Warbird Information Exchange

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Classic Wings Magazine WWII Naval Aviation Research Pacific Luftwaffe Resource Center
When Hollywood Ruled The Skies - Volumes 1 through 4 by Bruce Oriss


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 25, 2019 9:31 pm 
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It's hard to avoid differing opinions, it's human nature. I flew with Dave a bunch in the 25 and 24 and he always had an enthusiastic approach to aviation and always engaged everyone that wanted to talk airplanes. It was one of those messages that came across my text screen I never expected to see, of all people. In my eyes, airplanes are wholly inconsequential when it comes to human life.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:19 am 
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JimH wrote:
...airplanes are wholly inconsequential when it comes to human life.



This, right here. Thanks for putting it into simplest terms Jim, I could not agree more.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 4:46 am 
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JimH wrote:
In my eyes, airplanes are wholly inconsequential when it comes to human life.

jim


For me it's somewhere between the two: this is the warbird information exchange after all, not the people information exchange. Yes the loss of life is tragic, but often after such events we get a lot of hand-wringing and "the aircraft isn't important" sentiments. Well for me the aircraft is (as in this case) an important historical artefact; an important cultural item and for me, a small but valuable - and important - part of my life so far.

If the airplanes are inconsequential in relation to anything then why do we bother? Warbirds are surely - in part at least - about remembrance. And surely those that we remember wouldn't want it any other way. This week we lost a valued person and a valuable artefact. That's the way I see it.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:12 am 
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It's been said before, but the plane wouldn't even have still been in existence if it weren't for Ed Maloney. He took what was left of the N9M from the USAF, and eventually the incredibly talented team at Planes of Fame invested 13 years of sweat and treasure in figuring out how to put it back together, including building new wings for it. It was a triumph of engineering when it first flew in 1944, and a triumph of both engineering AND perseverance when it took back to the skies in the late 90s.

No one has ANY right to declare what PoF should or should not have done with the airframe.

I'm sad that I did not get to see it fly, but I know that the technical know-how exists to build another one. The true measure of the loss lies with Mr. Vopat, who by all accounts was an incredibly good pilot, but more than that, was an incredible human being. Airplanes can be rebuilt/restored. People can't.

To those who knew him, you have my heartfelt sympathies.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 7:09 am 
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quemerford wrote:
JimH wrote:
In my eyes, airplanes are wholly inconsequential when it comes to human life.

jim


For me it's somewhere between the two: this is the warbird information exchange after all, not the people information exchange. Yes the loss of life is tragic, but often after such events we get a lot of hand-wringing and "the aircraft isn't important" sentiments. Well for me the aircraft is (as in this case) an important historical artefact; an important cultural item and for me, a small but valuable - and important - part of my life so far.

If the airplanes are inconsequential in relation to anything then why do we bother? Warbirds are surely - in part at least - about remembrance. And surely those that we remember wouldn't want it any other way. This week we lost a valued person and a valuable artefact. That's the way I see it.


Thank you for this - you have eloquently stated feelings I was unable to put into words.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 11:46 am 
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I don't dispute any of this but keep in mind this was an active flight test program at the time. Different weights and center of gravity locations were being tried to explore the full envelope. Also, there was a conflagration between a relatively uncommon aircraft form, a new aircraft design and early jets at high transonic speeds. A lot was unknown and quite an experiment. Remember, the XB-35 was designed for piston engines, but a virtually identical airframe was used on the YB-49 as a jet. Vastly different than doing a few circuits at an airshow. The N9M series had quite a bit of flight time on them as well and I recall they were used for transition training.

Apparently what did the YB-49 program in was the availability of other (albeit lower performing) aircraft and a lateral stability issue that was being worked on with the autopilot. The stability deficiency wasn't a safety or controllability issue, it had to do with bomb aiming. There were also some political machinations ongoing with the Secretary of Defense.

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old iron wrote:

Uhhhhmmmmm ... I do not know the temporal particulars, but this could not have been said too long before Capt. Edwards was killed in an airplane that "flew surprisingly well" ...


It was three years before. Edward's statement reguarding the flight characteristics of the YB-49 was, "the darndest airplane I've ever tried to do anything with. Quite uncontrollable at times." Two different planes. Two different flight characteristics.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 3:57 pm 
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As a friend of Jack's family the Northrops were saddened to hear of the crash. "It was like Jack dying again" was the grand daughters reaction. Also, a lot of Jack's stuff was donated to the San Diego Air Museum which had a fire that burned up most of what was donated up in smoke. Sounds horrible that slowly we are losing artifacts of his legacy. Jack loved planes and probably would have wanted people to fly them for as long as possible. Oh, that Secretary of Defense that scr3wed him over should be remembered (Stuart Symington) as a crook that he was. Jack had a nervous breakdown late in his career because of people like him. Anyway, that is all history and unfortunately so is the N9MB. My condolences to the pilots family. I am sure he was doing something he was passionate about, but that doesn't make it any easier.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:44 pm 
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I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories. And I have looked at Jack's stories of how the AF badly treated him with a bit of scepticism.

The fact that the B-49 was an unstable bombing platform should have made a difference in the Air Force's decision.
Also, jet bombers were new, again I can understand IF the AF might have been leery about combining the new power plants with a radical airframe.

Also, Northrop was an untried concern, without Boeing's bomber expertise.
Wasn't Martin on the line to produce the jets in quantity? Given the rumored animosity between the AF and Martin, I'd guess that didn't help the program.

And the jet they did buy, the B-47, did its job.
Unlike the Brits and Russians, the Americans never did warm to the idea of putting new jets in the fuselage (or in this case wing) in close proximity to fuel and crew.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:50 pm 
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JohnB wrote:
And the jet they did buy, the B-47, did its job.


The B-47 was 100 miles per hour faster and had a 500 mile larger radius of action.

It won fair and square. Besides, Boeing was a far more proven manufacturer.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 5:56 pm 
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JohnB wrote:
I'm not a fan of conspiracy theories. And I have looked at Jack's stories of how the AF badly treated him with a bit of scepticism.

The fact that the B-49 was an unstable bombing platform should have made a difference in the Air Force's decision.
Also, jet bombers were new, again I can understand IF the AF might have been leery about combining the new power plants with a radical airframe.


Add to that the B-49 could not carry a nuclear weapon of that period. The bomb bay had been designed without knowing the dimensions needed. It was also an unstable airplane and almost a 100 mph slower than the B-47 and that would be its real competition. The B-36 was slower but had a cavernous weapons bay and an incredible range. The B-49 was cancelled for some good reasons.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 26, 2019 6:29 pm 
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Very sad.

Can anyone link to an actual Pilot Report on the airplane?


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 10:58 am 
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Well, the situation for cancellation of the B-49 was based on Symington trying to force Jack to merge his company with Consolidated who Symington was going to go to work for. Jack told him to stick it where the sun doesn't shine and the rest is history. The cutting up of all the planes was Symington's passive aggressive response to Jack's refusal. The internet is full of conspiracy theories, but I heard the whole story from Jack himself as well as Air Force pilots who flew the plane and asked (to their superiors) that at least a few should be kept for future test of the concept. Jack never designed the plane for a lot of different things like Jet engines and nuclear, but they had so many problems with the props that the jet motors seemed worth giving a shot. Anyway, not to derail the thread, but I will say that Jack was the smartest engineer I every met, but he was no politician and refused to do business with a lot of people that pissed him off.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:19 pm 
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At first I thought, hmmm, maybe they should’ve parked it. However, when you watch the video it is so beautiful and cool in flight. How could it not be flown? I think Mr. Northrop would’ve loved to see it fly and wanted it flown.
Will be interesting to see what happened. Did the props go to flat pitch, did a control linkage fail and it became uncontrollable? Did the fuel system fail? They’ll figure this one out. Terrible loss and my condolences to family and friends of pilot and museum.

Side Note: Many flying wings cannot be recovered from a spin or deep stall. The B-2’s computers keep it from flying below a set flying speed. They don’t stall the airplane.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:19 pm 
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At first I thought, hmmm, maybe they should’ve parked it. However, when you watch the video it is so beautiful and cool in flight. How could it not be flown? I think Mr. Northrop would’ve loved to see it fly and wanted it flown.
Will be interesting to see what happened. Did the props go to flat pitch, did a control linkage fail and it became uncontrollable? Did the fuel system fail? They’ll figure this one out. Terrible loss and my condolences to family and friends of pilot and museum.

Side Note: Many flying wings cannot be recovered from a spin or deep stall. The B-2’s computers keep it from flying below a set flying speed. They don’t stall the airplane.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 27, 2019 12:39 pm 
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Adam Kline wrote:
Well, the situation for cancellation of the B-49 was based on Symington trying to force Jack to merge his company with Consolidated who Symington was going to go to work for. Jack told him to stick it where the sun doesn't shine and the rest is history. The cutting up of all the planes was Symington's passive aggressive response to Jack's refusal. The internet is full of conspiracy theories, but I heard the whole story from Jack himself as well as Air Force pilots who flew the plane and asked (to their superiors) that at least a few should be kept for future test of the concept. Jack never designed the plane for a lot of different things like Jet engines and nuclear, but they had so many problems with the props that the jet motors seemed worth giving a shot. Anyway, not to derail the thread, but I will say that Jack was the smartest engineer I every met, but he was no politician and refused to do business with a lot of people that pissed him off.


I don't doubt Symington had the remaining examples destroyed out of spite.

But the B-49 was cancelled because the B-47 was a better airplane. The facts bear that out.


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