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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:12 am 
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You know, a friend of mine has a few thousand hours flying DC-3s and PBYs. He said he’s never flown one with working fuel gages. A friend had a P-51 that didn’t have fuel gages. You always topped off and used your watch.
The T-6 I checked out in had lousy fuel gages down by your feet and we used our wristwatch to track fuel usage. I fly contract trips on a lot of transport category older jets, fuel gage problems or irregularities are common. A lot of extra fuel has to be carried if you can’t trust the gages. Sometimes it’s possible to match the engine thrust settings and you can ascertain what the tank with the inop fuel gage “should” have in it. Also, even the 1960’s and 70’s jets we operate have low fuel light warnings to remind you . We never run low on fuel. It’s unprofessional.
My point is this; with all the advances in safety and quality in the warbird movement, is it time to review fuel management? Why can’t someone invent , design or adapt modern style fuel gages for vintage aircraft? Especially, vintage transport category aircraft? Guessing and guessing wrong has led to the loss of so many airplanes.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 8:44 am 
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very simply,
The FAA, they make it so difficult to do something simple. That said, the best thing is to stick the tanks before every flight, I trust that more than a fuel gauge.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 2:31 pm 
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Matt Gunsch wrote:
very simply,
The FAA, they make it so difficult to do something simple. That said, the best thing is to stick the tanks before every flight, I trust that more than a fuel gauge.

FYI, this is pretty much standard practice across the warbird industry, particularly for multi-engine warbirds such as bomber/cargo aircraft. All the owners and operators I know adhere to this. It is pretty common knowledge that the vast majority of fuel gauges in nearly all W.W.II aircraft are notoriously inaccurate and unreliable for any amount of precision. They can give a "rough estimate", but should not be relied upon exclusively when nearing FAR fuel reserves and/or emergency fuel reserves. While operating the aircraft, there are only two times when a pilot in the cockpit knows with absolute certainty what the fuel level is - 1) when the fuel tanks have been filled full, just before takeoff and, 2) when they are empty, as indicated by the engine(s) quitting. Those are the only two known "hard points" in fuel management in W.W.II aircraft that have no uncertainty. Everything else is an interpolated value that is guessed upon based on timing and anticipated fuel consumption. Because of the uncertainty and high probability of inaccuracy of these interpolated values, most pilots/operators stick the fuel tanks before a flight for any fuel level other than full. This will give the pilot in command a precise "known" amount of fuel prior to takeoff for flights that don't have full fuel tanks. From there, it's simply a matter of timing and fuel flow values to calculate fuel on board.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:36 pm 
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We always used a calibrated stick in the B-25 we operated for over ten years to determine fuel on board. However, there are some airplanes that a stick cannot be inserted into the tank. For example, the A-26 has a nearly 90 degree bend that leads to the tank. Kay has a fairly accurate fuel flow meter on each engine that takes some of the guesswork out of it, but we have also put a lot of effort into having accurate fuel gauges. We still run the timer and start paying a lot closer attention when approaching time to switch tanks. The fuel pressure will start fluctuating slightly as a first clue. That’s when you better catch it by switching and turning the appropriate boost pump on until established on the new tank. We did learn one other trick to get more fuel out of the B-25 tanks when getting low and that was to lower 10 degrees of flaps to lower the nose attitude and move some fuel forward to the pickup from the back of the tank.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:49 pm 
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OD/NG wrote:

FYI, this is pretty much standard practice across the warbird industry, particularly for multi-engine warbirds such as bomber/cargo aircraft. All the owners and operators I know adhere to this.


I know, I have only been doing it for the 30+ years I have been working on and flying warbirds.....

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:54 pm 
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A26 Special K wrote:
We always used a calibrated stick in the B-25 we operated for over ten years to determine fuel on board. However, there are some airplanes that a stick cannot be inserted into the tank. For example, the A-26 has a nearly 90 degree bend that leads to the tank. Kay has a fairly accurate fuel flow meter on each engine that takes some of the guesswork out of it, but we have also put a lot of effort into having accurate fuel gauges. We still run the timer and start paying a lot closer attention when approaching time to switch tanks. The fuel pressure will start fluctuating slightly as a first clue. That’s when you better catch it by switching and turning the appropriate boost pump on until established on the new tank. We did learn one other trick to get more fuel out of the B-25 tanks when getting low and that was to lower 10 degrees of flaps to lower the nose attitude and move some fuel forward to the pickup from the back of the tank.

Thanks for that info, A26 Special K, I was not aware of that limitation on the B-26. A few questions for you:

1) Is the fuel quantity indicating system on Special K different from the one they used on factory A-26's in W.W.II? In other words, was that fuel indicating system an "upgrade" put into place on the On Mark conversions to B-26K standard? Is your fuel flow meter part of that standard, or is it the same one from W.W.II?

2) For tanks where dips can't be taken, there has to be another way to mitigate fuel errors. If you can't use a dipstick, does the B-26 have a fuel dripstick? I'm not familiar with the B-26 fuel tank system - does the B-26 have that functionality? It sounds like your fuel flow indicator is one way to mitigate errors/inaccuracies. I'm assuming that in order to have "known" fuel quantities prior to takeoff, you probably fill up one or more tanks to full levels. Is this a strategy you employ?

3) I've heard in anecdotal stories from Vets that one of the things they did in the MTO was to use partial flaps in those B-25's to extend the range. So, what you say is validated by Veterans' recollections.


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2020 4:58 pm 
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Matt Gunsch wrote:
OD/NG wrote:

FYI, this is pretty much standard practice across the warbird industry, particularly for multi-engine warbirds such as bomber/cargo aircraft. All the owners and operators I know adhere to this.


I know, I have only been doing it for the 30+ years I have been working on and flying warbirds.....
Yea, sorry, that quote was not directed specifically to you. I was expounding upon the information you wrote for our lesser informed forum members. I am aware of your extensive background in warbird operations and place great credibility in what you write. I always appreciate your input on this forum! :drink3:


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:11 pm 
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Thank you, that's my point. The warbird industry needs to come up with a modern 21st century solution to precise measuring of the fuel while in flight. In fact, the FAA needs to mandate it somehow. Why is it that you can buy an old ragged Sabreliner , CItation 500/501, Falcon 20 or Westwind jet that are 50 years old and cost $150k , are junk but the gages work precisely, but you can't have accurate fuel consumption knowledge on 80 year old airplanes that have the same fuel flow, the same extreme variances in fuel flow (different reasons) but once you start the engines, your knowledge and accuracy of the amount of fuel on board decreases with every minute?
Just to name a few fuel starvation crashes that come to mind. The EAA's Lockheed 12, The EAA's Travelair Biplane, the CAF's P-63F, the Boeing 307, THe first Yak 3 conversion that landed 100 miles short of Oshkosh without fuel, the Boeing 307 that went down in saltwater, the CAF S-2, the CAF's HE-111, the CAF's AN-2, possibly the B-25 "OLD Glory", and of course hundreds more. C'mon guys, we're 20 years, 20% into this new Century. It's time to bring these fuel systems into the 21st Century


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 6:44 pm 
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marine air wrote:
Thank you, that's my point. The warbird industry needs to come up with a modern 21st century solution to precise measuring of the fuel while in flight. In fact, the FAA needs to mandate it somehow. Why is it that you can buy an old ragged Sabreliner , CItation 500/501, Falcon 20 or Westwind jet that are 50 years old and cost $150k , are junk but the gages work precisely, but you can't have accurate fuel consumption knowledge on 80 year old airplanes that have the same fuel flow, the same extreme variances in fuel flow (different reasons) but once you start the engines, your knowledge and accuracy of the amount of fuel on board decreases with every minute?
Just to name a few fuel starvation crashes that come to mind. The EAA's Lockheed 12, The EAA's Travelair Biplane, the CAF's P-63F, the Boeing 307, THe first Yak 3 conversion that landed 100 miles short of Oshkosh without fuel, the Boeing 307 that went down in saltwater, the CAF S-2, the CAF's HE-111, the CAF's AN-2, possibly the B-25 "OLD Glory", and of course hundreds more. C'mon guys, we're 20 years, 20% into this new Century. It's time to bring these fuel systems into the 21st Century

Good point, and something I'm curious about as well. I don't know enough about the technical side of fuel systems to know if it is possible to retrofit old technology fuel monitoring systems with new ones that are more accurate and reliable. Can someone with more technical knowledge expound about the feasibility and practicality of this?


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 9:43 pm 
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marine air wrote:
Just to name a few fuel starvation crashes that come to mind. The EAA's Lockheed 12, The EAA's Travelair Biplane, the CAF's P-63F, the Boeing 307, THe first Yak 3 conversion that landed 100 miles short of Oshkosh without fuel, the Boeing 307 that went down in saltwater, the CAF S-2, the CAF's HE-111, the CAF's AN-2, possibly the B-25 "OLD Glory", and of course hundreds more. C'mon guys, we're 20 years, 20% into this new Century. It's time to bring these fuel systems into the 21st Century


When did the EAA Travel Air crash? Also, I thought the HE-111 had one engine fail, was it fuel starvation?



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2020 11:12 pm 
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Common people this is not about fuel gauges, this is about pilot error in fuel planning. I owned and operated warbirds and a large fleet of "modern" aircraft and in my warbirds including a TBM, B-25, C-47 and others we used a dipstick unless fuel filled to the brim and then we sighted that and did a fuel cap check. We had no end of fuel inaccuracies with my Beech Super KIng Airs and devised a method to double check the quantities before flight. The PIC is the responsible person for checking he has sufficient fuel for the flight - end of story...


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 12:44 am 
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Invader26 wrote:
Common people this is not about fuel gauges, this is about pilot error in fuel planning. I owned and operated warbirds and a large fleet of "modern" aircraft and in my warbirds including a TBM, B-25, C-47 and others we used a dipstick unless fuel filled to the brim and then we sighted that and did a fuel cap check. We had no end of fuel inaccuracies with my Beech Super KIng Airs and devised a method to double check the quantities before flight. The PIC is the responsible person for checking he has sufficient fuel for the flight - end of story...

Yes, I agree, the buck stops with the PIC. My point is, even though with that being the case, is there any technical or regulatory reason that we cannot increase the accuracy and reliability of the fuel indicating system to take advantage of new modern technology? True, the PIC should always know the fuel prior to takeoff, but if there is a way to give more accurate readings in flight with improved systems, why not use them?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 4:05 am 
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As I recall, the CAF He111 had one engine shut down due to a fault and it had nothing to do with fuel.

As for Old Glory, where has the speculation about fuel starvation come from? On the pictures there is apparent charring on the leading edge near the starboard engine, and seeing how the engines were torn off I'd presumed the props were turning under power when the aircraft hit? Just curious...


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:39 am 
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You don't need new gadgets and gizmos to keep you from running out of fuel, all you need is a watch and know what your fuel burn is, and how much you had to start with.
A friend once asked me what you put in the tanks of the plane, his answer was TIME, you are not putting fuel in, you are putting TIME in the tank.
If you want you can install fuel flow systems, but they are only as accurate as the fuel levels entered into them. The best thing is still a calibrated dip stick and visual inspection of the tanks.
there are some that would have kittens if they saw the fuel gauge on my Ercoupe, a wire attached to a float sticking out of the gas cap in front of the windshield. If it starts down, you have either burned all your fuel from the wing tank, or your fuel pump has failed, either way you have about 45 minutes to be on the ground.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2020 7:45 am 
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LysanderUK wrote:
As I recall, the CAF He111 had one engine shut down due to a fault and it had nothing to do with fuel.

As for Old Glory, where has the speculation about fuel starvation come from? On the pictures there is apparent charring on the leading edge near the starboard engine, and seeing how the engines were torn off I'd presumed the props were turning under power when the aircraft hit? Just curious...


for the 111, A loss of engine power for reasons undetermined, was the determination, but there was no way to tell how much fuel was on board as the plane burned. The most likely reason was it ran out of fuel as the had flown non stop from midland to casper, they were heading to a show and it was normal to go to the shows light on fuel and load up on "free" gas.

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