Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Monday, February 13, 2017
The Type VIIC was the workhorse of the German U-boat force, with 568 commissioned from 1940 to 1945. The first VIIC boat commissioned was the U-69 in 1940. The Type VIIC was an effective fighting machine and was seen almost everywhere U-boats operated, although its range of only 8,500 nautical miles was not as great as that of the larger Type IX (11,000 nautical miles), severely limiting the time it could spend in the far reaches of the western and southern Atlantic without refueling from a tender or U-boat tanker. The VIIC came into service toward the end of the "First Happy Time near the beginning of the war and was still the most numerous type in service when Allied anti-submarine efforts finally defeated the U-boat campaign in late 1943 and 1944.
Type VIIC differed from the VIIB only in the addition of an active sonar and a few minor mechanical improvements, making it 2 feet longer and 8 tons heavier. Speed and range were essentially the same. Many of these boats were fitted with snorkels in 1944 and 1945.
They had the same torpedo tube arrangement as their predecessors, except for U-72, U-78, U-80, U-554, and U-555, which had only two bow tubes, and for U-203, U-331, U-351, U-401, U-431, and U-651, which had no stern tube.
On the surface the boats (except for U-88, U-90 and U-132 to U-136 which used MAN M6V40/46s) were propelled by two supercharged Germaniawerft, 6 cylinder, 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesels totaling 2,800 to 3,200 PS (2,100 to 2,400 kW; 2,800 to 3,200 shp) at 470 to 490 rpm.
For submerged propulsion, several different electric motors were used. Early models used the VIIB configuration of two AEG GU 460/8-276 electric motors, totaling 750 PS (550 kW; 740 shp) with a max rpm of 296, while newer boats used two BBC GG UB 720/8, Garbe, Lahmeyer & Co. RP 137/c or Siemens-Schuckert-Werke (SSW) GU 343/38-8 electric motors with the same power output as the AEG motors.
Perhaps the most famous VIIC boat was U-96, featured in the movie Das Boot.
Sunday, February 5, 2017
Itala was a car manufacturer based in Turin, Italy from 1904-1934, started by Matteo Ceirano and five partners in 1903.
The Ceirano brothers, Giovanni Battista, Giovanni, Ernesto and Matteo, were influential in the founding of the Italian auto industry, being variously responsible for : Ceirano; Welleyes (the technical basis of F.I.A.T.); Fratelli Ceirano; S.T.A.R. / Rapid (Società Torinese Automobili Rapid); SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino); Itala and S.P.A. (Società Piemontese Automobili). Giovanni's son Giovanni "Ernesto" was also influential, co-founding Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA).
In 1888, after eight years apprenticeship at his father's watch-making business, Giovanni Battista started building Welleyes bicycles, so named because English names had more sales appeal. In October 1898 Giovanni Battista and Matteo co-founded Ceirano GB & C and started producing the Welleyes motor car in 1899. In July 1899 the plant and patents were sold to Giovanni Agnelli and produced as the first F.I.A.T.s - the Fiat 4 HP. Giovanni Battista was employed by Fiat as the agent for Italy, but within a year he left to found Fratelli Ceirano & C. which in 1903 became Società Torinese Automobili Rapid (S.T.A.R.) building cars badged as 'Rapid'. In 1904 Matteo Ceirano left Ceirano GB & C to create his own brand - Itala. In 1906 Matteo left Itala to found S.P.A. (Società Piemontese Automobili) with chief designer, Alberto Ballacco. In 1906 Giovanni founded SCAT (Società Ceirano Automobili Torino) in Turin. In 1919 Giovanni and Giovanni "Ernesto" co-founded Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili (aka Giovanni Ceirano Fabbrica Automobili) and in 1922 they took control of Fabrica Anonima Torinese Automobili (FATA).
Three cars were offered in the first year, an 18 hp, a 24 hp and a 50 hp. In 1905 they started making very large engined racing cars with a 14.8 Litre 5 cylinder model which won the Coppa Florio and the year after that the Targa Florio. In 1907 a 7,433 cc (453.6 cu in) 35/45 hp model driven by Count Scipione Borghese won the Peking to Paris motor race by three weeks. These sporting successes helped sales dramatically, the company continued to grow. The company experimented with a range of novel engines such as variable stroke, sleeve valve, and "Avalve" rotary types and at the beginning of World War I, offered a wide range of cars. During the war Itala built aeroplane engines but made a loss producing them.
After the armistice car production resumed with models based on the pre war cars such as the Tipo 50 25/35 hp and a re-appearance of the Avalve in the 4,426 cc (270.1 cu in) Tipo 55 but financial success eluded the company
From 1924 the company was being run under receivership and they appointed Giulio Cesare Cappa from Fiat as general manager. He produced a new car, the Tipo 61 with 7 cylinder alloy engine which was well received but he then decided to return to motor sport producing the Tipo 11, a very advanced car with front wheel drive, 1050 cc supercharged V12 engine and all round independent suspension but the car never raced. Two Tipo 61s did take part in the 1928 Le Mans 24 hour race winning the 2 litre class.
The company was bought by truck maker Officine Metallurgiche di Tortona in 1929 and a few more cars were made up to 1935. The remains of the company was sold to Fiat.
A distinctive feature of the pre-World War I 50 hp & 90 hp models was their use of a rotary valve. Each valve fed a pair of cylinders and was mounted alongside, rotating parallel to them. Four ports cast into the valve alternately connected ports to the cylinders through the side of the valve to the inlet and exhaust manifolds at bottom and top of the valves.
Saturday, February 4, 2017
The Type 63 multiple rocket launcher is a towed, 12-tube, 107mm rocket launcher produced by the People's Republic of China in the early 1960s and later exported and manufactured globally. Although no longer serving with active infantry units, the Type 63 is still in People's Liberation Army service with specialized formations such as mountain infantry units and special forces detachments. The Type 63 was widely used in the PLA until the late 1980s. It was adopted as the successor of the Type 50-5 of 102mm.
China has also developed a Type 63 multiple rocket launcher of 130mm. The RPU-14 is a Soviet 140mm MRL of similar design to the Type 63.
The launcher's 12 tubes are arranged in three removable rows of four each, mounted on a single-axle carriage with rubber tires. The Type 63 originally fired an 18.8 kilogram rocket (Type 63-2) with a 1.3 kilogram warhead. Ammunition for the Type 63 was later improved (Type 75 and Type 81 series), although the overall weight of the rocket remained the same. A fixed amount of propellant is contained in the rocket motor. The steel-cased rocket is stabilized with spin imparted by six angled nozzles in its base. Type 63 rockets may be launched without the launcher; improvised firing can employ tubing, rails or even dirt berms. The Type 63 was distributed on the basis of six per infantry regiment, or 18 per infantry division. For airborne and mountain units the lighter Type 63-I was developed.
Both the Type 63 and its copies can be mounted on different kinds of armoured and unarmoured vehicles, for example the MT-LB, the Safir, the Mamba, the RG-32 Scout, the GAZ-66 and the M113.
NATO and western sources have used the Soviet-style designation BM-12 to describe this weapon system, and further even ascribe Soviet origin and initial manufacture of both launcher and rockets. However, there is no evidence in non-western sources of Soviet development or production, or of the BM-12 moniker being applied. Very similar Type 50-5 or Type 488 102mm rockets were manufactured in China and used in the Korean War prior to development of the Type 63.
It appears the systems designated BM-12 (for example in Afghanistan and Libya) were or are all of Chinese origin, being merely used or cross-traded by Soviet interests.
- The Chinese Type 81 SPMRL 107mm is a self-propelled export version, based on the Nanjing NJ-230 truck.
- North Korea has developed versions with 18 and 24 launch tubes that are mounted on vehicles such as the tracked VTT-323 or the wheeled M1992.
- Roketsan of Turkey has designed an improved 107mm multiple rocket launch system, consisting of a HMMWV with two 12-round launch modules and a fire control system. The system uses the TR-107 and TRB-107 rockets but the range has been increased to 11 km.
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Johannes Gutenberg's work on the printing press began in approximately 1436 when he partnered with Andreas Dritzehn—a man who had previously instructed in gem-cutting—and Andreas Heilmann, owner of a paper mill. However, it was not until a 1439 lawsuit against Gutenberg that an official record existed; witnesses' testimony discussed Gutenberg's types, an inventory of metals (including lead), and his type molds.
Having previously worked as a professional goldsmith, Gutenberg made skillful use of the knowledge of metals he had learned as a craftsman. He was the first to make type from an alloy of lead, tin, and antimony, which was critical for producing durable type that produced high-quality printed books and proved to be much better suited for printing than all other known materials. To create these lead types, Gutenberg used what is considered one of his most ingenious inventions, a special matrix enabling the quick and precise molding of new type blocks from a uniform template. His type case is estimated to have contained around 290 separate letter boxes, most of which were required for special characters, ligatures, punctuation marks, and so forth.
Gutenberg is also credited with the introduction of an oil-based ink which was more durable than the previously used water-based inks. As printing material he used both paper and vellum (high-quality parchment). In the Gutenberg Bible, Gutenberg made a trial of coloured printing for a few of the page headings, present only in some copies. A later work, the Mainz Psalter of 1453, presumably designed by Gutenberg but published under the imprint of his successors Johann Fust and Peter Schöffer, had elaborate red and blue printed initials.
The new era in print ushered in by the Internet is a distant mirror to Gutenberg's work which similarly revolutionized the printing process.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
The Cord 810, and later Cord 812, was an automobile produced by the Cord Automobile division of the Auburn Automobile Company in 1936 and 1937. It was the first American-designed and built front wheel drive car with independent front suspension. It followed the 1934 Citroën Traction Avant and the Cord L-29, both of which also had front wheel drive. Both models were also the first to offer hidden headlights.
The styling of the Cord 810 was the work of designer Gordon M. Buehrig and his team of stylists, which included young Vince Gardner and Alex Tremulis. While the first American front-wheel-drive car with independent front suspension, it had an archaic tube rear axle with semi-elliptic rear springs. Power came from a 4,739 cc (289 cu in) Lycoming V8 of the same 125 hp (93 kW) as the L-29. The semi-automatic four-speed transmission (three plus overdrive) extended in front of the engine, like on a Traction Avant. This allowed Buehrig to dispense with the driveshaft and transmission tunnel; as a result, the new car was so low it required no running boards. It had a 125 in (3,175 mm) wheelbase.
Reportedly conceived as a Duesenberg and nearly devoid of chrome, the 810 had hidden door hinges and rear-hinged hood, rather than the side-opening type more usual at the time, both new items. It featured pontoon fenders with hidden headlamps (modified Stinson landing lights) (E. L. Cord owned a majority of Stinson stock) that disappeared into the fenders via dashboard hand cranks. This car was first and one of the few ever to include this feature.
It also featured a concealed fuel filler door and variable-speed windshield wipers (at a time when wipers were often operated by intake vacuum, and so tended to stop when the driver stepped on the gas pedal). Its engine-turned dashboard included complete instrumentation, a tachometer, and standard radio (which would not become an industry standard offering until well into the 1950s). The most famous feature was the "coffin nose", a louvered wraparound grille, from which its nickname derived, a product of Buehrig's desire not to have a conventional grille.
Supercharging was made available on the 1937 812 model. Supercharged 812 models were distinguished from the normally aspirated 812s by the brilliant chrome-plated external exhaust pipes mounted on each side of the hood and grill. With supercharging, horsepower was raised to 170.
Early reliability problems, including slipping out of gear and vapor lock, cooled initial enthusiasm. Although most new owners loved their sleek fast cars, the dealer base shrank rapidly. Unsold left-over and in-process 1936 810 models were re-numbered and sold as 1937 812 models. In 1937, after producing about 3000 of these cars, Auburn ceased production of the Cord. A single 1938 Cord prototype, with detail changes to the grille and transmission cover, was built, and it survived as of 2009.
The 810/812 design was re-marketed almost immediately, in 1940, as ailing automakers Hupmobile and Graham-Paige tried to save money, and revive the companies, by using the same body dies. Except for their similarity to the 810, their 4-door sedans, the Hupp Skylark and the Graham Hollywood, were unremarkable. Retractable headlights gave way to plain headlight pods, and power came from a standard front-engine/rear-wheel drive design. Only about 1900 were built before production ceased in the fall of 1940.
Between 1964 and 1970, two further attempts were made to replicate the original Buehrig design for limited production. Both Tulsa, Oklahoma-based companies soon halted production amid financial difficulties. The 1966 replica Cord 8/10 was powered by a Corvair drivetrain (the "8/10" designation represented the actual scale of the car), while the 1968 through 1970 models were Ford and Chrysler powered.
The design of the Cord 810/812 remains one of the most distinctive of the 20th Century. In 1996, American Heritage magazine proclaimed the Cord 810 sedan ‘The Single Most Beautiful American Car’. The ‘Classic Cord’ Hot Wheels toy car of the 1960s, a convertible coupé, is one of the most valuable, and commands up to US$800 (2006) if still in an unopened package.
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
Saturday, December 17, 2016
In 1802, Trevithick built one of his high-pressure steam engines to drive a hammer at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Mid Glamorgan . With the assistance of Rees Jones, an employee of the iron works and under the supervision of Samuel Homfray, the proprietor, he mounted the engine on wheels and turned it into a locomotive. In 1803, Trevithick sold the patents for his locomotives to Samuel Homfray.
Homfray was so impressed with Trevithick's locomotive that he made a bet with another ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, for 500 guineas that Trevithick's steam locomotive could haul ten tons of iron along the Merthyr Tydfil Tramroad from Penydarren ( ) to Abercynon ( ), a distance of 9.75 miles (16 km). Amid great interest from the public, on 21 February 1804 it successfully carried 10 tons of iron, 5 wagons and 70 men the full distance in 4 hours and 5 minutes, an average speed of approximately 2.4 mph (3.9 km/h). As well as Homfray, Crawshay and the passengers, other witnesses included Mr. Giddy, a respected patron of Trevithick and an 'engineer from the Government'. The engineer from the government was probably a safety inspector and particularly interested in the boiler's ability to withstand high steam pressures.
The configuration of the Pen-y-darren engine differed from the Coalbrookdale engine. The cylinder was moved to the other end of the boiler so that the firedoor was out of the way of the moving parts. This obviously also involved putting the crankshaft at the chimney end. The locomotive comprised a boiler with a single return flue mounted on a four wheel frame. At one end, a single cylinder with very long stroke was mounted partly in the boiler, and a piston rod crosshead ran out along a slidebar, an arrangement that looked like a giant trombone. As there was only one cylinder, this was coupled to a large flywheel mounted on one side. The rotational inertia of the flywheel would even out the movement that was transmitted to a central cog-wheel that was, in turn connected to the driving wheels. It used a high-pressure cylinder without a condenser, the exhaust steam was sent up the chimney assisting the draught through the fire, increasing efficiency even more.
The bet was won. Despite many people's doubts, it had been shown that, provided that the gradient was sufficiently gentle, it was possible to successfully haul heavy carriages along a "smooth" iron road using the adhesive weight alone of a suitably heavy and powerful steam locomotive. Trevithick's was probably the first to do so; however some of the short cast iron plates of the tramroad broke under the locomotive as they were intended only to support the lighter axle load of horse-drawn wagons and so the tramroad returned to horse power after the initial test run.
Homfray was pleased he won his bet. The engine was placed on blocks and reverted to its original stationary job of driving hammers.
In modern Merthyr Tydfil, behind the monument to Trevithick's locomotive is a stone wall, the sole remainder of the former boundary wall of Homfray's Penydarren House.
A full-scale working reconstruction of the Pen-y-darren locomotive was commissioned in 1981 and delivered to the Welsh Industrial and Maritime Museum in Cardiff; when that closed, it was moved to the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea. Several times a year it is run on a 40m length of rail outside the museum.
Friday, December 9, 2016
The Saturn V consisted of three stages—the S-IC first stage, S-II second stage and the S-IVB third stage—and the instrument unit. All three stages used liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer. The first stage used RP-1 for fuel, while the second and third stages used liquid hydrogen (LH2). The upper stages also used small solid-fueled ullage motors that helped to separate the stages during the launch, and to ensure that the liquid propellants were in a proper position to be drawn into the pumps.
The S-IVB (sometimes S4b, always pronounced "ess four bee") was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company and served as the third stage on the Saturn V and second stage on the Saturn IB. It had one J-2 engine. For lunar missions it was fired twice: first for the orbit insertion after second stage cutoff, and then for translunar injection (TLI).
The S-IVB evolved from the upper stage of the Saturn I rocket, the S-IV, and was the first stage of the Saturn V to be designed. The S-IV used a cluster of six engines but used the same fuels as the S-IVB — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen. It was also originally meant to be the fourth stage of a planned rocket called the C-4, hence the name S-IV.
Eleven companies submitted proposals for being the lead contractor on the stage by the deadline of 29 February 1960. NASA administrator T. Keith Glennan decided on 19 April that Douglas Aircraft Company would be awarded the contract. Convair had come a close second but Glennan did not want to monopolize the liquid hydrogen-fueled rocket market as Convair was already building the Centaur rocket stage.
In the end the Marshall Space Flight Center decided to use the C-5 rocket (later called the Saturn V), which had three stages and would be topped with an uprated S-IV called the S-IVB which instead of using a cluster of engines would have a single J-2 engine. Douglas was awarded the contract for the S-IVB because of the similarities between it and the S-IV. At the same time it was decided to create the C-IB rocket (Saturn IB) that would also use the S-IVB as its second stage and could be used for testing the Apollo spacecraft in Earth orbit.
Douglas built two distinct versions of the S-IVB, the 200 series and the 500 series. The 200 series was used by the Saturn IB and differed from the 500 in the fact that it did not have a flared interstage and had less helium pressurization on board as it would not be restarted. On the 500 series, the interstage needed to flare out to match the larger diameter of the S-IC and S-II stages of the Saturn V. The 200 series also had three solid rockets for separating the S-IVB stage from the S-IB stage during launch. On the 500 series this was reduced to two, and additional linear APS thrusters were added for ullage operations prior to restarting the J-2 engine.
Attitude control was provided by 2 Auxiliary Propulsion System pods, and by engine gimballing. The APS modules provided 150 pounds of thrust each, and were fuelled by a hypergolic mixture of dinitrogen tetroxide and monomethyl hydrazine. They were used for three-axis control during coast phases, roll control during J-2 firings, and (on the 500 series) ullage for the second ignition of the J-2 engine and deorbit into the moon.
A surplus S-IVB tank, serial number 212, was converted into the hull for Skylab, the United States' first space station. Skylab was launched on a Saturn V on May 14, 1973, and re-entered the atmosphere on July 11, 1979. A second S-IVB, serial number 515, was also converted into a backup Skylab, which never flew.
During Apollo 13, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17, the S-IVB stages were crashed into the Moon to perform seismic measurements used for characterizing the lunar interior.