The Douglas DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7
The Douglas DC-4, DC-6 and DC-7 represent the evolution of the four-engine piston airliner during the 1940s and 1950s.
The increasing acceptance of air transportation created by the reduced travel times it off ered over existing rail means, along with improvements in safety and reliability, sparked the need for larger-capacity, longer-range aircraft in the latter part of the 1930s, particularly to fulfi ll the still-elusive goal of providing nonstop transcontinental service.
Based upon the foundation laid by its all-metal, twin-engine DC-3 monoplane, Douglas Aircraft Co. commenced design studies of a larger successor with the support of a consortium of fi ve U.S. carriers (American, Eastern, Pan Am, TWA and United) each of which contributed $100,000 toward the development of a prototype that would incorporate all current technology advancements, yet at the same time off er double the number of powerplants, rest on a tricycle undercarriage, and accommodate a greater number of passengers.
The result, sporting a low, straight wing, a triple vertical tail, four 1,400-hp Pratt & Whitney Twin-Hornet engines, and seating for up to 52 in a pressurized cabin, fi rst took to the sky on June 21, 1938. Designated DC-4E, it off ered a 190-mph cruising speed and a 2,000-mile range.
Although the then-mammoth 65,000-pound airliner incorporated considerable advancements, including a well-appointed galley and smoking and dressing rooms, it represented too much of a leap for the era, and the sponsoring carriers requested both modifi cations and a reduction in size. Anticipating lower passenger demand because of the pending war, Douglas redesigned it with a shorter, unpressurized fuselage accommodating 42 passengers, a shorter span tapered wing and a more conventional single vertical fi n, resulting in the defi nitive DC-4.
WWII provided a far greater impact on the program than anticipated. Indeed, after the infamous, December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the 24 aircraft that had been ordered by American and United were requisitioned by. . .
American Airlines DC-6A
Stardust Falling: Arch Hoxsey and Ralph Johnstone
Part I: Twins
On the evening of Wednesday, October 26, 1910, two aviators seated themselves at the controls of their Wright Flyers and ascended together into the gathering darkness above Long Island. As a reporter for the staid New York Times wrote, in an article published the next morning on the first column of the front page:
Engaged in a duel of endurance, Ralph Johnstone and Arch Hoxsey of the Wright camp guided their Wright biplanes to altitudes of 6,000-odd feet at the fifth day of the international aviation tournament at Belmont Park race track, Long Island, yesterday, and remained there until darkness had settled over the field and the stars had come out in the heavens.
Other journalists, speculating that Johnstone and Hoxsey had in fact “gone up to light the stars,” dubbed the pair the Heavenly Twins or — the label that stuck — the Stardust Twins.
The two aviators vanished into the dark sky and were lost to sight for more than 10 minutes. The Wright Brothers, fearing their men would be unable to see where to land, poured lines of gasoline on the grass and lit them as a crude runway. Soon afterward Johnstone and Hoxsey reappeared, to touch down as national heroes. But, within two months, both would be dead — killed in separate crashes while exhibiting to a wondering public just what a “flying machine” could do.(1)
Archibald Eckles Hoxsey
Archibald Eckles Hoxsey, born in downstate Illinois in April 1879, became fascinated by machinery from a young age. Named for his father, he went by “Arch” and was said to dislike the overly familiar “Archie.” After his father died when Hoxsey was 13, he lived alone with his mother. They moved to southern California and eventually settled in Pasadena, slightly northeast of downtown Los Angeles. His mother, who described Arch as a “very delicate child,” explained that she“used to send him out into the mountains with a gun and a dog to run wild in the hope that it would benefit his health.”(2)
Following the rise to popularity of the horseless carriage in the late 1890s, Hoxsey found employment as a chauffeur and obtained one of the earliest licenses issued by the state of California. He drove briefly for M.T. Hancock, the in speed. In 1904 Hancock ripped through a series of chauffeurs, including Hoxsey, who may well have driven his employer’s Tourist (“The California Car”) before Hancock settled on a speedier “Red Devil” Pope-Toledo that was rumored to cost an astonishing $6,000. Hancock reportedly found each of his chauffeur candidates “too reckless,” an ironic characterization given Hancock’s own expressed desire, and repeated attempts to achieve 60 mph on city streets where the speed limit was 12 mph.
Dirigible pioneer T.S. “Captain Tom” Baldwin arrived in the Los Angeles area just then with his California Arrow balloon, fresh off its triumph at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. On February 12, 1905, Hancock and an unidentified chauffeur in the Pope-Toledo raced Baldwin’s balloon, piloted by Roy Knabenshue, across town for a $100 bet. The powerful Curtiss engine shot Knabenshue to the finish line, Hoxsey’s home town of Pasadena, in under 20 minutes, leaving Hancock to blame his loss on city speed limits. A few days later, Hancock and his chauffeur were arrested and charged with speeding; the fines imposed were $100 for the owner and. . .
Arch Hoxsey’s crash in Milwakee
The 48 Hr. Coast-to-Coast Air-Rail Service of Transcontinental Air Transport
WITH perhaps the most extensive preparations that have preceded the opening of any airline completed, Transcontinental Air Transport, Inc., (TAT) in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Railroad Co. and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Co., inaugurated its 48-hour combined rail and air passenger service from coast to coast on Sunday, July 7, 1929.
Since the organization of TAT as a Delaware corporation in May 1928, preparations for the inauguration of the airrail service have been underway. Landing fields have been constructed and lighted, passenger terminals and hangars have been erected, an extremely efficient weather reporting system has been developed, radio and teletype equipment has been installed, and last, but not least, the operating personnel has been recruited and trained.
In all, it involved a tremendous amount of labor, and it is small wonder that the work required over a year to complete. Of course, it would have been possible to have started operations without such complete preparations. That is to say, it would have been possible to disregard some of the minor things, which perhaps have no bearing on safety and were adopted simply to provide a little more comfort for the passenger, but the word had gone out from headquarters that TAT would not institute its service until everything was in absolute readiness. From time to time in the past year it was rumored that Transcontinental Air Transport was about to start operations. Still there was no official word forthcoming from those in charge. The stock answer given to all queries on the subject was that service on the line would be inaugurated “the day we are properly ready.” These are the words of C.M. Keys, president of the airline operating company, and they are the words adopted by other officials of the line.
Even as late as May, this year, when the passenger terminals and hangars were nearing completion, no one knew the exact. . .
There are precious few women’s names etched upon the list of “Early Birds,” an exclusive club of aviators who made a solo flight in an airplane before December 17, 1916. Only 10 of the 598 members are women. Nestled among familiar names like Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers is Bernetta Miller, who became the fifth woman in the United States to earn her pilot’s license on September 25, 1912. Her fascinating life spanned nine decades, during which she knew William McKinley, demonstrated the monoplane to the U.S. government, served on the front during WWI, worked with Albert Einstein, and became a connoisseur of Oriental rugs.
Born in Canton, Ohio, on January 11, 1884, Bernetta Miller was the daughter of Cassius M. Miller and Mary Hale Adams. Her father attended Candandaigua Academy in Canandaigua, N.Y., and had a passion for inventions. He obtained over 200 patents in his lifetime and created many machines, one of which he donated to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, New York. Years later, Miller traveled to see it. “I went up there once to see a model of my father’s. It had not been unpacked. They said if they had known I was coming, they would have had it unpacked. I sure would like to see it and hope to sometime. When I think of all my father was and did, I am most proud. A self made man. My mother too was a wonderful woman.” Her mother attended the Ontario Female Seminary. Both of her parents were far better educated than most Americans at that time.
Miller grew up in Canton and was one of William McKinley’s neighbors. Toward the end of her life, Miller a corresponded with Repository writer Helen Carringer in preparation for a local feature story about her. In one letter, she recalled her parents’ interaction with the McKinleys:
My father who was active in politics on the side as ‘twere knew him [McKinley] well. My mother, I think, must have known Mrs. McKinley sometime previous to 1891 as she wrote her up for the Ladies Home Journal. (I still have the clipping that Mr. Bok himself sent to me when I wrote and asked about it.) At that time McKinley was in state politics I think and he was in the limelight on account of a McKinley tariff bill which he introduced.
She was only 10 years old when McKinley ran his famous
Front Porch Campaign from his home on North Market Avenue in Canton. She recalled standing on the street outside his house with some girlfriends, chanting “Hurrah for McKinley, he’s the man. We can’t vote for him, but our daddies can!” In a letter dated January 11, 1963, to George Putnam, she recalled the excitement of the Front Porch Campaign in 1896:
I failed [in my last letter] to mention anything about President McKinley whom we all loved and used to see frequently. (I never sat on his lap tho as Gretchen [Putnam] did.) At the time of his inauguration and until after his election I lived in the Lomgabaugh Bld. On North Market St. We had a bay window and used to see all of the many delegations that arrived with bands and floats to greet McKinley….The day of his inauguration…we had planned to go to our Lawrence Avenue house to pick. . .
History of Air Show Aerobatics
Reflection on Manned Flight
Some will say that the design of every airplane is as much art as it is science. The aesthetics of their shapes are easy to see. Not so easy to see are the subtle yet complex interactions of the control surfaces and power. In the hands of the skilled pilot, each control and even the spinning mass of the engine have ways to affect the paths that a plane can carve through the air. Airplane and pilot can be like artist and brush working on a canvas of space.
As challenging as piloting an airplane is, only
the few can develop the extra ingredients to achieve special aircraft performance. There is much involved in coordinating control surfaces, and even more to grasp the less understood elements of flight mastery like G-forces, P-factors, torque, gyroscopic precession, spiraling slipstream, and more. When human factors of determination, reflexes and courage mix with flying awareness, then extraordinary flights happen.
Today’s air shows provide a stage and a spotlight to display such remarkable airplanes and flights. They present current developments and leading edge technology. They celebrate history and artifacts. Air shows provide education for their audiences, and they showcase competitive and demonstration aerobatics that display the outer extremes of pilot and aircraft performance.
Manned flight is a wonderful intersection of science and humanity. Aerobatic flight is a joyful step past that intersection.
According to the FAA
“Aerobatic flight means an intentional maneuver involving an abrupt change in an aircraft’s attitude, an abnormal attitude, or abnormal acceleration, not necessary for normal flight.”
History: World Affairs Drove Aerobatics
“Normal flight” was probably first defined by whatever Orville and Wilber Wright did at Kitty Hawk in 1903. With “normal” defined, then “beyond normal” could begin. The period of a new industry when things were done to attract customers, investors, and public attention was the start of aerobatics.
The Wright brothers formed a demonstration team. They gave the same name to the team that they gave their airplanes,“The Wright Fliers.” The team showed what the Wright’s plane could do. Several of their pilots died on that job in 1910. At first, aerobatics was a marketing method. That is, demonstration. Aerobatic pilots flying beyond the basics showed that their plane could do more than what a buyer would consider “normal” service.
Flight testing is a very important part of designing new airplanes. Part of the testing process is to fly a product that may be flawed. Another element is to deliberately fly it past its designed normal limits. Test pilots aren’t trying to be spectacular. They do fly deliberately or unintentionally beyond normal limits. Their job description includes proving the performance of an innovative, experimental machine. Test pilots are capable of and prepared for aerobatic flight. Early test pilots naturally evolved into becoming the first demonstration pilots.
What was the market for the flying machine? Intuition suggested that airplanes would be useful in military activities – although the exact uses were unclear. Balloons had been used– largely for reconnaissance – but what to do with a powered, winged aircraft?
It was a Russian, Pyotr Nesterov, who is credited with achieving the first classic aerobatic maneuver. In 1913, he . . .
Lincoln Beachey and airplane
The Crawford Metal Plane
An interesting experimental monoplane, said to be the all-metal airplane to be built in Southern California, has recently been completed by Harvey Crawford, well known Los Angeles aircraft designer.
Particular interest attaches to the performance of this plane because Mr. Crawford has not only attempted to adapt the German Junkers type of construction to the needs of American aircraft operators, but he has also designed his plane to use the Junkers wing mounted above instead of below the fuselage.
Has Experimental License X-5563
The completed plane, known as the Crawford Metal Plane No. 1, experimental license X-5563; is an all duralumin, 2-place, parasol type monoplane with full strut-braced wing. Initial flight tests made from Dycer’s Airport, Los Angeles, by pilot Jimmy Angel, indicate a high speed of 148 mph, climb at sea level of 1,600 ft. per min., and a landing speed of 30 mph. For these tests the plane was powered with a Gnome rotary engine of 165 hp and carried no load other than pilot and 20 gallons of gasoline. The total useful load of this airplane has been estimated to be 1,800 lb., and the absolute ceiling with full load as better than 20,000 feet.
The plane demonstrated both lateral and longitudinal stability in flight, returning to normal flying position from any angle without the use of the controls. One feature upon which the test pilot particularly remarked was the unusual stability of the plane and its ability to climb rapidly at low angles of wing incidence [“angles of attack” in modern parlance]. Some difficulty was experienced with the original landing gear, which employed shock cord wound directly around the axle, and this has been replaced by a Fokker type gear with an oleo strut extending up to the wing from each wheel.
The overall length of the plane is 24 ft. 9 inches. The
fuselage being of semi-monocoque construction type, withmost stresses carried by the corrugated duralumin covering that is 20 gauge in front of the pilot’s cockpit and 22 gauge to therear of the cockpit. Bulkheads are located at approximately 26-inch intervals throughout the length of the fuselage. Thesebulkheads are of rectangular form and at each corner four thick pieces of 14 gauge duralumin have been riveted to the bulkheadand to the sheeting to keep the latter from tearing at the corners. The engine carries a rotary cowling that is faired into therectangular form of the fuselage thus providing a certain degree of streamline effect, although not marked. A nine-inch turtledeck is built along top of fuselage. The tail surfaces are all 26-gauge corrugated duralumin riveted to tubing. The floor of both cockpits is the . . .
Crawford Metal Plane
Gen. George C. Kenney’s Battle of the Bismarck Sea
Winston Churchill christened U.S. military operations in the Pacific as “triphibious warfare,”(1) warfare simultaneously waged by sea, on land, and in the air. Indeed, beginning with WWII, we see a noticeable increase in America’s joint warfighting capability — a trend toward multiservice operations that thrives today. Missing, however, from this remarkable development, is the affirmation that logistics plays a prominent role in warfighting principles — a role, “for want of a nail,”(2) that can secure victory or hasten defeat. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower reminded the world that“battles, campaigns, and even wars have been won or lost primarily because of logistics.”(3) If we adequately understand the pivotal role of logistics as an element of military affairs not yet mastered, we are better able to understand Gen. Omar Bradley’s assertion that, “Amateurs talk about strategy; professionals talk about logistics.”(4) Defining military logistics as “that system established to create and sustain military capability,”(5) we quickly realize that airpower’s chief components are men (and women) and materiel. This realization clears the way for leadership, innovation and ingenuity. This article is devoted to one such leader, three warfighting principles he employed against the Japanese in WWII during the Battle of the Bismarck Sea, and lessons that could prove beneficial in the 21th century.
Using an innovative approach, General Kenney masterminded and executed an all-out offensive against Japanese surface forces on the open seas, promoting the criticality of proactive involvement in today’s military affairs. He also combined the element of surprise and a staggering capability to effectively mass and maneuver forces for a sound victory
against the Japanese convoy en route to New Guinea. General Kenney believed in our ability to act without hesitation. “In August 1942,” according to Lex McAulay, author of the book Battle of the Bismarck Sea, “it became obvious to General Kenney that he had to clean up the available air units and supporting organizations and produce a force capable of going on the offensive, and make possible an advance back across the huge distances taken so quickly by the Japanese since Pearl Harbor.”(6) By March 1943, defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal had checked the progress of the Japanese Imperial Navy after its dizzying victories over American, British and Dutch naval forces in the early stages of the war. Nonetheless, the presence of Japanese forces in New Guinea stubbornly continued to threaten Australia, a staunch ally. In particular, despite some reverses in New Guinea, the Imperial Army continued to hold Lae, a strategic position on the coast of northeast New Guinea, and planned to deliver a formidable armed force to Lae by convoy. But to achieve surprise and seize the initiative with little or no ability to continue keeping the enemy off balance because of inadequate support is short-sighted.
Kenney faced an immense logistical challenge. In the Pacific theater, transportation of the vast amount of bulk items needed for modern war depended largely on maritime shipping, which was scarce and vulnerable to air and submarine attack. Naval forces were already overtasked; by the fall of 1942, only one U.S. aircraft carrier and one U.S. battleship were in the Pacific, and the carrier was under repair for battle damage.(7)
Kenney lost no time building a network of forward operating bases. Kenney increased the readiness of his forces. His reforms in maintenance had doubled aircraft availability, which in turn allowed him to keep a third of his force operating from forward bases in New Guinea and another third in northern Australia as a ready reserve. The remainder of his forces recovered . . .
Douglas A-20s skip bombing
Man Shall Have Wings: Mandarins of the Air: The Life and
Careers of Paul Wurtsmith, Iven Kincheloe and Thomas Selfridge
The year was 1958 and, as the bus bounced along Route 23 from Bay City, Michigan, I disembarked at a Pure Oil station which served as the terminal for this journey to a new Air Force adventure. I had just left my communications school at Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming and, after a few days home in Cincinnati to see family, I found myself in this very small town of one blinking light, a restaurant and not much more. When I went to the orderly room in Cheyenne following completion of my course work I wa told that my first assignment would be Oscoda Air Base but there was one problem, it did not exist. The orderly room clerk promised to find out where it was and why it was deleted from his book which led me to the library to look up Oscoda and my spirits soared thinking if it did not exist and I would not have to be sent to this location situated on Lake Huron south of Alpena and north of Tawas City and East Tawas, Michigan. In time the base was found but the name had been changed to Wurtsmith AFB named in memory and honor of Maj. Gen. Paul Wurtsmith (1906-1946) and the focus of one of the essays that follows.
Upon my arrival I was subsequently picked up by an air policeman and as we drove from the town toward the airbase he kept looking at me. Finally, I asked if something was wrong and he shook his head and just muttered, “You must have made someone really angry.” I replied that to my knowledge I had not angered anyone but he insisted I had or I would not be on the road to this destination. I began to think that perhaps I did make someone angry. I finally gave up the defense of my then short career to that date and just looked out the window as the unimaginative scenery passed by and then was brought before a barracks that would be my new home for the near future.
The following morning I reported to Capt. Phillip Rheaume who commanded the communication center and so began my new career at what seemed to me a very remote and isolated location. But humans can get used to anything and so I did as I immersed myself in learning how the center operated and meeting my new colleagues but also having the good fortune of connecting to two very engaging comrades. They did not work at the center; however we met and “hit it off” as they say from the beginning, but at first I could not believe their names, Dick Clark and Y. A. Tittle. It was the beginning of a very warm relationship and we traveled Michigan together when we could coordinate our time off and their friendship made Oscoda a memorable time in my life which I recall with great fondness now nearly 58 years ago.
During my time at the air base I became interested in who Paul Wurtsmith was and what he had accomplished before his untimely death in the flowering of his life and career. My interest increased as we communicated with Kincheloe Air Base and that led me to find a similar interest in the life and career of Capt. Iven G. Kincheloe (1928-1958), which subsequently led me to seek information on Thomas Ethelen Selfridge who lived but 26 years (1882-1908) and for whom the air base at Mt. Clemens, Mich., was named resulting in the state having three air bases named for highly regarded and awarded airmen who all died far too early.
Paul Bernard Wurtsmith was born in Detroit, Mich., on August 9, 1906. Educated at Holy Redeemer Grammar School and Case Technical High School in his hometown he later attended the University of Detroit from 1925-1927 ultimately earning a degree in aeronautical engineering. On August 4, 1927, Wurtsmith entered the Army Air Corps as a flying cadet and subsequently earned his wings with the successful completion of flight training at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Tex., in June of the following year. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Reserve on June 23, 1928, and on February 2, 1929, received a regular commission in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Wurtsmith initially joined the 94th Pursuit Squadron, the famed WWI “Hat in the Ring” Squadron at Selfridge Field in Mt. Clemens, Mich., and remained stationed there until July 1930 before being sent to Duncan Field in Texas for a six month instructors’ course. Successfully being graduated from that program he became an instructor at March Field in California. When Randolph Field opened in San Antonio . . .
Iven Kincheloe’s Sabrejet
The Operational History of C-141 65-9405
Lockheed C-141 65-9405 was accepted by the Air Force on September 15, 1966, with 7.8 flying hours on the airframe.(1) The first duty assignment was with the 443rd Military Training Wing at Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.
Operational Assignment History (2)
- Shown assigned to 443rd MTW, Tinker AFB - March 6, 1967, to October 20, 1967. PCS to Robins AFB
- 58th MAS/436th MAW, Robins AFB - October 20, 1967, to August 29, 1969. PCS to Dover AFB
- 436th MAW, Dover AFB - August 29, 1969, to July 16, 1973. PCS to Charleston AFB
- 437th MAW, Charleston AFB - July 16, 1973, to May 2, 1978. PCS to Norton AFB
- 63rd MAW, Norton AFB - May 2, 1978, to August 8, 1980. TDY to Altus AFB
- 443rd MTW, Altus AFB - August 8, 1980, to September 11, 1980. PCS to Travis AFB
- 60th MAW, Travis AFB - September 11, 1980, to September 28, 1981. TDY to Lockheed
- Lockheed & WRALC - September 28, 1981, to February 11, 1982. ‘B’ model conversion
- 60th MAW, Travis AFB - February 11, 1982, to May 9, 1983. TDY to WRALC for PDM
- WRALC, Robins AFB - May 9, 1983, to October 17, 1983. TDY to Ardmore, Okla., for repaint
- Ardmore, Okla. Municipal Airport - October 17, 1983, to January 9, 1984. PCS to Altus AFB
- 443rd MTW, Altus AFB - January 9, 1984, to October 1, 1987. PCS to McGuire AFB
- 305th AMW, McGuire AFB - October 1, 1987, to September 13, 1997.
On May 30, 1972, this aircraft flew the third and final airlift mission in support of President Nixon’s historic trip to Russia and Austria. After stopping at Rhein Main AB, Germany, to refuel, the crew proceeded to Moscow and then to Barispol Airport in Kiev. After a brief stop, the aircraft proceeded back to Rhein Main AB, arriving there on June 1, 1972. While the crew was in a rest period, orders were received for the trip to divert to Tel Aviv for a mercy mission. The C-141 left Rhein Main AB for Israel on June 4, 1972, with empty caskets to carry home the 17 Puerto Ricans killed in the Tel Aviv airport massacre on May 30, 1972. Three Japanese nationals, recruited by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, opened fire with automatic weapons at LOD International Airport, Tel Aviv, killing 26 people and injuring 80 others. Among the 26 killed, 17 were Christian pilgrims from Puerto Rico.(3) After the remains were loaded, the Starlifter left LOD International Airport and flew to Torrejon AB, Spain, for fuel and crew rest. The following day, the aircraft flew to San Juan, Puerto Rico, to complete the mission. Following a brief stop at Andrews AFB to off-load cargo, the trip terminated at Dover AFB, Delaware.(4)
On October 6, 1973, the military forces of Egypt and Syria attacked the State of Israel on two fronts setting off what would become known as the Yom Kippur War. Suffering initial heavy losses, Prime Minister Golda Meir appealed to the United States for assistance; and President Nixon ordered the resupply of Israel with tanks, ammunition, aircraft and armored vehicles. This resupply mission became known as Operation NICKEL GRASS and was conducted by the Military Airlift Command from October 13, 1973, to November 13, 1973. C-141A 65-9405 flew three of the 394 C-141 sorties of this airlift operation into LOD International Airport in Tel Aviv: sortie #27 on 10/16/73 . . .
Lockheed C-141A, 65-9405
Curtiss-Wright CW-20 Transport
In the design of the fuselage structure of the Curtiss-Wright Transport, two fundamental design considerations predominated. These were (1) the development of a shape that would allow a large cargo capacity and would locate the disposable load as near to the center of gravity as possible, and (2) the development of a shape and structure that allowed pressurization of the cabin for high-altitude operations. On the basis of these considerations, the Curtiss-Wright engineers developed a basic cross-section composed of two intersecting circles joined together by a common chord through the points of intersection. The use of this cross-section presents several advantages, allowing as it does a more efficient utilization of the enclosed space as compared with a similar circular cross-section, while the use of circular arcs above and below causes the loads on the fuselage wall due to the pressurization to be taken out as tension loads in the structure. This shape is employed in the region of the cabin, at the widest portion of the fuselage. Aft of the cabin the shape is somewhat modified, tapering to a tail cone. The fuselage is of the semi-monocoque type of construction, having a shell made up of reinforced 24ST Alclad sheet, with stringers and forming rings of the same material. Forward of the bulkhead that is located just aft the pilots’ compartment, the skin is flushriveted, while aft of this point modified brazier head rivets are used.
Fifty-one fuselage rings are employed. These are formed channel sections of 24ST Alclad sheet, with the exception of those rings to which the center section of the wing and the tail wheel are attached. The rings are riveted directly to the skin.
The skin is reinforced by stringers of 24ST Alclad sheet rolled into a Zee section, this particular crosssection having been chosen only after extensive tests of various types and shapes had been made. Formed sheet material was used for the stringers in preference to extruded shapes because of its lightness and the ease of rolling it to the desired cross-section, and because it may be obtained as Alclad stock, that is, coated with a corrosion-resistant coating of pure aluminum. Also the use of stringer material of the same specification as the skin allows a more homogenous structure than would be possible with the use of extruded shapes, the physical properties of which are somewhat different from sheet.
A feature of the fuselage shell lies in the pattern and layout of the stringers. A constant circumferential spacing is maintained between any two stringers throughout the length of the airplane, individual stringers dropping out by merging with a central keel member as the diameter of the fuselage decreases. This eliminates stress discontinuities caused by abruptly-terminated stringers. The stringers, which are riveted to the skin, pass through cutouts in the rings, clips being employed to fasten the stringers to the rings and also serving the purpose of stabilizing the rings themselves, allowing them to develop a higher allowable stress.
A pressure rib is installed in the wing center section, on each side, in approximately the region that would be occupied by the fuselage wall. The function of this rib is to form a pressure seal for the wing for pressurization of the fuselage, and at the same time to act as a shear beam in transferring some of the loads between the spars of the center section at the fuselage attachment. The lower portion of the fuselage structure in this region is attached to the lower surface of the center section by means of a splice angle, the skin and outer portions of each ring in this area being attached to the splice angle, while the inner edges of the rings are clipped to the skin of the center section for stability.
The floor of the airplane, which is the connecting member between the upper and lower arcs, becomes a structural member of the fuselage when pressurization is installed, taking out as tension the loads arising from the pressure loads on the fuselage walls. The floor is constructed of 24ST Alclad sheet set upon transverse channels of the same material, rolled to shape. These in turn are supported on longitudinal girders that are fastened to the fuselage structure at the forward and aft ends of the floor and to the wing center section. The transverse channels are bolted to an extrusion that runs forward from the pressure bulkhead to the nose of the airplane at the intersection of the upper and lower arcs on both sides . . .
Curtiss CW-20 fuselage cross-section
Montgomery Glider Contest Revisited
In 1883, the U.S. 7th Calvary was vigorously pursuing Indians on the western plains; the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were a couple of school kids and it was the age of the horse-and-buggy and ‘crackpots’ whose talk of flying amused their fellowmen.
Yet on a remote California hillside facing the Pacific Ocean, just short of the Mexican border, aviation history was made at Otay Mesa. John Joseph Montgomery, a farm boy with a college degree in physics, flew a glider of his construction.
While the weight of evidence substantiates this remarkable feat, there are, nevertheless, persons of repute who discount the flight. They contend that the glider based on known evidence is incapable of carrying a man in flight. What they contend is largely supported by slide rule calculations.
There were two witnesses to this history making flight. Assisting Montgomery was his brother James. Also present was a nameless boy. Several family letters exist that mention the flight.
Montgomery himself wrote: “. . .the first experiments with this crude device were a success. The apparatus measured 20 feet spread and an average depth, fore and aft, of four and onehalf feet. I took this apparatus to the top of a hill facing a gently wind.”
“There was a little run and a jump, and I found myself launched in the air. I proceeded against the wind, gliding downhill for a distance of 600 feet...”
In 1962, Montgomery’s own hand drawn plans of his first craft, dated 1882, were found in a trunk of Montgomery’s early papers preserved by his youngest sister, Jane. From these original drawings and notations, working plans were prepared by AAHS member Garland O. Goodwin.
The International Aerospace Hall of Fame (IAHF), San Diego, in line with its policy to support aviation activities, has announced a competition to see who can recreate the reported Montgomery flight of 1883. Anonymous donors have underwritten a grant to provide a $1,500 cash prize to be paid to the first person making such a flight under the rules and conditions specified. In the event no successful recreation of the flight is made, the IAHF will award prizes for the best attempts at the end of the competition.
To qualify for the prize, the entrant’s glider shall be required to make a flight of at least 600 feet on a slope not to exceed 11 degrees (about 5:1) in steepness. Distance is measured parallel to the slope. The gross weight of the aircraft and the pilot must be at least 170 pounds, with ballast added as needed to meet the weight. The wind velocity at the time of the flight shall be at least 5 mph, but not to exceed 13 mph. A towed assist by a single helper at the beginning of the flight will be permitted, but not required. The date of the competition began August 25, 1973, and ends when the prize has been won, or on August 31, 1975, whichever occurs first.
Application for entry may be made by submitting a $5 fee to the IAHF, 1649 El Prado, Balboa Park, San Diego . . .
Test of Montgomery Glider Replica
The FORUM is presented as an opportunity for each member to participate in the Journal by submitting interesting or unusual photographs. Negatives, slides, black-and-white or color photos with good contrast may be used if they have smooth surfaces. Digital submissions are also acceptable, but please provide high resolution images (>3,000 pixels wide). Please include as much information as possible about the image such as: date, place, msn (manufacturer’s serial number), names, etc., plus proper photo credit (it may be from your collection but taken by another photographer).
Send submissions to the Editorial Committee marked“Forum of Flight,” P. O. Box 3023 Huntington Beach, CA 92605-3032. Mark any material to be returned: “Return to (your name and complete address).” Or you may to wish have your material added to the AAHS photo archives.
News and Comments from our Members
Journal Cover, Vol. 60, No. 4, Winter 2015
You probably have been told by many members of the Society regarding the B-17s on the cover of the Winter 2015 issue are from the 381 BS and not the 391 BS as identified in the caption for the cover.
Editor’s Comment: Actually, Bob was the first to point this out. We erred by accepting the ID information with the photo and not verifying it independently. We’ll try to do better in the future.
The Non-Existent Threat – Air Defense of North America in the Cold War, Vol. 60, No. 4, Winter 2015
I greatly enjoyed Mr. Pattillo’s well researched, well written, article on the air defense considerations of the early Cold War. It did not include a minor aspect of Gordon Saville’s recommendations from the Battle of Britain, nor their effect almost 15 years later.
During the Battle of Britain, there were more gaps in the RAF’s radar coverage than most people (even historians) realize. To cover these gaps, the RAF created and used the Royal Observer Corps (ROC). This organization of volunteer civilians detected and reported aircraft that might be missed by the radar coverage. Visualize persons unfit for military service – elderly, young teenagers or those medically disqualified from the military. Supply them with a field telephone, a clipboard and a pair of binoculars. Station them in a church steeple or even in a farmer’s field. They were very effective, and one of Saville’s reports emphasized that the United States should seriously consider establishing a similar organization. Whether later in his career he would have still endorsed that recommendation or not is questionable because of changes in technology.
In the Battle of Britain, the attacking aircraft generally flew in large formations – not always, but enough so that spotting such a formation was the primary task of ROC. After all, 50 bombers in close formation coming from the east in 1940 was almost certainly a German air raid! The attackers were at a speed (approximately 200 mph) and an altitude (10,000 to 20,000 feet) where even an inexperienced spotter could observe valuable information, and the ROC teams were well trained in aircraft identification. As for obtaining the personnel for the teams, the gaps in radar coverage (the need) compared to the population density of Britain (the supply of teams) was such that recruiting and positioning the teams was not a serious problem.
Compare this with the U.S. in the Cold War. If an attack were made by Soviet Tu-4 bombers (B-29 equivalents), they would likely be single aircraft carrying nuclear bombs, flying twice as fast, and twice as high. If you could spot one with your binoculars, how could you tell a B-29 from a Tu-4? In the time period I am discussing, the Tu-4 was the primary consideration. While later generations of Soviet bombers should be considered, even for them the identification problem at the speeds and altitudes under consideration made the identification problem serious. Furthermore, the most probable routes would be over the North Pole, which would take much of the flight path over sparsely settled areas where recruiting volunteer civilian personnel would be a problem.
Despite these serious differences in the scenarios between 1940 and 1952, the USAF created the Ground Observer Corps (GOC). I know this well – for a year or two I was one of the GOC Observers, and was at one time the youngest such observer in New Jersey. Less than a decade later, I was an Air Force officer, teaching ballistic missile crews. One of our subjects was air strategy, comparing WWII with early Cold War and then with aerospace defense in the missile age. (Some <bleep> had stuck strategy in the middle of the syllabus on missile systems engineering!)
In GOC, we were taught that the reason for its existence was the recommendation made from the Battle of Britain, apparently by Saville. To a young teenager, the scenario differences I have described would not be apparent, nor were they apparent to the adults who led Post 23 Bravo, aka Alpha Lima 55 Red, my post in the densely populated North Jersey suburbs of New York and almost directly under the flight paths of several commercial airports. I certainly improved my airplane spotting, but I probably did nothing to improve U.S. defenses.
My personal belief is that this program, though useless, was continued by the air force for its public relations value. For that purpose, it was quite cost-effective. Decades later, in the Prairie states, the old GOC Posts and equipment were made useful in warning of tornadoes and similar problems. Having . . .
Scoot’s Boeing 787-9
It is delightful to meet with historians such as John Underwood, and his wife Mary, as Hayden Hamilton and I did recently. We had the chance to review some of the many photo collections that John has acquired over the years, and the numerous aviation pioneers that John has interviewed or worked beside.
The aviation community is small, and yet there is still so much of its history that we have yet to record– histories of the unique individuals and their aviation inventions that have shaped the modern world.
One history that I hope to help John with is the story of Rearwin Co., and Ed Porterfield, an engineer at Rearwin, who later built and sold his own aircraft under the name Porterfield Aircraft Company.
It’s these fascinating histories that AAHS has recorded and continues to document that keep the mission of AAHS important enough to expend the resources to preserve photo collections and reach out to individuals to record their histories in the AAHS Journal and FLIGHTLINE.
These kinds of histories, if not recorded when there are eyewitnesses to interview, and pictures that have not yet made their way to a dumpster, might not be available for those who seek to understand this material sometime in the future.
Since purchasing our Porterfield several years ago, we have (naturally) taken a much greater interest in the history that this little airplane represents. We’ve looked up its registration history, uncovered past owners, and even found the original manufacturing site (now a run down barbershop) in Kansas City, Missouri. Had we not possessed this airplane, we might not have taken the time to find out this history, and it behooves us to share this information with other Porterfield lovers.
I am grateful that we have an organization such as AAHS where we can document these and other stories, grand and small, simple and complex, all of which add to this storehouse of knowledge. Consider supporting your aviation interests (in addition to your AAHS membership) by adding your photo collection and/or stories to the AAHS archives, or by providing a donation that allows AAHS to continue this important preservation effort. And, look for our Porterfield article soon!
John Underwood and others
In the News | Book Reviews | Links | Store
| Members Only | Membership | About AAHS | Contact Us | Site Map
Copyright © 2002-2020 American Aviation Historical Society