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About NorthAmericanAviation

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  1. March 1968: Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird By: @eorin and @Exothermos, our only (thus far) 3rd-party entry Designed in part by Lockheed's long-time chief aeronautical engineer, Kelly Johnson, the SR-71 "Blackbird" was a Strategic Reconnaissance aircraft designed to fly at Mach 3+. Origins of the A-12/F-12 and SR-71/M-21 can be found in the A-11 and "Archangel" series of designs drafted between July 1958 and April 1962. The first is shown below. The titanium construction of the aircraft meant that heat vs. area expansion coefficients were so high as to prevent the fuel tanks from being any more than roughly 1/3rd full on the ground due to how much they would compress. The fuel tanks were also designed to vent excess, so there would sometimes be a streak of fuel dribbling from the aircraft, mid-flight. The Blackbird's anti-radar construction was so effective, in fact, that the radar footprint of the aircraft was equivalent to that of a seagull's, according to some. The J-58: Revolutionary Powerplant The Pratt & Whitney J-58 turbojet engine was and is still today a remarkable piece of advanced engineering, being designed for a peak efficiency and output at Mach 3.2 and delivering a knuckle-whitening 34,000 pounds of thrust each, while afterburning. The unique inlet cone was completely conical, down to the very tip, making a stream of air that fed directly to the bleed system of the J-58 with little to no pressure loss, where it was slowed to subsonic speeds. Onto combustion, things are fairly tame, but once the exhaust gasses reach the ejector nozzle, they are accelerated to Mach 3 from around Mach 0.4-0.5. "Started" airflow from the intake also controlled expansion during exhaust ejection and cooled the engine by venting out of the aforementioned bleed ports. Unstarts The unique 'lossless pressure flow' of the J-58's intake section was achieved by 'starting' the shock cone of air so that a tangent line could be drawn from the tip of the intake spike to the forward-most edge of the intake cone. The conditions required to induce this seamless flow were very low-tolerance, like the rest of the plane, and were all dependent of the thrust balance between the intake vents, engine output, and exhaust ejector. Bill Weaver: Disintegration at 3x the Speed of Sound On January 25th, 1966, 11:20 AM, SR-71 Aircraft T-No. 952 took off from Edwards Air Force Base with Bill Weaver in the 'driver's seat' and Jim Zwayer in the back seat. They took on fuel from a KC-135 and headed to 78,000 feet, which was standard cruise altitude, and continued their route. During a 35 degree right-turn, they experienced 'unstart,' and the starboard J-58 lost power. Their aircraft now pitched up and banked even further to the right, despite the cross-tie system doing its best to control the roll and attempt to re-start the bad engine while keeping the other going. At this point, the control produced no response, but given as ejection at Mach 3.2 probably wouldn't end well, the two stayed with their ship for as long as they could until cumulative failures and extreme attitude caused the aircraft to disintegrate around them. The extremely high G-forces plus the air-blast of being hit by Mach 3+ air in a pressure suit caused Weaver to black out and Zwayer to, unfortunately, break his neck. Weaver was unconscious for some time during his descent and could hardly believe what had transpired when he finally came to. Weaver's suit stayed pressurized, the small oxygen tank doing its job, all the way to the ground and protection him from the sub-zero temperatures of high-altitudes. Even after the buffeting and direct exposure to such high speeds, the suit was intact. Bill Weaver and the body of Jim Zwayer landed on a ranch in New Mexico, whose owner promptly came out to investigate what had happened; it was about then that he reported to Weaver that his colleague had not survived. The ranch owner, Al Mitchell Sr., offered Weaver a ride to the Tucumcari hospital---an offer he initially refused, thinking "I just survived a disintegrating aircraft at Mach 3, and this guy wants to fly me to the hospital in a beat-up sprayer-Helicopter! I'm going to die on the way to the hospital!" He eventually accepted the offer, albeit barely, I've heard, and recovered at Tucumcari. Two weeks later, though, he was back in the hot-seat of another Blackbird! I decided to take a more narrative approach for this entry, given the SR-71 and all variants are so well-documented and researched. Below is the original post for this craft, it belongs to @eorin and @Exothermos, I am merely showcasing it. KerbalX Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
  2. April 1965: Lockheed C-141 Starlifter Designed to meet a new set of requirements to replace aging C-124 and debatably unreliable C-133 propeller driven cargo aircraft, the C-141's design took shape between 1960 and 1963, with U.S. President John F. Kennedy's First act in office being to allow the development of the 'Lockheed 300' project, which would be submitted to the USAF. A passenger version was also created, but there were no takers, so Lockheed sent the aircraft to NASA. The C-141 Enjoyed a 41-year service life, from 1965 to (Roughly) 2006. The C-141 was much more useful to the U.S. Military than the C-135, due to the fact that the C-141 had a large unloading door/gate, whereas the C-135 had only side-loading doors. Despite minimal participation in Vietnam, the Starlifter performed many roles as a cargo dropper, medevac, and general hauler, proving itself a reliable workhorse; in Desert Storm and Desert Shield, over 8,500 airlifts were flown between all the deployed craft. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 288 Mass: 110 Tons (full fuel) Crew: 2 Service Ceiling: 7500m Powerplant: 8x Panther (thrust limited) Top Speed: 170 m/s Dimensions: 53.1 x 50.3 x 10.0 LWH This replica is very easy to fly, just be mindful of tailstrikes; it sits low for easy cargo-loading. It is also 1:1 scale, roughly, so it is quite capable of handling heavy loads---the exact capacity is unknown (will test soon) but the only limitation is the lobe of fuel surrounding the wing-mounts. The nose/cockpit is nothing to write home about, though... Download Link: What is today, but yesterday's tomorrow?
  3. KSP has a nasty tendency to partially seize up / bug out in a way that renders the button functions in the top-right useless, including "Save." Ugh, I'm not making this up, either... I only detected AFTER I built the wing, tail-plane, and engine pylons. Technology will be the downfall of us all, I swear! not really... (Craft on the way, sorry for inconsistency.)
  4. Given all the above stuff, it's time for more Vietnam goodies! Sometime 1963: Cessna A-37 Dragonfly The A-37 is a light ground attack aircraft developed from the Cessna T-37 basic trainer. Being as it was derived from a lightweight trainer, some modifications were made to make it more combat-ready, including strengthening the design of the wing, adding fuel, adding pylons for bomb load-outs, and even a 7.62x51mm (NATO) Minigun. Dragonflies in Vietnam flew thousands of sorties, proving their worth and also being supplied to the South Vietnamese Air Force as of 1968. According to U.S. records, only 22 losses were recorded during Vietnam. Douglas A-1 Skyraiders put to the dangerous task of ground attack missions were being shot down at a greater rate than expected, and so the smaller, nimbler A-37 fit the bill and production ramped up to meet demands. After Vietnam, many aircraft went to South American countries, such as Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Peru, and Uruguay who currently operate them, and Chile and Ecuador, who are former operators. Thailand also received a few, as well. Four aircraft of the A-37 designation are known to be under private ownership in the U.S. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 62 Mass: 10.78 Tons Crew: 2 Service Ceiling: 8300m Powerplant: 4x Juno Top Speed: 200m/s Dimensions: 8.4 x 10.6 x 4.1 LWH This model is slow to turn, but stable as a rock. It is an ideal candidate for practicing strafe or low-altitude bombing runs, provided you outfit it with some BDArmory goodies, I left these stock with ‘Dummy Bombs.’ Went a little overboard on the KerbalX page... Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: North American XB-70
  5. June 1961: North American A-5 Vigilante The A-5 was initially intended to replace the Douglas A-3, is a Mach 2+ reconnaissance and attack aircraft. Weighing in at 32,000lbs, it’s a big, heavy plane to launch from a carrier, not to mention its design calling for supersonic cruise—a trait not easily adapted to a carrier-borne aircraft of this size at this time. The A-5 used instruments, housings, and design elements developed for the F-108 Rapier, as well as the VAID (Variable Air Intake Duct) system implemented on the F-107. A reconnaissance and electronic warfare specific evolution, the RA-5C, saw heavy use in Vietnam as part of ELINT operations. it employed a side-sweeping radar and an infrared line scanner, crucial in strategic/strike attacks, despite never carrying any weaponry. It also carried a primitive digital computer, called Versatile Digital Analyzer, or VERDAN to run all the instrumentation. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 44 Mass: 21.2 Tons Crew: 1 Service Ceiling: 24.5km Powerplant: 2x Panther Top Speed: 960m/s Dimensions: 15.4 x 10.0 x 5.6 LWH This model flies very well and is so agile, in fact, I turn the pitch control limits down to 70. For realistic speed, set the thrust limit at 50%, but otherwise this is a super-fun high-flyer; in the configuration everything is in upon download, it’s turned up to 11. 1 toggles afterburner. Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: Grumman A-6 Intruder
  6. Something big is rolling out of my hangar: A faithful A-4 chase plane trails behind this lumbering giant: The Convair YB-60 Here's an an album of the build thus far:
  7. Sure was! Here's a very in-depth article on the plane and its systems:
  8. March 1960: Convair B-58 Hustler Designed to be a low-altitude supersonic bomber, the Hustler was an idea heavily supported by the SAC (Strategic Air Command) and easily fulfilled this role by being capable of sustained Mach 2+ flight. For its time, the avionics in the B-58 were rather advance; a combination of pilot skill and terrain guidance meant that constant low level flight could be achieved, even at maximum thrust from the four GE J79s. Despite all this the B-58 was not easy to fly—Differential thrust issues upon flame-out, very specific and high angle of attack at subsonic speeds, fuel sloshing changing the center of mass, and general unwieldiness plagued the supersonic, lawn-dart-shaped plane. Given these characteristics, though, B-58 pilots made great selections for SR-71 pilots given their experience with the low-tolerance, high-performance nature of large supersonic aircraft. The B-58 even served as a Hughes radar testbed for the F-12 (sister program to the RS-71), Who Knew! Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 158 Mass: 29.7 Tons Crew: 2 Service Ceiling: 15km Powerplant: 4x Panther (gimbal locked) Top Speed: 535m/s Dimensions: 20.6 x 12.2 x 8.0 LWH This model shares all the aforementioned characteristics, although it is much more forgiving in terms of stability. (I chose to make the engines larger because Junos suck.) Download Link: September 1960: North American GAM-77 "Hound Dog" Cruise Missile Designed to be launched from a B-52, the Hound Dog was an early standoff cruise missile Designed by North American in 1959. The Hound Dog was developed on the SM-64 Navaho missile. The GAM-77’s namesake is Elvis Presley’s song of the same monicre. The design of the Hound Dog being parasitic to a B-52 was very conventional; the idea of a self-contained long-range missile with no launch vehicle or a disposable launch stage would follow this style of design once the use of rocket fuels was reliable and powerful enough to launch heavy nuclear/explosive payloads. This model contains only ballast so apply payloads as you see fit, although this missile is more of a decorative piece as it is hard to aim. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 23 Mass: 12.7 Tons Powerplant: 1x Whiplash Launch Altitude: < 1km Payload: Base Ballistic Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: McDonnell F-4 Phantom II
  9. November 1959: North American T-2 "Buckeye" The T-2, introduced in 1959, served to train student naval aviators for nearly 50 years until its retirement in 2008, being succeeded by the T-45 Goshawk, a licensed and modified BAE Hawk. Buckeyes originally came with one Westinghouse J34, but in the T-2B was replaced with two Pratt & Whitney J60 engines. The final non-export version used two General Electric J85 engines, designation T-2C. The T-2D and E were sold to the Venezuelan and Hellenic Air Forces, respectively. They remain in active service in the latter. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 56 Mass: 8.2 Tons Crew: 2 Service Ceiling: 11km Powerplant: 4x Juno (Thrust Limited) Top Speed: 290m/s Dimensions: 9.2 x 10.2 x 4.4 LWH This model is no beauty queen, but neither is the real plane. it’s easy to fly, easy to land, hard to lose control of, just as it is in real life. It is an excellent trainer for subsonic flight and KSP newbies, if so desired. This model also has a trailing wheel to prevent engine-strikes, as well, but was removed for pictures. Slow landing and takeoff speeds in the range of 60m/s can be expected. Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: Convair B-58 Hustler AND GAM-77 Hound Dog Missile
  10. Bad News: Schoolwork finally caught up to me so the T-2 will be uploaded tomorrow alongside the B-58. Sorry 'bout that.
  11. August 1959: Martin P6M SeaMaster The P6M Seamaster was the last aircraft built by Martin before ICBM’s became the weapon platform of choice for long range attacks. This Aircraft was designed during the Height of SAC (Strategic Air Command) influence, intended to convoy with submarines and patrol boats to set up mobile bases with the idea that they would be hard to track. This aircraft made stunning first impressions; it was 50 feet longer than its predecessor, the P5M, and outweighed the massive Mars by 25 tons! Its slender hull/fuselage and T-tail made it iconic, and instantly recognizable, along with a pronounced anhedral wing, used to rest pontoons on the water. Initially intended to use a Curtiss-Wright turbo-ramjet prototype for a powerplant, Martin instead used Allison J-71’s, which were lacking in power and due to their placement would scorch and damage the aft section of fuselage. Later, the P6M-2 used Pratt & Whitney J-75-T-2 engines, outputting 17,500 ft/lbs of thrust each, totaling 70,000 ft-lbs of gross thrust using four engines in pods of two, each pod exhaust now angled outboard 5 degrees. The original Seamasters beached with an external set of pontoons, which could deploy their own landing gear once attached. Taxiing tests on open waters revealed that the hull WAS indeed strong enough to endure six to nine-foot swells. First liftoff occurred on July 14th, 1955 over the Chesapeake Bay. The Seamaster was the first aircraft designed to maintain high speed at sea-level altitude. The bomb bay (not modeled) is sealed by air pressure, making it watertight. An initial order of 30 aircraft was placed, but supplying the aircraft with fuel and armament proved difficult, and soon the orders dwindled. Additionally, the rise of the ICBM meant that long-range nuclear attacks no longer required a separate carrier aircraft. This lead to the end of the contract, and Martin sought development in long-range missile technology, leaving aircraft design and engineering behind. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 132 Mass: 55.9 Tons Crew: 2 Service Ceiling: 12km Powerplant: 4x Panther Top Speed: 175 m/s Level Flight Dimensions: 34.2 x 29.4 x 8.6 LWH Takeoff Procedure: Full throttle, flaps optional. Rotate around 40m/s. [Normally I use Hyper-Edit to get the thing in the water, given its lack of Landing Gear] Landing procedure: Flaps down/engaged, vertical speed < -10m/s, forward speed < 65m/s. I have made it to 270m/s in a steep dive, and left plenty of fuel reserves for long-duration flights NOTE: Controls are rather sensitive, given the combination of a very forward center of lift and an anhedral wing. Action Groups: “1” toggles afterburner, “2” toggles flaps Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: North American T-2 Buckeye
  12. December 1958: North American F-108 Rapier The North American F-108 project was a sister project to the XB-70 Mach 3+ bomber, supposedly designed to be an escort. The design of the aircraft was highly advanced for the time of its conception, and even though the program was cancelled in 1959, the gathered data were used in the design of the A-5 Vigilante to give it more favorable supersonic flight characteristics. (Image from Boeing) Because the Rapier was developed jointly with the Valkyrie, it shared similarities in crucial build aspects, such as its power-plant: the Rapier used two YJ-93 jet engines, a third the count of its bomber/research counterpart. If the thrust-to-weight rating of 5:1 in the Valkyrie is any measure, this design of engine certainly had a lot of potential. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 85 Mass: 26.4 Tons Crew: 1 Service Ceiling: 26km Powerplant: 2x Whiplash Top Speed: 1370 m/s Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.9 x 6.3 This replica is slightly down scaled and has touchy controls, but is very capable in both altitude and speed, reaching 30,000m apogee after flame-out. Otherwise, super cruise at around 20,000m is ideal, at up to top speed. ‘Caps Lock controls’ recommended once supersonic, does not take well to rolls, might make a re-release with additional vertical stabilizers not shown here. Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: Convair F-106 Delta Dart
  13. Thanks! Also--- here's a short article: that is a heck of a story, all things considered...
  14. September 1956: North American F-107A 'Ultra Sabre' The F-107, nicknamed Ultra Sabre, is the final evolution of the military track of Sabre aircraft from North American. Generally regarded positively, it lost the contract to the F-105 either through the fate of politics, or perhaps by being the ‘right plane at the wrong time’. Either way, most signs pointed to it being a better-handling plane, lacking only in bomb-armament. The F-107’s performance was indeed superior, due to the fact that it stemmed from an evolution of design alterations instead of being an entirely new plane altogether, as the Thunderchief was. It should be noted that project pilot Bob Baker thought this was a fine-handling aircraft. (In-Flight and Tri-Orthogonal View) The use of antiquated conventional 500lb bombs in Vietnam is likely what caused the F-107 to lose out, because it was not intended to be retrofitted with conventional payloads, unlike the Thunderchief, which had provisions for wing-mounted bomb triplets. Both aircraft were designed, primarily, to deliver a Nuke Can bomb, the F-107 using a ‘lobbing’ technique, by dropping the bomb in the midst of an intense high speed pull-up. Despite the Top-mounted intake appearing to be aft of a low-pressure zone which could have caused air starvation to the engine, this did not happen due to how forward it was in relation to the fuselage-disturbed air. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 52 Mass: 8.1 Tons Crew: 1 Service Ceiling: 16km Powerplant: 1x Panther Top Speed: 335 m/s Dimensions: 11.0 x 7.8 x 4.2 LWH The “Ultra Sabre” was the first to employ a Variable Area Intake Duct (VAID), which regulated the volume of air entering the engine, a Pratt and Whitney J75-P-9, for more efficient and powerful combustion. The VAID system saw further use on the A-5, XB-70, and the design of the F-108. As previously mentioned, the F-107 proved very capable in flight, being able to perform rolls in supersonic flight, as well as reach Mach 2+. For a prototype aircraft, the F-107 was remarkably well-polished. Air brakes are not replicated on this model, flaps do the job just fine. “1” cycles afterburner, “2” toggles intake diverter. Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: Vought F8U Crusader
  15. May 1956: Grumman F-11 Tiger (expect a remake of this craft) Designed in the 1950’s, the Tiger is a carrier-based fighter aircraft built for the US Navy. Among its peers of the time, was somewhat out of place, as it landed hot for a carrier-based plane. It was replaced by the F-8 Crusader. The idea for this aircraft began as an update for the F9F-6/7/8 series as the XF9F-9, but developed into a totally different aircraft, implementing an area-rule fuselage for more stable supersonic flight. It lived a short 11-year U.S. Navy service life from 1956 to 1967, and served as Blue Angels demonstration planes until 1969. Top speed was 727mph, or 325m/s. Replica Statistics Builder: NAA Part Count: 24 Mass: 8.4 Tons Crew: 1 Service Ceiling: 23km Powerplant: 1x Panther Top Speed: Lo Alt: 350m/s Hi Alt: 823m/s Dimensions: 11.8 x 10.9 x 4.3 LWH This version can do well over the proper/real top speed, making its supersonic flight characteristics more akin to the F-11-1F Super Tiger, which was a similar air-frame with a GE J-79 wedged in it as opposed to a Wright J-65 in regular Tigers. This model is physically alike and holds speed in a turn, maintaining 6 gees all day. the high altitude characteristics in this replica are a bit--well--optimistic. Download Link: Tomorrow's Craft: North American F-107 Ultra Sabre