Author Topic: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks  (Read 11012 times)

Offline GTX_Admin

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Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« on: June 26, 2013, 02:54:58 AM »
An idea experimented with by the British.  The die being to remove the undercarriage from the fighter in order to save weight.  Here is some information on one such concept - the Supermarine Type 543:






Might make an interesting entry into the Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda GB

Maybe also other derivatives...say a EE Lightning using this technique?
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Offline Alvis 3.1

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 03:00:46 AM »
Eric Brown was a proponent of the idea, he thought you could have an inflatable airfield that say, Marines could set up quickly and then you'd not be tied down to conventional airfields.
Of course, there's that niggling problem of what to do if your inflate-a-date erm, airfield springs a leak and you have to divert..to a regular airfield! Now what, Chumly? No gear! Oh dear! Time to eject and lose a perfectly good aircraft.  :o

Interesting concept, just not really a survivable one in the real world. Kind of like making roads out of rubber, and tyres out of asphalt! ;D


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Offline Weaver

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2013, 08:33:47 AM »
More of a Couldna Wouldna Shouldna for all the blindingly obvious reasons but it would make an interesting model, particularly if you could put it in a diorama with a section of the flexible deck to make the point that it's not just a regular aircraft with it's gear up.

The Sea Hawk was considered for this BTW (good shape) and the Scimitar pretty much owed it's existence to it, since it evolved, via the Types 508 and 525, from the Type 505 which was designed for the rubber deck from the start. It probably wouldn't have worked with the Lightning because it needed the wings to be pretty near the bottom of the fuselage so that the plane didn't tip over too far when it stopped
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Offline Kerick

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2013, 11:00:00 AM »
What would you do when the ship came to port for overhaul and all the aircraft had to be flown of to land bases? Even with an inflatable strip taxing to the ramp would be interesting.

Offline finsrin

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2013, 01:54:21 PM »

Looks like they started with the F-90 and went to modifying it.

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2013, 02:21:17 PM »
Take-off would be OK,you could even implement a ZELL system, & cranes & trolleys would speed up deck clearing but it would still take much longer than a wheeled aircraft (almost like clearing the deck after a crash-landing, maybe even longer) & reinforcing the fuselage to take the force of direct impacts with the deck for X years/flights would add considerably more weight than any wheeled undercarriage, even with "soft"/"flexible" decks.

Also, what about friction damage to the deck? I doubt it would survive very long & would be another expensive addition to the naval budget.

Cute idea but, as a former naval aircraft mechanic, I'll take wheeled aircraft, thanks!

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Offline perttime

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2013, 03:06:12 PM »
There were also ideas - or even experiments - with some sort of inflatable landing cushions for aircraft.

At least one of the drawings for Boeing's Microfighter shows such an arrangement for (exceptionally) landing on the ground.
I have a vague recollection that landing with some sort of an air cushion was actually tried at some point.


.... they really Shoulda built at least one Microfighter carrier with a squadron of Microfighters ...

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2013, 05:36:02 PM »
It probably wouldn't have worked with the Lightning because it needed the wings to be pretty near the bottom of the fuselage so that the plane didn't tip over too far when it stopped

One could deal with that via some small extendable wingtip skids.

The Lightning's over wing pylons would certainly be useful.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2013, 07:17:25 PM »
It probably wouldn't have worked with the Lightning because it needed the wings to be pretty near the bottom of the fuselage so that the plane didn't tip over too far when it stopped

One could deal with that via some small extendable wingtip skids.

The Lightning's over wing pylons would certainly be useful.

True, although you then lose some of the point of the exercise, which is to avoid the weight penalty of a normal undercarriage.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2013, 07:18:41 PM »
Also, what about friction damage to the deck? I doubt it would survive very long & would be another expensive addition to the naval budget.

What about fire damage to the deck?  :o
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Offline Weaver

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2013, 07:32:43 PM »
There were also ideas - or even experiments - with some sort of inflatable landing cushions for aircraft.

At least one of the drawings for Boeing's Microfighter shows such an arrangement for (exceptionally) landing on the ground.
I have a vague recollection that landing with some sort of an air cushion was actually tried at some point.


Are you maybe thinking of the XC-8A, which had an air-cushioned (i.e. hovercraft) landing system?  http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?216033-The-DeHavilland-XC-8A-Buffalo-ACLS

If you mean actual air cushions, then I've not heard of them applied to full size aircraft, but they're reasonably common in the drone world:

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Offline perttime

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2013, 11:48:41 PM »
I'm sure it was XC 8A that I recalled.

The Microfighter:

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2013, 02:20:04 AM »
Video of one of Eric "Winkle" Brown's trials:

de Havilland Sea Vampire Flexible Deck Landing
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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2013, 02:30:07 AM »
True, although you then lose some of the point of the exercise, which is to avoid the weight penalty of a normal undercarriage.

Not necessarily.  I was thinking of something very minor and maybe even a simple spring loaded skid which faired into the bottom of the wing.  It wouldn't need to be robust enough to bare the brunt of landing but rather just need to be able to pop out to prop the aircraft up.
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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2013, 02:36:52 AM »
Some of the history can be found here (pages 89 - 98 / PDF pgs 106-115).
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Offline father ennis

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2013, 08:38:01 AM »
You guys have really pissed me.off !!!     I know the plane he is talking about and yes, it had an aircusion on the bottom. I've seen film of it but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was called or just when it flew !!!!!!!!   I remember it was on a PBS show about hovercraft and aircraft. Might have been on NOVA ...  Now I'm going to be days trying to remember !!!!!!!!  >:D >:D >:D
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Offline raafif

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2013, 01:45:36 PM »
there was the DHC Caribou / Buffalo with cushion for landing on water.

Offline Weaver

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2013, 07:07:52 PM »
there was the DHC Caribou / Buffalo with cushion for landing on water.

That's the XC-8A I mentioned earlier.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2013, 07:46:08 PM »

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2014, 04:29:30 AM »
USAF Trial:

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Online kim margosein

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #20 on: April 14, 2020, 11:22:03 AM »
Offhand, I'd dismiss this as an incredibly stupid idea, and whoever came up with it should have been fired on the spot.  However, if Eric Brown saw something in the idea, maybe there was something to it.

Offline finsrin

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Re: Undercarriageless fighters and flexible decks
« Reply #21 on: April 14, 2020, 12:19:26 PM »
Aviation/military money would be better spent elsewhere !