the Boeing 307, a commercialized version of the B-17 Flying Fortress. In 1939, intrigued by the aircraft’s capability as a large bomber-type aircraft, Japan Airlines Co. bought the sole prototype of the DC-4E and secretly delivered it to the Nakajima plant, where they reverse-engineered the aircraft and created the G5N Shinzan. Little did they know they were in possession of a lemon.

The G5N idea originated with the Imperial Japanese Navy’s request for a long-range, land-based bomber capable of carrying a heavy bombload or torpedoes over a distance of no less than Continue reading Nakajima G5N and G8N

Piaggio P.108

One aircraft that may stand out in the annals of Italian aviation is the Piaggio P.108 bomber of the Second World War. As most Italian aircraft of that period were at best obsolescent or inferior to Allied, or even German, counterparts, the P.108 was one of the few capable of matching its modern counterparts, along with fighters such as the ‘5’ series of Italian fighters (powered by the Daimler-Benz 605), which shall be mentioned in another article. Not only were the aircraft favorable to the Italians, but even units of the superior Luftwaffe saw use for them in secondary duties. Although they were only available in finite numbers by the Italian Armistice in 1943 (serving in only one squadron), they did not fail to show service, given the extreme circumstances.

Piaggio_P.108_nose

In the 1930s, along with the young Luftwaffe and the mighty Red Army Air Force of the Soviet Union, the Italian Royal Air Force was certainly a force to be recognized, as was displayed in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. However, unlike the Luftwaffe, and more like the Soviet Union, the Italians failed to make any progress beyond this point. As the Luftwaffe was immediately introducing increasingly modern designs, the Italians were still producing obsolete machines, including aircraft such as the CR.42 Falco, a good airplane, but nonetheless obsolete upon its introduction in 1938. Worse yet, they continued to mass-produce obsolete planes even as new ones rolled of the factory lines. Thus, the finite resources of Italy were focused on producing a variety of aircraft, old and new alike, when the better decision would have been to focus on newer models. Furthermore, the Italians were extremely late in producing capable aircraft, when the fate of the war had essentially Continue reading Piaggio P.108

Chuck Yeager, the Fastest Man Alive

Early on October 14, 1947, an unfamiliar roar echoed across the western Mojave Desert. Everybody at Murdoc Army Air Field, now Edwards AFB, listened in silence. Little did they know that pilot Charles Elwood Yeager, a West-Virginian fighter pilot, had exceeded the speed of sound for the first time in human history, pushing the outside of the envelope.  Prior to this momentous morning, most people felt that the speed of sound could not be exceeded, and with good reason, since many who have approached said speed were lost in mysterious accidents. Although this was a major event in aviation history (and in history itself, for that matter), there was no celebration waiting for him on the ground, it being a top secret mission. Regardless, ‘Chuck’ Yeager had redefined aviation as the world had yet known it to be.

Chuck Yeager, born Charles Elwood Yeager, was born on February 13, 1923, to farmers Susie Mae and Albert Hal Yeager in Myra, West Virginia. He had four siblings, Ray, Hal Jr., Doris Ann and Pansy Lee. Doris Lee died at the age of two when her older brother, Roy, had accidently killed her whilst playing with his parents’ shotgun. Chuck received his high school education in Hamlin, West Virginia, where he graduated in June of 1941. On September 12, 1941, with the United States at the eve of war with the Japanese, Chuck enlisted with the USAAF (United States Army Air Force). After the United States’ entry in the bloodiest war yet known to man, he was stationed in Europe. Whilst flying a P-51B Mustang in 1943, he was shot down over Continue reading Chuck Yeager, the Fastest Man Alive

Yuri Gagarin

Being the first man to accomplish something as astonishing as being the first human being in space, one would naturally think of Yuri Gagarin as a figure full of awe and wonder. Some may even think of Gagarin as having a large stature with an extremely patriotic background, as would fit such a figure. Actually, it is the opposite that is true! Yuri Gagarin’s stature was like that of a child, and was rather humble. Furthermore, Gagarin, like most Russians born under Stalin’s regime, grew up in poverty, followed by Nazi occupation in World War II, or the Great Patriotic War.

Gagarin_Capsule
“Gagarin Capsule” by SiefkinDR – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gagarin_Capsule.jpg#/media/File:Gagarin_Capsule.jpg

Yuri Gagarin was born on a small collective farm in Klushino, a small village located in Smolensk Oblast, Russia, on March 9, 1934. His parents were Alexei and Anna, a bricklayer and a milkmaid. With Smolensk being as close to the western Russian border as it is, he and his family were some of the first to be affected by the Nazi occupation some seven years later. As the Nazis occupied his village, he and his family of six, including Gagarin himself, were forced to live in a mud hut on their property, as the Nazi officers occupied the house itself. Fortunately, in 1943, the Nazis were pushed out of his country by the Red Army under General Zhukov, liberating Gagarin and his family. After the war, Gagarin, now 16, moved east to Continue reading Yuri Gagarin

A Brief Introduction to the A300

Few aircraft in the history of aviation have as nationally diverse of a background as the A300, the Airbus Industry’s first aircraft. One of the better-selling aircraft of the second-half of the 20th century (as well as the first twin-engine wide body), the A300 can trace its origins back to the mid 1960’s. In 1965, the project went underway as an Anglo-French enterprise to create a high-capacity transport for both BEA and Air France. West Germany entered into the sphere in 1967, and in September of that year signed an agreement of cooperation with England and France, forming the European consortium known today as Airbus. Shortly afterward, however, the British government withdrew from the project, leaving Hawker Siddely, a British aircraft company, to stay in the program without funding from the British government. The aircraft was initially planned to be powered by two Rolls Royce RB.207s, but after the withdrawal of British funding settled with two American-made General Electric CF6-50s, and later Pratt & Whitney JT9Ds, each producing roughly 45,000lbs of thrust.

A300The overall amount of countries that took part in the development of the Airbus A300 is no less than seven, including firms such as Aerospatiale of France, Daimler Benz Aviation of West Germany, British Aerospace (Hawker Siddely) of Great Britain, Casa of Spain, Fokker of The Netherlands, General Electric of the USA and Messier of France. French and German contribution accounted for Continue reading A Brief Introduction to the A300

The Tupolev Tu-4

Perhaps one of the most important aircraft in Soviet aviation history, the Tupolev Tu-4 holds an irreplaceable position in the development of Soviet aviation. The Tu-4 provided the Soviet Union with invaluable information and components which are still seen in Russian aviation today, such as the famous Tu-95 Bear bomber from the same firm. But the Tu-4 isn’t entirely a Russian invention. In fact, it is an almost entirely American aircraft, based nearly bolt-for-bolt off of the Boeing B-29 of World War II fame. However, this unexpected ‘gift’ from the Americans was exactly what was needed to improve the struggling Soviet aviation industry its much-needed boost, as the Soviets were seemingly on a backward course in aviation technology. The Tu-4, despite initial difficulties, gave the Soviet Air Force, or VVS, nearly two decades of service in various roles and forms.

Tu4
“Tu4”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Tu4.jpg#/media/File:Tu4.jpg

In 1943, the Soviet Union took its first initial steps on developing its Atomic Bomb. The Soviets were quick to recognize the need for a nuclear-carrying aircraft and in September of that year commissioned the Tupolev design bureau to develop a four-engine strategic bomber, ‘Aircraft 64’. Due to the lack of the appropriate technology to undertake the complex design at hand, the project progressed slowly, until, unintended by the Americans, three USAAF B-29s, heavily damaged after a raid over Japan, made emergency landings at different dates in late 1944 in the Soviet Union. Since the Soviet Union was neutral with Japan at the time, they interned the bombers and the aircrews, despite numerous requests by the United States for their return. Later, after the crews were eventually shipped back to the United States, work on ‘Aircraft 64’ was dropped in favor of simply (although it turned out to be very complex) analyzing and reverse-engineering the B-29s right in their backyard. Thus the Tu-4 ‘Bull’ was born.

The Tupolev Tu-4, although inferior in specifications and capability to the original B-29, was by far the most complex plane in the Soviet Union in the immediate postwar years. Tupolev may have been commissioned with producing the aircraft, over 900 firms and contractors were involved, including Shvetsov, who supplied the engines. While in appearance it has bolt-for-bolt similarity, there were some modifications that the Soviets added themselves, despite the strict regulations against changes to the aircraft set by Joseph Stalin himself. Perhaps the most noticeable external difference to the original B-29 was that of the armament. In the USA, it was almost tradition for every gun to be a .50 caliber. In the Soviet Union these were replace by B-20 20mm cannons, and later by NS-23 23mm cannons. The power plant consisted of Continue reading The Tupolev Tu-4