The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: SR-71 Blackbird

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   The SR-71 was the fastest conventional aircraft ever used in the United States military.  It was to be used as a long-range, high altitude, high-speed  reconnaissance aircraft.  It was created in complete secrecy to the world in, what is now known as, Area 51.  The Lockheed Skunk Works program was the company overlooking and completing the SR-71 project, then known as the A-12 program.  It is, to date, the fastest air-breathing manned aircraft ever made.

   The Blackbird, as it came to be known, was an aircraft before its time.  The aircraft brought forth aviation methods of construction  that had never been seen before, but have helped found the world of military aviation as we know it today.  One of the new developments was the airflow intake system.  This system was used to keep the airflow speed subsonic even when the aircraft was flying at super sonic speeds.  Another innovation is the introduction of stealth technology.  The SR-71 was used for reconisence and needed to have a very small radar signature.  They did this by flattening the aircraft and blending sides to avoid radar waves from bouncing back and giving out their location.  The other stealth technique used was radar absorbing materials which are now used on many modern aircraft.

   The construction of the Blackbird was like nothing else ever done before or sence.  At the speeds the aircraft would reach aluminum would be useless due to the intense heat the airplane would undergo.  Therefore, the SR-71 was made out of many titanium parts, 85% of the plane was actually made of this metal, the other 15% was composite materials.  Titanium was very difficult to work with, it had to be melted down, molded and cooled, then fabricated.  Although the presses was difficult and expensive it was actually a plus in the aircraft’s design.  Due to the intense heat I mentioned earlier, the titanium was actually becoming stronger after each flight due to the un intentional technique of heat-treating.  After landing the SR-71 would reach temperatures of up to 600 °F or more.  The aircraft was literally put together loosely, and not aligned.  When the aircraft would heat up the parts would fit perfectly.  On the ground before flights the aircraft would leak JP-7  fuel due to the loose panels. JP-7 was a special fuel made for the blackbird, and would only ignite at very high temperatures.  When starting the engines Triethylborane would have to be injected into the fuel.  Triethylborane ignites when contacted with air, this would heat the fuel to its flash point and start the engine.

   The Blackbird was a huge step in aviation.  Some of the things I have talked about are used in our newest aircraft.  Some of the things the SR-71 involves are still top-secret.  It’s an aircraft for the books.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 2
  • Payload: 3,500 lb (1,600 kg) of sensors
  • Length: 107 ft 5 in (32.74 m)
  • Wingspan: 55 ft 7 in (16.94 m)
  • Height: 18 ft 6 in (5.64 m)
  • Wing area: 1,800 ft2 (170 m2)
  • Empty weight: 67,500 lb (30,600 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 170,000 lb (77,000 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 172,000 lb (78,000 kg)
  • Powerplant:Pratt & Whitney J58-1 continuous-bleed afterburning turbojets, 32,500 lbf (145 kN) each
  • Wheel track: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
  • Wheel base: 37 ft 10 in (11.53 m)
  • Aspect ratio: 1.7


The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: A-10 Thunderbolt II

Posted in Uncategorized on October 11, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   In 1967  the U.S. Air force submitted a request for an air to ground attack aircraft.  At this point in time air to ground cover for troops was not focused on greatly,  and when it was used in Vietnam many friendly casualties were caused due to poor accuracy and the lack of a specialised aircraft to complete the task.  The Fairchild Republic company designed and aircraft and were the winners of the experimental competition in 1973, and the aircraft was known as the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

   The A-10, also known as the warthog due to its rough and tough look, was designed as a single seat twin-engined ground attack aircraft.  It is today the best close air support weapon ever made.  The A-10 was also used as a tank buster, or antitank aircraft.  The aircraft was a Subsonic aircraft, meaning it could not break the sound bearer, but it had no need to.  Fairchild designed the strait and wide wings on the Warthog to give it an outragious amount of slow speed maneuverability.  This was used to its advantage while avoiding surface to air weapons and gunfire.  Another unique feature the A-10 has is a false cockpit painted on the belly of the aircraft to confuse the enemy as to which direction the plane is turning.  Under this false cockpit and around the pilot is a part called the “bathtub.”  It is a bullet proof case to protect the pilot is he is fired apon.

  The engines of the A-10 are places very awkwardly on the aircraft and are impossible to miss.  There are many reasons for this placement for example: the engines are placed very high off the ground to prevent  rocks, dirt, sand, and other FOD (Foreign Objects and debris) from getting sucked into the engine and damaging it.  Another reason was that the engines could be angled 9 degrees to improve the flight stability of the aircraft.  The engines used on the A-10 are High Bypass engines meaning most of the thrust is caused by air pushed by the fan and bypassing the engine.  Giving less of a heat signature will reduce chances of being spotted and is achieved by the engines.

  The most well-known characteristic of the A-10 is its Gatling gun.  The Warthog is actually built around this gun,and the gun is the majority of the aircrafts front weight.  The gun is a GAU-8/A Avenger, and it is a seven barrel cannon that alone weighs 620lbs, can carry 1,174 30mm rounds the size of soda bottles, and will fire them at the rate of 4,200 rounds per minute.  The full weapon system weighs over 4,000lbs  The gun is placed off-center to compensate for the amount of recoil.  The weapon is fired is short bursts to prevent over heating and waste of ammunition.  It is said that when you fire this weapon you get the smell of gun powder in the cockpit.

   The A-10 has been in service sence 1977 and will continue to do its job till 2028 and if upgrades are made maybe even longer.  It’s truly an incredible aircraft.

General characteristics


  • Never exceed speed: 450 knots (518 mph, 833 km/h) at 5,000 ft (1,500 m) with 18 Mk 82 bombs
  • Maximum speed: 381 knots (439 mph, 706 km/h) at sea level, clean
  • Cruise speed: 300 knots (340 mph, 560 km/h)
  • Stall speed: 120 knots (138 mph, 220 km/h)
  • Combat radius:
    • On CAS mission: 250 nmi (288 mi, 460 km) at 1.88 hour single-engine loiter at 5,000 ft (1,500 m), 10 min combat
    • On anti-armor mission: 252 nmi (290 mi, 467 km), 40 nm (45 mi, 75 km) sea-level penetration and exit, 30 min combat
  • Ferry range: 2,240 nmi (2,580 mi, 4,150 km) with 50 knot (55 mph, 90 km/h) headwinds, 20 minutes reserve
  • Service ceiling: 45,000 ft (13,700 m)
  • Rate of climb: 6,000 ft/min (30 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 99 lb/ft² (482 kg/m²)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.36


The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: V-22 Osprey

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   After the 1980 Iran Hostage rescue mission failure, which involved rescuing 52 Americans from  the U.S. Embassy in Iran, the U.S. military realised they needed a new aircraft that could carry troops at high-speed aswell as being able to takeoff in short distances and vertically.  The Project was given to the joint effort of Bell Helicopters and Boeing Helicopters to create a tilt-rotor aircraft in 1983.

   The two companies split up the building plan.  The Bell Helicopter company manufactures the wings, tail surfaces, nacelles, rotors, drive system , and aft ramp, as well as the engines and performs the final steps in assembly.  This left  Boeing Helicopters to make the fuselage, cockpit, avionics, and flight controls.  The program was steaming full speed ahead, receiving  $1.7 billion contract from the United States Navy, and creating V-22 Variants for nearly every branch of the U.S. military. Although the project was going well there were a few speed bumps.

   The first of these bumps was the Army pulling their contract on the V-22 claiming they needed to focus on immediate aviation programs.  This was followed by many opposing ideas about the effectiveness and functionality of the program, but the program carried on and the first aircraft flew on March 19, 1989.  The aircraft was a midsize troop transport capable of carrying up to 32 fully equipped troops or 20,000 lb of cargo.  It was equipped with two large rotors that were tilted up for vertical, helicopter like take-offs then could tilt engines forward for high-speed, aircraft like flight.  The Aircraft is equipped with a glass, all computer cockpit with the latest in combat and flight technology.  The V-22 also utilizes a Fly-By-Wire system which is used to keep the aircraft stable in flight si flight is much more simple for the pilots.  In Navy variants the wing and rotors are capable of folding up for easy and convenient storage.

The V-22 is an extreme and incredible invention capable of VTOL (vertical take-off and landing), and being able to fly as fast as an airplane.  It has proven itself in combat, transport, and rescue missions around the world making it one unique and incredible aircraft.

General characteristics

  • Crew: Four (pilot, copilot and two flight engineers)
  • Capacity:
    • 24 troops (seated), 32 troops (floor loaded), or
    • 20,000 lb (9,070 kg) of internal cargo, or up to 15,000 lb (6,800 kg) of external cargo (dual hook)
    • Growler internally transportable ground vehicle[citation needed]
  • Length: 57 ft 4 in (17.5 m)
  • Rotor diameter: 38 ft 0 in (11.6 m)
  • Wingspan: 45 ft 10 in (14 m)
  • Width with rotors: 84 ft 7 in (25.8 m)
  • Height: 22 ft 1 in/6.73 m; overall with nacelles vertical (17 ft 11 in/5.5 m; at top of tailfins)
  • Disc area: 2,268 ft² (212 m²)
  • Wing area: 301.4 ft² (28 m²)
  • Empty weight: 33,140 lb (15,032 kg)
  • Loaded weight: 47,500 lb (21,500 kg)
  • Max takeoff weight: 60,500 lb (27,400 kg)
  • Powerplant:Rolls-Royce Allison T406/AE 1107C-Liberty turboshafts, 6,150 hp (4,590 kW) each


  • Maximum speed: 250 knots (460 km/h, 290 mph) at sea level / 305 kn (565 km/h; 351 mph) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)[125]
  • Cruise speed: 241 knots (277 mph, 446 km/h) at sea level
  • Range: 879 nmi (1,011 mi, 1,627 km)
  • Combat radius: 370 nmi (426 mi, 685 km)
  • Ferry range: 1,940 nmi (with auxiliary internal fuel tanks)
  • Service ceiling: 26,000 ft (7,925 m)
  • Rate of climb: 2,320 ft/min (11.8 m/s)
  • Disc loading: 20.9 lb/ft² at 47,500 lb GW (102.23 kg/m²)
  • Power/mass: 0.259 hp/lb (427 W/kg)

The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: B-25 Mitchell

Posted in Uncategorized on September 19, 2010 by thesprucemoose

   Designed to meet the U.S. Army requirements in World War II, the B-25 was a twin-engine medium attack bomber.  The B-25 was originally assigned to be sent to the United Kingdom aswell as France.  The two countries decided to use another aircraft called the DB-7 HAVOC.  Although the aircraft were not produced for the other countries, the U.S. Army Air Corps decided to use it as a medium bomber along with the B-26.

   strangely enough, when production began in late 1939 there were no experimental aircraft built.  All modifications and upgrades were made either in production or onto active aircraft.  For example the after the first 9 aircraft were built, an apparent stability problem was discover and was due to the design of the wing.  After this all the aircraft were built with a re-designed wing called a “gull wing”.  This wing is made with a downward bend in it to solve the stability problem.  There were also numerous changes made to the tail and other parts of the aircraft all through production.  All together 26 different variants of the B-25 were made through out production. Ranging from attack aircraft to VIP transports.

   A few well-known events have involved the B-25, two in particular.  After the attack on Perl  Harbor, a man by the name of Lt Col James H. Doolittle was placed in charge of a top-secret mission.  The B-25s were stripped of any useless or heavy items in order to make them light enough to take off from an aircraft carrier.  Things such as Armor plates, large gun turrets, and even the original bomb sight, replaced with a lighter and less sophisticated one.   The mission took place April 18, 1942.  The U.S.S. Hornet had been spotted off the coast of Japan by a Japanese fishing boat and the 16 B-25s and 80 men were forced to launch 10 hours and 170 miles earlier than planned.   The aircraft made their bombing runs and destroyed their targets.  The damage was mon severe but it did make the Japanese aware that they could be attacked and they brought back much of their military to protect themselves.  It’s incredible that such a small bomber that had been fabricated and upgraded constantly could make such an enormous impact on the war.

   The Second event happened on July 28, 1945.  During a thick fog in New York City a lone B-25 slammed into the Empire State Building killing 14 people.  This was actually the main reason that when the World Trade Center towers 1 and 2 were built, they were designed to withstand the impact of a Boeing 707, which was the largest aircraft of the time.

The Most Incredible Aircraft of All Time: H4 Hercules

Posted in Uncategorized on September 12, 2010 by thesprucemoose

  As Hughes turned the massive aircraft around for the final taxi test of the day not many new they would be witnessing history.  As we entered World War II the United states military sent a request for a new large transport for troops and cargo.  A man by the name of  Henry J. Kaiser joined with, more well-known, Howard Hughes. They formed the Hughes Kaiser Co. and set off to make the largest and most magnificent flying machine ever built. 

   The project started in 1942 after obtaining $18,000,000 from the U.S. government.  The plan was to create a single hull flying boat, or rather ship, that could carry close to 750 fully equipped troops.  Due to the restrictions on using materials that were needed for the war, Hughes was forced to used almost only wood to build the airplane.  This is where the aircraft acquired its famous name “The Spruce Goose” . It was said by reporters to be  made entirely out of Spruce wood, although it was made out of Birch wood.  A technique was used called “Duramold”, which entails taking sheets of plywood, glue, and heat to make the curves, body, and wings of the giant.  Oddly enough it was lighter and stronger than aluminum, which is used to make a large majority of aircraft from the 40’s on to our modern airplanes.  The aircraft went over budget as well as having a late finishing date.  The government would not help fund the completion of the plane and Hughes was forced to use his own money to finish the project.  He put $7,000,000 of his own funds into the airplane and finished it in 1947, two years after the war had ended.

   On November 2, 1947, with Hughes on the controls, taxi tests were being done near Long Beach, California.  The day had gone well all test were good. One taxi test remained, a few reported had left but most remained. As Hughes turned the massive aircraft around for the third and final taxi test of the day was under way.  Hughes pushed the throttle levers forward spooling up the eight Pratt & Whitney R-4360 radial engines. They each had 4,000 horsepower and pushed the monster of an aircraft forward and the crew back in there seats.  The aircraft reaches taxi speed, but its speed kept increasing up to 130MPH.  The reporters and onlookers stared in anticipation to see what was going on.  slowly the aircraft lifted out of the water.  It flew 70 ft off the water for about half a mile.  Hughes set the aircraft down gently, turned it around to park it in the hangar.  It sat there flight ready for almost 30 years, but The Spruce Goose never flew again.  Talk about “going out in your prime”.

General characteristics

  • Crew: 3
  • Length: 218 ft 8 in (66.65 m)
  • Wingspan: 320 ft 11 in (97.54 m)
  • Height: 79 ft 4 in (24.18 m)
  • Fuselage height: 30 ft (9.1 m)