Monday, April 28, 2014
The Type IX U-boat was designed by Germany in 1935 and 1936 as a large ocean-going submarine for sustained operations far from the home support facilities. Type IX boats were briefly used for patrols off the eastern United States in an attempt to disrupt the stream of troops and supplies bound for Europe. The extended range came at the cost of longer dive times and decreased maneuverability, which is why the smaller Type VII was produced in greater numbers and used for the bulk of operations. It was derived from the Type IA, and appeared in various sub-types.
Type IXs had six torpedo tubes; four at the bow and two at the stern. They carried six reloads internally and had five external torpedo containers (three at the stern and two at the bow) which stored ten additional torpedoes. The total of 22 torpedoes allowed U-boat commanders to follow a convoy and strike night after night. As mine-layers they could carry 44 TMA or 66 TMB mines, but many of the IXC boats were not fitted for mine operations.
Secondary armament was provided by one large Utof 105/45 gun with about 110 rounds. Anti-aircraft armament differed throughout the war. They had two periscopes in the tower. Types IXA and IXB had an additional periscope in the control room, which was removed in Type IXC and afterward.
Type IXC was a further refinement of the class with storage for an additional 43 tonnes of fuel, increasing the boat's range. This series omitted the control room periscope leaving the boats with two tower scopes.
As mine-layers they could carry 44 TMA or 66 TMB mines, though U-162 through U-170 and U-505 through U-550 (35 boats), were not fitted for mine operations.
One IXC carries the distinction of being the only U-boat sunk in the Gulf of Mexico, U-166.
U-505 survives at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, and as of 2005 has been completely renovated.
U-505 is a German Type IXC U-boat built for service in the Kriegsmarine during World War II. She was captured on 4 June 1944 by United States Navy Task Group 22.3 (TG 22.3). Her codebooks, Enigma machine and other secret materials found on board assisted Allied code breaking operations.
All but one of U-505's crew were rescued by the Navy task group. The submarine was towed to Bermuda in secret and her crew was interned at a US prisoner of war camp where they were denied access to International Red Cross visits. The Navy classified the capture as top secret and prevented its discovery by the Germans.
In 1954, U-505 was donated to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois and is now a museum ship.
She is one of six U-boats that were captured by Allied forces during World War II, and the first warship to be captured by U.S. forces on the high seas since the War of 1812. In her uniquely unlucky career with the Kriegsmarine, she also had the distinction of being the "most heavily damaged U-boat to successfully return to port" in World War II (on her fourth patrol) and the only submarine in which a commanding officer took his own life in combat conditions (on her tenth patrol, following six botched patrols). U-505 is one of four German World War II U-boats that survive as museum ships, and one of two Type IXCs still in existence, the other being U-534.
After the war, the Navy had no further use for U-505. She had been thoroughly examined in Bermuda, and was now moored derelict at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. It was decided to use her as a target for gunnery and torpedo practice until she sank.In 1946, Gallery, now a rear admiral, told his brother Father John Gallery about this plan. Father John contacted President Lenox Lohr of Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) to see if they would be interested in U-505. MSI, established by Chicago businessman Julius Rosenwald, was a center for "industrial enlightenment" and public science education, specializing in interactive exhibits. As the museum already planned to display a submarine, the acquisition of U-505 seemed ideal. In September 1954, U-505 was donated to Chicago by the U.S. government, a public subscription among Chicago residents raised $250,000 for transporting and installing the boat. The vessel was towed by United States Coast Guard tugs and cutters through the Great Lakes, making a stop in Detroit, Michigan in the summer of 1954. On 25 September 1954, U-505 was dedicated as a permanent exhibit and a war memorial to all the sailors who lost their lives in the two Battles of the Atlantic.
When U-505 was donated to the Museum, she had been sitting neglected at the Portsmouth Navy Yard for nearly ten years; just about every removable part had been stripped from her interior. She was in no condition to serve as an exhibit.
Admiral Gallery proposed a possible solution. At his suggestion, Lohr contacted the German manufacturers who had supplied U-505's original components and parts, asking for replacements. As the Admiral reported in his autobiography, Eight Bells and All's Well, to his and the museum's surprise, every company supplied the requested parts without charge. Most included letters that said in effect, "We are sorry that you have our U-boat, but since she's going to be there for many years, we want her to be a credit to German technology."
In 1989, U-505 was designated a National Historic Landmark. When the U.S. Navy demolished its Arctic Submarine Laboratory in Point Loma, California in 2003, U-505's original observation periscope was discovered. Before the submarine was donated to the MSI, the periscope had been removed from U-505 and placed in a water tank used for research. After being recovered, the periscope was given to the museum to be displayed along with the submarine.
By 2004, the U-boat's exterior had suffered noticeable damage from the weather; so in April 2004, the museum moved the U-boat to a new underground, covered, climate-controlled location. Now protected from the elements, the restored U-505 reopened to the public on 5 June 2005.
Thursday, April 24, 2014
The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was a World War II American fighter aircraft built by Lockheed. Developed to a United States Army Air Corps requirement, the P-38 had distinctive twin booms and a single, central nacelle containing the cockpit and armament. Named "fork-tailed devil" (der Gabelschwanz-Teufel) by the Luftwaffe and "two planes, one pilot" (2飛行機、1パイロット Ni hikōki, ippairotto?) by the Japanese, the P-38 was used in a number of roles, including dive bombing, level bombing, ground-attack, night fighting, photoreconnaissance missions, and extensively as a long-range escort fighter when equipped with drop tanks under its wings.
The P-38 was used most successfully in the Pacific Theater of Operations and the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations as the mount of America's top aces, Richard Bong (40 victories) and Thomas McGuire (38 victories). In the South West Pacific theater, the P-38 was the primary long-range fighter of United States Army Air Forces until the appearance of large numbers of P-51D Mustangs toward the end of the war.
The P-38 was unusually quiet for a fighter, the exhaust muffled by the turbo-superchargers. It was extremely forgiving, and could be mishandled in many ways, but the rate of roll in the early versions was too slow for it to excel as a dogfighter. The P-38 was the only American fighter aircraft in production throughout American involvement in the war, from Pearl Harbor to Victory over Japan Day.
The P-38L was the most numerous variant of the Lightning, with 3,923 built, 113 by Consolidated-Vultee in their Nashville plant. It entered service with the USAAF in June 1944, in time to support the Allied invasion of France on D-Day. Lockheed production of the Lightning was distinguished by a suffix consisting of a production block number followed by "LO," for example "P-38L-1-LO", while Consolidated-Vultee production was distinguished by a block number followed by "VN," for example "P-38L-5-VN."
The P-38L was the first Lightning fitted with zero-length rocket launchers. Seven high velocity aircraft rockets (HVARs) on pylons beneath each wing, and later, five rockets on each wing on "Christmas tree" launch racks which added 1,365 lb (619 kg) to the aircraft. The P-38L also had strengthened stores pylons to allow carriage of 2,000 lb (900 kg) bombs or 300 US gal (1,100 l) drop tanks.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
What I get a kick out of is that such a rare Spitfire variant is available in 1/24 scale.
With the German invasion of Norway in April 1940 the RAF took an interest in the concept of using floatplane fighters in areas where airfields were not immediately available. To this end a Spitfire Mk I R6722 was taken in hand at the Woolston factory to be modified and mounted on Blackburn Roc floats. Tank tests were carried out at Farnborough, using a 1/7 scale model, it was found that the concept was basically sound, although the vertical tail surfaces would need to be enlarged to counterbalance the side area of the floats. The end of the Battle of Norway and the need for as many Spitfires as possible meant that R6772 was converted back to an ordinary fighter without being flown
With the entry of Japan into the war the concept was revived in early 1942. A Spitfire V W3760 was fitted with a pair of floats 25 ft 7 in (7.8 m) long, mounted on cantilever legs. This aircraft was powered by a Merlin 45 driving a four-bladed propeller of 11 ft 3 in (3.43 m) diameter (3.4 m). A Vokes filter was fitted to the carburettor air intake and under the tail an extra fin extension was added. Other changes included external lifting points forward of and behind the cockpit and a spin-recovery parachute with a rudder balance-horn guard. The Spitfire floatplane was first flown on 12 October 1942 by Jeffrey Quill. Soon afterwards the Vokes filter was replaced by an Aero-Vee filter, similar to that on later Merlin 61 series aircraft, which was extended to prevent water entry, and full Mk VB armament was installed. Two more VBs EP751 and EP754 were converted by Folland and all three floatplanes were transported to Egypt, arriving in October 1943. At the time it was thought that the floatplanes could operate from concealed bases in the Dodecanese Islands, disrupting supply lines to German outposts in the area which relied on resupply by transport aircraft. This scheme came to naught when a large number of German troops, backed by the Luftwaffe, took over the British held islands of Kos and Leros. No other role could be found for the floatplane Spitfires, which languished in Egypt, operating from the Great Bitter Lake. Specifications for the VB based floatplane included a maximum speed of 324 mph (521 km/h) at 19,500 ft (521 km/h at 5,943 m), a maximum rate of climb of 2,450 ft/min at 15,500 ft (12.45 m/s at 4,724 m) and an estimated service ceiling of 33,400 ft (10,180 m)
In the spring of 1944, with the prospect of use in the Pacific Theatre, a Spitfire IX MJ892 was converted to a floatplane. This used the same components as the earlier Mk VB conversions. Jeffrey Quill wrote:
- "The Spitfire IX on floats was faster than the standard Hurricane. Its handling on the water was extremely good and its only unusual feature was a tendency to "tramp" from side to side on the floats, or to "waddle" a bit when at high speed in the plane."
Five aircraft were converted:
- Mk I - R6722
- F Mk Vb - W3760
- Mk V - EP751 and EP754
- Mk IXb - MJ892
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
The Jaguar SS100 is a British 2-seat sports car built between 1936 and 1940 by SS Cars Ltd of Coventry, England. The last one is thought to have been delivered in 1941.
The SS Cars Ltd Model 100 "Jaguar" was so named as the '100' reflecting the capability of the 3.5-litre model to exceed 100 mph - then a remarkable speed for a production vehicle. In common with many products of the thirties, the adoption of an animal name was deemed appropriate, and once approved by Sir William Lyons the name "Jaguar" was given to a new saloon car in 1936, and from that point to all the cars.
Following the Second World War, because of the connotations then attached to the initials "SS", the company was renamed Jaguar in 1945.
The chassis had a wheelbase of 8 feet 8 inches (2.64 m), and was essentially a shortened version of the one designed for the 2.5-litre saloon, a car produced in much greater numbers, and first been seen in the SS 90 of 1935. When leaving the factory it originally fitted 5.50 or 5.25 × 18 inch tyres on 18 inch wire wheels. Suspension was on half-elliptical springs all round with rigid axles. The engine was a development of the old 2.5-litre Standard pushrod unit converted from side valve to overhead valve with a new cylinder head designed by William Heynes and Harry Weslake. The power output was increased from 70 bhp (52 kW) to 100 bhp (70 kW). Twin SU carburettors were bolted directly to the cylinder head. In 1938 the engine was further enlarged to 3.5 litres and the power increased to 125 bhp (93 kW). The four-speed gearbox had synchromesh on the top 3 ratios. Brakes were by Girling. The complete car weighed just over 23 cwt (2600 pounds, 1150 kg).
On test by the Autocar magazine in 1937 the 2.5-litre (20 RAC hp rating) car was found, with the windscreen lowered, to have a maximum speed of 95 mph (153 km/h) and a 0–60 mph (97 km/h) time of 13.5 seconds. With the 3.5-litre (25 RAC hp rating) the top speed reached the magic 100 mph (160 km/h) with a best of 101 mph (163 km/h) over the quarter mile and the 0–60 mph (97 km/h) coming down to 10.4 seconds.
In 1937 the 2.5-litre car cost £395 and in 1938 the 3.5-litre £445. The coupé, of which only one was made, was listed at £595. A few examples were supplied as chassis-only to external coachbuilders.
Widely considered to be one of the most aesthetically pleasing Jaguar cars it is also one of the rarest, with only 198 of the 2.5-litre and 116 of the 3.5-litre models being made. Most stayed on the home market but 49 were exported. Cars in good condition will now regularly fetch in excess of £300,000. A near concours example was sold by auctioneers Bonhams at the Goodwood Festival of Speed back in 2007 for £199,500 but largely because of the rarity, auction prices for the SS100 have risen very strongly since then.
More recently a perfectly restored example and former Pebble Beach concours winning 1937 S.S. Jaguar 100 3½ Litre Roadster - was sold by Gooding & Co. on 17 August 2010 at their Pebble Beach auction. It fetched an astonishing £666,270 ($1,045,000).
It was on an SS100 that the famous Jaguar 'leaper' was first prominently displayed, despite an inauspicious start. In mid 1936 the first version of the Jaguar vehicle mascot was apparently described by the founder of the company as "looking like a cat shot off a fence". A later publicity photograph of the new Model 100 "Jaguar" (registration mark CKV 250) parked outside the offices of SS Cars Ltd in early 1937 shows a revised Jaguar 'leaper' mascot mounted on he radiator cap. It is this more stylised 'leaper' that became the basis for subsequent mascots and the trade mark for Jaguar Cars Ltd that has been used to the present day.
The unnamed owner of the Belgravia vintage car dealer in James Leasor's 'Aristo Autos' novels, 'They Don't Make Them Like That Any More', 'Never Had a Spanner on Her' and 'Host of Extras' drives an SS100, and the car features prominently in the books.
The late Alan Clark MP owned a Jaguar SS100, and during his time in Margaret Thatcher's government was often to be seen piloting his SS100 away from the House of Commons after late Parliamentary sittings.
A number of replica and re-creations of the Jaguar SS100 have also been manufactured since the 1960s.
The Suffolk Sportscars replicas/re-creations of the SS100 have been described as being the most visually and dimensionally accurate of the genre, with painstaking attention to detail. Acceptance of the Suffolk SS100 vehicles by both Jaguar clubs and specialist classic car registers gives some credence to the description. Suffolk Sportscars are based in Woodbridge, Suffolk, United Kingdom, and the SS100 may be ordered and individually built by hand at the factory to the customer's own specifications or alternatively may be ordered in component form for skilled home assembly.
The Suffolk SS100 uses the Jaguar XK6 engine, and commonly the 4-speed Jaguar 'Short Compact' gearbox as the drivetrain, and is still in limited production today with 8-12 cars being produced each year. With exports to a number of countries worldwide which include the USA, several European nations, Australia and New Zealand, the Suffolk Sportscars SS100 is probably the most prolific replica of the Jaguar SS100. The Suffolk SS100 was designed from the outset to create an exacting 'visual facsimile' of the genuine car. The accurate dimensions and such features as the original Lucas QK596 headlamps, dummy Andre Hartford friction dampers, the original design windscreens and fly screens mean that it takes a real enthusiast to spot the differences in a passing car. Because of the increasing rarity and high value that a genuine Jaguar SS100 can command, a small number of owners with these cars have commissioned the building of identical Suffolk SS100's, allowing the owners the use of an almost identical vehicle without risking damage to the original. Suffolk Sportscars also manufacture a replica of the famous C-Type Jaguar that is similarly designed to be visually and dimensionally accurate, and uses the original 'live axle' setup of the original car for authenticity.
The Steadman TS100 is described as a 'reproduction' of the SS100 manufactured by Ottercraft Ltd in Hayle, Cornwall, United Kingdom, during the late 1980s and early 1990s. The actual build numbers for this car is unknown, but it is thought that a maximum of twenty-eight of these vehicles were assembled, and were also referred to as the Jaguar Steadman TS100. The Steadman TS100 was never intended to be a replica of the SS100 of the 1930s, but was designed to be a sports car in its own right.
With a hand-built aluminium body, the Steadman TS100 used unadapted Jaguar XJ6 running gear and was sold as a high quality, more modern version of the Jaguar SS100. Dimensionally and visually, the Steadman TS100 was quite different from the original Jaguar SS100. These differences occurred because the manufacturers were forced to change the original proportions to both accommodate the wider track of the donor car and allow the use of more readily available smaller, wider wheels. Attention was paid to styling detail during design (such as the use of appropriately large headlights) and at the time of production, the Steadman TS100 was regarded as more successful than most other evocations. With an unknown number surviving, this re-creation is a rare sight at classic car events.
The Steadman TS100 Enthusiasts Club was established in 2011 to maintain the vehicle's marque and to bring together owners from around the world.
SS Cars Ltd was a British car maker. It grew out of the Swallow Sidecar Company and was first registered under the new name in 1934. Some conjecture to the origins of the SS name exist, It was John Black who when asked the meaning of SS said it has always stood for Standard Swallow. William Lyons when asked, bearing in mind he was in the company of the suppliers of chassis for his run of the mill production cars was noncommittal, until, after the exclusive use of Standard Chassis began at which point he concurred. In 1945 the company changed its name to Jaguar Cars Ltd, because of the connotations of the use of the SS name by Nazi Germany.
The Swallow Sidecar Company had moved from its roots making stylish sidecars to become first a coachbuilder adding new bodies to other makers chassis and running gear and in 1932 launched a car of its own, the SSI. It had also moved in 1928 from Blackpool to Coventry, in the heart of the British motor industry.
Under the guidance of the chairman, William Lyons, the company survived the depression years by making a series of beautifully styled cars offering exceptional value for money although some enthusiasts criticised them at the time for being "more show than go". The engines and chassis were supplied by the Standard Motor Company with a large design input to the latter from SS with the bodywork being added in the Coventry works. In 1929 John Black (standard motor company) and William Lyons realised a long standing dream and produced a one of a kind sports car, This "First" SS ( standard Swallow ) was a sleek Boat Tail Roadster, Its flowing design and streamlining, points to an obvious attempt at making a fast car, possibly with the intention of venturing into racing. This car is believed to have been shipped to Australia in the late 1940s.
The first of the SS range of cars available to the public was the 1932 SSI with 2- or 2 1⁄2-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine and the SSII with a four-cylinder 1-litre side-valve engine. Initially available as coupé or tourer a saloon was added in 1934, when the chassis was modified to be 2 inches (50 mm) wider.
The first of the sports cars came in 1935 with the SS90, so called because of its 90 mph (140 km/h) top speed. This car used the 2 1⁄2-litre side-valve, six-cylinder engine. Only 23 were made.
To counteract the "more show than go" criticism Lyons engaged William Heynes and Harry Weslake. Weslake was asked to redesign the 2 1⁄2-litre 70 bhp side-valve engine to achieve 90 bhp. His answer was an overhead-valve design that produced 102 bhp and it was this engine that launched the new SS Jaguar sports and saloon cars in 1936.
The sports car carried the title: SS Jaguar "100". One of the finest looking cars of all time, only 198 of the 2 1⁄2-litre and 116 of the 3 1⁄2-litre models were made and with a 100 mph (160 km/h) top speed and 0-60 mph time of 11 seconds the survivors are highly sought after, rarely coming on the market.
The SS Jaguar 2 1⁄2-litre saloon with its 102 bhp six-cylinder Weslake-designed engine caused a sensation when it was launched to the press and dealers at the Mayfair Hotel, London.
The audience were asked to write down the UK price for which they thought the car would be sold: the average of their answers was £765.Even in that deflationary period, the actual price at just £395would have been a pleasant surprise for many customers. Also available was a similar looking but scaled-down version using a 1 1⁄2-litre four-cylinder side-valve engine.
In 1938 production moved from coachbuilt (wood framed) to all steel construction. A 3 1⁄2-litre was also added to the range at this point. The 2 1⁄2- and 3 1⁄2-litre cars shared the same chassis and body design although it was necessary to use a wider radiator for the 3 1⁄2-litre. The new 1 1⁄2-litre for 1938 used the same body shell as the six-cylinder cars but on a shorter chassis. The engine was also increased to 1776 cc and had overhead valves.
Car production stopped in 1940. After the war SS Cars Ltd dropped their SS identity and adopted the Jaguar model name as the company name and when production restarted the saloons were simply named Jaguar 1 1⁄2-, 2 1⁄2- or 3 1⁄2-litre. The model that followed these cars was called the Jaguar Mark V and so the immediate post war trio have become known unofficially as the Mark IV Jaguars. The sidecar making business along with the Swallow trademark was sold, the new company making the Swallow Doretti sports car.
Swallow Coachbuilding Co. (1935) Ltd. #07720862 is owned by Canadian Peter Schömer of Chichester, West Sussex England. Swallow trade mark #2591789 and the winged SS logo is registered at the Intellectual Property Office, that is also owned by the Swallow Coachbuilding Co.(1935) Ltd.
Monday, April 14, 2014
The Volkswagen Kübelwagen (literally translated as "bucket car", for its resemblance to a metal bathtub on wheels ) was a light military vehicle designed by Ferdinand Porsche and built by Volkswagen during World War II for use by the German military (both Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS). Based heavily on the Volkswagen Beetle, it was prototyped as the Type 62, but eventually became known internally as the Type 82.
With its rolling chassis and mechanics built at Stadt des KdF-Wagens (renamed Wolfsburg after 1945), and its body built by US-owned firm Ambi Budd Presswerke in Berlin, the Kübelwagen was for the Germans, what the jeep was for the Allies.
Although Adolf Hitler discussed with Ferdinand Porsche the possibility of military application of the Volkswagen as early as April 1934, it was not until January 1938, that high-ranking Third Reich army officials formally approached Porsche about designing an inexpensive, light-weight military transport vehicle, that could be operated reliably both on- and off-road, in even the most extreme conditions. This implied, that the Beetle could provide the basis for such a vehicle.
Porsche began work on the project immediately, having a prototype of the vehicle ready within the month, but realized during development, that it would not be enough to reinforce the Beetle's chassis to handle the stresses, that military use would put on it. In order to guarantee adequate off-road performance of a two-wheel-drive vehicle with a 1,000 cc FMCV 1 engine, it would have to be lightweight. In fact, the army had stipulated a laden weight of 950 kg (2,090 lb), including four battle-dressed troops, which meant, that the vehicle itself should not weigh more than 550 kg (1,210 lb). Porsche therefore sub-contracted Trutz, an experienced military coachbuilder, to help out with the body design.
Developmental testing by the military began after a presentation of the prototypes designated as Type 62 in November 1938. Despite lacking four wheel drive, a mainstay of the American military Jeeps, the vehicle proved very competent at maneuvering its way over rough terrain, even in a direct comparison with a contemporary standard German army 4×4, and the project was given the green light for further development. The vehicle's light weight and ZF self-locking differential compensated for the lack of 4×4 capabilities.
Further development of the Type 62 took place during 1939, including a more angular body design, and pre-production models were field-tested in the invasion of Poland, that started in September that year. Despite their overall satisfaction with the vehicle's performance, military commanders demanded, that a few important changes be made: the lowest speed of the vehicle had to be reduced from 8 km/h (5.0 mph) to 4 km/h (2.5 mph) as an adjustment to the pace of marching soldiers. Second, it needed some improvement of its off-road ability. Porsche responded to both requests by mounting new axles with gear-reduction hubs, providing the car with more torque and more ground-clearance all at once. Revised dampers, 41 cm (16 in) wheels, and a limited slip differential, as well as countless small modifications, completed the specification. In order to reflect the changes, the vehicle was renamed Type 82.
Full scale production of the Type 82 Kübelwagen started in February 1940, as soon as the VW factories had become operational. No major changes took place before production ended in 1945, only small modifications were implemented, mostly eliminating unnecessary parts and reinforcing some, which had proved unequal to the task. Prototype versions were assembled with four-wheel-drive (Type 86) and different engines, but none offered a significant increase in performance or capability over the existing Type 82 and the designs were never implemented. As of March 1943, the car received a revised dash and the bigger 1,131 cc engine, developed for the Schwimmwagen, that produced more torque and power than the original 985 cc unit. When Volkswagen production ceased at the end of the war, 50,435 Kübelwagen vehicles had been produced, and the vehicle had proven itself to be surprisingly useful, reliable, and durable.
Long after the end of the war, VW resurrected the basic Kübelwagen design as the 1969 Type 181, developed for the German Federal Armed Forces and later also produced for the civilian market, known as "Thing" in the US, "Trekker" in the UK, and "Safari" in Mexico. Although similar in looks and design, almost no parts were interchangeable with the Type 82.
When the German military took delivery of the first vehicles, they immediately put them to the test on- and off-road in snow and ice to test their capability at handling European winters. Several four-wheel-drive vehicles were used as reference points. The two-wheel-drive Kübelwagen surprised even those, who had been a part of its development, as it handily out-performed the other vehicles in nearly every test. Most notably, thanks to its smooth, flat underbody, the Kübel would propel itself much like a motorised sled, when its wheels were sinking into sand, snow, or mud, allowing it to follow tracked vehicles with remarkable tenacity.
In November 1943, the U.S. military conducted a series of tests as well on several Type 82s they had captured in North Africa. They concluded, that the vehicle was simpler, easier to manufacture and maintain, faster, and more comfortable for four passengers than the U.S. Jeeps. This statement is at odds with U.S. War Department Technical Manual TM-E 30-451, Handbook on German Military Forces, dated 15 March 1945. In this manual (p. 416), it states "The Volkswagen, the German equivalent of the U.S. "Jeep", is inferior in every way, except in the comfort of its seating accommodations."
At the same time, another Kübelwagen, also captured in North Africa, had been dissected in Britain by engineers of the Humber Car Company, whose report was equally unfavourable and dismissive.
Among the design features, that contributed to the Kübelwagen's performance were:
- Light weight, although some 41 cm (16 in) longer than the Willys MB, it was over 300 kg (660 lb) lighter.
- Very flat and smooth underbody, that allowed the car to slide over the surface it was traversing.
- Considerable ground clearance, roughly 28 cm (11 in), in part thanks to:
- The use of portal gear hub reduction, providing more torque and ride height simultaneously.
- Independent suspension on all four wheels.
- Self-locking differential, limiting slippage and retaining traction.
As the body was not a load-bearing part of the structure of the vehicle, it could easily be modified to special purposes.
The Kübelwagen could reach a top speed of 80 km/h (50 mph).
Sunday, April 13, 2014
From Da Vinci Inventions"
Of Leonardo da Vinci’s many areas of study, perhaps this Renaissance man’s favorite was the area of aviation. Da Vinci seemed truly excited by the possibility of people soaring through the skies like birds.
One of da Vinci’s most famous inventions, the flying machine (also known as the "ornithopter") ideally displays his powers of observation and imagination, as well as his enthusiasm for the potential of flight. The design for this invention is clearly inspired by the flight of winged animals, which da Vinci hoped to replicate. In fact, in his notes, he mentions bats, kites and birds as sources of inspiration.
Perhaps the inspiration of the bat shines through the most, as the two wings of the device feature pointed ends commonly associated with the winged creature. Leonardo da Vinci’s flying machine had a wingspan that exceeded 33 feet, and the frame was to be made of pine covered in raw silk to create a light but sturdy membrane.
The pilot would lie face down in the center of the invention on a board. To power the wings, the pilot would pedal a crank connected to a rod-and-pulley system. The machine also had a hand crank for increased energy output, and a head piece for steering. As the busy pilot spins cranks with his hands and feet, the wings of the machine flap. The inspiration of nature in the invention is apparent in the way the wings were designed to twist as they flapped.
Unfortunately, as da Vinci himself might have realized, while the flying machine may have flown once it was in the air, a person could never have created enough power to get the device off the ground.
Thursday, April 10, 2014
This aircraft was flown by Wolfgang Spate - Erprobungskomando 16, Bad Zwischenahn 1944.
The Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, designed by Alexander Lippisch, was a German rocket-powered fighter aircraft. It is the only rocket-powered fighter aircraft ever to have been operational. Its design was revolutionary, and the Me 163 was capable of performance unrivaled at the time. German test pilot Heini Dittmar in early July 1944 reached 1,130 km/h (700 mph), not broken in terms of absolute speed until November 1947. Over 300 aircraft were built; however, the Komet proved ineffective as a fighter, having been responsible for the destruction of only about nine Allied aircraft (16 air victories for 10 losses, according to other sources).
Work on the design started under the aegis of the Deutsche Forschungsanstalt für Segelflug (DFS)—the German Institute for the Study of sailplane flight. Their first design was a conversion of the earlier Lippisch Delta IV known as the DFS 39 and used purely as a glider testbed of the airframe.
A larger follow-on version with a small propeller engine started as the DFS 194. This version used wingtip-mounted rudders, which Lippisch felt would cause problems at high speed. He later redesigned them to be mounted on a conventional vertical stabilizer at the rear of the aircraft. The design included a number of features from its glider heritage, notably a skid used for landings, which could be retracted into the aircraft's keel in flight. For takeoff, a pair of wheels, each mounted onto the ends of a specially designed cross axle, together comprising a takeoff "dolly" mounted under the landing skid, were needed due to the weight of the fuel, but these were released shortly after takeoff. It was planned to move to the Walter R-1-203 cold engine of 400 kg (880 lb) thrust when available, which used a monopropellant consisting of stabilized HTP known by the name T-Stoff.
Heinkel had also been working with Hellmuth Walter on his rocket engines, mounting them in the He 112 for testing, and later in the first purpose-designed rocket aircraft, the He 176. Heinkel had also been selected to produce the fuselage for the DFS 194 when it entered production, as it was felt that the highly volatile fuel would be too dangerous in a wooden fuselage, with which it could react. Work continued under the code name Projekt X.
However the division of work between DFS and Heinkel led to problems, notably that DFS seemed incapable of building even a prototype fuselage. Lippisch eventually requested to leave DFS and join Messerschmitt instead. On 2 January 1939, he moved along with his team and the partially completed DFS 194 to the Messerschmitt works at Augsburg.
The delays caused by this move allowed the engine development to "catch up". Once at Messerschmitt, the decision was made to skip over the propeller-powered version and move directly to rocket power. The airframe was completed in Augsburg and shipped to Peenemünde West, one of the quartet of Erprobungsstelle-designated military aviation test facilities of the Reich, in early 1940 to receive its engine. Although the engine proved to be extremely unreliable, the aircraft had excellent performance, reaching a speed of 342 mph (550 km/h) in one test.
The initial test deployment of the Me 163A, to acquaint prospective pilots with the world's first rocket-powered fighter, occurred with Erprobungskommando 16, led by Luftwaffe Major Wolfgang Späte and first established in late 1942, receiving their eight A-model service test aircraft by July 1943. Their initial base was as the Erprobungsstelle test facility located at the Peenemünde-West field, then departed permanently following an RAF bombing raid on the area on August 17, 1943. The next day the unit moved out, southwards to the base at Anklam, near the Baltic coast. Their stay was brief, as a few weeks later they were placed in northwest Germany, based at the military airfield at Bad Zwischenahn (at ) from August 1943 to August 1944. EK 16 received their first B-series armed Komets in January 1944, and was ready for action by May while at Bad Zwischenahn, first seeing combat flights on the 13th of the month.
As EK 16 commenced small scale combat operations with the Me 163B in May 1944, the Me 163B's unsurpassed velocity was something that the Allied fighter pilots were at a loss as what to do about it. The Komets attacked singly or in pairs, often faster than the opposing fighters could dive in an attempt to intercept them. A typical Me 163 tactic was to zoom through the bomber formations at 9,000 m (30,000 ft), rise up to an altitude of 10,700–12,000 m (35,100–39,400 ft), then dive through the formation again. This approach afforded the pilot two brief chances to fire a few rounds from his cannons before gliding back to his airfield. The pilots reported that it was possible to make four passes on a bomber, but only if it was flying alone.
As the cockpit was unpressurized, the operational ceiling was limited by what the pilot could endure for several minutes while breathing oxygen from a mask, without losing consciousness. Pilots underwent altitude-chamber training to harden them against the rigors of operating in the thin air of the stratosphere without a pressure suit. Special low fiber diets were prepared for pilots, as gas in the gastrointestinal tract would expand rapidly during ascent.
Following the initial combat trials with the Me 163B with EK 16, during the winter and spring of 1944 Major Wolfgang Späte formed the first dedicated Me 163 fighter wing, (Jagdgeschwader 400 (JG 400) ), in Brandis near Leipzig. JG 400's purpose was to provide additional protection for the Leuna synthetic gasoline works which were raided frequently during almost all of 1944. A further group was stationed at Stargard near Stettin to protect the large synthetic fuel plant at Pölitz (today Police, Poland). Further defensive units of rocket fighters were planned for Berlin, the Ruhr and the German Bight.
The first actions involving the Me 163 occurred on July 28, 1944, from I./JG 400's base at Brandis, when two USAAF B-17 Flying Fortress were attacked without confirmed kills. Combat operations continued from May 1944 to spring 1945. During this time, there were nine confirmed kills with 14 Me 163s lost. Feldwebel Siegfried Schubert was the most successful pilot, with three bombers to his credit.
- the Komet would, after landing, remain immobile on the field until the Scheuch-Schlepper tractor could tow the special trailer to the landed Komet's location, back the trailer up to the nose of the aircraft as it placed its two rear arms under the wing panels, and jack up the trailer's arms to hoist the aircraft off the ground to tow it back to its maintenance area. Establishing a defensive perimeter with anti-aircraft guns ensured that Allied fighters avoided these bases. At the end of 1944, 91 aircraft had been delivered to JG 400 but a continuous lack of fuel had kept most of them grounded. It was clear that the original plan for a huge network of Me 163 bases was never going to be realized. Up to that point, JG 400 had lost only six aircraft due to the enemy actions. Nine were lost to other causes, remarkably few for such a revolutionary and technically advanced aircraft. In the last days of the Third Reich the Me 163 was given up in favor of the more successful and threatening Me 262. In May 1945, Me 163 operations were stopped, the JG 400 disbanded, and many of its pilots sent to fly Me 262s.
In any operational sense, the Komet was a failure. Although it shot down 16 aircraft, mainly expensive four-engined bombers, that did not warrant the effort put into the project. With the projected Me 263, things could have turned out differently, but due to fuel shortages late in the war, few went into combat, and it took an experienced pilot with excellent shooting skills to achieve "kills" with the Me 163.
The Komet also spawned later weapons like the Bachem Ba 349 Natter and Convair XF-92. Ultimately, the point defense role that the Me 163 played would be taken over by the surface-to-air missile (SAM), Messerschmitt's own example being the Enzian. The airframe designer, Alexander Martin Lippisch went on to design delta winged supersonic aircraft for the Convair Corporation.
Capt. Eric Brown RN, Chief Naval Test Pilot and commanding officer of the Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight, who tested the Me 163 at the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough, said, "The Me 163 was an aeroplane that you could not afford to just step into the aircraft and say 'You know, I'm going to fly it to the limit.' You had very much to familiarise yourself with it because it was state-of-the-art and the technology used."
Acting unofficially, after a spate of accidents involving Allied personnel flying captured German aircraft resulted in official disapproval of such flights, Brown was determined to fly a powered Komet, and on around 17 May 1945, he flew an Me 163B at Husum with the help of a cooperative German ground crew, after initial towed flights in an Me 163A to familiarise himself with the handling. The day before the flight, Brown and his ground crew had performed an engine run on the chosen Me 163B to ensure that everything was running correctly, the German crew being apprehensive should an accident befall Brown, until being given a disclaimer signed by him to the effect that they were acting under his orders. On the takeoff the next day, after dropping the takeoff dolly and retracting the skid, Brown later described the resultant climb as "like being in charge of a runaway train", the aircraft reaching 32,000 ft (9.76 km) altitude in 2 minutes, 45 seconds. During the flight, while practicing attacking passes at an imaginary bomber, he was surprised at how well the Komet accelerated in the dive with the engine shut down. When the flight was over Brown had no problems on the approach to the airfield apart from the rather restricted view from the cockpit due to the flat angle of glide, the aircraft touching down at 125 mph. Once down safely, Brown and his much-relieved ground crew celebrated with a drink.
Apart from Brown's unauthorised flight, the British never tested the Me 163 under power themselves, due to the danger of its hypergolic propellants it was only flown unpowered, Brown himself piloted RAE's Komet VF241 on a number of occasions, the rocket motor being replaced with test instrumentation.
When interviewed for a 1990s television programme, Brown said he had flown five tailless aircraft — including the British de Havilland DH 108 — in his career. Referring to the Komet, he said "this is the only one that had good flight characteristics"; he called the other four "killers".