by Tommy H. Thomason
Sunday, November 29, 2015
It may be that ditchings and crashes in the years between the world wars may have been relatively rare, although a black eye, missing teeth, or a scar on a naval aviator's forehead from encountering his gun sight or instrument panel was not unusual. Shoulder harness were also thought by the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) to impede escape in the event of a crash or perhaps considered by the pilots to be a nuisance in using the early gun sight or the plotting board that slid out of the instrument panel, which required leaning forward. (The U.S. Army also did not adopt shoulder harnesses before the war but the Brits did.)
Jim Maas, who is the subject matter expert for the Brewster F2A Buffalo, reports that a BuAer change order to install shoulder harnesses in it was issued on 12 June 1942, to be accomplished "as soon as practicable" but no later than the next major overhaul. According to the January 1948 issue of Flying Magazine, the requirement to modify F4Fs to add shoulder harnesses was issued on 18 June.
The following article that appeared in the 15 June 1943 issue of Naval Aviation News suggests implementation took time:
An article in the 1 January 1944 issue of Naval Aviation News suggests that shoulder harness implementation was still being driven at the local level (VC-19 was a composite squadron operating FM Wildcats and TBM Avengers off escort carriers in the north Atlantic by late 1943).
More information on shoulder harness implementation would be welcomed.
Tuesday, November 3, 2015
I was also surprised in researching the question to discover that the ADF antenna system changed between the early FJ-2 and the FJ-3. The early FJ-2 had the clear dome mounted aft of the armor plate and a sense antenna on the inner surface of the sliding canopy; the dome was replaced by a wire loop on the FJ-3 with no sense antenna on the canopy.
There is a picture of the FJ-3 antenna from page 190 of the Ginter monograph.
As for the rest of the hardware under the canopy aft of the headrest, note that there was a shear web between the sides of the canopy with a couple of items located on it.
The screw jack that opened the canopy was mounted on the fuselage deck below the shear web along with some other odds and ends. When the canopy was closed, the area was greatly simplified from a modeling standpoint.
Monday, November 2, 2015
It was a happy day when I finally was able to buy one of his very rare Box-Kites XFT-1 kits, basically completing a 1/72-scale kit collection of U.S. Navy carrier airplanes.
A few years ago, I referred to him as late and great in a post on a modeling website. I was very pleased to be corrected. I regret to report that the statement is now true.
Saturday, October 31, 2015
TRIM is not a typo. Before TRAM (see http://tailspintopics.blogspot.com/2015/09/grumman-6a-vs-6e-intruder.html), there was TRIM (Trails, Roads, Interdiction Multisensor). It included a large belly-mounted pod that contained a Low-Light-Level Television (LLLTV) camera and a Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) camera. The LLLTV amplified images to make them more visible and the FLIR detected objects that were hotter than their surroundings.
Twelve A-6As, BuNos 155647, 648, 653, 660, 663, 667, 670, 674, 676, 681, 684, and 688, were modified to be A-6Cs. The installation of the pod required the addition of hard points on the bottom of the fuselage as well as cockpit and other minor hardware changes. They were all delivered in the first half of 1970.
Mick Roth recently provided me with additional documentation on the pod that answered some questions I had. This illustration is a work in progress.
The turret was rotated aft to protect the clear panels when the LLLTV and FLIR were not in use.
The windows were flat and not symmetric, with the narrower FLIR camera mounted in the right side of the turret looking through germanium composition glass and the LLLTV camera in the left side looking through quartz composition glass.
The production pod had air outlets on the side of the turret section instead of an inlet, the bottom of the turret opening had an extended lip, and the afterbody was extended downward to the bottom of the fins except for the last foot or so.
Although the A-6C SAC shows the inboard wing fences inboard of the inboard pylon like the A-6E, they were actually outboard of the inboard pylon like the A-6A.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
31 January 2023: Added a size comparison of the XFL-1 and P-39 empennages.
The Bell XFL-1 Airabonita was a one-off prototype based on Bell's P-39 that competed with the Vought XF4U-1 and the Grumman XF5F-1 following the U.S. Navy's 1938 carrier-based fighter competition.
It looks like it would be a colorful and straightforward conversion of the P-39, kits of which are available in every popular scale from 1/144 to 1/32. In fact, several have been done and documented in articles in modeling magazines. However, most—if not all—fall short of representing the actual XFL-1 configuration. Unfortunately, most of the structure, particularly the canopy, was different in detail from the P-39. Not even the 1/72 XFL-1 kits that are available are accurate, since they have the P-39 wing planform, which was somewhat different in taper and span.
For example, this is what it takes to convert a P-39 wing to an XFL-1 wing:
The empennage (both initial and final) is also very different from the P-39's (the final horizontal stabilizer is about the same size and shape but the elevator itself has significantly more chord).
All this and more is contained in my XFL-1 monograph, available from Steve Ginter:
Sunday, September 13, 2015
20 September 2015: Added detail provided by Mick Roth.
16 September 2015: Numerous changes have been incorporated over the past few days: Steve Belanger (see http://www.aoadecals.com/) Richard Brumm (also see his comment below) and others have provided additional information.
A model builder sometimes asks for the differences between the A-6A and the A-6E. There isn’t a simple answer. Initially, the major changes were avionics and other internal items, with the only notable external change being the ECM antennas—and that wasn't true for the first 20 or so A-6Es—and possibly the location of the inboard wing fence. Note also that over 200 As were rebuilt as Es, making Bureau Numbers unreliable as a differentiator. (The first production A-6E was 158041.)
Note that I have arbitrarily differentiated Early and Late A-6As as circa 1970 after the incorporation of improved defensive systems in this summary.
Early As had fairings attached to the forward portion of the tailhook and early Defensive Electronic Countermeasures (DECM) equipment and the ALE-18 chaff dispenser.
Small ALR-15 Radar Warning Receivers were mounted on the wingtips between the position lights on A-6A production number 19 through 358.
New and improved defensive systems were added as a result of combat experience, on the fly so to speak, which resulted in the Later A configuration. For example, two ALE-29A dispensers were added aft of a truncated Doppler radar antenna fairing beginning in either March 1969 and at production number 434 (Roth) or February 1970, replacing the ALE-18. These contained separate cartridges of either chaff or a flare with 30 tubes per dispenser.
Early A-6A Cockpit (gunsight protective cover in place):
Later A-6A Cockpit (note the addition of a radar warning display on the instrument panel above the center console):
The A-6E cockpit was initially similar to the Later A-6A's except for the GRU-7 ejection seat.
Production A-6Es #16 and 18 were delivered to VA-65 with A-6A DECM antennas.
The A-6A ECM antenna on the outboard pylon was subsequently replaced on A-6Es with three in a large fairing on the inboard-wing leading-edge. It had a recess in it for the main landing gear door.
This change to the A-6E inboard leading edge resulted in the inboard wing fence being relocated slightly inboard. On the A-6A (and A-6C contrary to its SAC drawing), it was located slightly but notably outboard of the inboard pylon. On the A-6E, it was moved to be slightly but still clearly inboard of the inboard pylon. Click HERE for the relative locations.
Since CAINS preceded TRAM, all A-6s with the sensor turret under the forward fuselage had the large inlet scoop, but not all A-6s with the large inlet scoop had the turret. However, the latter configuration would be relatively rare although it could occur simply due to a requirement for turret repair with no spare available. This is a former A-6A with the CAINS air scoop but no turret.
The later formation lights replaced much smaller rectangular orange lights on the fuselage.
http://www.usscoralsea.net/images/cv4319800425FD3RL.jpg). The picture is easy to date as taken in April 1980 since this is one of the airplanes with ID markings added for the Tehran hostage rescue mission.