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View Diary: Kawasaki Ki-100-1b – ‘necessity (who) is the mother of invention’, Plato (44 comments)

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  •  I have an uncle who was a flight (5+ / 0-)

    engineer on B-29s. His unit was one you may have heard of: the 509th Composite Group. He developed the opinion that the B-29 marked the point at which aircraft became too complex to be successfully operated by humans. Probably due to an incident in which he was doing his job one day while the crew was shooting landings in the rain. At one point he heard some commotion involving the pilots and looking out his side window discovered that he was looking pretty close to straight down the runway in the direction of motion of the plane. He transferred to another job involving marking up parts of the desert for practice bombing runs or something (this is all according to him, now). He finagled some way to stay behind in Wendover when the unit departed for Tinian. The only part of that story I absolutely know to be true is that he spent the latter part of the war years in Wendover and was in the Air Corps.

    Moderation in most things.

    by billmosby on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:05:43 PM PST

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    •  The sub-systems on the B-29.... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      billmosby, markdd, Otteray Scribe

      ....were amazingly complex, such as the remote sighting and aiming of the gun-turrets. Of course, they were all based on 'vacuum tube' technologies (no transistors or PCBs, then, of course).

      'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

      by shortfinals on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:00:10 AM PST

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      •  The guns were remotely controlled (3+ / 0-)

        by an EARLY analog computer.  The relays took up a 4 x 4 panel on one of the bulkheads.  The MoF in Seattle had one up and running a couple of years ago.  You had to stick your head into an optical controller and as you maneuvered the controller to keep the pipper on the target, the turret rotated and elevated as directed.  Amazing.

        “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

        by markdd on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 01:14:18 PM PST

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        •  That is quite something.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Otteray Scribe, billmosby

          ....When I was first out of college, I worked on a Redifon/Astrodata digital/analog hybrid, matching colours using data from a scanning spectrophotometer as input.

          The beast was the size of a Volkswagen Microbus, and lived in an air-conditioned room...about two steps up from Univac!

          'Per Ardua Ad Astra'

          by shortfinals on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 01:34:14 PM PST

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    •  The B-29 was so prone to engine fires (6+ / 0-)

      that crews called it the "Boeing Tri-motor"

      If the pilot's good, see, I mean if he's reeeally sharp, he can barrel that baby in so low... oh you oughta see it sometime. It's a sight. A big plane like a '52... varrrooom! Its jet exhaust... frying chickens in the barnyard!

      by Major Kong on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 04:11:08 AM PST

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      •  Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone Radial Engine (4+ / 0-)

        A quick read of the details on the engines which powered the B-29, Wright R-3350 Duplex Cyclone, reveals some interesting details.  The engine's size ensured lack of cooling and the crankcase's alloy contained significant magnesium, ensuring very high temperature fires if one started.  The airframe designers from around the globe kept trying to develop the most streamlined cowls possible for radials and the efforts almost invariably frustrated the deployment of otherwise good aircraft.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:15:36 AM PST

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        •  Magnesium (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          markdd, shortfinals, Otteray Scribe

          It was in vogue for a while there. Substantial portions of the B-36 were made of it (the dull parts in the picture in the link), so if one really caught fire eventually there would be pretty much just an outline of one left in burned magnesium on the ground where the plane had been.

          The projected Douglas D-558 Phase III would have had a magnesium skin 3/4 of an inch thick to act as a heat sink during its re-entry, with the exception of a solid copper wing leading edge.

          Moderation in most things.

          by billmosby on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:40:17 AM PST

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