Mark Nankivil sent along two very nice photos of life in the aircraft factory. The first is a control surface static load test of the F-3H Demon. The second is of an F2H-2N Banshee (123300) backed into an outdoor muffler while doing engine run-ups. As jet engines became more powerful, a “hush house” was built for these runs. Credit: the Greater St. Louis Air and Space Museum.
Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
I looked at this photo maybe a half dozen times before I realized what I was seeing! The nose has an instrument photo panel in it, in order to record the in-flight data. This was the way it was done before data link came around!
Either a camera is placed in front of the panel to record the instruments or the camera shoots thru a hole in the panel into a mirror and records the data. It is hard to tell from this photo; but, it may have the center hole.
My first job in Flight Test was to calculate the required distance between the camera lens and the front of the instrument panel on F4H-1 # 8. So, this rare photo has special meaning to me.
Monday, December 29, 2014
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Saturday, December 27, 2014
During a trip to England in 1998, I stopped at the RAF Henden Museum. The Royal Air Force Museum London, commonly called the RAF Museum, is located on the former Hendon Aerodrome outside of London. They have a V-1, V-2, Me-109 and a lot of other German WWII aircraft! I went there mainly to photograph their V-1. The museum has a good web site at here.. An excellent place to visit!
Friday, December 26, 2014
Another unpainted F-15 doing final prep for flight. This is the first Israeli F-15. Credit: Israeli Air Force
Thursday, December 25, 2014
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
If you are interested in F-15 aerodynamic performance, then Jack Abercrombie wrote a paper for the Advisory Group for Aerospace Research & Development (AGARD) in October of 1977 that you will like. While technical, it has good information for the lay person. Have a look!
Monday, December 22, 2014
In 2012, Jack Abercrombie wrote several articles and a slide show to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the F-15’s first flight. They detail the challenges of bringing along a new aircraft and the changes that were required to the airframe to enable it to be the world class fighter that it became.
This is a must read for anyone who is interested in the F-15 Eagle and it’s history from the man that was there!
Sunday, December 21, 2014
When the company didn’t want to go to the expense and time to build a model and conduct a wind tunnel series of tests, we painted the wings white, attached tufts with “500” mph industrial duct tape and flew the aircraft. The chase plane would take photos or we would mount cameras on the moldline for photos. If I remember correctly, my tests were on F-4A #9.
On the photos above, notice the straight flow over the wings except for the outer wing panel.
Saturday, December 20, 2014
During the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, Bob Pukala and myself worked on many projects with our External Relations department; such as the 5000th F-4 Booklet, answering many letters from serious enquiries, other pamphlets; etc., With the permission of our respective departments, of course. I seem to get the job of organizing many tours of the assembly line, probably as my office was mostly in Bldg. 002, where the assembly lines were. Here are some F-15 photos from a late 1979 tour.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Factory photos of the F-15 ejection seats. The first photo of a basic seat bucket was taken in Dec 1976 and is of a pre-production type as the production seats are black. The second thru fourth photos were taken in Jan 1977 showing this production seat, probably in the seat build-up area.
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
While I was at Edwards Air Force Base, I was told that McAir had promised the Air Force that an F-15 could have one of it’s engines changed in 15 minutes. So, they arranged a demo!. They made it with a shade under 15 minutes; but, every thing was perfect for the demo. All equipment was pre-staged, all engine covers and caps were of and the crew was drilled to perfection. My good ex-air force mechanic buddy said that the fastest they ever did it was about 30 minutes in the real world! Below are some typical engine change photos.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014
Monday, December 15, 2014
In any collection, you have certain pieces that don’t fit into niches very well. For the historians, I present some xeroxes of the F-4 family tree up to the F-4F and two pages of model designations and build numbers thru the F-4m..
Sunday, December 14, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014
One of the three main visual differences between pre-production and production aircraft is the length of their speed brakes. Short for pre-production and long for production. Jack Abercrombie (Former McAir Chief Aerodynamicist) has written a great article on the history of the F-15 speed brake development.
BTW: The other two are the clipped wing tips (covered below) and the notched horizontals.
Friday, December 12, 2014
Even after coming out of the paint booth (Bldg 48), McDonnell aircraft still had a lot of finish work to be completed before they could be delivered. We were issued and required to wear “booties” when ever we had to climb around on the aircraft; but, still the new paint jobs were scuffed, marked and scraped resulting in an inevitable paint cleaning and touch-up cycle having to be preformed! . After many years of complaining (Including yours truly), it was decided to finish the aircraft, flight test and then paint them. This resulted in unpainted aircraft flying around. A very strange sight to us long time employees conditioned to seeing painted flying aircraft; but, one can clearly see the different aluminum, composite or fiberglass sections of each aircraft. These planes have their own beauty!
Here is a selection of photos of these “naked” aircraft.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
Tuesday, December 9, 2014
Joe Dobronski sent along two more F2H Banshee photos for posting. A better photo of F2H-3 126344, which was one of the items I posted yesterday here. And a photo of the last Banshee produced.
If you don’t know Joseph Dobronski Sr., you should, as he is an important part of McDonnell Douglas Flight Test history.
Test & Research Pilots, Flight Test Engineers web site gives a very good biography:
“After graduation from the (Northrop Aeronautical) Institute in 1951, he joined McDonnell Aircraft in St Louis as a Flight Test Engineer; became a production test pilot in 1953 flying the F2H Banshee, and was promoted to experimental pilot after graduation from the USAF Test Pilot's School in 1954.
As an experimental test pilot, and later in 1966 as Chief Test Pilot, he helped develop the Demon, Voodoo, Phantom II, Eagle, Harrier, Hornet and other experimental aircraft along with a three jet helicopter. Joe became Director of Test Operations in 1972 and Director of Flight Test and Operations in 1976.
After retiring in 1984, Joe served as Chief Pilot for Wings of Hope, a humanitarian organization where he spent the next fifteen years flying medical missions in Central America and delivering aircraft for missions in Belize, Botswana South Africa, and the Galapagos Islands. With over 1700 flight instructor hours, he is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.”
Read the web site for the complete biography.
Monday, December 8, 2014
Click here to view photos
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Jack Abercrombie was in the middle of this problem and had these words:“The attached document describes the buffet problem and the solution. Not noted is the fact that the first "clipped tip" for the airplane was achieved at Edwards in the dark of night by sawing off the tip, smoothing the ragged edges with wooden tips and duct tape. And, it worked wonders! The alternative was to incorporate a combination of strakes and fences (a St. Louis developed configuration)--unfortunately, the alternative resulted in too much drag to be viable. Both configurations are shown in the above sketches.”
My only part in this as a Flight Test Engineer was to coordinate the production, distribution and delivery of the Mod Kits sent out for incorporation in all of the pre-production aircraft.
No matter if you call them clipped, modded or raked wing tips, Jack has written a very interesting saga about their history!
Saturday, December 6, 2014
Pat Rodgers confirmed that the F-4E in this photo was a “Photo Op” bird. This is F-4E 66-0287 #2280, which was bailed to McDonnell for tests. Note the photo target on it’s side. Pat goes on to say “The flight crew in the photo, Gentry and Rutan, flew all the F4E spin flights, and in addition some CAT 2 F4E A/C that were in Flt. test at the time.The spin program was complete without a resolution for an A/C configuration recovery mode.”