In his annual address before the Air Force Association, Air Force Secretary Harold E. Talbott reported a year of significant achievement. In the U.S. Air Force buildup to 137 wings, he reported, we now have 115 wings fully activated, and every fighter in the Air Force is jet propelled. He mentioned the world speed record of 1,650 mph by Major Charles E. Yeager in a rocket powered Bell X-1A, an altitude record of more than 90,000 ft. made by Major Arthur Murray, and an endurance record of 17,000 mi. and 35 hr. in a refueled B-47 bomber.
Secretary Talbott’s chief concern was the rapid turnover of Air Force personnel. He pointed out that, during the four years prior to his address, the reenlistment rate had fallen from 66 per cent to 30 per cent, adding that it costs $608,000 and five years to train a pilot for a B-47, and the Air Force is losing the equivalent of $2 billion in trained airmen. He outlined the results of an exhaustive survey of this problem and the measures to be taken to solve it.
During 1954 the aircraft modernization program of the Air Force and Navy was near the half-way mark, indicating that complete modernization was at least three years ahead. But acceleration should be rapid in the future and by mid-1957, modernization should be near completion. In the late summer of 1954 the total of military air strength reached 34,000 planes.
It is expected that by 1957, Air Force fighters will be largely supersonic and will include such advanced fighters as the North American F-100, Convair F-102, and McDonnell F-103. Bombers at that time should include Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses in quantity and substantial numbers of Convair B-58′s. Navy plans for supersonic aircraft at that time include the Douglas F4D, Grumman F9F-9 and Vought F8U.
Although these new aircraft at this time represent our hopes and plans for the future, there should be others on the drawing boards and in development which should render these designs obsolescent.
Fruition of a weapons system many years in the making included two experimental aircraft capable of vertical take-off and landing. These planes, the Convair XFY-1 and the Lock-heed XFV-1, are similar in size and each has the same power plant, the Allison (General Motors) T-40 turboprop rated at 5500 hp equipped with two Aero-products contra-rotating propellers and rocket assisted take-off. Dimensions of the XFY-1 are: wings span, 25 ft., 8 in.; length, 30 ft., 9 in.; height over-all, 22 ft., 7 in.
Since these planes will take off and land on their tails, they are well suited to deck landings or to landings where airport facilities are not available. Take off and landing with the pilot virtually on his back presents some physiological and control problems. The XFY-1 flight test program began inside the huge dirigible hangar at Sunnyvale, Calif., with the aircraft going up and down in a tethering rig.
Another element in the same weapons system was the Convair R3Y-2, a front-loading seaplane which transports men and equipment by air in the same manner in which the LST (landing ship, tank) operates on the surface. These aircraft could establish beach heads without the need for construction of landing strips, thus speeding up invasion operations. The R3Y-2 is powered by four Allison T-40 turboprop engines with total output of 22,000 hp, and has a top speed of approximately 400 mph, a range of 2,000 miles and a payload of 48,000 lb.
Although discussions and specifications have not been released, the new Douglas A4D Skyhawk jet attack bomber, now in production at the El Segundo plant, appears to be a development beyond the A3D. The basic difference appears to be in the power plant. The A3D was powered by two Pratt & Whitney jet engines while the A4D is powered by a single Wright J65. Both planes are carrier based and designed to deliver an atomic bomb. The wing span appears to be less than 25 ft. which eliminates the necessity for folding wings thereby saving several hundred pounds. Its top speed is believed to be in the 600-650 mph class.
The A4D was designed to come within Navy requirements for a small-size attack plane which would weigh not more than 30,000 lb. and fly at least 500 mph. How well the simplification program worked is demonstrated by the fact the A4D weighs less than half as much as the Navy had allowed and flies 100 mph or more faster. The A4D has less than half as many parts as the current AD attack plane series. The A4D ejection seat has 80 parts and weighs 40 lb. installed as compared to 240 parts and 92 lb. for the ejection seat in the F4D, which itself had been simplified.
One communications package, including IFF (information, friend or foe — an identification system) and weighing 105 lb. loaded, takes the place of four boxes and cuts down on plugs and cables, saving approximately 55 lb. The cooling turbine weighs less than six lb., or one third the weight of the previous turbine installed in the F4D.
The first flights were made during the summer of Lockheed’s YC-130 transport prototype of the C-130A which is expected to be produced at the Marietta division of Lockheed. This military transport is powered by four Allison T56S turboprop engines. One of the interesting structural features of this new turboprop transport is the use of titanium in several hundred sheet metal parts. Its replacement of stainless steel in many applications has resulted in a considerable weight saving. It is used mostly where heat and corrosion resistance are important such as the turboprop nacelles and trailing edge of the wing behind the nacelles. Another feature is the extensive use of integrally stiffened skin in approximately 120 components of the structure. This is the logical result of experience gained in the design of the F-94 and Constellation airplanes.
Proposals to the Air Force and Navy for an improved version of the T-33B jet trainer have been submitted. The power plant is the new Allison J33-A-16A which is an improvement of the J33-A-35 used in present jet trainers. A wing slat has been added to the leading edge to improve stall characteristics. For the same reasons, there have been a number of changes in the tail assembly. The area of the horizontal and vertical stabilizers has been increased substantially and locations and angles of incidence have been changed.
The windshield has been redesigned to provide the pilot with an unobstructed view at all times. It is made of one piece of formed laminated Plexiglas instead of heavy plate glass. The canopy is made of one-piece, free-blown Plexiglas several inches wider and higher than the present canopy. Cockpit sills have been moved outboard, making the cockpit wider, and the aft seat has been raised six in. to permit better vision from the aft, or instructor’s cockpit. The canopy is raised and lowered electrically and emergency jettison is by a nitrogen-actuated cylinder. Jettison levers are installed at both fore and aft seats. The aft cockpit has an anti-glare shield and a folding windscreen to protect it from windblast when the canopy is jettisoned. Cockpit pressurization is automatic. From sea level to 8,000 ft., the cockpit remains unpressurized. Between 8,000 and 15,300 ft., the cockpit pressure is maintained as at 8,000 ft.
Fast-reading, tell-tale panels replace the student lockout box to indicate up and down elevator tab movement, extended and retracted wing flap movement, and extended dive flap position, and they have an elevator tab lockout button.
This trainer is designed for a single AN 31-50-2, 24-volt, 36 ampere-hour, metal-case battery. The following circuits have been added: warning panel control, cockpit pressure, and windshield defrosts ‘safe flight’ pre-stall indicator, and oxygen warning. Circuits that have been improved include elevator tab, fuel control, aileron tab, dive flap, and landing gear indicators. The only changes in the hydraulic system are the addition of a feel-spring cartridge in the aileron boost system to provide a more uniform stick force during engagement of the aileron and shock mounting for the accumulator air pressure gage.
Fairchild influence on the production models of the Chase C-123B assault transport reflects a number of changes which will be incorporated in the aircraft produced by the Fairchild Airplane Division at Hagerstown, Md. Design studies of the original C-123B brought about the installation of a dorsal fin between rudder and fuselage to cure excessive rudder and elevator forces, directional oscillation, and elevator control in turbulence. Other modifications include spring tabs on rudder and elevator, cowl flaps, and other changes in power plant installations, redesign of paratroop exits, improved pilot visibility, and improvement of flying characteristics.
Successor to the Sikorsky S-55 helicopter which is now in use on a number of scheduled airline operations is the S-58 which could accommodate 15-17 passengers compared with the seven or eight of the S-55. The new machine is designated XHSS-1 by the Navy and XH-34 by the Army. A single-engine, single-rotor vehicle, the S-58 is powered by a 1,425 hp Wright R1820 reciprocating engine produced by Bridgeport-Lycoming Division of AVCO Manufacturing Corp. The engine is installed in the nose of the S-58 with clamshell doors which give the same ease of maintenance as on the S-55. The operating speed of the S-58 is about 130 knots or 150 mph. Its price tag on early versions will be between $235,000 and $250,000, authorities said, compared to the present S-55 price of about $137,500. Estimated cost of the large S-56, it was noted, is now running between $750,000 and $800,000, although this is eventually expected to be lowered to approximately $500,000. The S-58′s carrying capacity is roughly two tons, or nearly twice that of the S-55. In addition to the pilot and co-pilot, it can haul 12 fully equipped combat troops or eight litter patients. The ninth Sikorsky helicopter design to reach the production stage, the S-58 is equipped with sonar gear as its basic antisubmarine equipment. This includes an electrical device that may be lowered into the ocean for detection purposes while the rotorcraft hovers at low altitude.