Archive for May, 2008

30
May
08

Windsock DataFile 11 Albatros D.II

By the early months of 1916 the dominance of the German Fokker E-Type monoplanes in the skies of France was virtually over; introduction of improved Allied fighters such as the British DH2 and the French Nieuport 11 had seen to that. Germany’s leading fighter pilots and air staff officers were not slow to realise that well-armed light biplane designs would be a far more effective answer and the German aeroplane industry, ever-responsive to Front line requirements, already had several biplane prototypes in the air. In March 1916 the first ever production order for a D-type (single-place, single-engined, armed biplane [Doppledecker]) was awarded by the German Army Air Service to Halberstadt Flugzeugwerke GmbH; next order, signed in May, going to Fokker Flugzeugwerke GmbH for the twin-bay D.I. These aeroplanes, reaching France in June and July, were reasonably effective but subsequent designs from both companies failed to keep pace with the rapid acceleration of aeronautical progress. As a result, the early Halberstadt and Fokker designs were relegated to quiet sectors or to Jastaschulen for training. The contemporary Roland D.I and D.II fighters, whilst promising in test evaluations, were lumbered with the disappointing 150hp Argus engine which lost power severely at altitude and in consequence large orders for the types were severely cut back. With virtually no opposition, the field was therefore well and truly open for the domination of Albatros fighters from late 1916 until the middle of 1918 …
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30
May
08

Warbirds Illustrated 024 – Spy Planes of the USAF

Ever since the first aerial photograph was taken, from a military observation balloon, commanders have been fascinated with this capability, and over the years systems have evolved into extremely sophisticated devices, capable of gathering all forms of data, from low-level tactical observation to Earth-orbit, high-resolution photography. Today’s satellite systems afford facilities for very high quality elint (electronics intelligence) and photographic reconnaissance, but, complementing the data returned from space, that collected by the manned aircraft is still vital, and the need for immediate, accurate information has led to the development of stable and flexible reconnaissance platforms known as ‘spyplanes’. We will, in this volume, only glimpse the strategic reconnaissance story. Missions are usually carried out under a cloak of extreme secrecy by a single aircraft. No weapons are carried nor pay loads delivered, only the probing eyes of photo-optical systems or the invisible impulses of electronic sensors. Even when a particular mission is successful, there can be no disclosure or claim of recognition. The need for policy makers to have an immediate assessment of a global ‘hot spot’ or to accumulate the information necessary to determine long-term strategy depends on reconnaissance capabilities. Within this realm we will look at several of the truly amazing aircraft that have been produced to meet this need.
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30
May
08

Rotor & Wing 02 2007

Boeing has been busy lately, winninganew U.S. Army contract for Apaches and the latest installment of Army Chinookorders. The new firm, fixed-price contract, valued at $1.15 billion, covers an additional 96 Block 2 AH-64D Apache Longbows for the Army and 30 designated for purchase by the United Arab Emirates, through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. The 96 aircraft fill a new Army requirement and will extend Block 2 production at Boeing’s Mesa, Ariz. plant until it begins producing Block 3 Apaches in 2010. Boeing delivered the 501st and last Block 2 AH-64 under the two original, five-year procurement contracts in August 2006. It already was under contract to build 27 more AH-64Ds to replace aircraft lost in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. In December 2006, Boeing also was awarded an Army contract for more than $1.5 billion for up to 66 CH-47Fs. Part of the service’s planned Chinook acquisitions, the contract includes 16 newly built CH-47Fs and options for 22 new-build Chinooks and 19 remanufactured ones.
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30
May
08

Hunters – The Hawker Hunter In British Military Service

British fighters had been among the world’s finest during the Second World War. Many of them, such as the Hawker Hurricane and the Typhoon rocket-firing fighter, were the result of the design teams headed by Sydney Camm, who had been Hawker’s chief designer since 1925. His greatest post-war creation, the Hunter, beckoned, but bringing this project (and others) to fruition would prove difficult. In 1945 Britain had emerged impoverished and austere from more than five vears of war while the United States and the Soviet Union gained new dominance, both politically and militarily. British politicians tried forlornly to resuscitate and transform the economy but deprivation and sacrifice could not be remedied overnight, or even over a period of years. America gave Europe aid, but Britain’s overall economic situation, certainly in the aviation industry, was one of under-investment and low priority. ‘Make do and mend’, an attitude reminiscent of the period immediately after the First World War, was the order of the day.
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30
May
08

German Aircraft of the Second World War

The Treaty of Versailles, which was finally signed by Germany on 28 June, 1919, contained clauses which called for a drastic reduction in size of both army and navy and the complete abolition of the old German Flying Corps. At least 15,000 aircraft and 27.000 aero engines were included in the war material handed over to the Allies, and by 1920 military aviation in Germany was dead. Although the Treaty of Versailles precluded Germany from any forays into military aviation, it only placed engine power restrictions on civil aircraft development Even as early as December 1917 the first German airline. Deutsche Luft Reederei (or DLR) had been formed, although the first scheduled flight was not made until February 1919. This company was followed shortly afterwards by several other small companies, all using converted military types such as the A.E.G. J II. the L.V.G. C VI and the Friedrichshafen G IIIa.
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30
May
08

Aircam Airwar 019 – RAF Bomber Units – July 1942-1945

The success of the first 1,000 bomber raid was not repeated over Essen, where cloud and industrial smog made target location difficult and bombs fell over a wide area, causing comparatively little damage- The two raids, and the one against Bremen on 25/26 June, proved that given the aircraft, Harris was capable of mounting a full-scale campaign. But aircraft were at a premium in the spring of 1942, and even if they had been available in the quantities the C-in-C wanted them, the supply of crews would have been a bigger problem. Aircraft such as the Wellington, Whitley and Hampden, which had borne the brunt of the bomber offensive since 1939, were outdated, and the flow of the new four-engined heavies was still but a trickle. Even if these aircraft had been available at this time in greater quantity, the men to crew them would not: whereas the twins of the early war years had needed a five-man crew, the Halifax, Stirling and Lancaster needed seven and until the flow of new aircrew from the training schools got under way, manpower shortage was one of the major problems facing Bomber Command. Harris was also frustrated by the drain of trained crews to the Middle East, over 1,000 being transferred to the Desert Air Force during the opening months of 1942. So although the successes of Lubeck, Cologne, Essen and Bremen, had led Churchill into describing Bomber Command as ‘our immensely powerful weapon’, its strength was somewhat illusory and it would not be until 1943 that Harris had the equipment and men at his disposal to mount the offensive he planned.
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30
May
08

Aircam Airwar 017 – German Fighter Units June 1917-1918

During the early part of 1917 most Jagdstaffeln were operating at half of their planned strengths due to problems in the supply of aircraft and pilots. Kogenluft, realizing that the supply situation would prevent the formation of a larger number of Jagdstaffeln, issued an order to increase the established strengths of the existing fighter units, as and when personnel and material became available. It was also intended to considerably increase the size of the Jagdstaffelschule at Valenciennes. An increase in strength to fifty aeroplanes was planned, and to meet this requirement all D Category aircraft with their associated spare parts held by any Armee Flug Park were to be released to the Jastaschule. Additionally, all Albatros D III machines returned to Germany for major repair were not to be retained there for school use, as was the general rule for all other types due to the shortage of aircraft in Germany, but were to be returned to the front. It was not until the end of June that the supply situation improved sufficiently to enable unit strengths to approach the laid down establishments.
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