Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Lockheed L10:: Earhart, Amelia

The stars seemed near enough to touch and never before have I seen so many. I always believed the lure of flying is the lure of beauty, but I was sure of it that night.

- Amelia Earhart, Aviator
 Lost off the coast of Howland Islands on July 2nd

Fokker G.I::le Faucheur

In 7 months, Fokker’s head engineers Marius Beeling and Erich Schatzki designed and created the first G.I prototype, intended to be a fighter and hunt cruiser, a role deemed vital in the quest of acquiring control over air force and power. On the 16th March 1937 at Welschap Eindhoven, the twin engine fighter plane took to the skies and was comparable to the German Messerschmitt BF 110 and the British Mosquito. It was heavily armed with eight 7.9mm forward firing FN-Browning machine guns placed in the nose, one in the rear turret and capable of carrying 300 kg of bombs, the feature capturing the attention of the public at the Paris Air Show 1936. Le Faucheur “Reaper”  was mixed in construction, as were it’s Fokker counterparts. The front of the central pod and the tail booms were built around a welded frame that was covered with aluminium plating. The back of the central pod and the wings were made of wooden frames, covered with triplex. The G.I had good handling, and good firepower. It’s only weakness was that it could not match the maneuverability of single seaters fighters. There is only one remaining Fokker G.I to date, a replica exhibited in the Dutch Air Force Museum in Soesterberg. The rest – 23 to be exact, were destroyed on the 10th of May 1940 in the Netherlands, during the German invasion. 

Mixed construction

2x Bristol Mercury VIII radial engine,  9-cylinder, air cooled, single row-piston
Rated power at 730hp, 2650 rpm at takeoff
830hp at 4100m at 2750rpm

Flight parameters:
Max speed: 475km/h at altitude 4100m
Rate of climb: 13.5 m/s
Range: 1510 km

8x 7.9mm forward firing FN-Browning machine guns mounted on nose
1x 7.9mm machine gun on rear turret
Payload: 400kg at 4 underwing points

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Type 0: Mitsubishi A6M Zero - Sen

The A6M Zero took the skies on 01.04.1939 and remained in the service of the Imperial Japanese Navy Air until the end of the WW II in 1945. The Allies called it the “Zero”, a short form of Navy Type 0 Carrier Fighter, and it was the best carrier-based fighter the world had ever seen. The A6M had superb maneuverability, superior agility, had a range of 3107 km and was the first shipboard fighter that was capable of surpassing a land-based aircraft. It soon earned a reputation as a supreme dogfighter particularly against F2A Buffaloes, Curtiss P-40s and Grumman F4F Wildcats. In 1937, when the Zero was still in the prototype stage, leader of the Flying Tigers, the 1st American Volunteer Group of the Chinese Air Force, Claire Lee Chennault warned the USA Air Force of the increasing danger of Japanese fighter aircraft development. However, his warnings were ignored, and when the Zero took to the skies the Americans were caught unprepared. The Zero was the most produced Japanese fighter aircraft, and possessed a kill ratio of 12:1.Thanks to Mitsubishi’s lead designer, Jiro Horikoshi, all the extreme specifications laid out by the Imperial Japanese Navy were either met, or exceeded beyond their expectations. Horikoshi employed weight-saving methods to ensure that the aircraft was made as light as possible to meet the requirements imposed. The following are the Zero’s final specifications;
T-7178 Al, a top secret aluminium alloy developed by the Japanese specifically for the aircraft
Low- wing, cantilever monoplane layout, using a cantilever to support the plane’s wings made the construction lighter, and reduced drag as compared to using struts and cables.
Retractable wide-set landing gear.
Enclosed cockpit

Nakajima NK1C Sakae 12 rated at 709 kW
14-cylinder, Air-cooled
Radial Engine (high power, low maximum rpm making reduction gearing of propellers unnecessary & piston arrangement – same plane allows even cooling of all pistons by air, thus reducing weight on water-cooling system)

Flight parameter:   
Max. Speed – 533 km/h or 287 knot
Rate of Climb – 15.7 m/s
Range – 3107 km

2x 7.7mm Type 97 machine guns in engine cowling, 500 rounds/gun
2x 20mm Type 99 Cannons in wings, 60 rounds/gun
2x 60kg bombs
1x 250kg bombs (kamikaze attacks)

Nearing the end of the war, the Zero was used in Kamikaze (Divine Wind) attacks against American naval ships, its outstanding success in using this tactic resulted in the formation of Air Group 201, the first Kamikaze suicide squadron in the Japanese Naval Air Force.

" Never try to turn with a Zero. Always get above the enemy and try to hit him with the first pass. "
- Claire Lee Chennault, Flying Tigers
USS Missouri about to be hit by a Zero in a Kamikaze Operation.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

::Hawker Hurricane 11.1935

Hawker Hurricane 1935 - England

Hawker Hurricane was introduced in 11.1935, Brookfields by Sydney Camm and was created to take on the German Heinkel He 111 and Dornier Do 17 bombers. These were the aircrafts that would cause the most damage if allowed to get through. There are several variants of the Hurricane, one of the most important being the Sea Hurricane. The Hurricane was a major asset in the Battle of Britain, where there were 32 Hurricane Squadrons, in comparison to 19 Spitfire Squadrons. This meant that the 620 Hurricane, Spitfire and several Gloster Gladiator fighters went up against 3500 German bombers and fighters. The duo forced the Luttwaffe to use the BF-109 Messerschmitt to protect the poor performing BF110 twin engine escort fighter.
The Hawker Hurricane was designed by integrating the experience of a fighter biplane, translated into modern formula. It could adapt easily into any role it was tasked, making it one of the most versatile single-seat fighter aircrafts to result from World War II.

Hawker Hurricane II B
Tubular metal construction with fabric covering, soon replaced with metal skinnings for the wings
Two blade, fixed pitch wooden propeller
Wing Span: 12.19 m
Length: 9.82 m
Height: 2.66 m
Weight in operation: 3841 kg with 2x 500 lb. Bombs

1x Rolls-Royce Merlin XX twelve-cylinder 60 deg. V liquid-cooled engine
rated at 1,280 h.p. (954 kw) at take-off
1,850 h.p. (1,379 kw) at 21,000 ft. (6,400 m).

Flight parameters:
Clean: 547 km/h at 6400m
2x 250lb Payload: 514 km/h at 6004m
2x 500lb Payload: 494 km/h at 5943m

740 km at 286 km/h on normal fuel
1480 km with 2x 44 gallon auxiliary tanks

12x 0.303-in. browning machine-guns
2x 250-lb. or 500-lb. bombs
8x rocket projectile

fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack

Plague: BF-109 Messerschmitt 1935

BF-109 Messerschmitt 1935

BF-109 in Time to Bail Out
Created by Willy Messerschmitt, it became airborne on the 28th May 1935. It was employed by the Hungarian Air Force, Luttwaffe, the Italian Social Republic and the Romanian Air Force. Over 33 000 units were deployed, making it the highest produced fighter aircraft in World War II, and in history. It is considered to be the first truly fighter aircraft, and three Aces of World War II flew in it, the highest recorded was 158 kills, by German fighter pilot Hans-Joachim Marseille.

fully metal & monocoque, closed canopy, retractable landing hear
single seat
Wingspan - 32 ft 4.5 in.
Length - 28 ft 8 in.
Height - 11 ft 2in.
Wing Area - 174 sq. ft.

1200 hp, Daimler-Benz DB 601N liquid cooled inverted V-12 cylinder piston engine

Flight parameters:
Climb rate - 3300 feet per minute
Max. speed - 358 mph
Range - 680 miles

1x Hub Firing 20mm cannon 
4x 7.9 mm machine guns (situated at top of engine cowling and wings)

bomber escort, interceptor, ground-attack, reconnaisance

short range
difficult to handle narrow, outward retracting undercarriage

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

:Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter

Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter

The Sopwith 1 1/2 Strutter debut around the same time that the Nieuport 17 did, 04.1916, most likely following the capture of a German Eindecker that had strayed into a thick fog over France. It is the first British fighter airplane equipped with a fixed, forward firing, synchronized machine gun, and came as one and two-seaters. It's heart was a Clerget 9Z 110 hp, and could fly from 80 mph to 103 mph. In the two seaters, the gas tank was positioned precariously between the pilot and the observer, this characteristic earning jeers from airmen that it was designed by a German. With a total of 13 kills, Geoffrey Cock was the highest scoring Ace to ever fly this aircraft.

Retribution: Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 17

The Nieuport 17 - Painting
The Germans made sure that none of their Eindeckers flew over hostile territories where there was a possibility for them to be shot down, captured and their technology copied.  However this defensive tactic failed to protect a German pilot who became lost in a thick fog and landed on French soil. Upon capture, the pilot and plane were studied by the Allies. As a result, the Nieuport 17 became airborne.

The Nieuport 17 was designed to meet an optimum combination of the best characteristics between monoplanes and biplanes. This amounted to it being configured as one and one-half wing, or termed as a “sesquiplane”. The large top wing of the Nieuport 17, with the wing span of 26 feet, was joined to the smaller and narrower lower wing by a V-shaped strut. Its height was approximately 8 feet and weighed 1232 lbs. Flying at 107 mph, with a Le Rhone Rotary/120 heart, it had high visibility, low drag – common for parasol monoplanes, and supported by the structural sturdiness and bracing of a biplane.

The pilot, fuel system, engine and weaponry was centralised to allow easy handling. It possessed excellent maneuverability, giving it the upper hand in dogfights. A Lewis machine gun was mounted on the top wing as the French had yet to perfect a synchronizing device that would allow the bullets to be fired through the empty spaces between the blades of the propeller. However, soon after a synchronized gun was produced and implemented.