Earlier aircraft with rear cargo ramps

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by PMN1, Jun 8, 2019.

  1. PMN1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Is there a potential driver for the introduction of cargo aircraft with the rear loading ramp of the OTL Hercules etc?

    If aircraft with rear cargo ramps had been available in the mid 1930's what impact would they have had on freighting duties in WW2?
     
  2. sloreck Grunt Bear

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2008
    Location:
    Midwest
    IMHO while this makes loading/unloading faster, the problem in part is the engine power to lift vehicles or substantial amounts of cargo. You also need to be able to have the proper landing gear, no tail draggers, but tricycle gear with multiple wheels for rough fields. The ME323 was the first to have this sort of arrangement I believe...
     
    James Ricker likes this.
  3. Ian_W Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2015
    There is also the issue of balancing the load within the aircraft ie you need a bigger set of engines.
     
  4. PhilKearny Free Bill Cameron! Free TFSmith121, too!

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Evilvania
    You also need aircraft to move away from "tail dragger" landing gear.
     
    Finerc, ennobee and Ian_W like this.
  5. PMN1 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2006
    Location:
    UK
    Moving away from tail dragger is probably a must although Handley Page thought they could get away with a tail ramp version of its Hastings.

    Looking at the drawing of that in 'On Atlas Shoulders' shows quite a steep angle for loading, though I do wonder what kind of angle you would have with a high wing aircraft.

    How much demand would there be for this kind of cargo aircraft for carrying freight before WW2?
     
    DougM likes this.
  6. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    OTL Germany did much of the early development work on tail ramps. Junkers installed tail ramps on a few low-wing transports. Their ramps were hinges near the wings’ trailing edge and were almost as long as the tail cone.
    The first airplanes with tail ramps were the Junkers 90 prototypes V5 and V6. It first flew in December of 1939. It had a conventional tail wheel mounted to the tail end of the fuselage. The tail end of the ramp merely rested on the ground. The ramp was jacked open for loading a passenger car. Jacking raised the fuselage until the cargo floor was level.
    Junkers continued this style of tail ramp on its - limited production - Ju 252 and 352 tri-motor transports.

    Only the - 1964-vintage British Andover cargo plane copied that low-wing with tail ramp configuration.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  7. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    A tail ramp would have been most valuable for delivering light vehicles during paratrooper assaults. Even light anti-tank guns or scout cars were invaluable during the first wave.
    OTL The German Gotha 242 assault glider was large enough to carry a VW Kubelwagen That could drive out through the cargo doors at the tail of its central cargo pod. Twin tail booms allowed the pod’s tail cone to hinge upwards after landing.
    Small numbers of powered Gotha 244 transport planes were also built during WW2.

    Gotha’s pod and twin boom design was copied in several NATO Cold War transports, most notably the Fairchild C-119 Flying Box Car and French-German Nordatlas.
    A disadvantage of the pod-and-boom configuration was the need to remove the tail cone if you wanted to para-drop cargo. This limited range, but allowed huge cargos - up to light tanks - to be delivered short distances (e.g. Kap Yong Hill, Korea).
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  8. MatthewB Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2019
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Wouldn’t a benefit of a tail dragger be that no rear ramp is needed? Though the below dragger still has a ramp.

    [​IMG]
     
    riggerrob likes this.
  9. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    OTL The first modern-configuration tail-ramp was installed on the Budd Conestoga prototype that first flew in October 1943. Budd incorporated high-wings, tricycle landing gear and a ramp hinged at the front edge.
    Only small numbers of Conestogas were built. The Conestoga suffered the usual “Mark 1” developmental problems but laid the ground work for Chase-Fairchild’s successful C-123 Provider line of transports for the USAF.

    ATL in a Canada-wank alternate time line, we speculated about Canadian Car and Foundry buying shot-welding tools from Budd and building Conestogas under licence during WW2. The connection is that both Budd and CCF’s primary business was building railway freight cars.
     
    Dynasoar and marathag like this.
  10. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    Yes!
    Eliminating the ramp eliminates a whole series of balance problems. If the cargo floor ends near the trailing edge of the wing, it becomes difficult to load cargo too far aft.
    You would still need a “pogo stick” or jack while loading, but reduce a whole series of balance problems in flight.
    Note that I said “reduce” not “eliminate” balance problems. We found out the hard way that if all 20 skydivers crowd the ramp, it is possible to stall and spin a Shorts Skyvan!
    Guess how I know......
     
    TonyA likes this.
  11. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    The primary advantage would be delivering complete vehicles to forward airstrips.
    By complete vehicles, I mean armoured cars and light tanks like Tetrach. SP guns configured like Valentine Archer would have been invaluable during the early stages of airborne assaults (e.g. Arnhem, Holland).
    A secondary value is low altitude parachute extraction system that delivers cargo - accurately - while minimizing exposure to AAA.
    LAPES was developed in 1964 - by the US military - and promptly sent to Vietnam. I suspect that LAPES was developed by some of the Nazi-surplus engineers imported under Operation Paperclip.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
  12. Driftless Geezer

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2011
    Location:
    Out in the Driftless Area
    What about using the Burnelli "lifting fuselage" concept? Theoretically, that might even be made to work as a tail dragger, with upper surface of the wing opening upwards and attachable ramps from floor to ground. A bit too bizarre?
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    Paul_Sussex likes this.
  13. PhilKearny Free Bill Cameron! Free TFSmith121, too!

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Evilvania
    Did Fairchild’s C-82 copy the pod and boom layout of the Gotha 244 or are the two aircraft examples of convergent evolution?
     
    Dynasoar likes this.
  14. PhilKearny Free Bill Cameron! Free TFSmith121, too!

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Evilvania
    [​IMG] Why not go with Canadian swingtail technology? It’s super cool even if it makes airdrops challenging. :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    James Ricker and TonyA like this.
  15. riggerrob Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2014
    —————————

    Probably convergent development.
    The prototype Fairchild C-82 Packet first flew in September 1944, but it is doubtful if Fairchild designers knew much about Gotha assault gliders.
    Gotha first flew in 1941 and promptly entered production. Flight magazine published a preliminary description in 1942.
     
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2019
    AJE and PhilKearny like this.
  16. TonyA Curmudgeon like, but nastier

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Location:
    South Florida
    Love your choice of words...I think for WWII, we're stuck with the "big" glider as the only real way to get significant items into the combat drop zone. What was needed was post WWII style "weapons system" thinking...design and settle on the glider, then design stuff that fits inside and fits the bill for the job at hand.
     
    PhilKearny likes this.
  17. PhilKearny Free Bill Cameron! Free TFSmith121, too!

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Evilvania
    Admit it: you’d love to see a rear airdrop capable swingtail.
     
    TonyA and TeePee like this.
  18. TonyA Curmudgeon like, but nastier

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2015
    Location:
    South Florida
    Mixed emotions...almost be afraid to watch...but fascinated at the same time.
     
    ennobee and PhilKearny like this.
  19. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2005
    Well, that must have been a... noteworthy day.
     
    Indiana Beach Crow and Somedevil like this.
  20. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back Kicked

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2013
    Vincent Burnelli was there first
    [​IMG]
    With lifting body and boom setup. He had been doing twin boom aircraft thru the '20s

    An updated version was later built in Canada as a transport