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When Bad is Good

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posted on Oct, 5 2005 @ 06:22 PM
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My discussion on the Spruce Goose thread has led me into a train of though which I will expound here, if I may.

Not all aeroplanes are wonderful. It seems simple enough but I will take it a bit further, Not all aeroplanes have to be good to be loved.

You see, on that thread I get the impression that Shattered Skies sees me as being out to destroy the legacy of the Spruce Goose, whatever that legacy may be. This is simply not the case, some aeroplanes are magically interesting and lovable simply because they are so incredibly BAD.

The Spruce Goose represented a fine ideal, it was simply the wrong decade to try something like that, but genius cannot afford to wait so planes like that get built and people laugh at them.

You see Aircraft designers are not geniuses, to be revered like gods. They are human beings, albeit gifted ones and lucky sods, and they are just as capable as stuffing things up as the rest of us'

For example what about the idea of taking a perfectly sound Jet fighter and converting to propeller power?

It happened with the republic F-84, the H variant of which sported a propeller, and no service orders whatsoever. Whoever thought of a turboprop fighter?

Well, er, the British did too, not only that but the turboprop powered and hugely underperforming Westland Wyvern actually went into combat in the 1956 Suez campaign. It was retired and scrapped within the year.

We Brits also once thought it was a good idea to build a fighter with NO forward firing guns at all but instead having a four gun turret behind the cockpit as on bombers of the day. This was the Boulton Paul Defiant and it was shot down in droves, though it was quite pretty.

France has had its fair share of moronic designs, perhaps none more so than the SNECMA Coleoptere, this freak not only picked up the concept of the tail sitting VTOL fighter long after the USA had realised its error in thinking such an idea would work, but also tried to manage without any wings at all. Oddly, it crashed, but it didn't seem to do SNECMA much harm as they made a fortune out of jet engines instead.

Really, there are so many and I recommend two books, both entitled 'The Worlds Worst Aircraft', one is by Bill Yenne and the other by James Gilbert to read some hilariously funny accounts of idiot designers and their freakish creations.

Winners are all well and good, but constantly bigging up legendary heroes such as the Spitfire and P-51 is meaningless without a real understanding of the other side of the coin, and to know why aircraft like the Spruce Goose, Brabazon, Messerschmitt Me 163 and so on are to be revered and treasured, and you don't need to pretend they were greater than they were, their place in aviation history is assured anyway.

This is written in a humorous tone which I hope shows, but the point is very valid and real. Its alright to say when something is rubbish, the shame is that modern computers mean there are very few, if any, such visionary but flawed projects around today, unless anyone knows different?

[edit on 5-10-2005 by waynos]




posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 08:01 AM
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Oh how right you are! The Joke is that some of the most messed up ideas actually work!


A few good examples:

The F-117 Nighthawk:

Lockheed's First stealth figher certinly belongs on this list. Kelly Johnosn even doubted that the plane would ever fly. Really, what dumb ass came up with the idea of making a plane out of flat pannels? The plans were plegued with problems in the earily years, three of them crashed before the unit even saw its first combat mission. Ironically, the F-117 is now looked at as a technological break through for it's time.
Now how in the hell did that happen?



The ME-163:

This tiny short range intercepter was built for the Luftwaffa in World War 2. The little rocket planes had a very limited range. they would be launched on an intercept to shoot down incoming allied bombers. They only had enought fule for one attack run. Then they would break away before flaming out. The tiny planes would return to base as an unpowered glider. (More often though, the ME-163's would be intercepted themselves by piston engined fighters as they glided hame.)
Brilliant Huh?

The Jet Pack:

This fun little flying toy was origionally conceived for the Army. The idea was to give scouts a quick way to get in and out of small area. However, the range was so short that the army couldn't use them. They were also expensive to make. So, it ended up in the scrap pile, right?
NO! It got a starring role in Ian Flemming's Thunder Ball, when 007 used it to make a quick escape!
A failed military technology becomes a famous Hollywood Prop! Not a bad comeback.

See, bad really can be good!


Tim



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 09:31 AM
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I disagree with you about the F-117. It is an amazing plane but not because of its flight characteristics or avionics but because of innovative thinking. The F-117 was from a time of "more" thinking: more speed, more bombs, more computers. A squadron of a hundred attack planes that carry two bombs each would not scare anyone. After Desert Storm now people fear the plane and build huge anti-aircraft systems and underrgroundbunkers just because of a plane cobbled together from others.



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 09:35 AM
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That was my original point ronii, Yes the thinking behind it was original and different and new, but it resulted in a bit of a sucky plane, albeit very useful in its own limited way.

All the planes I mentioned in my opening post were also the result of bold and original thinking, but sometimes the end result doesn't quite work out how it was envisaged.

This maybe relevant, or maybe not. How many F-16's have been produced for the USAF since 1981? 1,000? 2,000? Against 59 F-117's. Nuff said



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 10:48 AM
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Originally posted by ghost
The Jet Pack:

This fun little flying toy was origionally conceived for the Army. The idea was to give scouts a quick way to get in and out of small area. However, the range was so short that the army couldn't use them. They were also expensive to make. So, it ended up in the scrap pile, right?
NO! It got a starring role in Ian Flemming's Thunder Ball, when 007 used it to make a quick escape!



Hey, dont sell it short, we also saw it at the opening ceremony of the LA olympics so thats two successful deployments



posted on Oct, 13 2005 @ 12:28 PM
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Some time back one of the Radio Control Model magazines featured a large model of the Spruce Goose.
The wingspan - from memory - was around 12' - 16' or so and it was equipped with eight chainsaw engines - again, from memory, important part was they supplied sufficient power to the model.

The plane took two radio control systems to operate, one for flight surfaces etc. and the other to manage the engines.

The model flew quite well and the magazine deemed it a successful proof of the Spruce Goose design.

The only fly in the ointment - imho - was that the model had sufficient power and the full scale aircraft did not.

Keep in mind that manufacturers not only use wind tunnels, they also build proof of concept large scale radio control models as well as piloted scale models and fly them as part of the research process.

Like many, I'm of the opinion that the only failure of the Spruce Goose's design was the engines which which were not up to the job of properly powering the plane.

Too bad the turbo-props from the present day Hercules weren't available.
They would have done the job and it may have required only six engines.

It's interesting to view the frontal view of the H4 Hercules Spruce Goose and the modern day Hercules C130.
Very similar in appearance with the main difference being the engine count.

Interesting too the similarity in names.

Regardless, interesting post.
I enjoyed it



[edit on 13-10-2005 by Desert Dawg]



posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 04:57 AM
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Originally posted by Argus

Originally posted by ghost
The Jet Pack:

This fun little flying toy was origionally conceived for the Army. The idea was to give scouts a quick way to get in and out of small area. However, the range was so short that the army couldn't use them. They were also expensive to make. So, it ended up in the scrap pile, right?
NO! It got a starring role in Ian Flemming's Thunder Ball, when 007 used it to make a quick escape!



Hey, dont sell it short, we also saw it at the opening ceremony of the LA olympics so thats two successful deployments


I wasn't trying to sell it short! My only point was that the Jet Pack failed in its Origional mission! Personally, I think they are cool!

Tim



posted on Oct, 18 2005 @ 05:21 AM
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Originally posted by roniii259
I disagree with you about the F-117. It is an amazing plane but not because of its flight characteristics or avionics but because of innovative thinking. The F-117 was from a time of "more" thinking: more speed, more bombs, more computers. A squadron of a hundred attack planes that carry two bombs each would not scare anyone. After Desert Storm now people fear the plane and build huge anti-aircraft systems and underrgroundbunkers just because of a plane cobbled together from others.


I respect your oppinion, but I still think the F-117 was a bad idea! The plane's biggest drawback is it's lack of range. To really use the F-117, we need to take our air superiority for granted. Without control of the skies, we can't risk our tankers! Without a tanker, the F-117 is useless.

The F-117 gets the credit that the B-2 deserves. The B-2 is the plane that really changed the balance. With the ability to carry the 5'000 lb. bunker busters, You can run, but you can't hide! Also, with a range of over 6'000 nm, the B-2 can reach many targets with out tanker support.

The F-117 gets lucky in 1991, and it becomes the hero of the decade! The B-2 changes how wars are faught, and the politicans gripe about the price! Sheeesh! Give Me A Break!


Tim



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