|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 01:11 am: ||
Ah, they might not make engines but the company is still in existence.
True, they've become a conglomerate job shop..... if that makes sense.
It's a funny story in some ways, and feel free to draw analogies with "other" companies.
They lost their geniuses, & had a centralized decision making process with Managers far from the work. That second part means that every decision had to go to New York City to be decided by a guy or committee in the Headquarters building. So the pace of change was slow, and the bean counters ruled.
Toss into this mess the Government program called the "Hyper Motor ( Engine )" A camel by committee, it was a wish list of performance numbers, coupled with a wish list of techno-features the committee liked, which proved to be incompatible lists. So none of the hyper projects ever came off, and a lot of manpower went to these priority projects.
The Geniuses were Donovan Berlin, and ( a fellow who's name I have to go upstairs to look up. Consider it a contest ) Berlin was a race plane designer and designed the beautiful P-36 Hawk & P-40 ( a P-36 with an Allison ), left to go to General Motors, and sired the P-75 Eagle, a plane designed by committee and assembled from parts bins... Which would have merely sucked had the "Hyper Motor" programs had produced a working engine.
Over at the Engine division, the genius who worked out the R-2600 ( Wright's first double row engine ) Laid out the plans for the R-3350, and was sent over to Hyper Motor limbo.
Naturally the bean counters went to cheap out the engine and made it unreliable crap, as well as producing it with the cheapest labor and quality control. Technical details like the position of the exhaust...( exhaust pipes in front row going forward is easy, snaking the pipes between the cylinders from the back is harder, and more expensive.... but front mounted exhausts are in the cooling airflow, and add heat and drag ) were over the life of the engine pretty much all changed back to the original plans and it became a reliable bit of kit.
Ironically, the Germans also had a program, "Bomber B" that called for new improved bombers using a super engine that never hit production, also a flop.
Personally, I'm a major P&W R-2800 fan, since it was nigh bulletproof, brought people back with cylinders shot off, and powered some of the best planes of the war. P-47, F4U, B-26, etc. etc.
And of course the corncob R-4360. The F2G Super Corsair and XP-72 Super Thunderbolt. The F2G's were awesome race machines.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 12:00 pm: ||
I love this thread. Yeah, the R2800 was the finest radial ever made, overall. The BMW used in the Focke-Wulf was pretty damn good too. And that P-75 was the most atrocious aircraft ever built, most likely. The closest thing to a successful hyper engine might have been the air-cooled Napiers, but they were successful although by all accounts so loud they made aircrew deaf. The loudest plane I've ever been exposed to is the B-25 Mitchell (R2600). That sumbitch is LOUD. It's interesting that Don Berlin manaaged to keep the government buying P40s right to the end of the war, when it was clearly past its prime from the beginning, but it was a very attractive plane. Most people don't know they built a lot of them with Merlin engines but it didn't do much for it. Conversly, the P51 with its superb airframe, did very well with the Allison but only at lower altitudes. Rolls Royce had a lock on supercharger technology. Other interesting planes were from Bell. They never, ever made a conventional plane. Everything from their drawing board was just strange. Random thoughts.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 12:57 pm: ||
Conversly, the P51 with its superb airframe, did very well with the Allison but only at lower altitudes. Rolls Royce had a lock on supercharger technology.
The P-51 with the Merlin was an interesting piece of engineering serendipity. IIRC, the Allison-engined P-51A topped out at ~390 MPH. The Merlin-engined P-51B topped out aat ~440 MPH, far above the prediction based on the fairly small increase in horsepower. One of the reasons for this was supposedly that the waste heat from the Merlin synch'ed up perfectly with the P-51's belly mounted radiator. This cooling system resulted in a net thrust to the aircraft as cooling air was taken in the belly scoop, heated in the radiator, and then jetted out through a variable exhaust opening. Pretty cool stuff.
I always thought this was one of the coolest experimental designs back then, the McDonnell XP-67 "Moonbat".
The entire wing and fuselage was streamlined into an airfoil shape. Unfortunately, it used unproven experimental Continental XIV-1430-17/19 engines that didn't develop nearly their rated output. The single prototype burned when an engine overheated and seized during a test flight. The pilot had the sheer gnads to land a plane with one engine ON FIRE on a cross-wind landing strip with the wind blowing away from the body of the aircraft, but at the last second the brake on that side failed and the plane pivoted 180 degrees so that the flames blew back over the aircraft quickly consuming it. The article I read said the plane probably wasn't a very good investment, but it was a very good initial investment in a company which later produced a lot of great airplanes.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 03:09 pm: ||
The German firm Gotha built something similar with jet engines but I don't think it ever flew. The P-51 radiator was part of the design from the beginning. It's controversial if it actually added thrust but it did reduce drag. The big increase in speed was no doubt from the Merlin's ability to maintain its power at much higher altitudes where the air is thinner. For some reason the B and C models were marginally faster than the D. Prolly cuz they only had 4 machine guns rather than 6. There was also an interesting ground attack version of the p51A that they only built a couple hundred of. You should get Aviation History magazine. It's priceless.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 03:13 pm: ||
For you airplane aficionados I recommend a trip to the AF museum in Dayton, Ohio or the Smithsonian in D.C. and Dulles, Va.
|Posted on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 - 03:33 pm: ||
For some reason the B and C models were marginally faster than the D.
Something like 440 MPH vs. 437 MPH IIRC. I think I read it was because the "razorback" fuselage was more aerodynamic than the plexiglass bubble canopy (which gave much better visibility) on the D model.