Category Archives: Aeronautical Engineering

Cutaway Thursday: McDonnell Douglas F-4X-VG

The McDonnell Douglas F-4X-VG was a design proposal to improve the carrier landing characteristics of the venerable F-4 Phamtom 2 in US Navy service. This eventually lost out to Grumman’s F-14 Tomcat but like the Tomcat the F-4X-VG has a variable geometry wing. The Navy passed on this proposal due to the VG-X’s apparent inablility to carry the AWG-9/AIM-54 Phoenix weapons system suite.

F-4X-VG

 

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Cutaway Thursday: Convair B-36J Peacemaker

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Iron Birds

Static test airframes, or more commonly called, “iron birds” are partially built, non-flying airframes or old formerly flying airframes that are used by agencies and manufacterers to test either the strength of than airframe, various design components or aircraft subsystems (avionics, flight control, engines, etc).

The iron birds used for strength testing are typically full scale representations of the aircraft that are rigged to gaint gantry cranes with weights and strain gauges attached. See the pic:

Lockheed's F-35 test airframe installed on gantry cranes with strain gauges.

Lockheed’s F-35 test airframe installed on gantry cranes with strain gauges.

Once installed on the cranes the airframe is literally pulled and pushed to properly simulate all the aerodynamic forces that the aircraft will encounter throughout it’s flying career.  Often the iron birds are tested till destruction.

This is a VC-10 undergoing wing fatigue testing. Note the bending wing.

This is a VC-10 undergoing wing fatigue testing. Note the bending wing.

Some iron birds are formerly flying airframes that have accumulated too many flying hours and are no longer consider safe to fly. These aircraft are typically stripped of most equipment (engines mostly) and used to test various aircraft subsystems in support of other programs.

This NASA's F-8 Crusader iron bird that was used to test software for NASA's Digital Fly-By-Wire program in the 1960s,

This NASA’s F-8 Crusader iron bird that was used to test software for NASA’s Digital Fly-By-Wire program in the 1960s,

 

As the latest example of NASA's iron bird, this is an F/A-18 Hornet used by NASA to support many of the F/A-18 test programs.

As the latest example of NASA’s iron bird, this is an F/A-18 Hornet used by NASA to support many of the F/A-18 test programs.

Iron birds aren’t limited to NASA. The US military also used them for the same purposes.

This B-2 at the National Museum of the USAF was never an actual flying airframe. This "aircraft" appropriately named "Fire and Ice"was used for fatgiue and climatic testing.

This B-2 at the National Museum of the USAF was never an actual flying airframe. This “aircraft” appropriately named “Fire and Ice”was used for fatgiue and climatic testing.

A close up of "Fire and Ice's" nose gear door.

A close up of “Fire and Ice’s” nose gear door.

You can learn more about that particular aircraft here.

As an aside, old airframes are also typically used as maintaince trainers in the military. These are called ground instructional airframes:

images 080613-F-1322C-001

 

 

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Cutaway Thursday: CH-53K King Stallion

Since xbradtc blogged about this earlier in the week, I’m thowing up a cutaway for the latest incarnation of the western world’s (i.e. non-Russian) largest helicopter (that’d be helo to the NAVY/USMC team and “chopper” to the Army). This done is taken from the King Stallion’s website at Sikorsky:

mil_CH53K_safe_amil_CH53K_safe_b

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Cutaway Thursday: HAL Tejas

The HAL Tejas is a 4+ generation single seat, single engine multirole fighter built primarily for the Indian Airforce and Navy. Slightly smaller than the F-16 the Tejas first flew on 4 January 2001 as the technology demonstrator called the LCA.

Here you can learn more about the Tejas.

escaneo001

 

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Cutaway Thursday: Boeing 2707

2707-sst

 

Last week we did the Boeing Model 733 which evolved in to the Boeing 2707 (the 2 perhaps indicating that it was a mach 2 capable airplane). Anyway, this is a far better cutaway of the similiar aircraft AND it gives an indication of just how complex the actual airplane would have been.

The most recognizable difference between the 733 and the 2707 is the position of the variable geometry wing in relation to the horizontal stabilator. As you can see here, in full sweep, the is flush to the stab making it a delta shape simlar to the F-14 Tomcat. The 733 also features a variable geometry wing but at full sweep the aircraft resembles the B-1 Lancer in planform.

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Cutaway Thursday: Boeing Model 733

Boeing 733 SST

The Boeing Model 733 was the never-to-be-built US counterpart to the European Concorde and Soviet TU-144. Subsequent research is unclear whether the design started at a delta wing planform or started as a swing-wing that was eventually dropped due to increased weight and complexity.

You can learn more here.

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