Archive for the ‘Aviation’ Category

June 12, 1994 – the Boeing 777 makes its first flight. It was the first airliners to be designed completely digitally, with minimal need for a development prototype. This is now the standard way of designing new airplanes

A great book on how the 777 was engineered (it was originally going to be a stretch of the 767), have a look at Sabbagh’s Twenty-First Century Jet. If you’d like a better look inside, try out the excellent Boeing 777 Wordliner Professional for X-Plane.

Read Full Post »

On 16 May, 1943, 19 specially modified Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bombers of 617 squadron, crewed by a hand picked group of 133, took off carrying revolutionary bombs on a mission to destroy the impregnable Möhne, Edersee and Sorpe dams in central Germany. The mission, bomber modifications and “Upkeep” bomb were the brainchild of British aeronautical engineering genius Barnes Wallis (picture on left), who believed destroying the dams would reduce the Reich’s industrial capability, especially around steel production (a key strategic resource). 617 Squadron is still known as “The Dambusters” in honor of this mission.

The six hour night mission involved flying at tree top level over the most heavily defended stretches of German airspace (for which the crews had specially trained for weeks). On the surface, the results were spectacular – two of the three dams were breached, with significant flooding and destruction downstream. The cost was heavy – 8 of the 19 aircraft were destroyed, with some 1600 people killed (including British aircrew, and in the valley below Germans and a large group of mostly Soviet and other slave labourers). Compared to other bombing efforts of the day, the results were very impressive – compare this to the second Schweinfurt raid by the US 8th Army Air Force, where more than 600 airmen along with an unknown number of civilians (as stray bombs scattered over the city) were killed, for little to no military outcome.

Chastise had a strong effect on the theory of air power (similar to the effect the battle of Taranto had on theories of air power over the sea). It became obvious that important strategic targets could be effectively targeted by a small group of technologically sophisticated aircraft using the correct flight profiles. 617 Squadron shifted from using the large Lancaster to the much smaller Mosquito as they developed low level high accuracy attacks; and in the US, planners started to think about how to achieve strategic goals by marrying advanced aircraft that could fly singly or in small groups to weapons of dramatically increased destructive power (a problem that was solved by the development of the Hydrogen bomb, and ended with the development of the F-117A).

Special Avro Lancaster as used during Chastise. Image Copyright Claveworks Graphics (click for original page)

Like many actions during the war, the strategic value of Operation Chastise is still not well understood to this day. Due to a massive re-routing of construction and civil engineering effort by the Reich to repair the dams (they were back in operation within five weeks), there was no significant reduction in steel production as Wallis had hoped. However, those laborers would have been used in strengthening coastal defenses on the Northern French coast, so some historians argue that this led to a reduction of defenses during Operation Overlord which took place one year later, spelling the beginning of the end of the Reich.

Watch a documentary of the raid:

Read Full Post »

After reading this comprehensive list of Atari CX20 joysticks, I fell in love with the Triga Command II – it looks like a bit like a P-51 stick top. So I jumped onto EBay and found one, complete with ancient box (still bearing registration card and Toys ‘R Us price sticker) for $15. Surprise, surprise, it uses those terrible dome switches, some of which were busted. So instead of trying to reeducate the dome switches, I replaced them with tac switches. So now it has nice clickly feedback.

Looks cute next to my AN5736-1.

Read Full Post »

Ilda got me an awesome Xmas gift this year – a vintage Sperry AN5736-1 flight indicator gyro (the “artificial horizon”). This model dates back to the 50’s, and is the descedant of the Sperry AN4736 which was widely used during WWII in American planes. This is a very cool display piece, but being a cylinder, it needs a nice stand. Time to hit the CNC machine!

I designed a simple stand to cut from luau plywood, to keep with the vintage feel. After a couple hours with the calipers, Inkscape and CamBam, I was ready to cut the parts. They came out quite clean:

This was my first project using Tab and Slot assembly. And it works incredibly well – the CNC machine cut exactly 5mm slots, so the tabs slotted in very tightly (it held the weight of the Sperry without any glue). Here it is assembled:

After a little glue, time to set the Sperry on it and put it on my bookshelf. Total time was three hours – a fun project that looks great.

If you’d like to cut your own stand, you can get my G-code files here.

Read Full Post »

Tornado GR.Mk 1 Mission

Been a while since a post, so here is a video to tide you over. Part of a series of recruitment videos produced by the Ministry of Defence in the 1980s, it shows IX squadron performing a strike mission, end-to-end: from tasking order to recovery (including a bounce). Keep a lookout for the plain old music cassettes used to transfer the mission data between the planning computer and the Tornado 🙂

Read Full Post »

So damn British. This is from 1981, one hour long, and talks about the development of the Harrier and Sea Harrier. Very interesting, if a little dry.



Read Full Post »

Grumman and other weapons companies produced a number of propaganda films during the 1960s and 70s about their aircraft and life in naval aviation. They remain as curious reminders of when the USA and USSR spent billions in building weapons to ostensibly face off with each other, but actually used them on imperial ventures around the globe. Here are three interesting films from the time

Read Full Post »

Hop to it

Easter’s coming up!

Click for full size

Read Full Post »

Flying Brazil in an A320

Great HD flight deck footage of flying around Brazil in an Airbus A320.

Read Full Post »

Flightsimbooks.com hosts scans of a bunch of great classic flightsim books from the 80’s and 90’s.

From learning avionics, to weather, to air combat maneuvering, Microprose sim hint books, it’s all there.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »