Air and Space Photos from Alternate Worlds.

On August 1, 1944, a formation of Armia Krajowa fighters would assault a German airfield outside of Warsaw, in which they would successfully capture the base and more importantly, 11 Bf-109 G6, eight FW-190 A-8 fighters, and 12 FW-190 F-8 fighter bombers along with the stocks of bombs, spare parts, fuel, and ammunition for the planes. That group of Partisans had a large number of ex Polish Air Force and LOT (the pre-war civilian airline) pilots and ground crew among them. After seizing the planes, Poles would get to work in painting over the German emblems with their own emblems (either Kotwica emblem or red and white colors for easy identification with Allied pilots and ground troops.) In less than a day, the Armia Krajowa's air component called Eskadra Krogulec (Polish for Sparrowhawk Squadron) would go into action, providing air support for Armia Krajowa forces on the ground and engaging the Luftwaffe in the skies above Warsaw. There would be a total of 4 aces from that squadron, most notably Stefan Grzykniewski, a former fighter pilot of the Polish Air Force, who would down a total of 12 German planes in his Bf-109 G6 before himself getting shot down Teresin by a German Me-410 on September 8, 1944. Eskadra Krogulec would operate until September 21, 1944, when their remaining aircraft and equipment were destroyed by the Armia Krajowa to prevent recapture by the Germans as they had approached the airfield. During this time, the Squadron would have a confirmed total of 11 Bf-109s, eight FW-190s, two Ju-88s, five He-111s, six Ju-87 Stukas, four Me-410s, and 10 other aircraft types as well as attacking and destroying several German ground vehicles. In return, eight of their Bf-109s, and 16 Focke Wulfs would be shot down by both the German Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force (it has been disputed if these losses to the Soviets were either by accident or on purpose.)

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A Bf-109 G6 as flown by Jan Lublinowski (codenamed Mewa 4), Jan was a LOT airline pilot before 1939, who would go fly with the Armia Krajowa before shot down and captured by the Germans on August 29 in Warsaw and was subsequently executed. He shoot down 4 Luftwaffe planes as well 6 more possibly downed or certainly damaged along with shooting up a motor convoy ferrying elements of the Hermann Goering Division to Warsaw.

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An FW-190 A-8 as flown by Emilia Waczhinowska (codenamed Orzeł 2), another pre-war pilot for LOT, Waczhinowska would serve in the Krogulec Squadron until September 21. During the Warsaw Uprising, she would be credited with the destruction of 7 German planes as well as damaging a further 6 more as well as allegedly shooting down three Soviet Yak-9 fighters near Warsaw.

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An FW-190 F-8 fighter bomber as flown by Adam Berkowicz (codenamed Jastrząb 1), who flew with the Polish Air Force before the war and had subsequently escaped from Auschwitz before joining the Armia Krajowa. During the course of the Uprising, Berkowicz would shoot down a total of 2 Luftwaffe planes, damaging another 3, and destroying 4 Wehrmacht Panzers before ultimately getting shot by a Bf-109 G14 near Wolomin on September 4. He would end up immigrating to Israel after the war and flew with its new Air Force during the 1948 War of Independence, where he would shoot 5 Egyptian fighter planes before dying in a mid-air collision with another Israeli fighter plane in December of 1950.
 
What if (and hear me out) we take a space shuttle orbiter and External Tank and stick them on top of a metholox converted Saturn-V first stage? No, you're right, it's nuts. It's not the '60s any more, who'd throw away an S1-C like that?
So what if we took that S1-C, then stuck wings and jet engines on it so it could fly back to base..?

This was an actual idea, seriously presented, by NASA in the 1980s as the sort of thing that would be needed to support Space-based Solar Power (SPS) satellites.

@e of pi challenged me to put this together based on models I already had, including the Space Lifter first stage from his and @Polish Eagle's excellent Right Side Up timeline.

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Wunderwaffen tome 16 - a two seater L-133 and a television-guided Douglas Skystreak with the Little Girl (a tactical nuclear bomb designed initially for a modified B-25!)

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Supermarine Seafire FR Mk 23 Aeronavale 1949​

Link: www.flickr.com/photos/dizzyfug…

Some background:
The Supermarine Seafire was a naval version of the Supermarine Spitfire adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. It was analogous in concept to the Hawker Sea Hurricane, a navalized version of the Spitfire's stablemate, the Hawker Hurricane. The name Seafire was derived from the abbreviation of the longer name Sea Spitfire.

The idea of adopting a navalized, carrier-capable version of the Supermarine Spitfire had been mooted by the Admiralty as early as May 1938. Despite a pressing need to replace various types of obsolete aircraft that were still in operation with the Fleet Air Arm (FAA), some opposed the notion, such as Winston Churchill, although these disputes were often a result of an overriding priority being placed on maximizing production of land-based Spitfires instead. During 1941 and early 1942, the concept was again pushed for by the Admiralty, culminating in an initial batch of Seafire Mk Ib fighters being provided in late 1941, which were mainly used for pilots to gain experience operating the type at sea. While there were concerns over the low strength of its undercarriage, which had not been strengthened like many naval aircraft would have been, its performance was found to be acceptable.

From 1942 onwards, further Seafire models were quickly ordered, including the first operationally-viable Seafire F Mk III variant. This led to the type rapidly spreading throughout the FAA. In November 1942, the first combat use of the Seafire occurred during Operation Torch, the Allied landings in North Africa. In July 1943, the Seafire was used to provide air cover for the Allied invasion of Sicily; and reprised this role in September 1943 during the subsequent Allied invasion of Italy. During 1944, the type was again used in quantity to provide aerial support to Allied ground forces during the Normandy landings and Operation Dragoon in Southern France. During the latter half of 1944, the Seafire became a part of the aerial component of the British Pacific Fleet, where it quickly proved to be a capable interceptor against the feared kamikaze attacks by Japanese pilots which had become increasingly common during the final years of the Pacific War. Several Seafire variants were produced during WWII, more or less mirroring the development of its land-based ancestor.

The Seafire continued to be used for some time after the end of the war, and new, dedicated versions were developed and exported. The FAA opted to promptly withdraw all of its Merlin-powered Seafires and replace them with Griffon-powered counterparts. The type saw further active combat use during the Korean War, in which FAA Seafires performed hundreds of missions in the ground attack and combat air patrol roles against North Korean forces during 1950. The Seafire was withdrawn from FAA service during the 1950s and was replaced by the newer Hawker Sea Fury, the last piston engine fighter to be used by the service, along with the first generation of jet-propelled naval fighters, such as the de Havilland Vampire, Supermarine Attacker, and Hawker Sea Hawk.

After WWII, the Royal Canadian Navy and French Aviation Navale also obtained Seafires to operate from ex-Royal Navy aircraft carriers. France received a total of 140 Seafires of various versions from 1946 on, including 114 Seafire Mk IIIs in two tranches (35 of them were set aside for spare part) until 1948, and these were followed in 1949 by fifteen Mk. 15 fighters and twelve FR Mk. 23 armed photo reconnaissance aircraft. Additionally, twenty land-based Mk. IXs were delivered to Naval Air Station Cuers-Pierrefeu as trainers.

The Seafire Mk. 23 was a dedicated post-war export version. It combined several old and new features and was the final “new” Spitfire variant to be powered by a Merlin engine, namely a Rolls-Royce Merlin 66M with 1,720 hp (1,283 kW) that drove a four-blade propeller. The Mk. 23 was originally built as a fighter (as Seafire F Mk. 23), but most machines were delivered or later converted with provisions for being fitted with two F24 cameras in the rear fuselage and received the service designation FR Mk. 23 (or just FR.23). Only 32 of this interim post-war version were built by Cunliffe-Owen, and all of them were sold to foreign customers.

Like the Seafire 17, the 23 had a cut-down rear fuselage and teardrop canopy, which afforded a better all-round field of view than the original cockpit. The windscreen was modified, too, to a rounded section, with narrow quarter windows, rather than the flat windscreen used on land-based Spitfires. As a novel feature the Seafire 23 featured a "sting" arrestor hook instead of the previous V-shaped ventral arrangement.
The fuel capacity was 120 gal (545 l) distributed in two main forward fuselage tanks: the lower tank carried 48 gal (218 l) while the upper tank carried 36 gal (163 l), plus two fuel tanks built into the leading edges of the wings with capacities of 12.5 (57 l) and 5.5 gal (25 l) respectively. It featured a reinforced main undercarriage with longer oleos and a lower rebound ratio, a measure to tame the deck behavior of the Mk. 15 and reducing the propensity of the propeller tips "pecking" the deck during an arrested landing. The softer oleos also stopped the aircraft from occasionally bouncing over the arrestor wires and into the crash barrier.
The wings were taken over from the contemporary Spitfire 21 and therefore not foldable. However, this saved weight and complexity, and the Seafire’s compact dimensions made this flaw acceptable for its operators. The wings were furthermore reinforced, with a stronger main spar necessitated by the new undercarriage, and as a bonus they were able to carry heavier underwing loads than previous Seafire variants. This made the type not only suitable for classic dogfighting (basic armament consisted of four short-barreled 20 mm Hispano V cannon in the outer wings), but also for attack missions with bombs and unguided rockets.

The Seafire’s Aéronavale service was quite short, even though they saw hot battle duty. 24 Mk. IIIs were deployed on the carrier Arromanches in 1948 when it sailed for Vietnam to fight in the First Indochina War. The French Seafires operated from land bases and from Arromanches on ground attack missions against the Viet Minh before being withdrawn from combat operations in January 1949.
After returning to European waters, the Aéronavale’s Seafire frontline units were re-equipped with the more modern and capable Seafire 15s and FR 23s, but these were also quickly replaced by Grumman F6F Hellcats from American surplus stock, starting already in 1950. The fighters were retired from carrier operations and soon relegated to training and liaison duties, and eventually scrapped. However, the FR.23s were at this time the only carrier-capable photo reconnaissance aircraft in the Aéronavale’s ranks, so that these machines remained active with Flottille 1.F until 1955, but their career was rather short, too, and immediately ended when the first naval jets became available and raised the performance bar.


General characteristics:
Crew: 1
Length: 31 ft 10 in (9.70 m)
Wingspan: 36 ft 10 in (11.23 m)
Height: 12 ft 9 in (3.89 m) tail down with propeller blade vertical
Wing area: 242.1 ft² (22.5 m²)
Empty weight: 5,564 lb (2,524 kg)
Gross weight: 7,415 lb (3,363 kg)

Powerplant:
1× Rolls-Royce Merlin 66M V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, delivering 1,720 hp (1,283 kW) at 11,000 ft and driving a 4-bladed constant-speed propeller

Performance:
Maximum speed: 404 mph (650 km/h) at 21,000 ft (6,400 m)
Cruise speed: 272 mph (438 km/h, 236 kn)
Range: 493 mi (793 km) on internal fuel at cruising speed
965 mi (1,553 km) with 90 gal drop tank
Service ceiling: 42,500 ft (12,954 m)
Rate of climb: 4,745 ft/min (24.1 m/s) at 10,000 ft (3,048 m)
Time to altitude: 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 8 minutes 6 seconds

Armament:
4× 20 mm Hispano V cannon; 175 rpg inboard, 150 rpg outboard
Hardpoints for up to 2× 250 lb (110 kg) bombs (outer wings), plus 1× 500 lb (230 kg) bomb
(ventral hardpoint) or drop tanks, or up to 8× "60 lb" RP-3 rockets on zero-length launchers

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Cape Verde AIDC F-104T Starfighter​

Link: www.whatifmodellers.com/index.…

AIDC F-104T Starfighter
a/c 34, 201 Squadron, Cape Verde Air Force (CPAF)
5 July 1975, Rabil, Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde

The Cape Verde Air Force inherited a force of 26 F-104T Starfighters when it was established on 5 July 1975. Ex-Portuguese Air Force, they were used exclusively for national air defence roles and worked in cooperation with other UN assets to secure airspace in the Cape Verde Air Defence Identification Zone.

Forced to flee mainland Portugal by Red Revolutionaries in October 1950, Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar established Praia on Santiago Island in the colony of Cape Verde as the new capital of the Estado Novo, the Second Portuguese Republic. Salazar maintained his grip on the Portuguese Empire’s African, Atlantic and Pacific colonies with UN assistance; the exceptions were the minuscule Fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá, total population of 5 and occupied by Benin after a polite knock on the front door, and Goa, occupied by (the then) neutral India before lunchtime, both in 1961. After Salazar’s death following a bathtub incident in 1970, central power from Praia rapidly diminished and the often messy processes of decolonisation became inevitable. The last Portuguese colonies to gain independence were its Atlantic territories, with the Macaronesia Federation (incorporating the Azore and Madeira archipelagos) established on 1 July 1975 and Cape Verde on the 5th. As they are not imperialists, the government of the Portuguese Socialist Republic has never claimed sovereignty over Portugal’s overseas possessions.

The Portuguese Air Force (PAF) received its first F-104A Starfighters from Lockheed in 1959 and they were employed to defend airspace over Portuguese Macaronesia. The all-weather fighter-bomber F-104G Starfighter replaced the F-104As from 1962, the first batch of 40 being built by Lockheed and subsequent deliveries coming from Argentina’s FMA production line. The F-104G remained in the Macaronesia Air Defence Identification Zone until replaced by the F-104T in 1972. As part of the F-104T acquisition deal, the PAF sold most of its F-104G airframes to Taiwan, where they were rebuilt as Ts for the ROC Air Force.

Designed and built by AIDC in Taiwan, the F-104T featured the Hughes TARAN-18 fire control system matched to the Hughes AIM-4K Falcon SARH-guided missile for BVR engagements. The Falcons were supplemented by IR-guided AIM-9 Sidewinders, in this case, AIM-9Js. Unlike the similar F-104S (produced in Argentina by FMA), which used the AIM-7E guided by the NASARR R-21G/H radar, the smaller electronics of the TARAN-18 enabled the retention of the internal M61 Vulcan cannon while armed with BVR missiles. The S and T model Starfighters also differed in their aerodynamics, the S having a pair of rear ventral fins not included on the T, which instead had modified wingtip tank fins (permanently installed and essentially upside down) and a pair of ventral “ski blade” aerials associated with Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) datalinks. Both the S and the T were powered by the J79-GE-19 turbojet.

Cape Verde inherited 37 F-104Ts from the PAF in 1975. Aircraft 34, depicted here, was built to a PAF contract by AIDC in 1972 and entered service with the PAF’s 51 Squadron at Rabi the next year. It was photographed (as depicted here) in full CVAF colours during the organisation’s inauguration ceremony at Rabi. The plane was destroyed on 14 May 1980, its pilot Captain Roberto Lopes being shot down by an R-73 (AA-11 Archer) missile fired by Flight Leader Karim El Ahmadi of the Moroccan Socialist Republic Air Force from his MiG-23ML Flogger G. Capt. Lopes ejected and survived the ordeal.

The F-104Ts were replaced by F-16A/B Block 15s from 1982, these being modernised to F-16AM/BM standards in the mid-1990s. They are now being replaced by the F-16V.
 
What if (and hear me out) we take a space shuttle orbiter and External Tank and stick them on top of a metholox converted Saturn-V first stage? No, you're right, it's nuts. It's not the '60s any more, who'd throw away an S1-C like that?
So what if we took that S1-C, then stuck wings and jet engines on it so it could fly back to base..?

This was an actual idea, seriously presented, by NASA in the 1980s as the sort of thing that would be needed to support Space-based Solar Power (SPS) satellites.

@e of pi challenged me to put this together based on models I already had, including the Space Lifter first stage from his and @Polish Eagle's excellent Right Side Up timeline.

View attachment 666440
I had an idea once for a TL with essentially this, with a PoD in 1961
 
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Tiger Force: Northrop P-61C-25NO Black Widow​

Link: www.whatifmodellers.com/index.…

Northrop P-61C-25NO Black Widow
a/c #38353, GQ-B, 2 Big and 2 Heavy/Little Annie
134 Squadron, 153 Wing, Tiger Force, Royal Air Force
Kangnung, UN-occupied southern Korea, 28 February 1946

By late 1944 it was apparent that the original concept of the RAF's Tiger Force deployment to the Far East needed to be changed. Gone was the strategic focus on a large number of Lancaster squadrons supported by escort fighters, replaced by a balanced tactical force concept to support a possible invasion of the Japanese Home Islands. This latter vision of Tiger Force required heavy and medium bombers, fighters-bombers, transports, gliders, liaison and observation aircraft and night fighters. Concerned about employing wooden de Havilland Mosquito night fighters to the Far East, the RAF organised for the delivery of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow through Lend-Lease.

After training in the US, the P-61C equipped 153 Wing deployed to Okinawa, arriving in September 1945. After conducting a series of Potato defensive patrols, during October they moved to Kangnung in UN-occupied southern Korea. Here they encountered the occasional Japanese night intruder, shooting down 3 of these before the invasion of Honshu.

With aerial targets few and far between, Tiger Force commanders sensed a growing restlessness amongst their Black Widow crews. Boredom and complacency had set in, which, coupled with deteriorating weather, contributed to several preventable flying incidents in late December, forcing a temporary grounding. When flying resumed, the Wing began training for offensive operations. Fortunately, their unique P-61C-25NO Black Widows had been built to RAF specifications that included a robust, long-range offensive capability. In addition to the 310 US gallon drop tanks routinely carried, the external load could include bombs or napalm and 8 5 inch HVAR rockets. The type lacked the P-61's top gun turret, allowing the fuselage nacelle to be slimmer, which reduced drag and enabled the installation of a fuel tank in place of the turret mechanism. The deletion of the turret also meant that its complicated sighting and control gear was omitted, along with the need for a third crewman, the gunner. A modified gunner's position was retained, though, and would sometimes be used for a navigator during long-range missions or an observer on sorties requiring an airborne spotter or forward air controller.

On the night of 3 February 1946, the crews of 153 Wing launched their offensive campaign against Japan, mounting Cucumber armed night reconnaissance patrols to interdict enemy supply routes. These intruder operations were mostly over and around Kyushu, Shikoku and southern Honshu. Following the invasion of Honshu, they engaged in a range of new nocturnal activities, including Celery close air support missions, Fennel spotting sorties for naval gunfire and Tomato airborne forward air control operations. Air-to-air activity included Potato air defence and Turnip escort and sweep operations, protecting the 24-hour airlift corridors established between Honshu and southern Korea. By VJ Day, RAF Black Widow crews had been credited with shooting down 11 Japanese aircraft.

On 27 February 1946, the crew of 2 Big and Two Heavy were pilot Flight Lieutenant Harry Kane, radar operator Flight Lieutenant Jordan Pickford and navigator Flying Officer Ben White mounting their third Cabbage mission. Cabbages were conducted in concert with the RAAF Douglas PDB-1 lnvaders of 453 Squadron, pairing a Black Widow with a single Invader and both using standard Invader call signs. This combination was prompted by an uptick in Japanese night fighter activity that saw Invaders performing Pomegranate patrol and heckler missions repeatedly approached by interceptors. No engagements had been recorded, but the enemy's intent was clear, the Australians avoiding contact through evasion after warnings from radar controllers.

The reasoning behind the Cabbage mission was rewarded just after 2AM on February 28. After a fruitless patrol over northern Kyushu dogged by low cloud, the Black Widow crew and their 453 Squadron partners worked over their diversionary target, a rail marshalling yard in Fukuoka. The crews of both aircraft made several passes: both fired rockets, the Invader also dropping 500 lb bombs while the Black Widow dropped its two M29 cluster bombs. A radio alert from a Royal Navy radar picket ship off the coast came as they were climbing away from the target. A lone Japanese plane had taken off from the nearby Mushiroda Airfield and was pursuing the UN airmen. The Japanese pilot was Captain Maya Yoshida of the 56th Hiko Sentai, flying a Nakajima Ki-43 III Hayabusa. Although operated by a dedicated night fighter unit, the Hayabusa was a standard day fighter model that had been slightly modified for nocturnal missions after delivery. The Black Widow crew turned to meet their prey, achieved a radar return from the fighter and maneuvered into a firing position. From the moment they were warned to the time the Japanese fighter disintegrated under the withering fire of their 4 20mm cannon was less than 5 minutes. Captain Yoshida was killed in the incident and the 56th Hiko Sentai would refrain from making further intercept attempts of the RAAF Invaders until the night of the UN's invasion of Honshu.

The aircraft and its crew were photographed during the afternoon of February 28, their Black Widow marked with a Japanese flag to symbolise the kill. Under the flag were 10 yellow bomb symbols, one for each of the plane’s current total of Cabbage and Cucumber interdiction missions. The portside nose art 2 Big and Two Heavy quotes a comment made by Flt. Lt. Kane during his first Black Widow walkaround during training in the US. The Little Annie starboard nose art is a reference to Flt. Lt. Pickford’s girlfriend. Both men survived the war, but F/O White was killed when, on a Cucumber mission in another Black Widow, his plane was shot down by flak near Kaminaka whilst interdicting rail traffic on the Obama Line 2 nights before the Y-Day invasion. 2 Big and Two Heavy/Little Annie was written-off after a landing accident at Kangnung on 2 May, 1946.

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Romanian Messerschmitt Me 410 A-1-U5​

Link: www.whatifmodellers.com/index.…

a/c 48, 41st Bomber Squadron, 8th Bomber Group, Royal Romanian Air Force
Mykolaiv, Axis-occupied Ukraine, December 1943
Personal mount of Căpitan-Comando Mirel Rădoi (pilot) and Sergent Vlad Chiricheș (gunner)

When Romania joined the Axis offensive into the nations of the Moscow Pact, the Romanian Air Force had a large but obsolete inventory of light bombers. This included 63 Fairey Battles that had been sent to Romania for use by Poland in August and September 1939, the plan having been for the Poles to train on the Battles in Romania. When the German invasion of Poland put paid to this, the Battles were simply delivered to the Romanian Air Force. 32 PZL.23 Kara light bombers flown to Romania by escaping Polish aircrew filled out the light bomber brigades.

Neither type could be replaced by more of the same, so Romania looked to its new Axis allies for other designs that could replace its diminishing light bomber force. Dazzled by the sleek and hi-tech promise of the Me 210, Romania and Germany agreed on an order for 150 Me 210 A-2s in November 1941. However, as the Me 210 program suffered from a series of delays due to dangerous handling problems, Romania was forced to find alternatives to replace the substantial combat attrition its bombers were experiencing on the Eastern Front. To compensate for the Me 210’s failure, the RLM provided a mix of Hs 129 B-2 and Ju 87Ds to Romania, but neither in sufficient numbers to replace attrition. Although Romanian and Bulgarian relations were strained due to territorial disputes, the Romanian's were desperate and even ordered the Bulgarian DAR-12 in 1942.

By 1943 the Me 210 program and had been replaced by the Me 410 and these became available to the Romanians in the second half of the year. The 41st Bomber Squadron, 8th Bomber Group entered combat with the Me 410 in December. All were of the Me 410 A-1/U5 version, which featured underwing racks for 50 kg bombs. The Romanians had required this feature because, unlike the Luftwaffe, they intended to use the Me 410 as a close air support bomber capable of flying several sorties a day. They were concerned that the standard loadout, which concentrated the bombload around the aircraft’s nose, would cause delays in turn arounds as armourers got in each other’s way. The U5 modification allowed the internal bomb bay and the underwing racks to be loaded simultaneously.

The aircraft is depicted here as armed with two SD 250s in the internal bomb bay and four SD 50s underwing. Combinations of SC 50/SC 250 general-purpose bombs and SD 50/SD 250 fragmentation bombs comprised the standard loadouts used by Romanian ‘410s. Using these bombs and their internal guns, crews attacked troop concentrations, frontline logistical centres and columns on the move, provided fire support for troops in contact and flew armed reconnaissance missions. Each aircraft routinely flew several sorties a day.

Pilot Căpitan-Comando Mirel Rădoi was killed in action on 23 March 1944 when flying Me 410 a/c 41, his plane was shot down by Red flak. Gunner Sergent Vlad Chiricheș was injured in the same incident, taken prisoner and survived the war.

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Vintoplan​

Link: www.flickr.com/photos/dizzyfug…

Some background:
The РТАК-30 attack vintoplan (also known as vintokryl) owed its existence to the Mil Mi-30 plane/helicopter project that originated in 1972. The Mil Mi-30 was conceived as a transport aircraft that could hold up to 19 passengers or two tons of cargo, and its purpose was to replace the Mi-8 and Mi-17 Helicopters in both civil and military roles. With vertical takeoff through a pair of tiltrotor engine pods on the wing tips (similar in layout to the later V-22 Osprey) and the ability to fly like a normal plane, the Mil Mi-30 had a clear advantage over the older models.

Since the vintoplan concept was a completely new field of research and engineering, a dedicated design bureau was installed in the mid-Seventies at the Rostov-na-Donu helicopter factory, where most helicopters from the Mil design bureau were produced, under the title Ростов Тилт Ротор Авиационная Компания (Rostov Tilt Rotor Aircraft Company), or РТАК (RTRA), for short.

The vintoplan project lingered for some time, with basic research being conducted concerning aerodynamics, rotor design and flight control systems. Many findings later found their way into conventional planes and helicopters. At the beginning of the 1980s, the project had progressed far enough that the vintoplan received official backing so that РТАК scientists and Mil helicopter engineers assembled and tested several layouts and components for this complicated aircraft type.
At that time the Mil Mi-30 vintoplan was expected to use a single TV3-117 Turbo Shaft Engine with a four-bladed propeller rotors on each of its two pairs of stub wings of almost equal span. The engine was still installed in the fuselage and the proprotors driven by long shafts.

However, while being a very clean design, this original layout revealed several problems concerning aeroelasticity, dynamics of construction, characteristics for the converter apparatuses, aerodynamics and flight dynamics. In the course of further development stages and attempts to rectify the technical issues, the vintoplan layout went through several revisions. The layout shifted consequently from having 4 smaller engines in rotating pods on two pairs of stub wings through three engines with rotating nacelles on the front wings and a fixed, horizontal rotor over the tail and finally back to only 2 engines (much like the initial concept), but this time mounted in rotating nacelles on the wing tips and a canard stabilizer layout.

In August 1981 the Commission of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers on weapons eventually issued a decree on the development of a flyworthy Mil Mi-30 vintoplan prototype. Shortly afterwards the military approved of the vintoplan, too, but desired bigger, more powerful engines in order to improve performance and weight capacity. In the course of the ensuing project refinement, the weight capacity was raised to 3-5 tons and the passenger limit to 32. In parallel, the modified type was also foreseen for civil operations as a short range feederliner, potentially replacing Yak-40 and An-24 airliners in Aeroflot service.
In 1982, РТАК took the interest from the military and proposed a dedicated attack vintoplan, based on former research and existing components of the original transport variant. This project was accepted by MAP and received the separate designation РТАК-30. However, despite having some close technical relations to the Mi-30 transport (primarily the engine nacelles, their rotation mechanism and the flight control systems), the РТАК-30 was a completely different aircraft. The timing was good, though, and the proposal was met with much interest, since the innovative vintoplan concept was to compete against traditional helicopters: the design work on the dedicated Mi-28 and Ka-50 attack helicopters had just started at that time, too, so that РТАК received green lights for the construction of five prototypes: four flyworthy machines plus one more for static ground tests.

The РТАК-30 was based on one of the early Mi-30 layouts and it combined two pairs of mid-set wings with different wing spans with a tall tail fin that ensured directional stability. Each wing carried a rotating engine nacelle with a so-called proprotor on its tip, each with three high aspect ratio blades. The proprotors were handed (i.e. revolved in opposite directions) in order to minimize torque effects and improve handling, esp. in the hover. The front and back pair of engines were cross-linked among each other on a common driveshaft, eliminating engine-out asymmetric thrust problems during V/STOL operations. In the event of the failure of one engine, it would automatically disconnect through torque spring clutches and both propellers on a pair of wings would be driven by the remaining engine.
Four engines were chosen because, despite the weight and complexity penalty, this extra power was expected to be required in order to achieve a performance that was markedly superior to a conventional helicopter like the Mi-24, the primary Soviet attack helicopter of that era the РТАК-30 was supposed to replace. It was also expected that the rotating nacelles could also be used to improve agility in level flight through a mild form of vectored thrust.

The РТАК-30’s streamlined fuselage provided ample space for avionics, fuel, a fully retractable tricycle landing gear and a two man crew in an armored side-by-side cockpit with ejection seats. The windshield was able to withstand 12.7–14.5 mm caliber bullets, the titanium cockpit tub could take hits from 20 mm cannon. An autonomous power unit (APU) was housed in the fuselage, too, making operations of the aircraft independent from ground support.
While the РТАК-30 was not intended for use as a transport, the fuselage was spacious enough to have a small compartment between the front wings spars, capable of carrying up to three people. The purpose of this was the rescue of downed helicopter crews, as a cargo hold esp. for transfer flights and as additional space for future mission equipment or extra fuel.
In vertical flight, the РТАК-30’s tiltrotor system used controls very similar to a twin or tandem-rotor helicopter. Yaw was controlled by tilting its rotors in opposite directions. Roll was provided through differential power or thrust, supported by ailerons on the rear wings. Pitch was provided through rotor cyclic or nacelle tilt and further aerodynamic surfaces on both pairs of wings. Vertical motion was controlled with conventional rotor blade pitch and a control similar to a fixed-wing engine control called a thrust control lever (TCL). The rotor heads had elastomeric bearings and the proprotor blades were made from composite materials, which could sustain 30 mm shells.

The РТАК-30 featured a helmet-mounted display for the pilot, a very modern development at its time. The pilot designated targets for the navigator/weapons officer, who proceeded to fire the weapons required to fulfill that particular task. The integrated surveillance and fire control system had two optical channels providing wide and narrow fields of view, a narrow-field-of-view optical television channel, and a laser rangefinder. The system could move within 110 degrees in azimuth and from +13 to −40 degrees in elevation and was placed in a spherical dome on top of the fuselage, just behind the cockpit.

The aircraft carried one automatic 2A42 30 mm internal gun, mounted semi-rigidly fixed near the center of the fuselage, movable only slightly in elevation and azimuth. The arrangement was also regarded as being more practical than a classic free-turning turret mount for the aircraft’s considerably higher flight speed than a normal helicopter. As a side effect, the semi-rigid mounting improved the cannon's accuracy, giving the 30 mm a longer practical range and better hit ratio at medium ranges. Ammunition supply was 460 rounds, with separate compartments for high-fragmentation, explosive incendiary, or armor-piercing rounds. The type of ammunition could be selected by the pilot during flight.
The gunner can select one of two rates of full automatic fire, low at 200 to 300 rds/min and high at 550 to 800 rds/min. The effective range when engaging ground targets such as light armored vehicles is 1,500 m, while soft-skinned targets can be engaged out to 4,000 m. Air targets can be engaged flying at low altitudes of up to 2,000 m and up to a slant range of 2,500 m.

A substantial range of weapons could be carried on four hardpoints under the front wings, plus three more under the fuselage, for a total ordnance of up to 2,500 kg (with reduced internal fuel). The РТАК-30‘s main armament comprised up to 24 laser-guided Vikhr missiles with a maximum range of some 8 km. These tube-launched missiles could be used against ground and aerial targets. A search and tracking radar was housed in a thimble radome on the РТАК-30’s nose and their laser guidance system (mounted in a separate turret under the radome) was reported to be virtually jam-proof. The system furthermore featured automatic guidance to the target, enabling evasive action immediately after missile launch. Alternatively, the system was also compatible with Ataka laser-guided anti-tank missiles.
Other weapon options included laser- or TV-guided Kh-25 missiles as well as iron bombs and napalm tanks of up to 500 kg (1.100 lb) caliber and several rocket pods, including the S-13 and S-8 rockets. The "dumb" rocket pods could be upgraded to laser guidance with the proposed Ugroza system. Against helicopters and aircraft the РТАК-30 could carry up to four R-60 and/or R-73 IR-guided AAMs. Drop tanks and gun pods could be carried, too.

When the РТАК-30's proprotors were perpendicular to the motion in the high-speed portions of the flight regime, the aircraft demonstrated a relatively high maximum speed: over 300 knots/560 km/h top speed were achieved during state acceptance trials in 1987, as well as sustained cruise speeds of 250 knots/460 km/h, which was almost twice as fast as a conventional helicopter. Furthermore, the РТАК-30’s tiltrotors and stub wings provided the aircraft with a substantially greater cruise altitude capability than conventional helicopters: during the prototypes’ tests the machines easily reached 6,000 m / 20,000 ft or more, whereas helicopters typically do not exceed 3,000 m / 10,000 ft altitude.

Flight tests in general and flight control system refinement in specific lasted until late 1988, and while the vintoplan concept proved to be sound, the technical and practical problems persisted. The aircraft was complex and heavy, and pilots found the machine to be hazardous to land, due to its low ground clearance. Due to structural limits the machine could also never be brought to its expected agility limits
During that time the Soviet Union’s internal tensions rose and more and more hampered the РТАК-30’s development. During this time, two of the prototypes were lost (the 1st and 4th machine) in accidents, and in 1989 only two machines were left in flightworthy condition (the 5th airframe had been set aside for structural ground tests). Nevertheless, the РТАК-30 made its public debut at the Paris Air Show in June 1989 (the 3rd prototype, coded “33 Yellow”), together with the Mi-28A, but was only shown in static display and did not take part in any flight show. After that, the aircraft received the NATO ASCC code "Hemlock" and caused serious concern in Western military headquarters, since the РТАК-30 had the potential to dominate the European battlefield.

And this was just about to happen: Despite the РТАК-30’s development problems, the innovative attack vintoplan was included in the Soviet Union’s 5-year plan for 1989-1995, and the vehicle was eventually expected to enter service in 1996. However, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dwindling economics, neither the РТАК-30 nor its civil Mil Mi-30 sister did soar out in the new age of technology. In 1990 the whole program was stopped and both surviving РТАК-30 prototypes were mothballed – one (the 3rd prototype) was disassembled and its components brought to the Rostov-na-Donu Mil plant, while the other, prototype No. 1, is rumored to be stored at the Central Russian Air Force Museum in Monino, to be restored to a public exhibition piece some day.


General characteristics:

Crew: Two (pilot, copilot/WSO) plus space for up to three passengers or cargo
Length: 45 ft 7 1/2 in (13,93 m)
Rotor diameter: 20 ft 9 in (6,33 m)
Wingspan incl. engine nacelles: 42 ft 8 1/4 in (13,03 m)
Total width with rotors: 58 ft 8 1/2 in (17,93 m)
Height: 17 ft (5,18 m) at top of tailfin
Disc area: 4x 297 ft² (27,65 m²)
Wing area: 342.2 ft² (36,72 m²)
Empty weight: 8,500 kg (18,740 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,500 lb)

Powerplant:
4× Klimov VK-2500PS-03 turboshaft turbines, 2,400 hp (1.765 kW) each

Performance:
Maximum speed: 275 knots (509 km/h, 316 mph) at sea level
305 kn (565 km/h; 351 mph) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
Cruise speed: 241 kn (277 mph, 446 km/h) at sea level
Stall speed: 110 kn (126 mph, 204 km/h) in airplane mode
Range: 879 nmi (1,011 mi, 1,627 km)
Combat radius: 390 nmi (426 mi, 722 km)
Ferry range: 1,940 nmi (2,230 mi, 3,590 km) with auxiliary external fuel tanks
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Rate of climb: 2,320–4,000 ft/min (11.8 m/s)
Glide ratio: 4.5:1
Disc loading: 20.9 lb/ft² at 47,500 lb GW (102.23 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.259 hp/lb (427 W/kg)

Armament:
1× 30 mm (1.18 in) 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon with 450 rounds
7 external hardpoints for a maximum ordnance of 2.500 kg (5.500 lb)
 
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Tiger Force: Northrop P-61C-25NO Black Widow​

Link: www.whatifmodellers.com/index.…

Northrop P-61C-25NO Black Widow
a/c #38353, GQ-B, 2 Big and 2 Heavy/Little Annie
134 Squadron, 153 Wing, Tiger Force, Royal Air Force
Kangnung, UN-occupied southern Korea, 28 February 1946

By late 1944 it was apparent that the original concept of the RAF's Tiger Force deployment to the Far East needed to be changed. Gone was the strategic focus on a large number of Lancaster squadrons supported by escort fighters, replaced by a balanced tactical force concept to support a possible invasion of the Japanese Home Islands. This latter vision of Tiger Force required heavy and medium bombers, fighters-bombers, transports, gliders, liaison and observation aircraft and night fighters. Concerned about employing wooden de Havilland Mosquito night fighters to the Far East, the RAF organised for the delivery of the Northrop P-61 Black Widow through Lend-Lease.

After training in the US, the P-61C equipped 153 Wing deployed to Okinawa, arriving in September 1945. After conducting a series of Potato defensive patrols, during October they moved to Kangnung in UN-occupied southern Korea. Here they encountered the occasional Japanese night intruder, shooting down 3 of these before the invasion of Honshu.

With aerial targets few and far between, Tiger Force commanders sensed a growing restlessness amongst their Black Widow crews. Boredom and complacency had set in, which, coupled with deteriorating weather, contributed to several preventable flying incidents in late December, forcing a temporary grounding. When flying resumed, the Wing began training for offensive operations. Fortunately, their unique P-61C-25NO Black Widows had been built to RAF specifications that included a robust, long-range offensive capability. In addition to the 310 US gallon drop tanks routinely carried, the external load could include bombs or napalm and 8 5 inch HVAR rockets. The type lacked the P-61's top gun turret, allowing the fuselage nacelle to be slimmer, which reduced drag and enabled the installation of a fuel tank in place of the turret mechanism. The deletion of the turret also meant that its complicated sighting and control gear was omitted, along with the need for a third crewman, the gunner. A modified gunner's position was retained, though, and would sometimes be used for a navigator during long-range missions or an observer on sorties requiring an airborne spotter or forward air controller.

On the night of 3 February 1946, the crews of 153 Wing launched their offensive campaign against Japan, mounting Cucumber armed night reconnaissance patrols to interdict enemy supply routes. These intruder operations were mostly over and around Kyushu, Shikoku and southern Honshu. Following the invasion of Honshu, they engaged in a range of new nocturnal activities, including Celery close air support missions, Fennel spotting sorties for naval gunfire and Tomato airborne forward air control operations. Air-to-air activity included Potato air defence and Turnip escort and sweep operations, protecting the 24-hour airlift corridors established between Honshu and southern Korea. By VJ Day, RAF Black Widow crews had been credited with shooting down 11 Japanese aircraft.

On 27 February 1946, the crew of 2 Big and Two Heavy were pilot Flight Lieutenant Harry Kane, radar operator Flight Lieutenant Jordan Pickford and navigator Flying Officer Ben White mounting their third Cabbage mission. Cabbages were conducted in concert with the RAAF Douglas PDB-1 lnvaders of 453 Squadron, pairing a Black Widow with a single Invader and both using standard Invader call signs. This combination was prompted by an uptick in Japanese night fighter activity that saw Invaders performing Pomegranate patrol and heckler missions repeatedly approached by interceptors. No engagements had been recorded, but the enemy's intent was clear, the Australians avoiding contact through evasion after warnings from radar controllers.

The reasoning behind the Cabbage mission was rewarded just after 2AM on February 28. After a fruitless patrol over northern Kyushu dogged by low cloud, the Black Widow crew and their 453 Squadron partners worked over their diversionary target, a rail marshalling yard in Fukuoka. The crews of both aircraft made several passes: both fired rockets, the Invader also dropping 500 lb bombs while the Black Widow dropped its two M29 cluster bombs. A radio alert from a Royal Navy radar picket ship off the coast came as they were climbing away from the target. A lone Japanese plane had taken off from the nearby Mushiroda Airfield and was pursuing the UN airmen. The Japanese pilot was Captain Maya Yoshida of the 56th Hiko Sentai, flying a Nakajima Ki-43 III Hayabusa. Although operated by a dedicated night fighter unit, the Hayabusa was a standard day fighter model that had been slightly modified for nocturnal missions after delivery. The Black Widow crew turned to meet their prey, achieved a radar return from the fighter and maneuvered into a firing position. From the moment they were warned to the time the Japanese fighter disintegrated under the withering fire of their 4 20mm cannon was less than 5 minutes. Captain Yoshida was killed in the incident and the 56th Hiko Sentai would refrain from making further intercept attempts of the RAAF Invaders until the night of the UN's invasion of Honshu.

The aircraft and its crew were photographed during the afternoon of February 28, their Black Widow marked with a Japanese flag to symbolise the kill. Under the flag were 10 yellow bomb symbols, one for each of the plane’s current total of Cabbage and Cucumber interdiction missions. The portside nose art 2 Big and Two Heavy quotes a comment made by Flt. Lt. Kane during his first Black Widow walkaround during training in the US. The Little Annie starboard nose art is a reference to Flt. Lt. Pickford’s girlfriend. Both men survived the war, but F/O White was killed when, on a Cucumber mission in another Black Widow, his plane was shot down by flak near Kaminaka whilst interdicting rail traffic on the Obama Line 2 nights before the Y-Day invasion. 2 Big and Two Heavy/Little Annie was written-off after a landing accident at Kangnung on 2 May, 1946.

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Romanian Messerschmitt Me 410 A-1-U5​

Link: www.whatifmodellers.com/index.…

a/c 48, 41st Bomber Squadron, 8th Bomber Group, Royal Romanian Air Force
Mykolaiv, Axis-occupied Ukraine, December 1943
Personal mount of Căpitan-Comando Mirel Rădoi (pilot) and Sergent Vlad Chiricheș (gunner)

When Romania joined the Axis offensive into the nations of the Moscow Pact, the Romanian Air Force had a large but obsolete inventory of light bombers. This included 63 Fairey Battles that had been sent to Romania for use by Poland in August and September 1939, the plan having been for the Poles to train on the Battles in Romania. When the German invasion of Poland put paid to this, the Battles were simply delivered to the Romanian Air Force. 32 PZL.23 Kara light bombers flown to Romania by escaping Polish aircrew filled out the light bomber brigades.

Neither type could be replaced by more of the same, so Romania looked to its new Axis allies for other designs that could replace its diminishing light bomber force. Dazzled by the sleek and hi-tech promise of the Me 210, Romania and Germany agreed on an order for 150 Me 210 A-2s in November 1941. However, as the Me 210 program suffered from a series of delays due to dangerous handling problems, Romania was forced to find alternatives to replace the substantial combat attrition its bombers were experiencing on the Eastern Front. To compensate for the Me 210’s failure, the RLM provided a mix of Hs 129 B-2 and Ju 87Ds to Romania, but neither in sufficient numbers to replace attrition. Although Romanian and Bulgarian relations were strained due to territorial disputes, the Romanian's were desperate and even ordered the Bulgarian DAR-12 in 1942.

By 1943 the Me 210 program and had been replaced by the Me 410 and these became available to the Romanians in the second half of the year. The 41st Bomber Squadron, 8th Bomber Group entered combat with the Me 410 in December. All were of the Me 410 A-1/U5 version, which featured underwing racks for 50 kg bombs. The Romanians had required this feature because, unlike the Luftwaffe, they intended to use the Me 410 as a close air support bomber capable of flying several sorties a day. They were concerned that the standard loadout, which concentrated the bombload around the aircraft’s nose, would cause delays in turn arounds as armourers got in each other’s way. The U5 modification allowed the internal bomb bay and the underwing racks to be loaded simultaneously.

The aircraft is depicted here as armed with two SD 250s in the internal bomb bay and four SD 50s underwing. Combinations of SC 50/SC 250 general-purpose bombs and SD 50/SD 250 fragmentation bombs comprised the standard loadouts used by Romanian ‘410s. Using these bombs and their internal guns, crews attacked troop concentrations, frontline logistical centres and columns on the move, provided fire support for troops in contact and flew armed reconnaissance missions. Each aircraft routinely flew several sorties a day.

Pilot Căpitan-Comando Mirel Rădoi was killed in action on 23 March 1944 when flying Me 410 a/c 41, his plane was shot down by Red flak. Gunner Sergent Vlad Chiricheș was injured in the same incident, taken prisoner and survived the war.

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Vintoplan​

Link: www.flickr.com/photos/dizzyfug…

Some background:
The РТАК-30 attack vintoplan (also known as vintokryl) owed its existence to the Mil Mi-30 plane/helicopter project that originated in 1972. The Mil Mi-30 was conceived as a transport aircraft that could hold up to 19 passengers or two tons of cargo, and its purpose was to replace the Mi-8 and Mi-17 Helicopters in both civil and military roles. With vertical takeoff through a pair of tiltrotor engine pods on the wing tips (similar in layout to the later V-22 Osprey) and the ability to fly like a normal plane, the Mil Mi-30 had a clear advantage over the older models.

Since the vintoplan concept was a completely new field of research and engineering, a dedicated design bureau was installed in the mid-Seventies at the Rostov-na-Donu helicopter factory, where most helicopters from the Mil design bureau were produced, under the title Ростов Тилт Ротор Авиационная Компания (Rostov Tilt Rotor Aircraft Company), or РТАК (RTRA), for short.

The vintoplan project lingered for some time, with basic research being conducted concerning aerodynamics, rotor design and flight control systems. Many findings later found their way into conventional planes and helicopters. At the beginning of the 1980s, the project had progressed far enough that the vintoplan received official backing so that РТАК scientists and Mil helicopter engineers assembled and tested several layouts and components for this complicated aircraft type.
At that time the Mil Mi-30 vintoplan was expected to use a single TV3-117 Turbo Shaft Engine with a four-bladed propeller rotors on each of its two pairs of stub wings of almost equal span. The engine was still installed in the fuselage and the proprotors driven by long shafts.

However, while being a very clean design, this original layout revealed several problems concerning aeroelasticity, dynamics of construction, characteristics for the converter apparatuses, aerodynamics and flight dynamics. In the course of further development stages and attempts to rectify the technical issues, the vintoplan layout went through several revisions. The layout shifted consequently from having 4 smaller engines in rotating pods on two pairs of stub wings through three engines with rotating nacelles on the front wings and a fixed, horizontal rotor over the tail and finally back to only 2 engines (much like the initial concept), but this time mounted in rotating nacelles on the wing tips and a canard stabilizer layout.

In August 1981 the Commission of the Presidium of the USSR Council of Ministers on weapons eventually issued a decree on the development of a flyworthy Mil Mi-30 vintoplan prototype. Shortly afterwards the military approved of the vintoplan, too, but desired bigger, more powerful engines in order to improve performance and weight capacity. In the course of the ensuing project refinement, the weight capacity was raised to 3-5 tons and the passenger limit to 32. In parallel, the modified type was also foreseen for civil operations as a short range feederliner, potentially replacing Yak-40 and An-24 airliners in Aeroflot service.
In 1982, РТАК took the interest from the military and proposed a dedicated attack vintoplan, based on former research and existing components of the original transport variant. This project was accepted by MAP and received the separate designation РТАК-30. However, despite having some close technical relations to the Mi-30 transport (primarily the engine nacelles, their rotation mechanism and the flight control systems), the РТАК-30 was a completely different aircraft. The timing was good, though, and the proposal was met with much interest, since the innovative vintoplan concept was to compete against traditional helicopters: the design work on the dedicated Mi-28 and Ka-50 attack helicopters had just started at that time, too, so that РТАК received green lights for the construction of five prototypes: four flyworthy machines plus one more for static ground tests.

The РТАК-30 was based on one of the early Mi-30 layouts and it combined two pairs of mid-set wings with different wing spans with a tall tail fin that ensured directional stability. Each wing carried a rotating engine nacelle with a so-called proprotor on its tip, each with three high aspect ratio blades. The proprotors were handed (i.e. revolved in opposite directions) in order to minimize torque effects and improve handling, esp. in the hover. The front and back pair of engines were cross-linked among each other on a common driveshaft, eliminating engine-out asymmetric thrust problems during V/STOL operations. In the event of the failure of one engine, it would automatically disconnect through torque spring clutches and both propellers on a pair of wings would be driven by the remaining engine.
Four engines were chosen because, despite the weight and complexity penalty, this extra power was expected to be required in order to achieve a performance that was markedly superior to a conventional helicopter like the Mi-24, the primary Soviet attack helicopter of that era the РТАК-30 was supposed to replace. It was also expected that the rotating nacelles could also be used to improve agility in level flight through a mild form of vectored thrust.

The РТАК-30’s streamlined fuselage provided ample space for avionics, fuel, a fully retractable tricycle landing gear and a two man crew in an armored side-by-side cockpit with ejection seats. The windshield was able to withstand 12.7–14.5 mm caliber bullets, the titanium cockpit tub could take hits from 20 mm cannon. An autonomous power unit (APU) was housed in the fuselage, too, making operations of the aircraft independent from ground support.
While the РТАК-30 was not intended for use as a transport, the fuselage was spacious enough to have a small compartment between the front wings spars, capable of carrying up to three people. The purpose of this was the rescue of downed helicopter crews, as a cargo hold esp. for transfer flights and as additional space for future mission equipment or extra fuel.
In vertical flight, the РТАК-30’s tiltrotor system used controls very similar to a twin or tandem-rotor helicopter. Yaw was controlled by tilting its rotors in opposite directions. Roll was provided through differential power or thrust, supported by ailerons on the rear wings. Pitch was provided through rotor cyclic or nacelle tilt and further aerodynamic surfaces on both pairs of wings. Vertical motion was controlled with conventional rotor blade pitch and a control similar to a fixed-wing engine control called a thrust control lever (TCL). The rotor heads had elastomeric bearings and the proprotor blades were made from composite materials, which could sustain 30 mm shells.

The РТАК-30 featured a helmet-mounted display for the pilot, a very modern development at its time. The pilot designated targets for the navigator/weapons officer, who proceeded to fire the weapons required to fulfill that particular task. The integrated surveillance and fire control system had two optical channels providing wide and narrow fields of view, a narrow-field-of-view optical television channel, and a laser rangefinder. The system could move within 110 degrees in azimuth and from +13 to −40 degrees in elevation and was placed in a spherical dome on top of the fuselage, just behind the cockpit.

The aircraft carried one automatic 2A42 30 mm internal gun, mounted semi-rigidly fixed near the center of the fuselage, movable only slightly in elevation and azimuth. The arrangement was also regarded as being more practical than a classic free-turning turret mount for the aircraft’s considerably higher flight speed than a normal helicopter. As a side effect, the semi-rigid mounting improved the cannon's accuracy, giving the 30 mm a longer practical range and better hit ratio at medium ranges. Ammunition supply was 460 rounds, with separate compartments for high-fragmentation, explosive incendiary, or armor-piercing rounds. The type of ammunition could be selected by the pilot during flight.
The gunner can select one of two rates of full automatic fire, low at 200 to 300 rds/min and high at 550 to 800 rds/min. The effective range when engaging ground targets such as light armored vehicles is 1,500 m, while soft-skinned targets can be engaged out to 4,000 m. Air targets can be engaged flying at low altitudes of up to 2,000 m and up to a slant range of 2,500 m.

A substantial range of weapons could be carried on four hardpoints under the front wings, plus three more under the fuselage, for a total ordnance of up to 2,500 kg (with reduced internal fuel). The РТАК-30‘s main armament comprised up to 24 laser-guided Vikhr missiles with a maximum range of some 8 km. These tube-launched missiles could be used against ground and aerial targets. A search and tracking radar was housed in a thimble radome on the РТАК-30’s nose and their laser guidance system (mounted in a separate turret under the radome) was reported to be virtually jam-proof. The system furthermore featured automatic guidance to the target, enabling evasive action immediately after missile launch. Alternatively, the system was also compatible with Ataka laser-guided anti-tank missiles.
Other weapon options included laser- or TV-guided Kh-25 missiles as well as iron bombs and napalm tanks of up to 500 kg (1.100 lb) caliber and several rocket pods, including the S-13 and S-8 rockets. The "dumb" rocket pods could be upgraded to laser guidance with the proposed Ugroza system. Against helicopters and aircraft the РТАК-30 could carry up to four R-60 and/or R-73 IR-guided AAMs. Drop tanks and gun pods could be carried, too.

When the РТАК-30's proprotors were perpendicular to the motion in the high-speed portions of the flight regime, the aircraft demonstrated a relatively high maximum speed: over 300 knots/560 km/h top speed were achieved during state acceptance trials in 1987, as well as sustained cruise speeds of 250 knots/460 km/h, which was almost twice as fast as a conventional helicopter. Furthermore, the РТАК-30’s tiltrotors and stub wings provided the aircraft with a substantially greater cruise altitude capability than conventional helicopters: during the prototypes’ tests the machines easily reached 6,000 m / 20,000 ft or more, whereas helicopters typically do not exceed 3,000 m / 10,000 ft altitude.

Flight tests in general and flight control system refinement in specific lasted until late 1988, and while the vintoplan concept proved to be sound, the technical and practical problems persisted. The aircraft was complex and heavy, and pilots found the machine to be hazardous to land, due to its low ground clearance. Due to structural limits the machine could also never be brought to its expected agility limits
During that time the Soviet Union’s internal tensions rose and more and more hampered the РТАК-30’s development. During this time, two of the prototypes were lost (the 1st and 4th machine) in accidents, and in 1989 only two machines were left in flightworthy condition (the 5th airframe had been set aside for structural ground tests). Nevertheless, the РТАК-30 made its public debut at the Paris Air Show in June 1989 (the 3rd prototype, coded “33 Yellow”), together with the Mi-28A, but was only shown in static display and did not take part in any flight show. After that, the aircraft received the NATO ASCC code "Hemlock" and caused serious concern in Western military headquarters, since the РТАК-30 had the potential to dominate the European battlefield.

And this was just about to happen: Despite the РТАК-30’s development problems, the innovative attack vintoplan was included in the Soviet Union’s 5-year plan for 1989-1995, and the vehicle was eventually expected to enter service in 1996. However, due to the collapse of the Soviet Union and the dwindling economics, neither the РТАК-30 nor its civil Mil Mi-30 sister did soar out in the new age of technology. In 1990 the whole program was stopped and both surviving РТАК-30 prototypes were mothballed – one (the 3rd prototype) was disassembled and its components brought to the Rostov-na-Donu Mil plant, while the other, prototype No. 1, is rumored to be stored at the Central Russian Air Force Museum in Monino, to be restored to a public exhibition piece some day.


General characteristics:
Crew: Two (pilot, copilot/WSO) plus space for up to three passengers or cargo
Length: 45 ft 7 1/2 in (13,93 m)
Rotor diameter: 20 ft 9 in (6,33 m)
Wingspan incl. engine nacelles: 42 ft 8 1/4 in (13,03 m)
Total width with rotors: 58 ft 8 1/2 in (17,93 m)
Height: 17 ft (5,18 m) at top of tailfin
Disc area: 4x 297 ft² (27,65 m²)
Wing area: 342.2 ft² (36,72 m²)
Empty weight: 8,500 kg (18,740 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 12,000 kg (26,500 lb)

Powerplant:
4× Klimov VK-2500PS-03 turboshaft turbines, 2,400 hp (1.765 kW) each

Performance:
Maximum speed: 275 knots (509 km/h, 316 mph) at sea level
305 kn (565 km/h; 351 mph) at 15,000 ft (4,600 m)
Cruise speed: 241 kn (277 mph, 446 km/h) at sea level
Stall speed: 110 kn (126 mph, 204 km/h) in airplane mode
Range: 879 nmi (1,011 mi, 1,627 km)
Combat radius: 390 nmi (426 mi, 722 km)
Ferry range: 1,940 nmi (2,230 mi, 3,590 km) with auxiliary external fuel tanks
Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m)
Rate of climb: 2,320–4,000 ft/min (11.8 m/s)
Glide ratio: 4.5:1
Disc loading: 20.9 lb/ft² at 47,500 lb GW (102.23 kg/m²)
Power/mass: 0.259 hp/lb (427 W/kg)

Armament:
1× 30 mm (1.18 in) 2A42 multi-purpose autocannon with 450 rounds
7 external hardpoints for a maximum ordnance of 2.500 kg (5.500 lb)
Great stuff.
 
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Grumman Federated MAS/T "Wyvern;" Mobile Air Support/Transport superheavy VTOL. Terra Nova, 12 Jun, 2287.

Designed to serve either as a close air support platform or a transport, the Wyvern VTOL debuted in 2171 and quickly became popular with battlefield commanders as a heavy support transport and mobile command center. On Earth, active-duty Wyverns rarely operated with their equippable weapons pods outside of a few defensive gun mounts, as other aircraft were found to be more suitable as ground-attack vehicles and usually preceded a Wyvern's arrival on the field by several hours. Instead, Wyverns would deploy troops and light armor once a target was softened, or serve as overhead coordinators and communication relays in zones where more traditional methods were unavailable or incapable.

On Terra Nova, however, the Wyvern was used in all three of its intended capacities. Its rocket pods and guns proved highly adept at dismantling aggressive wildlife attacking researchers or colony outposts, and the planet's denser atmosphere allowed the craft to exceed its Earth lifting capacity by a considerable margin. Demilitarized Wyverns often served as cargo lifters and transporters for new colony sites, carrying prefabricated pods and supplies to areas where roads were yet to be built.
 
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From Apollo to Ares, Fred Haise played a key role in the successes of the US space programme. He is one of only 30 people to have flown to the Moon, as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 13. He was to have been the sixth person to land and walk on the Moon but the Apollo 13 mission was aborted before its scheduled lunar landing. He flew in space three times, with two missions to the Skylab II space station following Apollo 13.

In the 1970s and 80s, as a NASA executive, he played a key role in the development of orbital rendezvous, fuelling, construction, and other techniques needed to support long-term crewed spaceflight in advance of the first crewed landing on Mars.

Fred Haise Wikbox
 
Aircraft electric rotary engines from the Aeroverse

Something quite different from my or anyone else's contributions to this thread. This is a fictional but potentially plausible engine design.

The aircraft in my Aeroverse setting, though they are very similar to OTL early 20th century aircraft, have moved on from being petrol-powered to mostly electric-powered.

You probably know that many early aircraft from the 1900s to the 1920s were equipped with petrol-powered rotary engines. The engines had a central cluster, containing a star-like assemblage of the engine's cylinders. This cluster spun while functioning, and the main purpose of this was that the engine was essentially a self-cooling air-cooled engine, the cluster acting as a (somewhat bizarre) half-fan, half-engine. The internal combustion of the rotary engine was transferred onto the drive shaft (or drive axle) of the propeller, which spun the propeller of the plane.

As I am using aircraft of a very similar construction in my Aeroverse, but these aircraft have largelly switched to electric engines, I had a thought experiment: "What if the aetherium battery powered electric engines of my setting's aeroplanes would have stuck to the rotary engine concept, but adjusted it for the different technology ?"

The schematic you see below is my answer to this question, hopefully plausible enough.

Only the engine is shown, the battery packs are off-screen in this schematic, but implied to be powering the engine.

Please note that this is not 100 % to scale, it's meant to be a basic schematic to show the functioning of this fictional type of engine.


Tech - Aircraft electric rotary engine design (aetherium battery powered).png


This particular design is already a bit more advanced than a simple rotary engine from the 1900s-1920s. Most historical rotary engines had the issue that, as they spun, the propeller also followed their direction of spinning, with the propeller rotating in the same direction as the spinning engine cluster. This was a manageable downside, but took some skill from a pilot to mitigate during flight. People being people, ever ready to improve technology that could be improved, by the second half of the OTL 1910s, improved versions of the typical rotary engine started appearing in some newer planes. They were a little more complex in construction, containing an internal mechanism that guaranteed the propeller would actually spin in a direction counter to the direction of the spinning engine cluster.

My fictional engine is based on that second, innovated form of the petrol rotary engine, just with the major difference that it's a battery powered electric engine, and therefore does not use any internal combustion and the associated ICE (internal combustion engine) parts. However, the basic premise is the same: You have a system where a major part of the engine not only spins - acting as its own cooling fan, providing air-cooling to prevent overheating of the engine - but also powers a secondary mechanism, and that secondary mechanism transfers power to the propeller axle in a separate fashion, spinning the propeller in the other direction.

This ensures that the pilot of any aeroplane equipped with such an electric rotary engine doesn't need to bother with mitigating the rotation direction of the propeller. The aeroplane stays level, because both spinning parts of the engine are spinning in different directions.

For details on how OTL petrol-powered rotary engines worked, and how that compares with my fictional electric-powered rotary engines, please click the spoiler below and have a read.

Rotary_engine_-_animation_slower.gif

Standard petrol-powered rotary engine:
The engine cluster (with cylinders) and the axle of the propeller rotate in the same direction. This is simpler to construct and inexpensive, but at the same time, it causes issues of the propeller constantly sending the aeroplane swaying in one particular direction. When a pilot lets go of the controls for a short while, this starts immediately affecting the plane. You can't fool physics. However, there is a technological solution to this inherent weakness of a rotary engine, and I describe it in the following paragraph. The diagram shown above is of a typical rotary engine, used on most early 20th century planes that were equipped with such an engine. Many, many civilian aeroplanes of the early 1900s and many Entente and Central Powers aeroplanes of WWI used rotary engines, see this list.

Gegenl%C3%A4ufer_Umlaufmotor.gif


Counter-rotary petrol-powered rotary engine:
Invented during the second half of the first world war, these were rarer on early aircraft than the typical rotary engines. They never caught on as widely as the simpler rotary engines, but were still used by plenty of aircraft up until the later 1920s, when rotary engines were falling out of favour The reason they were invented was to deal with the inherent problem of typical rotary engines, as described above. Though the internal construction of this rotary engine was more complex, the added axles and more irregular movement of the piston mechanism inside the cylinders allowed to power the axle driving the propeller separately, rotating the propeller in a direction that was counter to the rotation of the engine cluster itself. This essentially cancelled out the propeller rotation issue and the pilot had one less worry to deal with while flying an aeroplane equipped with a rotary engine. The diagram shown above depicts a the Siemens-Halske Sh.III rotary engine. One of the late WWI planes that used this improved rotary engine was the Siemens-Schuckert D.IV biplane fighter.


What I have done with my fictional electric rotary engine for aircraft is essentially take the second, improved rotary engine concept, and convert its general ideas from a combustion engine technological context to an electric engine technological context. The spinning drum part of my fictional engine behaves like the rotating engine cluster of petrol rotary engines from the real world. Similarly, the mechanism inside the drum mimics the more complex, assymetrical piston design of the more advanced petrol rotary engine. The secondary mechanism in both is meant to provide the propeller with a spinning direction that is counter to the direction of the spinning engine cluster or the spinning drum.

(Special thanks to AJE for sharing these animated images when we discussed rotary engines and the concept of my electric-powered equivalent.)

Related Aeroverse posts:
- the Nimrod airship and various aeroplanes (this thread)
- size comparison chart of the Nimrod and real OTL airships (this thread)
- aircraft electric propulsion in the Aeroverse setting (the Worldbuilding thread)
- the complete overview of the Aeroverse setting (the Worldbuilding Thread)
 
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SRMA.JPG
A prototype Skylab Remote Manipulator Arm (SRMA) manoeuvres a simulated 32,000lb payload on an air-bearing floor at the Johnson Space Centre in September 1976.

The Skylab Remote Manipulator Arm (SRMA) was the culmination of over 10 years of research into remote arms, booms, and so-called ‘Serpentuators’. After completing 3 years of development and testing, the first SRMA would be launched to Skylab II on Argo 5 in late 1977, before SL78A crew Stuart Roosa and Robert Gibson successfully affixed it to a pre-prepared port on the upper side of the Multiple Docking Adapter (MDA). For the last two years of the station’s life, SRMA was used to support operations, external experiments and orbital construction. Astronauts could control it through a joystick and panel within the MDA.

Skylab III was launched in 1980 with SRMA rails around the circumference of the upper and lower end of the Orbital Workshop, and a connecting traverse rail between the two. When the station was commissioned, the rails were deployed and locked in place ready for the arm, which was delivered on the second Argo flight to the station 5 months later. It was attached and deployed by SL80B Commander Bob Crippen and Mission Specialist Story Musgrave. For the nine years of the station’s life, the SRMA successfully supported orbital operations, playing a key role in station maintenance, moving equipment and supplies around the station, supporting astronauts working in space, and servicing external science experiments.
 
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LC18 ahead of demolition.jpg


Launch Complex 18 was a launch complex at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. First active during the late 1950s & early 60s it was rebuilt in the late 70s to support the test programme for the Mars Exploration Module. It is seen here ahead of demolition in 2000.

Wikibox
 
The backbone of the Royal Hawai'ian Air Force for the last four decades has been the venerable F-14. First in the form of the Hawai'ian developed F-14B with F110 engines in the early 1980s, and with lager re-manufacturing to the F-14D+ standard in the 1990s, this platform offers extreme range over which it can defend the Hawai'ian air and sea. Hawai'ian operation of the type has represented a challenge for the US as plans to destroy parts and tooling used to support the American fleet (to avoid it falling into Iranian hands) have been repeatedly delayed to continue to support RHAF operations. Current Hawai'ian plans call for the type to remain in service through 2030.

Shown here in both classic, and low-viz liveries:

F-14D_RHAF_Classic.png


F-14D_RHAF.png
 
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The backbone of the Royal Hawai'ian Air Force for the last four decades has been the venerable F-14. First in the form of the Hawai'ian developed F-14B with F110 engines in the early 1980s, and with lager re-manufacturing to the F-14D+ standard in the 1990s, this platform offers extreme range over which it can defend the Hawai'ian air and sea. Hawai'ian operation of the type has represented a challenge for the US as plans to destroy parts and tooling used to support the American fleet (to avoid it falling into Iranian hands) have been repeatedly delayed to continue to support RHAF operations. Current Hawai'ian plans call for the type to remain in service through 2030.

Shown here in both classic, and low-viz liveries:

F-14D_RHAF_Classic.png


F-14D_RHAF.png
What is the POD of a hostile Hawaii towards the U.S.?
 
What is the POD of a hostile Hawaii towards the U.S.?
i didn't read it as hostile, just intention to destroy the toolings used to build it & spare parts. which is not unusual for the us to do (it happened for example with most of the apollo/saturn toolings).
 
What is the POD of a hostile Hawaii towards the U.S.?
There is no actual PoD. I used an Independent Kingdom of Hawai'i (and sometimes Kingdoms of Hawai'i and Samoa), as a generic western-aligned power for my pixelart work. That said, The frustrations come from the fact that the US wants to destroy the parts and tooling to keep it from the Iranians, while Hawai'i is very much against said destruction as it would make supporting their fleet much harder.
 
Hawai with F-14s? Did they find oil? ;)

(disclaimer: am a massive fan of the F-14. any excuse to keep them going is fine by me)
 
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