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The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: F/A-18 Hornet

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   The F/A in F/A-18 stands for Fighter and Attack this alone shows that the Hornet is no typical airplane.  It was designed and built as a multirole fighter meaning it could take off Shoot down and aircraft bomb a target and return to base all in one mission in needed. 

The F-18 demonstrated some unique and ground breaking features.  The first being the LEX or leading edge extensions.  These allow the aircraft to stay in control while the aircraft is flying slow and at high nose up angles.  The F-18 was designed to replace many if not all of the US Navys fighters and other specialty aircraft.  THe F-18 was made with extremely bulky and tough landing gear so it could withstand the intense impact of landing on a carrier, which is what some call ” a controlled crash” more than a landing. 

   The Hornet was superseded in 1999 by the Super Hornet.  This aircraft was an improved version of the Hornet in the sence that it was larger and capable of carrying larger payloads.  It was also equipped with more up to date computers and weapon systems.  It can carry up to four additional fuel tanks for longer missions and can be made into tanker aircraft to refuel planes in mid-flight.

The Hornet will continue to lead the US navy in airpower for years and years to come. 

 

General characteristics

  • Crew: F/A-18E: 1, F/A-18F: 2
  • Length: 60 ft 1¼ in (18.31 m)
  • Wingspan: 44 ft 8½ in (13.62 m)
  • Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
  • Wing area: 500 ft² (46.45 m²)
  • Empty weight: 30,600 lb (13,900 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,000 lb (21,320 kg) (in fighter configuration)
  • Max takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,900 kg)
  • Powerplant:General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
    • Dry thrust: 14,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each
    • Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
  • Internal fuel capacity: F/A-18E: 14,400 lb (6,530 kg), F/A-18F: 13,550 lb (6,145 kg)
  • External fuel capacity: 5 × 480 gal tanks, totaling 16,380 lb (7,430 kg)

Performance

  • Maximum speed: Mach 1.8+ (1,190 mph, 1,900 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
  • Range: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
  • Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km)
  • Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,000+ m)
  • Wing loading: 94.0 lb/ft² (459 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.93
  • Design load factor: 7.6 g

The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: US NAVY Blue Angels

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   As the Thunderbirds are the performers for the USAF the Blue Angles are the performers for the United States Navy.  The shows may look similar but, the aircraft, the pilots, and the way they fly are all different.  At the airshows I attend each year usually alternates between the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds.  In my opinion, the Blue Angels are the most intense.

The Blue Angels we established in 1946 to keep people interested in Naval Aviation by performing stunts at popular shows know as air shows.  They were the first of their kind and would make history for years to come.  They were stationed in Corpus Christi for the beginning until 1954 when they moved to Pensacola, Florida , were they are still located.  The team is made up of 16 officers and around 110 enlisted members.

   The aircraft set up and formations are almost identical to the Thunderbirds but there are a few differences.  There is the same four aircraft that make up the diamond formation.  The one difference here is that the Thunderbirds Slot pilot moves into position mid-loop after takeoff as the Blue Angels Slot pilot moves there right after takeoff.

   The solo pilots are identical to the Thunderbirds also.  Both #5 and #6 pilots alternate with the diamond formation.  A some point in the show the teams have been known to give a sneak pass.  This is a very low  high-speed pass than not many will see coming. It is sure to make you jump.

   The solo pilots and diamond pilots will then meet and fly in the 6 ship formation.

The other aircraft that makes up the Blue Angels is a C-130 called Fat Albert.  It is a supply aircraft and is equipped with a JATO system or Jet-fuel Assist Take Off.  The aircraft has rockets put on the rear end of the aircraft to help the aircraft make a very short take off.

The Blue angels have been around much longer than the Thunder birds and have had many different aircraft aswell.

F6F-5 Hellcat

F8F-1 Bearcat

F9F-2 Panther

F9F-8 Cougar

F11F-1 Tiger

F-4J Phantom II

A-4F Skyhawk

F/A-18 Hornet

Most Incredible Aircraft Of All Time: F-16 Fighting Falcon

Posted in Uncategorized on December 6, 2010 by thesprucemoose

The F-16 is a multi-role fighter built in the mid 70s.  It was an aircraft ahead of its time putting into effect many new advances in military airpower technology.  The first was a completely revolutionised cockpit.  The Pilot would sit in the seat which is adjustable and leaned back 30 degrees to support the pilot at high G’s.  The cockpit also provided much better vision for the pilot due to a modern bubble canopy. The last huge advance in the cockpit are the controls.  The stick is a side control stick and both the throttle and stick have button controls on them for pilot ease.

The F-16 also has what is called a Fly-By-Wire system.  The aircraft is built aerodynamically unstable, meaning if computers were not in control the F-16 would spiral into the ground every flight.  The system makes thousands of readings per minute to keep the aircraft flying level and straight.  When a pilot makes a movement with the stick the computer reads it and does the work for him.  This gives the aircraft an outragious amount of maneuverability.

The F-16 has been bought by many allied countries and has done its job well and will continue to do so.  The aircraft is reliable and very effective as shown by the USAF Thunderbirds.  It’s Truly and incredible aircraft.

General characteristics

Performance

The Most Incredible Aircraft Of All Time: USAF Thunderbirds

Posted in Uncategorized on November 16, 2010 by thesprucemoose

Last week I talked about the airshow I attended, and the final performance by the USAF Thunder birds.  I want to fill you in on a short history of the Thunderbirds, then teach you a little bit about the way they fly.  After this I’ll talk about their history of aircraft from the old to the modern F-16.

The Thunderbirds were started on February 13, 1967.  They were made the official demonstration team for the USAF.  They flew many shows before this time but it was not official until 1967.  They Perform up to 88 shows per year in every almost every state and many other countries.  The team is made up of 12 Officers, the first 6 are the pilots.  The other  120 members of the team are enlisted men who support the aircraft and do many other tasks involved with making a great show run smoothly.

The flight team is made up of six of the same aircraft.  The first 4 aircraft make up the Diamond Formation.  This consists of the lead, pilot #1, in front with pilots 2 and 3 on wing left and wing right.  The 4th pilot is called the “Slot” pilot as he fills in the gap at the back of the formation.

The other pilots, #5 and #6, are the solo pilots.  The solo pilots will alternate with the Diamond Formation in performing stunts.  The Solos stunts are alternated between single flybys or two ship flybys, and opposing.  Fun fact aircraft #5 has its five painted upside-down because of his frequent inverted flight.

After many minutes of alternating the two sub-teams join into the classic Thunderbirds Formation.  The two solos fill in at far wing right and left.

 The USAF Thunderbirds have gone through many different aircraft through their years and they are as follows:

F-84 Thunderjet,

F-100 Super Sabre,

F-105 Thunderchief,

F-4 Phantom II (Awesome),

T-38 Talon,

and today they fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

Weekend Air Show!

Posted in Uncategorized on November 8, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   I’m going to take a break from my usual topic, The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time, to talk about my favorite event of the year.  It’s not Christmas, Wurstfest, or even an awesome concert.  My favorite weekend is airshow weekend!

   For those of you who may not know what an airshow is, you’re crazy!  It’s the greatest single weekend on earth.  A full weekend of every kind of aircraft you can imagine, and some you can’t, flying around.  There are planes from World War II all the way to the 5th generation fighter of today.  Some of the time is filled with parachuters falling from the sky.  Other performances are by adrenaline junky stunt pilots defying the laws of aerodynamics. 

   This years airshow was at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas.  Lackland is a base at its best.  It is the place for basic training for all in coming airmen of the USAF(United States Air Force).  It is also a MP, and military K9 training base.  Lackland is home to the 149 Fighter Wing, an Air National Guard unit that flies F-16s over San Antonio.  We arrived early so the parking was great and the security line was short but, arrive late and expect to wait for hours.

The show began with a L-39 russian trainer flying around just to entertain for a while.  After a few minutes the C-17 took off carrying a few USAF special forces soldiers.  One if the members jumped out at 5,000ft with an American flag. They then sang the National Anthem and four F-16s flew past behind the flag, an incredible start to an incredible day.

The first part of the show was a lot of WWII fighters and bombers, beginning with the Tora Tora Tora Act.  This is a mock attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941.  Many pyrotechnics were used and after two american aircraft took off a mock dog fight was in progress.  Truly an amazing show.

Around the middle Were the modern fighters both the F/A-18 Super Hornet and the F-22 Raptor put on shows that made you stare in awe at the raw power and maneuverability of our modern Air Force.  The F-22 did maneuvers such as  the power loop where the nose of the aircraft seems to stay in the same spot and the aircraft loops around it.  As well as the power slide, when the F-22 flies straight up till stalls then flies backwards for a short time as gravity brings jim down.  Both the F-18 and F-22 flew high-speed passes that  are at speeds of Mach .99 or around 700 MPH.  They seem to crack the air with a thunderous roar. 



   The last performers of the day were the USAF Thunderbirds.  They are a group of 6 aircraft performing magnificent aerial manuevers in formation.  I will spend my next blog talking about the two major flight teams the USAF Thunderbirds and th US NAVY Blue Angles.

The best weekend all year. Only 365 days to go till the next one.

The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: B-29 Superfortress

Posted in Uncategorized on October 25, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   The B-29 was the largest american bomber to see action in World War II.  It was a late aircraft in the war,  introduced into the U.S. arsenal in 1944.  It was designed as a high altitude day-time bomber and was used mainly over Japan.  It was extremely advanced for its time.  It needed a huge number of people to design, build, test, and use the aircraft.  3,960 B-29s were made total.

   Building the Giant bomber requires new inventions in military aviation technology.  It was a very difficult task to complete.  The program started off rough with the first test flight ending in a crash killing the whole crew of 10 aswell as 20 others in a building that caught on fire after the crash.  The largest problem with the aircraft were the engines being very un reliable in the beginning of production.  Along with new issues such as pressurization, these things took more time to perfect than bombers in the past.

Flying the B-29 was a trip in itself.  The engines, as I said before, Were very faulty.  They would over heat very easily even though the aircraft was capable of flying on only two of its four engines at altitude.   The aircraft also had no control booster systems.  This is like your power steering on your car, and it made the control difficult to use.  Before the B-29 pilots used their acquired skills, and experience to fly aircraft, almost being one with the airplane.  But the manuals for a B-29 were all exact.  You would to what the book said and everything would go well, there was no guessing involved.



What the B-29 may be best known for is the dropping of the first atomic bomb.  On August 6th 1945, the Enola Gay flew over japan and dropped one out of two atomic bombs ever used,”Little Boy.”  A second B-29 called the Bockscar dropped “Fat Man.” 

The B-29 was a desired aircraft by the rest of the world.  The Soviet Union wanted them so badly than when 3 of them landed in their country they kept them, reverse engineered them and created th TU-4.  It was used in the Korean war and finally retired in 1960.  It was an aircraft for the history books, and will never be forgotten.



General characteristics

Performance

The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: P-51 Mustang

Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   Hands down, and without a doubt in my mind the best airplane ever made is the P-51 Mustang.  It was a single seat long range fighter in World War II.  It held the highest kill ratio in the war shooting down over 4,000 aircraft.  It was feared everywhere in the euopean front.  One Luftwaffe commander said, “Once I saw mustangs over Berlin, I knew the jig was up.”  It could out fly, out manuver and over all out perform any other aircraft in the world at the time. 

   The Mustang was designed and built in a record 4 months.  It was made out completely out of aluminum alloy which made it light weight.  The first types were built with and Allison engine, the same one put in the P-40 which was the best fighter the U.S. had at the time.  The new aircraft was much faster than the P-40 even with the same engine  and was called the MK 1.  The problem with the engine was that above 15,000 feet the engine would lose power causing major performance problems.

   The next engine to be put in the Mustang was what made it what it is today.  The Merlin V-12 engine.  It provided 400 more horsepower and gave it and incredible speed in the dogfight scene.  Another attribute the P-51 had were its drop tanks. When B-17 were on missions to bomb targets in Germany they would have escorts, mostly P-47s.  These escorts could only fly halfway then would have to fly back.  The germans would attack bombers right after the escorts turned back.  The Mustangs carries two external fuel tanks under their wings. when they were empty the pilots would drop them and continue flying the mission.  This provided them enough fuel to fly the entire mission and protect the large target bombers.

   The germans created the first jet fighter and thought it would destroy the Mustangs with its speed.  P-51 pilots found that putting the aircraft in a dive would make the plane as fast and faster than the German jet.  There are stories of the P-51 being the first aircraft to break the sound bearer, at the time they did not know what that meant.  It was so popular Ford named a sports car after it.  It is the greatest aircraft in the world and nothing will ever match the Mustangs strength and integrity.

General characteristics

Performance

Armament

  • 0.50 caliber (12.7mm) M2 Browning machine guns with 1,880 total rounds (400 rounds for each on the inner pair, and 270 rounds for each of the outer two pair)
  • 2× hardpoints for up to 2,000 lb (907 kg) of bombs
  • 6 or 10× T64 5.0 in (127 mm) H.V.A.R rockets (P-51D-25, P-51K-10 on)