WARBIRD RADIO – The Jetson’s idea of a flying car isn’t all that far fetched, just take a look at the Avrocar. Currently on display in the National Museum of United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio. Here’s what the museum has to say about it: The Avrocar was the result of a Canadian effort to develop a supersonic, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) fighter-bomber in the early 1950s. However, its circular shape gave it the appearance of a “flying saucer” out of science fiction movies of the period.
A.V. Roe (Avro) Aircraft Limited (later Avro Canada) based its design concept for the Avrocar on using the exhaust from turbojet engines to drive a circular “turborotor” which produced thrust. By directing this thrust downward, the turborotor would create a cushion of air (also known as “ground effect”) upon which the aircraft would float at low altitude. When the thrust was directed toward the rear, the aircraft would accelerate and gain altitude.
In 1952, the Canadian government provided initial funding but dropped the project when it became too expensive. Avro offered the project to the U.S. government, and the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force took it over in 1958. Each service had different requirements: the Army wanted to use it as a subsonic, all-terrain troop transport and reconnaissance craft, but the USAF wanted a VTOL aircraft that could hover below enemy radar then zoom up to supersonic speed. Avro’s designers believed they could satisfy both services, but these two sets of requirements differed too much.
Research data originally indicated that a circular wing might satisfy both the Army’s and Air Force’s requirements, and Avro built two small test vehicles to prove the concept. Designated the VZ-9AV Avrocar (“VZ” stood for “experimental vertical flight,” “9” for the ninth concept proposal, and “AV” for Avro).
Tests with scale models at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, indicated that the cushion of air under the Avrocar would become unstable just a few feet off the ground. The aircraft would be incapable of reaching supersonic speeds, but the testing went ahead to determine if a suitable aircraft could be developed for the Army. The first prototype-the Avrocar on display (serial number 58-7055)-was sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. There, wind tunnel tests proved that the aircraft had insufficient control for high speed flight and was aerodynamically unstable.
The second Avrocar prototype underwent flight tests that validated the wind tunnel tests. If it flew more than three feet above the ground, the Avrocar displayed uncontrollable pitch and roll motions, which the Avro engineers called “hubcapping.” The Avrocar could only reach a maximum speed of 35 mph, and all attempts to end the hubcapping failed. The project was cancelled in December 1961.
The second prototype aircraft went to the U.S. Army Transportation Museum at Fort Eustis, Va., and the first prototype Avrocar came to the National Museum of the United States Air Force in 2007.
TECHNICAL NOTES: Crew: Two Engines: Three Continental J69-T9 turbojets of 927 lbs. thrust each Wingspan: 18 ft. Height: 4 ft. 10 in. Weight: 4,620 lbs. empty
WARBIRD RADIO – Here’s the chance you’ve all been waiting for! Tune in for details on how you can go along with Patrick Mihalek and Todd Trainor as they rescue the B-25 “Sandbar Mitchell”. 44-30733 was on the assembly line directly in front of the B-25J flying today as “Panchito”. Patrick and Todd are working hard to return 733 to flying status like her sister ship. For pictures and recovery trip details you can visit the Quick Link posted below. Speaking of “Panchito”… Matt also checks in with Larry Kelley for a wrap-up of the final Doolittle Tokyo Raider’s reunion held this past weekend in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. Thanks for listening!
Nicknamed “Sandbar Mitchell” after it crashed on a Tanana River sandbar near Fairbanks, Alaska.
North American B-25J-25-NC, serial number 44-30733, has a chance to fly again.
QUICK LINK: Sandbar Mitchell
WARBIRD RADIO – When you walk into the Research & Development Gallery at the National Museum of the United States Air Force (NMUSAF) one of the airplanes that jumps out at you is the Piper Enforcer. The Enforcer is one of those “what might have been” projects from the 80’s. On the surface it’s reminiscent of the P-51 but on the inside it’s a completely new airplane. According to the NMUSAF’s website, the PA48 is a turboprop-powered light close-support/ground-attack aircraft built by Piper Aircraft Corp. Lakeland, Fla. By direction of Congress, the USAF evaluated the aircraft, beginning in 1983. Testing was conducted in 1984 and the Air Force decided not to order the Enforcer.
Since the Enforcer was never in the Air Force inventory, it was not given an official military designation and did not receive an Air Force serial number. Instead, it carries the Piper designation PA-48 and Federal Aviation Administration registration number N481PE.
Span: 41 ft. 4 in. Length: 34 ft. 2 in. Height: 13 ft. 1 in. Armament: Mixed armament includes two GE GPU 30mm gun pods, MK-82 snakeyes, Bristol GRV-7 rockets, CBU canisters and MK-20 Rockeye antitank rockets Engine: Avco-Lycoming YT-55-L-9 turboprop of 2,445 hp C/N:48-350001 Registration number: N481PE (no USAF serial number assigned)
Maximum speed: 403 mph Range: 921 miles Service ceiling: 25,000 ft.
WARBIRD RADIO – It was a special moment when members of the 34th Bomb Squadron presented Lt. Col. Richard E. Cole (RET) and the other surviving Doolittle Tokyo Raiders their current “active duty” patch flown in combat. The event took place April 19th 2013 during the Doolittle Tokyo Raider’s last public reunion in Fort Walton Beach, Florida.
The 34th Bomb Squadron currently operates B-1 “Lancers” and is recognized as one of the oldest squadrons in the United States Air Force. Along side sister squadrons, the 37th and 95th Bomb Squadron the 34th contributed aircrews for the Doolittle Raid on 18 April 1942. In this historic snapshot the new meets the old and the proud legacy of the 34th Thunderbirds continues.
QUICK LINK: 34th Bomb Squadron
WARBIRD RADIO – The 71st Doolittle Raiders Reunion is going on now in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. A full schedule of events can be found by clicking on the Quick Link below. Inside you’ll find all the updated information about this weekend’s events. Plan on attending one of the many book signings and autograph sessions or take a ride in a B-25. After checking with the Fort Walton Chamber of Commerce Warbird Radio.com can confirm a few tickets are still available for the luncheon event. The Saturday evening dinner event is sold out.
Our coverage continues all weekend of the 71st Doolittle Raiders Reunion. For pictures and videos of past reunions just search “Doolittle” on the right side of the screen. Thanks for stopping by.
QUICK LINK: 71stDoolittleReunionSchedule