Samstag, 4. Februar 2012

Norman flying...

Norman Bel Geddes's Airliner No 4 


This is a concept (never built) for an airplane I though I try just to see if it could be done in FS, and what it would look like. Because it is a concept, and because I did it in FS2002:P I don't know if anyone is interested in it otherwise. Feel free to move this thread if it is more appropiate somewhere else.

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Norman Bel Geddes was an industrial designer who flourished between the wars. He is well known for his theater designs and his handsome and collectable cocktail shakers, cook stoves, radios, Deco window displays, butcher scales, etc. In 1929 he proposed the Airliner Number 4 as the transatlantic airliner of 1940. It occupied a chapter of his book,Horizons, and there is more about it at this link. I was wondering if this giant could be modeled in FS2002/FS2004; and what an imaginary flight would be like. Here we go....

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Norman Bel Geddes's Airliner No 4 departs from Chicago at noon on December 23. Bel Geddes designed it with the help of Doctor O.A. Koller; and the design was funded by certain Chicago business men who were interested in the possibility of constructing this plane with the idea of operating it between Chicago and London via the St. Lawrence River and Great Circle Route. It was to sleep 606 passengers, along with a crew of 155.

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It was to have 20 1,900 HP engines, PLUS 6 1,900 HP engines as spares! (I thought the idea of carrying spare engines was silly...until I found out the Boeing 314 four engined flying boats carried a spare!) Two of the spare engines are in the center of this picture; another at the far right. Notice the tracks of the railroad so the engines can be changed in flight, and moved around at ease within the auxiliary wing. The nonfunctioning motor can be replaced with a reserve motor within five minutes and the broken motor run over to the machine shop to be repaired on the spot. His design drawings appear to call for water cooled inline engines; but by 1939; nearly all large aircraft engines in North America were radial engines. The ones shown here are German-built DB 603 engines of 1,510 HP. Bel Geddes figured that while it required 20 engines to lift the ship off the water, only 12 were needed to fly at cruising speed, so it would be possible to remain in the air on just half the engines with which it was equipped. He considered this a safety factor of 2. For this flight, we throttled all engines down to 2/3 power.

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It took roughly an hour to climb to the design ceiling of 10,000 feet. Even before we took off, we turned to a heading of 72 degrees NE, and are maintaining that heading as we fly across the Michigan peninsula near Flint.

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Here, we looking down the length of the leading edge of the wing from the middle, on the Pomenade Deck (Deck 7.) It is 183 feet from where we are standing to the individual at the end! With cabins all the way out to the tips of the wing, only shallow banks could have been made. A thirty degree coordinated bank would have resulted in a rise of 134 feet at the wing tips, and a total rise along the Pomenade Deck of 268 feet!

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Evening of December 23rd finds us flying near Barne, Ontario, with scattered clouds below. We are still flying on a heading of 72 degrees ENE. We are cruising at 77 knots (87 1/2 MPH); Airliner No. 4 was to have a speed at ceiling of 87 1/2 MPH, a cruising speed of 100 MPH, a maximum speed of 150 MPH, and a landing speed of 72 MPH. (For the sake of comparison; the Boeing 314 had a cruising speed of nearly 120 MPH.)

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When we reach the St. Lawrence Seaway, we carefully turn north to a heading of 60 degrees, and fly along the Seaway. While PAA and BOA's seaplanes stopped over at Botwood, in the Bay of Exploits, Newfoundland, Canada for the night; Norman Bel Geddes's Airliner No 4 was to be refueled in flight while passing over Newfoundland. 

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Once we reached the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, we turn to a heading of 90 degrees due east to head out over the North Atlantic. Daybreak finds us roughly 200 miles south of Greenland at N58, W40. Now at the halfway point, we then turn to a heading of 150 degrees to the SE.

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We are standing on the balcony on Deck 6, overlooking the empty Lounge area on Deck 5. The main lounge on our FS model is 20 feet high, based on the drawings I used. Other sources say it was supposed to be 36 feet high. The main dining room up on Deck 7 coverts into a dance floor for 100 couples, complete with orchestra platform.

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Now, we are looking out the back from the Game Room on Deck 5. Looking at the ocean below, I am glad for the 6 completely enclosed 40 ft lifeboats capable of carrying 110 people apiece in the pontoons below. They were to have engines, windows along the side, radio gear, and food and water for 2 weeks. But, 110 people in a single 40 foot lifeboat sounds awful cramped. Maybe I'll take my chances instead with one of the two small seaplanes stored one each in the tips of the floats. Lower left corner of picture; I used a Tiger Moth model with the wings folded for my "floatplane." They could be launched in flight or standing still. 4 deck tennis courts, 6 shuffle board courts, and 6 quoits pitches were to located here in the Game Room. Like the Lounge, the game room in our model has a 20 foot high ceiling. There was also supposed to be a gym, complete with Men and Women's dressing rooms, a barber and a hair dresser.

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Approaching midnight on Christmas Eve finds us still out over the North Atlantic at N51 W24. We have gone far enough south, so we now turned slowly to 90 degrees due East. (Don't want to throw folks off their feet, or out of bed. ;D) There is occasional lightning, and Airliner No. 4 is lit up by one of these flashes.

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We reached the Irish coast at around 7:00 Christmas morning. Sunrise finds us leaving Ireland behind and heading out over the Irish Sea.

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We finally arrive over Plymouth, England at 11:00. We see the famous bridges off to our right as we fly over Plymouth to make a landing inside the breakwater.

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Our flight took 46 hours; Norman Bel Geddes calculated it would take 42 hours. His may have been based on the above 100 mph cruise speed instead of our roughly 87-1/2 mph speed at ceiling. We also made a landing in the wrong cove, and had to consult our maps to find out where Plymouth was. ::)

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As you can see, the virtual cockpit is still empty. The discussion on the Martin M-130 was very enlightening in figuring out what the cockpit would have looked like. For example, in marine style, I envisioned just four thottle controls (more like engine telegraphs) for a group of five engines each; the engineers up in the engine room would determine what the throttle settings would be for each individual engine.

Pilots of Norman Bel Geddes's Airliner No 4 would even envy the pilots of 747s, since their cockpit is 53 feet off the ground! 

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As with any shakedown flight, there are things to be tended to. The shipyard in Plymouth offered to help us; but we chose instead to fly to Houton Seaplane base, where they have experience in working with seaplanes. Here, a Dornier DO-X and Latécoère 523 are docked, along with a sailing ship. Note how big Norman Bel Geddes's Airliner No 4 is by comparison; the auxillary wing has a wingspan of 177 feet!

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