Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.
The year 1947 was a period of realism in the field of civil aviation. The war-born dreams of manufacturers of commercial planes of all types, encouraged by pent up demand in the early postwar period, were shattered by reality, and activity settled down to a much lower level than many had expected. Several manufacturers who had based their postwar operations on exaggerated estimates of the market were beset by grave difficulties. There were bankruptcies in the personal plane group and several of the larger manufacturers saw serious financial difficulties ahead. In many cases they were able to continue business only because of experimental contracts from the Army, Navy, and Air Forces. Military aircraft production fell to a figure dangerously low from the standpoint of national security, trained technical staffs began to be dispersed and the long-awaited government action came during the summer of 1947.
The first step was the appointment by President Truman of an Air Policy Commission, which was one of two directed to study the whole problem and report to the Congress by January 1, 1948. The Commission was headed by Thomas K. Finletter, New York attorney and former consultant to the United States Delegation of the United Nations. Vice-chairman was George P. Baker, professor of transportation, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. The three remaining members were: John A. McCone, President, Joshua Hendy Corporation; Palmer Hoyt, Publisher, The Denver Post; and Arthur D. Whiteside, President, Dun and Bradstreet, Inc. Executive Director for the Commission was S. Paul Johnston, Director, The Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences.
During the late summer the Commission organized its staff and began its studies, including hearings, in which specialists in all phases of aviation were invited to testify. The final report of the Commission was scheduled for completion early in January. While the Commission was deep in its hearings, the second group, named the Joint Congressional Air Policy Committee, began its work with a meeting in mid-September, at which George Kennan of Secretary Marshall's staff spoke on foreign policy. Two weeks later the Committee named Merrill Meigs, Chicago publisher, as consultant. An advisory council of top industrial executives and representatives of the armed services also was set up.
Plans for the work of the committee included a breakdown of the advisors and members of the committee into subcommittees representing the various segments of the aviation industry. The next step will be across-the-table discussion of the problems with the possibility of open hearings later on. Subcommittees are: manufacturing, transportation, combat aviation, and government organization. Chairman of the Congressional Committee is Senator Owen Brewster of Maine; the Vice Chairman is Representative Carl Hinshaw of California.
The close of the armed services fiscal year (June 30) brought a drastic cut in the total value of shipments of aircraft, parts, and conversions from the $90,657,575 in June to $44,877,858 in July. The latter figure, which was the low point of the first seven months, partially reflected adjustments and delays incident to the beginning of a new fiscal year. Possibility of some improvement was found in the military backlogs reported by manufacturers, whose totals increased to $221,379,325 in July from $205,948,112 in June. Employment fell from 140,258 in June to 139,600 in July. Total military aircraft production for 1947 was 2,102 units valued at $495,071,608.
A few days after the collapse in December of the treaty meeting of the 'Big Four' Council of Foreign Ministers, President Truman approved a fifty per cent increase in aircraft production for the armed services for the next year (fiscal 1949). This increase would provide for approximately 2,500 planes. The budget is expected to provide $1,400,000,000 in direct appropriations and contract authorizations for air force and naval aircraft procurement. During the first eight months of 1947 the eleven personal plane manufacturers represented in the Aircraft Industries Association reported shipments of an aggregate of 12,716 units valued at $41,298,000. By the end of the year the personal plane makers had produced 15,338 units valued at $55,252,385.
A score sheet of aviation surplus disposal from the War Assets Administration indicated that, less than two years after V-J Day, approximately 65,000 aircraft had been sold. Of this number, 35,000 were types which could have been certified for civilian use. The remainder were combat planes which were sold chiefly for scrap or for their salvage value. Aircraft still available for sale in mid-1947 included some 600 Curtiss Commandos (C-46A and C-46D) which were priced from $10,000 to $15,000 each and were approved by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (C.A.A.) for cargo-carrying operations. About 200 twin- and four-engined Douglas transports were still owned by the War Assets Administration (W.A.A.) and were leased for operations by airlines. Next step in the program was the liquidation of a surplus stock of aircraft parts and components having a total acquisition value of $800,000,000. This phase is expected to be completed by July 1, 1948. Production of new executive and transport aircraft for 1947 totaled 278 units having a dollar value of $121,251,619.
High-speed and Automatic-Flight Research.
Revelations of speeds above 1,440 miles per hour with expected future increases to 2,000 m.p.h. with ramjet-powered missiles were made following an announcement that British scientists had reached speeds of 900 m.p.h. in drop tests. At the same time it was revealed that civilian government research work of this type has been in progress for some time by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (N.A.C.A.) at an isolated research base on Wallops Island off the Virginia Capes. The drop tests are made by carrying the missile to an altitude of six miles under the fuselage of a B-29 bomber and then dropping the test machine into the ocean. On the way down, telemetering equipment within the missile broadcasts desired information to a receiving station on the ground. Radar and other devices are used in tracking the missile. Similar recording devices are used by the Navy in its study of high-speed flight known as Project Bumble Bee. Since a ramjet engine does not become operative until its forward speed exceeds about 400 m.p.h., the Navy missiles are boosted off by rockets from a shore base on the New Jersey coast.
These experiments were paving the way for the first flight of a man-carrying aircraft through and beyond the speed of sound, which is approximately 760 m.p.h. under standard sea-level conditions of pressure and temperature (760 mm. and 0° C.). Above and below 760 m.p.h. is a speed range known as the transonic range. The transonic range is a speed band (at sea level) whose limits are defined by 760±15 per cent. As an aircraft passes through this speed band it is subjected to violent buffeting due to shock waves, greatly increased drag or air resistance and loss of lifting power. For more than a decade, aerodynamicists all over the world have sought more information about the experience of an object passing through the transonic barrier.
Both here and in England man-carrying planes designed to be capable of traversing this barrier have been constructed, but full-power test flights have been delayed. Even in wartime Germany a program for this work was underway. Although Russia's research program has not been revealed, it is known that very considerable attention has been given to this branch of science.
High-speed Experimental Planes.
Two general types of laboratory aircraft for this purpose are now under test in this country. Since the civilian government research agency, the N.A.C.A., has no legal right to procure experimental aircraft, the Air Forces and Navy are cooperating in the program by awarding development contracts to manufacturers for test planes designed, developed and built according to N.A.C.A. recommendations. The Air Forces and Navy are also acting as evaluating agencies in this program.
First of the United States supersonic planes is the Air Forces-sponsored Bell XS-1. Although the contract for this plane required a top speed of only 85 per cent of the speed of sound, it was designed to be capable of much higher speeds. The contract requirements had been exceeded in flights which reached a much higher percentage of the speed of sound. A report that the XS-1 had been flown through and beyond the speed of sound was published in the December 22nd issue of Aviation Week against the strenuous protests of the armed forces. The article further stated that a new altitude record for heavier-than-air craft of 70,000 ft. had been set in the course of the flights and that none of the difficulties expected in passing through the transonic barrier were experienced.
A parallel program sponsored by the Navy was planned around the design of the Douglas D-558 (Skystreak), which now holds the world's speed record of 650.6 m.p.h. At that speed certain portions, if not the entire airplane, are entering the buffeting stage at the lower end of the transonic range.
On August 20th a new international speed record of 640.7 m.p.h. was established for the jet-propelled Douglas D-558 (Skystreak) at Muroc Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert. This record was advanced to 650.6 m.p.h. by the same airplane at the same place five days later. A previous record of 623.7 m.p.h. was held by the Lockheed P-80R (Shooting Star). Pilot for the August 20th flight was Commander Turner F. Caldwell, Jr. The later flight was made by Major Marion E. Carl of the Marines. The Skystreak is powered by the General Electric TG-180 gas turbine and has a wing span of 25 ft., a length of 35 ft., and a gross weight of 9,750 lb.
The fuselage structure of the Skystreak is an efficient monocoque having formers and stringers only at points of concentrated loading. Although magnesium alloy is used extensively, it is necessary to use aluminum alloy in that part of the structure around the pilot's cockpit because of the pressure cabin and air ducts leading to the engine behind the cockpit. Sea-level pressure is maintained at 8,000 ft. and pressure equivalent to 8,000 ft. is kept up to 22,000 ft. Above that altitude a differential pressure of 4 lb. per sq. ft. is maintained. Cabin temperature is controlled by an air-cycle cooling system which reduces the estimated 180° F. to 105° F. — the heat inside the cabin when flying at high speed near sea level at 100°F. outside temperature. The rise in internal temperature is due to aerodynamic phenomena and solar radiation.
In emergency the pilot is able to disconnect the forward structure including his cockpit from the remainder of the plane. When the speed of the forward portion of the structure is sufficiently reduced, he may bail out in the usual manner. The thin wing is built of aluminum alloy and contains integral fuel tank space for 230 gallons. Two additional wing tanks in the tips have a capacity of 50 gallons each. They may be ejected in emergency by an explosive charge. A tungsten alloy is used instead of lead for the aileron balance weights because of the limited space for them in the thin wing.
Second phase in the Navy-N.A.C.A.-Douglas transonic plane program is the development and evaluation of a second plane, the Skyrocket (D-558-2), for speeds higher than that of the Skystreak. As the name implies, the Skyrocket is powered by both jet and rocket engines. The jet unit, for take-off and landing the plane under its own power, is the Westinghouse 24-C axial-flow turbojet. The rocket unit is a Reaction Motors unit following the design of the engine in the Bell XS-1. This power plant will be used only for the high-speed tests in the program. The Skyrocket is structurally similar to the Skystreak but the wing configuration of the newer plane is characterized by sweepback in contrast with the cruciform configuration of the earlier design. The Skyrocket is designed to reach Mach Number 1 (the speed of sound) at sea level.
A glimpse of the extensive research program now in progress in the development and perfection of guided missiles or robot aircraft was afforded the public when a United States Air Forces transport plane was flown across the Atlantic and back under automatic control. Although the four-engined Douglas C-54 had an emergency crew aboard, they went along merely for the ride. It was unnecessary for them to touch the controls during either the eastbound or westbound flight. The two flights aggregating 8,000 miles were made early in October. Encouraged by these results, officers of the All-Weather Flying Center, U.S.A.F. at Wilmington, Ohio, made plans for a trans-Pacific flight of the robot plane Robert E. Lee without any personnel aboard. The equipment used in these flights weighs only 700 lb., and its weight could be considerably reduced.
The Collier Trophy for 1947 was awarded to Lewis A. Rodert, chief of flight research at the Cleveland Laboratory of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, 'for his pioneering research and guidance in the development and practical application of a thermal ice prevention system for aircraft.' Ice formation sufficient to alter the shape of wings and other critical portions of an aircraft is one of the most serious hazards of flying. Mechanical and chemical methods of prevention are now in use. The thermal system leads wasted heat from the engines to the vital spots. As usual, the thirty-second Collier Trophy was awarded at the White House by the President of the United States on December 17, the forty-fourth anniversary of the Wright brothers’ first flight. The award is made for 'the greatest achievement in aviation in America, the value of which has been demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.'
British experiments to reduce drag and thereby increase efficiency of wings by the use of suction devices were described on December 17 at the Eleventh Wright Brothers Lecture of the Institute of the Aeronautical Sciences. The lecturer for 1947 was Dr. Sydney Goldstein, University of Manchester, and Chairman of the Aeronautical Research Council. Prior to the lecture, the Wakefield Gold Medal of the Royal Aeronautical Society was awarded to Edwin A. Link, President, Link Aviation Devices, Inc. He was honored for the invention of the Link Trainer, which simulates flying conditions in an aircraft-like device on the ground.
The Frank G. Brewer Trophy was awarded to Dr. Nickolaus L. Engelhardt, Jr., Director of the Air Age Education Foundation, for his contribution to the advancement of aviation education and training for youth.
At the December 17th dinner of the Washington Aero Club, 144 certificates of award were presented by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale for outstanding services to airlines, manufacturers, the Air Forces, Navy, Marine Corps and others.
AIRCRAFT OF 1947
Hughes Flying Boat.
The largest aircraft ever built, the gigantic Hughes NX 37620 flying boat, which had been the subject of a spectacular Congressional investigation during the summer of 1947, was floated on November 1st from its dry dock on the Long Beach, California, waterfront. The launching took place only a few days before the scheduled resumption of the investigation. After announcing that flight tests would not be made until March 1948, Pilot Howard Hughes attempted a successful takeoff during one of the taxiing tests on November 2nd and flew the $25,000,000 seaplane for a distance of about a mile at an altitude of 70 ft. The all-wood flying boat has a wing span of 320 ft. and a hull length of 220 ft. The hull is 30 ft. high and 25 ft. wide. Its gross weight is approximately 200 tons plus cargo load. The power plant consists of eight Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major engines, Model R-4360, developing more than 3,000 h.p. each. The four-blade propellers are 17 ft., 2 in. in diameter. Fourteen 1,000-gal. tanks carry the fuel supply. Estimated performance is: top speed, 218 m.p.h.; cruising speed, 175 m.p.h.; landing speed, 78 m.p.h.; and take-off distance, 5,500 ft. Engine controls are pneumatic and patterned around the Pneudyne, a device long used by railroads in brake control. Flight controls are hydraulic and are reversible so that they transmit gust-load forces back to the pilot. The wing section is sufficiently high to afford an ample passageway for the flight engineers to reach the engines.
Largest Land Plane.
The largest land-based aircraft in the world, the huge Consolidated-Vultee XC-99 began tests during 1947. The power plant comprises six 3,000-h.p. engines turning 19-ft.-diameter reversible pitch propellers. Maximum range will be approximately 8,000 miles. Wing span is 230 ft. and overall length 182.5 ft. The XC-99 is designed to carry 400 troops with equipment or 335 litter patients as an ambulance plane. Its fuselage has a double deck structure. The cargo capacity is 100,000 lb.
After a six-month program of test flights covering 50 hours and 10,000 miles, the giant Lockheed Constitution was laid up for modification to include various improvements which have become available since the plane was originally designed. The Constitution, which is one of the largest transports of the present time, has a wing span of 189 ft., a length of 156 ft., and a height of 50 ft. Its gross weight is 184,000 lb. Fuel capacity is 10,000 gallons, which provide a maximum range of 6,300 miles. Cruising speed is 286 m.p.h.; high speed, 303 m.p.h.; and ceiling, 27,600 ft. The power plant comprises four Pratt & Whitney Wasp Majors developing a total of 14,000 h.p.
The prototype model of the Constitution, of which two have been built, is designed as a long-range naval transport with an interior that can be made available in a number of different arrangements. Double decks can be used to accommodate 180 passengers or 200 troops with their equipment. Cargo capacity is flexible, depending upon the individual mission. Normally the plane requires a crew of twelve, including captain, pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, assistant flight engineer, radio operator, navigator, two flight orderlies, and three relief members of the ship's complement.
Because of its great size, it is possible to perform many power-plant and other service operations while the plane is in flight. Tunnels through the wings lead to the engines, landing gear, wheel and brake mechanism, and to many of the accessories, including critical parts of the electric and hydraulic system. The control system is equipped with a hydraulic boost operating on three separate synchronized circuits and providing positive control with a minimum of physical effort on the part of the pilot. The flight controls can be operated on any one of the three systems in the event of failure of the other two. Rapid interchangeability of the power units is an important Constitution feature. All four power units including superchargers, oil tanks, exhaust system and coolers, are interchangeable and can be removed from their nacelle positions in thirty minutes.
Standard equipment includes soundproofing, pressurizing, and air conditioning. The galley is sufficiently large to serve three hundred hot meals on each flight. Rescue equipment includes four 12-man life rafts which may be ejected automatically by a small lever inside the fuselage, or reached from outside the plane. These rafts are carried in the upper surface of the inner wing panel, or stored inside the fuselage.
Developed as a commercial version of the B-29 bomber, the Boeing stratocruiser has a somewhat larger fuselage to provide comfortable passenger accommodations. It can accommodate up to 114 passengers or 39,000 lb. of cargo at a cruising speed of 340 m.p.h. The stratocruiser is so efficiently designed that it can carry 43 per cent of its gross weight of 130,000 lb. as useful load. The standard arrangement provides for 67 passengers and 900 cu. ft. of cargo space. On the lower of two decks, connected by a circular staircase, is a 14-seat lounge which increases the seating capacity to 81 persons. In a less luxurious commuter version, the lounge is eliminated and the seating capacity increased to 114. The sleeper model retains the 14-seat lounge and has 30 berths plus one additional seat. As a half-passenger half-cargo version it carries 71 passengers on the upper deck and 1,400 cu. ft. of cargo below. When the entire fuselage is used for cargo the total capacity is 5,720 cu. ft.
The pressurization system provides sea-level pressure up to 15,000 ft. From that altitude upward to 30,000 ft. the cabin pressure gradually rises to that at 8,000 ft. A combination of radiation and convection heating maintains a cabin temperature of 73° F. paralleling outside temperatures as low as 70° F. below zero. An inside temperature of 10° F. below the ambient can be maintained within the cabin even when the plane is on the ground with engines shut off and no external connections to ground air conditioning facilities.
The power plant consists of four Pratt & Whitney Wasp Major engines, Model R-4360. Wing tanks have a fuel capacity of 5,860 gal. plus a possible 1,195-gal. additional capacity in the wing center section tanks. The total can be increased to 8,225 gal. by specially installed external cells. The landing gear is of the dual-wheel tricycle type and has a fully retractable tail skid. An emergency manual system, operated by a portable auxiliary motor or a hand crank, is completely independent of the main electric actuating motors and control circuits.
Although designed primarily as a commercial cargo carrier, the Curtiss-Wright CW-32 (Sky Truck) would have unquestionable military value in wartime transportation of field guns, trucks, or other heavy equipment because of its hinged tail section. Its design is such that the tail can be lifted hydraulically to provide easy access to the cargo compartment in the fuselage. Vehicles as large as 7½-ton trucks can then be driven aboard and large trailer trucks can be driven alongside the opening because of the high wing design feature. The CW-32 has not been built but is being demonstrated in mock-up form to possible purchasers. It can be built within 12 months' time provided that a sufficient number of orders are received.
Single units of cargo up to 48 ft. by 9 ft. by 7 ft. in size and weighing as much as 32,000 lb. can be carried in the huge fuselage. The cargo hold is 61 ft. long and has a 4,800-cu.-ft. capacity. Gross weight is 100,000 lb., with an expected cruising speed of 300 m.p.h. Four engines totaling 8,400 h.p. and equipped with reversible pitch propellers constitute the power plant.
Latest in the long line of Grumman amphibians is the Navy-sponsored XJR2F-1, which began its evaluation tests as a Navy transport late in the year. The new model is an enlarged version of the Mallard commercial design which embodied many advances in amphibian development. The XJR2F-1 will be used in three variations for passengers, cargo, or ambulance service. It has a wing span of 80 ft., a length of 60 ft. 7 in., a height of 22 ft. 8 in., a gross weight of 25,000 lb., a cruising speed of 180 m.p.h., and a ceiling of 25,000 ft.
Flying Wing Bomber.
A jet-propelled version of the Northrop B-35 flying-wing bomber known as the YB-49 was delivered to the Air Forces and flight-tested on October 21, 1947. Power plant of the YB-49 consists of eight General Electric J-35 engines producing a total thrust of 32,000 lb. Wing span is 172 ft., length overall only 53 ft., and gross weight 44 tons. The aerodynamic and structural features follow the pattern for the all-wing design evolved over a long period of years by John K. Northrop. A tricycle landing gear is one of the features. The YB-49 carries a crew of 13, including pilot, co-pilot, navigator, radio operator, flight engineer, bombardier, and gunner as well as six relief members. Exceptionally long range and high operating efficiency are characteristics of flying-wing design.
Probably the first fighter plane to be powered with four jet engines, the Curtiss-Wright XP-87 was flight tested and delivered to the Air Forces late in 1947. The power plant consists of 4 Westinghouse 24-C turbojets mounted in pairs in two nacelles and developing a total thrust of 12,000 lb. The XP-87 is a high-speed craft capable of more than 600 m.p.h. and is designed for long-range missions under extreme variations in weather conditions. It conforms to the trend toward fuselage longer relative to the wing span; its length is 65 ft. and wing span is 60 ft. Horizontal tail surfaces are located in an unusually high position on the vertical stabilizer. Complete anti-icing equipment and radar devices for fire control, bombardment, and navigation are included.
Latest addition to the series of carrier-based, jet-propelled Navy fighters is the McDonnell Banshee, XF2D-1. The Banshee is powered by two Westinghouse Yankee 24-C turbojets, each delivering 400 lb. of thrust. Its speed has been estimated well above 600 m.p.h. and its range is believed to be about 2,000 miles. Predecessor of the Banshee is the Phantom FD-1. The XF2D-1 has a wing span of 41 ft. reduced to 18 ft. when the wings are folded; length is 39 ft., and height is 14 ft. Gross weight for take-off is 14,000 lb., compared with 9,000 lb. for the FD-1. All of the plane's components, namely, the wings, wheels, flaps, arresting and catapult hooks, are retracted electrically. A feature of the tricycle landing gear is a specially retracting nose wheel which permits the plane to nose down (kneel) for storage purposes.
Four General Electric turbojets power the Consolidated Vultee XB-46, which began its tests during 1947. The engines are grouped in pairs in two nacelles so that the plane appears similar to a twin-engine machine. Its overall length is 105 ft. 9 in., and the wing span is 113 ft.
During 1947 two military plane manufacturers abandoned their efforts in the personal plane production field. In October, Republic Aviation Corp. of Farmingdale, Long Island, announced termination of its famous Seabee amphibian after 1,060 units had been produced. The announcement stated that the service and replacement parts requirements of owners would be provided. Earlier in the year another military manufacturer realized the hopelessness of entering the small-plane field when North American Aviation of Inglewood, California, ceased production of the Navion and sold all manufacturing rights to the Ryan Aeronautical Corporation of San Diego, California.
Development and production of the Seabee constituted a courageous attempt to provide a low-priced personal plane capable of carrying four people with reasonable performance and economy. Under the direction of Republic's late President Alfred Marchev, several million dollars were expended and an entire engine plant acquired in an all-out effort to cut manufacturing costs. New basic principles of design and production were developed and hard bargains driven with accessory and parts manufacturers. In spite of these efforts, two price increases had been made, representing an overall jump of 50 per cent, and the final result was the abandonment of the project.
Strengthened by its bankruptcy, Taylorcraft, Inc., once the second producer of light personal airplanes, was on the road to recovery. The bankruptcy relieved the company of the hopeless burden of its unduly elaborate brick plant which was purchased by Armour & Company. Assets held by the new company, which is composed largely of dealers and distributors, included parts for approximately 500 planes. At the head of the new organization is C. G. Taylor, original founder of the company and pioneer designer and manufacturer of light planes. The temporary buildings where 65 employees are turning out planes at a rate of about one a day are reminiscent of earlier days when Taylor was struggling toward one of his first manufacturing ventures at Bradford, Pa. This enterprise marked the beginning of the present Piper Aircraft Corp., which for many years has led the field in volume of personal aircraft produced. The present Taylorcraft Model 47 is a two-seat side-by-side plane with a 65-h.p. engine. A similar machine with an 85-h.p. engine is now under test.
Fifth of a series of flying automobiles was flight tested by Consolidated Vultee at Chula Vista, California, late in 1947. Although the machine crashed in its test flight, the pilot was not seriously injured and the development program was continued. The latest Consolidated Vultee roadable airplane consists essentially of a small, well-streamlined car, powered by a Crosley engine and suspended under a 34 ft. 6 in. detachable wing to which the tail is connected through a boom. In this model the wing unit has a separate 190-h.p. Lycoming engine for the aerial power plant. An earlier version of this design used a single engine for road and air operation. In the most recent model the wing unit bolts simply to the roof of the automobile and when the wing is detached, the four-seat car is completely self-contained. The development program is under the direction of Theodore P. Hall, veteran aircraft designer.
Considerable significance should be placed in the announcement of Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the British Board of Trade, that Britain's aviation export objective was to be increased from the late-1947 level of $80,000,000 annually to $96,000,000 by the spring of 1948 and $120,000,000 by the end of that year. This statement was a highlight of the Eighth Exhibition and Flying Display of the Society of British Aircraft Constructors at Radlett Aerodrome, near London. There were no jet-propelled military sensations like some of the planes shown at the previous exhibit, excepting a model of the new and secret Hawker jet fighter, N7/46, a more or less conventional type with tricycle landing gear and powered by a Rolls Royce Nene turbojet.
Britain's future jet transports also were shown in models and included the A. V. Roe Tudor VIII with four Nene turbojets, the Armstrong-Whitworth A.W.52 jet-powered flying wing, and the huge Bristol Brabazon I which will be powered by eight Proteus gas turbines geared to four propellers.
Planes of the present included a variety of sizes and types with conventional power plants. In the transport class were the Handley-Page Hermes II, a passenger version of the R.A.F. Hastings, the Avro Tudor VII, and the Airspeed Ambassador. Most of these planes are in the 40 to 60-passenger class. Smaller transports included the Cunliffe-Owen Concordia, Miles Marathon, Percival Merganser, and the Portsmouth Aerocar. Two cargo planes, the Aerovan and Merchantman, as well as the Miles M-69 with detachable cargo compartment, were shown.
A roadable air freighter designated M-69 was introduced by Miles in England. The design provides amidships for a removable freight compartment which, when provided with special wheels and a tow bar, can be towed to and from the airport. Removal of the 10 ft. by 4½ ft. compartment does not interfere with flyability of the plane. The capacity of the compartment is 1,600 lbs. Four Blackburn Cirrus Major reciprocating engines constitute the power plant.
In the military category, the display consisted largely of three new artillery observation planes, the Heston No. 2/45, the Auster Mark VI and an untried design offered by Scottish Aviation. The Heston plane is a pusher with long tail-booms and a tricycle landing gear. The power plant is the 240 brake horsepower Gipsy Queen engine. The Auster and Scottish machines were high wing designs, the former characterized by its composite construction and the latter by its full-span leading-edge slots and ample trailing-edge flaps. Both models and finished planes were offered in the diversified display of training planes. Those of the future included the Avro Athena with its 1,000 turboprop engine, the two-seat Hawker Fury, and the three-seat Percival Prentice. The trainer planes included the Boulton & Paul P-108 three-seater, which soon will be powered with a turboprop for advanced training, and the two-seaters, Fairey Firefly and Vickers-Armstrong Spitfire.
Light personal planes were scarce at the British exhibit. A last-minute entry, hastily assembled for the exhibit, was the Auster Avis, a civil version of the previously mentioned Mark VI artillery observation type. Power plant is the DeHaviland Gipsy Major. Farther advanced and in flying condition was the three-seater Eon, presented by the Elliotts of Newbury. This machine is a low-wing type with plywood skin and tricycle landing gear. Its engine is the Blackburn Cirrus Minor.
The only full-size helicopter was the four-seater Fairey Gyrodyne, powered by the 525-h.p. Alvis Leonides radial engine with the torque-control, tractor propeller located at the right end of its stub wing. Size proved to be no limit in the display of rotary-wing models. The W-12, a 14-seater design, and the W-11, a 26-seater design, were represented in the Cierva exhibit. The smaller of the two has three 36-foot rotors driven by a power plant consisting of two 550-h.p. engines, and has a payload of 1.5 tons. It is scheduled for completion by the middle of 1948. The larger machine, due for an earlier test flight, has three 47-ft. rotors all driven by one 1,650-h.p. Rolls Royce Merlin engine. Its designed payload is 3 tons for a range of 230 miles.
Scheduled for test flights early in 1948 is the large British turboprop-powered flying boat known as the Saunders-Roe SR-45. Six engines developing 5,000 shaft h.p. each constitute the power plant with a possible cruising speed of approximately 300 m.p.h. Cabin accommodations for this 100-passenger plane are in a double-deck arrangement with sleeping berths in cabins similar to steamship accommodations.
One indication of the strength of Great Britain's export effort was the attempted invasion of the airplane market in the United States and Canada by the Miles Gemini, a small twin-engined aircraft designed for pleasure or business. This machine was introduced during the fall in the course of an extensive demonstration tour. Although the reaction was generally favorable, many doubts were expressed of the ability of the Gemini to compete with present American types. Principal handicaps mentioned were the $16,000 to $18,000 delivered price and the wooden fuselage construction, since single-engine metal planes of this size and performance are now available at considerably lower prices in the American market. Several aviation leaders recalled innumerable unsuccessful attempts to introduce foreign aircraft in the United States market in past years. At least one British manufacturer, however, had moved to this country and planned to set up manufacturing and distribution facilities for a somewhat similar airplane.
A special model of the Bell helicopter line designed particularly for service on the air mail routes, under consideration by the Post Office Departments, was announced during the year. The new machine, known as the Airmailer, carries 500 lb. of mail in addition to the pilot and sufficient fuel for the projected routes. Mail load is carried in two convenient compartments located on the sides of the fuselage and behind the pilot's cabin. Each mail compartment has a capacity of 12 cu. ft. with hooks provided for pouches. The compartments are quickly detachable to permit engine servicing. Another feature of the Airmailer is the convertible cabin design which makes it possible to fly the machine with cockpit either open or closed. Special mufflers can be provided to reduce operating noises when flown over metropolitan areas.
The first flight tests of the Air Forces-sponsored Kellett XR-10 helicopter were conducted successfully during 1947. The XR-10 carries 10 passengers and two pilots and is one of the largest rotating-wing machines so far built. It is characterized by its two three-blade, intermeshing rotors driven by two 525-h.p. Continental engines, either of which can turn both of the 65-ft. rotors. The engines are mounted in nacelles on either side of the fuselage. The nacelles carry the landing gear. The XR-10 has a design gross weight of approximately 11,000 lb., weight empty of about 8,200 lb., and a useful load of 2,800 lb. Its fuel capacity is 180 gallons. It has a disk area of 3,710 sq. ft., a disk loading of 296 lb. per sq. ft., a power loading of 10.74 lb. per h.p., a service ceiling of 18,800 ft., a hovering ceiling of 6,000 ft., a high speed of 121 m.p.h., and a range of 350 mi. at cruising speed of 90 m.p.h. The disk area is the area swept through by the rotor blades, and the disk loading is the specific weight supported by each sq. ft. of disk area.
A variety of military missions have been planned for the XR-10. As an air ambulance it will carry six litter patients. A hoist harness and a hatch 33 in. by 52 in. are provided for lowering or picking up personnel or cargo while hovering. A 2,000-lb. cargo load may be carried. As a crop duster or sprayer the XR-10 will carry 175 gallons of fluid which is consumed at the rate of one gallon per acre. The commercial version of the XR-10 is the KH-2, which is now in the mock-up stage.
Another large helicopter is the Piasecki XHRP-1, the development of which has been sponsored by the Navy. This machine was test flown extensively during the year. On one of its flights it carried a jeep weighing more than a ton and acted as a flying crane. Its power plant is a 600-h.p. Pratt & Whitney reciprocating radial engine. The Piasecki Helicopter Corporation pursued a substantial expansion program during 1947 and moved into its new $500,000 plant at Morton, Pa. The plant has a manufacturing floor space of 50,000 sq. ft. with 400-ft. production bays and an assembly area large enough for helicopters of even greater size. A 20,000-sq.-ft. administration building is also included.
The high production cost and complications of the mechanism to transmit power from the engine to the rotors of conventional helicopters has led several designers to attempt to use ram jets in helicopter blade tips. One of the earliest designs was developed by Doblehoff in Germany and used a conventional central thermal jet passing out along the blades and exhausting at the tips. A somewhat similar arrangement was tried at Georgia Institute of Technology under the direction of the late Montgomery Knight.
In June 1946 the Army Air Forces awarded a contract to the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation to develop an experimental ram-jet helicopter, first flight-tested in May 1947. This machine is not a military aircraft but is intended to provide an opportunity to solve the several major technical problems involved in application of the design principle. The McDonnell machine weighs only 310 lb., has a useful load of 300 lb. and has demonstrated that these problems can be solved. The 10-lb. ramjet engines at the rotor tips are fed by liquid propane carried in tanks on either side of the frame. A small combustion heater on the stern port of the simple steel tube framework of the machine is used to preheat the fuel before it enters the engines. The next step is in the conversion of the power plant for use with gasoline.
A single-seat helicopter of inexpensive design was developed, in 1947, by the Helicopter Engineering & Construction Corporation. This machine, designated Model 100, is a single-rotor type powered by a 75-h.p. Continental engine. It is designed for a weight (empty) of 350 lb. and a gross weight of 750 lb., allowing 400 lb. for pilot, 30 lb. for fuel, and a substantial load of baggage. The disk loading is 2.5 lb. per sq. ft., the power loading is 10 lb. per h.p., the solidity ratio is 0.06, the main-rotor diameter is 19.5 ft., and the tail-rotor diameter is 4.5 ft. The fuselage is of steel tube construction with plywood covering and the landing gear is of the four-wheel type. Stanley Hiller, designer of the Hillercopter, has developed a new model, a two-seat, co-axial machine with all-metal rotor blades and a metal fuselage. It has a unified control system.
Early in 1947, ground tests were made in England on the Hafner-Bristol Type 171 helicopter. This design is a conventional four-seat machine having a single three-blade rotor 47 ft. in diameter and driven by a 450-h.p. Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior engine. It has a gross weight of 4,500 lb., a disk loading of 2.6 lb. per sq. ft., and a power loading of 10 lb. per h.p. Overall length from nose to tail-rotor center is 40 ft. 8 in. and overall height, 9 ft. 6 in. The rotor-blade construction is of wood and plywood and the fuselage is a combination of steel-tubing and metal-monocoque structure. The landing gear is of the fixed tricycle type, provided with a castering nose wheel and a skid in the rear to protect the tail rotor in a tail-down landing.
A particular feature of this design is the high inertia and speed range of the main rotor. This reduces the danger, which has existed in many helicopters, resulting from engine failure at speed and altitude so low that the machine does not have time to get into auto-rotation before landing.
CIVIL AERONAUTICS BOARD ACTIVITY
During 1947 the revamping of the domestic airlines map continued to follow the pattern planned previously by the Civil Aeronautics Board (C.A.B.). Mergers with the objective of acquiring new routes to strategic stops were contemplated and submitted to the C.A.B. for approval. In some instances, the action of the C.A.B. in extending routes made contemplated mergers or acquisitions unnecessary; however, the long-term results may easily lead ultimately to even more important mergers.
Behind this whole movement is the intent to utilize the faster, larger, and greater-range planes more effectively in the interest of the passenger. In the days of the Douglas DC-2's and DC-3's the thought of long, non-stop flights was quickly discarded as impractical. Such operation was uneconomical and was attempted as an exception rather than the rule. With the advent of the DC-4, DC-6, and Constellation types, the picture has changed entirely. It is now possible to leave New York after lunch and reach Los Angeles (with only one stop) in time for a somewhat late dinner. The long non-stop flight really came into its own during 1947. The C.A.B. is determined to utilize this progress in the public interest and if properly performed it will greatly benefit the airlines.
An innovation in rate-making was the sliding-scale mail pay proposed by C.A.B. for Continental Air Lines. The formula would enable Continental to increase its profit automatically as it raises its volume of passenger traffic. Based on the standard Douglas DC-3 seating capacity of 21 persons it would permit the carrier to break even, at a load factor of 48 per cent. Maximum mail pay of 28.5 cents per plane mile would be received when monthly load factors fell below 51 per cent, and for each 1 per cent increase above 50 per cent the rate would be decreased by six-tenths of one cent. At 60 per cent load-factor Continental would have a 9.9 per cent return on its investment. Operating efficiencies would tend to increase profits.
Recognition of the legal and economic position of freight forwarders in the air transport field was indicated by C.A.B. release of a draft Economic Regulation 292.6 proposing exemptions and regulations for this activity. The proposal defined a Noncertified Indirect Air Cargo Carrier as 'any noncertified air carrier which indirectly engages in interstate, overseas or foreign air transportation only' and limited this type of operation to the use of the carriers authorized by C.A.B.
The proposed regulation exempts freight forwarders from holding certificates of convenience and necessity and from certain other provisions of the Civil Aeronautics Act. It requires them to comply with the provisions of the act including labor legislation, filing of tariffs, safe service and reasonable rates, nondiscrimination, filing reports with C.A.B.; disclosure of stock ownership, form of accounts, interlocking relationships, competitive methods, pooling, and other agreements. Those who desire to enjoy the exemptions must file within 60 days of the adoption of the regulation.
As a result of accidents which could be attributable in part to temperature conditions during take-off of airliners, amendments to Parts 41 and 61 of the Civil Air Regulations requiring temperature accountability went into effect on October 15th. In essence these amendments require consideration of any variation from standard conditions of 59° F. outside temperature among the other factors used in computing allowable take-off weight for a given flight. The formula for computation may result in subtraction from allowable pay load of as much as 90 lb. for certain types of transports and certain runway lengths. While the new regulations are of an emergency nature and may be changed as a result of experience, they will not have an appreciable effect upon the operating economics of most domestic airlines until the warm weather sets in in 1948. Operations in and out of Havana, Mexico City, Miami, Puerto Rico, and similar locations, however, were affected immediately.
During October, the C.A.B. Economic Bureau requested that all airlines immediately publish, post and file tariffs with the Board listing rates and charges for charter trips and special services.
Criticism of C.A.A. and C.A.B.
A violent attack against the C.A.A. and the C.A.B. was made, in the course of the hearings before the President's Air Policy Commission, by six national organizations in a joint statement presented by Beverly Howard, president of the National Aviation Trades Association. The other organizations represented were Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, National Aeronautics Association, Aeronautical Training Society, National Flying Farmers Association, and United Pilots and Mechanics Association. In the complaint it was stated that although there is a $66,000,000 appropriation for construction or improvement of 896 airports, only 45 airport grants have been accepted and construction work has been started on only 16 airports in the 15-month period since the initial appropriations became available. Criticism was also directed to the volume and complexity of safe-flying regulations and the increased manufacturing cost of personal planes to conform with the airworthiness requirements of present regulations.
Aviation Training and Airports.
Fear of the effects of curtailment of aviation training for veterans under the G.I. Bill of Rights was expressed by representatives of several interested associations. James W. Batchelor, counsel for the United Pilots and Mechanics Association, expressed the alarming opinion that two-thirds to three-fourths of the smaller airports in the country would be closed if it were not for the G.I. training program. He advocated government credit, through some proper agency, to provide long-term loans at low interest rates to private airports, a field which banks have been reluctant to explore. He requested quick correction of the alleged practice of Veterans Administration representatives of 'discouraging or advising veterans against flight training.' Attention was called to the value of present G.I. training in building up a backlog of trained technical personnel which would be valuable in the event of a national emergency. The contribution of the G.I. training program to the strength of our national air power was emphasized.
Among the recommendations made by the National Aeronautics Association, at the Fifth Annual Aviation Clinic, which met on November 19-22, were the discontinuance of certification of the airworthiness of individual personal aircraft and substitution of blanket certification of a manufacturer to produce them, supplemental federal appropriations to reconstruct United States air power, increased service and civilian flight training programs, greater emphasis under the Federal Airports Act upon acquisition of low-cost landing facilities for smaller communities, amendments in the Civil Aeronautics Act to keep step with aviation progress, C.A.A. and industry cooperation in the reduction of airplane noise, promulgation of regulations only upon the basis of need as indicated by experience.
Increase in Insurance Rates.
Another bearish factor in the personal plane field was a substantial increase in insurance rates brought about partly by high losses and partly by adjustments within the aviation insurance business itself. At the end of the war a large number of insurance companies, like many others, made unrealistic evaluations of the future of the personal plane market and sought to enter the field. During the boom year of 1946 their ambitions seemed justified, competition was rampant and a series of rate cuts combined with unexpectedly high losses played havoc with profits. In fact a considerable volume of business was written at a loss. Exodus of many of the newcomers from the field has left the three old-line companies in a stable position on the basis of the increased rates. Since April 1947 all insurance has gone up 15 per cent; liability, 25 per cent; and public liability, 50 per cent. Coverage on time payment represents a cost of approximately 20 per cent of the purchase price of a plane. An increased proportion of sales are now being made under various financing arrangements. When insurance premiums are added to the costs of financing, the result is a virtual increase in the total cost of the plane. A study of the resale of personal planes by their original owners indicated that 55 per cent were attributed to financial reasons.
Among the problems facing the personal aircraft industry and retarding the airport program is the general hostility to aircraft noise. A number of communities have refused to allow airports to be operated in or near suburban home areas. Fear of an outbreak of state and local laws restricting plane operations, particularly in resort areas, has been expressed by T. P. Wright, Administrator of Civil Aviation. Recommendations have been forthcoming from C.A.A. for seaplane operating procedures to avoid as much of the noise nuisance as possible until satisfactory muffling devices are developed and installed.
A U-shaped radar airway operated as a joint project of the Air Forces, Navy, and Coast Guard and available also for commercial use was scheduled to go into operation as the year closed. The new airway comprises a chain of 50 radar stations extending down both coasts and connected by a leg across the southern transcontinental ferry route. It has been named Racon, which is derived from the words radar and beacon. This airway constitutes a system of short-range navigation under which impulses from the plane's radar antenna interrogates the Racon, which responds with a coded signal. Appearance of the signal upon the plane's radar scope makes it possible for the pilot to determine the distance and bearing from the plane to an adjacent beacon station.
Standards for Airport Runways.
Standards for minimum length and strength of runways for airports for which federal funds will be supplied were announced late in December by Civil Aeronautics Administrator T. P. Wright.