Author Topic: Apophenia's Offerings  (Read 437668 times)

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2200 on: June 08, 2019, 04:35:08 AM »
Thanks folks. I'm interested to see that naval Yak-2! Shipboard or land-based?
--------------

The alternative proposal from Dimitri Tomashevich was accepted as a low-priority project which the 'Project 110B' team would further develop from their prison design office. But the second 'Project 110A' submission won Iosif Neman the big prize. At the end of 1940, Neman and key members of his team were released from the NKVD jail and their prison work within design bureau TsKB-29. By mid-January of 1941, they were back at Neman's starting point - the the Kharkov Aviation Institute (KhAI). But, now, Neman headed a small team nested under the new chief designer of KhAI - Pavel Sukhoi. There would be no love lost between the two designers.

Pavel Sukhoi had not only taken over Neman's former position, his Sukhoi BB-1 (Su-2) short-range bomber had also replaced Neman's R-10 on the KhAI production line. Alas, the Su-2 proved to be rather disappointing design. As Sukhoi worked to improve his BB-1, the last thing he needed was a potential replacement threat from within his own factory. Neman and team would be given a corner of KhAI to work in - as instructed by Moscow - but there would be no cooperation. Worse, Neman's progress - or lack thereof - would be reported directly to the NKVD. Although released from prison, Neman had not yet been 'rehabilitated' by the Soviet state. Until he was, Neman technically remained vulnerable as 'an enemy of the people'. The resulting fear needed to be turned into a motivation.

The first step for the former 'Project 110A' team was to demonstrate the viability of their proposal. To that end, a Yak-4 airframe was transferred from Tushino to Kharkov. This was the prototype Yak-4 KABB/MV, a failed ground-attack variant of the BB-22 family. As ordered, the Yak's M-105 engines and cowlings were immediately removed and shipped by rail back to GAZ-81 at Tushino where Yak-4 production continued. The airframe was then re-engined with sample, Czech-built Walter Gamma IV-12s received from the new motor plant at Zaporozhye (in southeastern Ukraine). At the same time, work began on redesigning the original Yak-4 fuselage to incorporate an armoured cockpit.

In what would emerge as the KhAI-14 (aka Neman BSh-1), a new single-seat cockpit was located low in the fuselage ahead on the forward wing spar. The forward fuselage 'skin' was almost entirely made up of armour panels bolted on to a revised steel-tube frame. Aside from armoured spinner back plates, the Gammas remained unprotected (in the then-current belief that air-cooled engines could absorb sufficient battle damage to be survivable). The prototype KhAI-14 flew well despite having half the engine power of the standard Yak-4. Preparation for production began at Kharkov (with many components being supplied by Zavod 454 in Kiev).

(To be continued ...)
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2201 on: June 08, 2019, 05:01:05 AM »
Plan is to be shipboard
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline kitnut617

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2202 on: June 08, 2019, 06:05:40 AM »
That bottom profile has a bit of a Henschel Hs 129 look to it Steven ---  :smiley: Needs a dirty great big cannon sticking out the front  ;)

Offline finsrin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2203 on: June 08, 2019, 06:30:03 AM »
That bottom profile has a bit of a Henschel Hs 129 look to it Steven ---  :smiley: Needs a dirty great big cannon sticking out the front  ;)

Yes -- Henschel Hs 129 DNA is there.   All looking good.

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2204 on: June 08, 2019, 07:45:53 AM »
I'm seeing a bit of Hs-129 pedigree in it myself.

Great stuff and the engine detail is very nicely rendered indeed.

Brian da Basher

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2205 on: June 09, 2019, 06:59:56 AM »
Thanks folks. Yes, Hs 129A was the look I was going for ...
___________________________________

Production of the KhAI-14 began with the assembly of a small series of pre-production KhAI-14A airframes. These pre-producion aircraft were assembled from components from a range of sources. The main undercarriage units, wings, and basic steel-tube fuselage structures (albeit, now completely shpon-covered) were parts shipped to Kharkov from GAZ-81 at Tushino. The Gamma engines came from Zaporozhye but were comprised almost entirely of Czech-made parts imported back in 1939. The cockpit canopy and windscreen originated with Ilyushin. [1] The heavily armoured forward fuselage was, of course, completely new. So too was the much-enlarged vertical tail surfaces required for stability (their ugly, squared-off form having been adopted to simplify production).

As planned, the main fixed armament for the KhAI-14S was mounted in an under-belly tray. It was intended to install four ShKAS machine guns flanking a single 23 mm PTB-6 cannon. However, the recoil forces of the PTB-6 proved excessive and the rifle-calibre ShKAS were now being seen as inadequate for the ground-attack role. Fortunately, the belly tray was designed for flexibility of armament. The KhAI-14As were all delivered to VVS united armed with twin 20 mm ShVAK cannons and four 12.7 mm UBK machine guns.

Top A pre-production KhAI-14A newly delivered from the Kharkov assembly line in late May 1941. Note the early fair-lead for the radio antenna (later replaced with a raised antenna post).

Some redesign was undertaken prior to commencing full production. The biggest change was the armouring of the lower engine cowlings. The opportunity was also taken to provide extractor tubes to provide a modicum of exhaust thrust augmentation. Soviet VISh-84E constant-speed propellers replaced the pre-production model's Czech-made  three-bladed props. The profile of the fuselage tailcone was also revised to provide some rear-defence capability by incorporating a wobble-mounted 7.62 mm ShKAS machine gun.

Standard offensive armament was a single 37 mm Sh-37 cannon and three 12.7 mm UBK machine guns. Unfortunately, the Sh-37 cannon proved unreliable in service. Most KhAI-14Bs were re-armed with the usual KhAI-14A fixed armament of two 20 mm ShVAK and four 12.7 mm UBK guns. However, after the beginning of German's Operation Barbarossa, a number of KhAI-14Bs were delivered with a single 20 mm ShVAK and three UBK guns. A few early-production KhAI-14Bs had field modification where their Sh-37 was replaced by a belly bomb rack capable of carrying a FAB-500 (but with a FAB-250 being the common load).

Bottom Production model KhAI-14B in service. Note revised exhaust outlets and tail-defence ShKAS gun. 'Red 19' has either lost its wheel-cover doors was either delivered without these doors in the frantic days of June 1941. Note the ad hoc RS-82 rocket projectile mounts under the outer wings.

The KhAI-14C (or Neman Ne-2C) was to have uprated Gamma engines, wooden-bladed VISh-84M propellers, and quicker-retracting main undercarriage legs. Standard hard points for bomb rack mountings were to incorporated into the wings inboard of the engine nacelles and rocket mounts outboard. Fixed armament was intended to be a single 37 mm OKB-16 cannon plus two 12.7 mm UBK (or four BS) machine guns. An alternative scheme involved the mounting of a single 45 mm 111P cannon with twin BS machine guns.

Construction of the KhAI-14C/Ne-2C was never begun. In late July 1941, GAZ-135 (as the KhAI was now designated) was evacuated to Novosibirsk where it was incorporated into Zavod 153. Alas, there was no hope of resuming KhAI-14/Ne-2 production in the east. All engine tooling had been damaged or destroyed by the Luftwaffe bombing of the Zaporozhye rail yards. KhAI supplier Zavod 454 was evacuated from Kiev to Kuibyshev but brought none of the KhAI-14 tooling with it. The KhAI-14/Ne-2 series had become extinct. Fortunately, by then, the superior Ilyushin Il-2 had overcome its teething problems and was being produced in increasingly large numbers.

___________________________

[1] The Ilyushin Il-2 cockpit enclosure differed from the original prototype TsKB-57 unit. The revised canopy (and the decision to adopted the Il-2 windscreen unchanged had necessitated some redesign of the KhAI-14's armoured nose profile.
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2206 on: June 10, 2019, 01:23:57 AM »
The new armored windscreen/canopy and squared-off rudders make this one look ready for a fight!

I especially like how you rendered the camo on the bottom one. Most pleasing to the eye and then some!

Brian da Basher

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2207 on: June 11, 2019, 04:06:25 AM »
Cheers Brian. And now, a much more conservative what-if based on Iosif Neman ...
----------------
From his NKVD prison draughting office at design bureau TsKB-29, Iosif Grigorevich Neman was tasked with continuing development of the products Neman had developed as chief designer at the Kharkov Aviation Institute. Production continued of the KhAI-5 reconnaissance monoplane - serving with the VVS as the R-10. However, plans to produce the KhAI-52 ground attack aircraft were faltering. The KhAI-52 was an evolution of the KhAI-51, in turn, an attack variant of the KhAI-5/R-10. However, during its development, the KhAI-52 had been overtaken by the superior qualities of Pavel Sukhoi's new BB-1 (Su-2) short-range bomber. The latter was to replace the R-10 on the production lines at Kharkov just as Sukhoi had replaced Neman as chief designer.

To compete with the Su-2 for production space, Neman had to emphasize a role other than short-range bomber. He chose to focus exclusively on ground attack, eliminating the light bomber aspect of his KhAI-52 design. The resulting KhAI-55 (Ne-4) eliminated the fuselage bomb bay of the KhAI-52 in favour of increased forward-firing armament. To improve manoeuvrability and speed, the KhAI-55 returned to the original, shorter-span wing of the KhAI-51 (KhAI-5bis) and R-10. And the KhAI-52's wing armament of six 7.62 mm machine guns was increased to eight ShKAS guns.

The KhAI-55/Ne-4 could be quickly distinguished from its predecessors by its revised crew accommodations. Both cockpit and observer's turret were positioned closer to the the centre of the fuselage. Made possible by the removal of the bomb bay, this placement was dictated by the use of extensive armour plating to protect the crew members. To maintain controllability, it was essential this armour's weight be kept close to the aircraft's centre of gravity.

Top One of the pre-production Neman Ne-4 ground attack aircraft issued for squadron service in the Winter of 1940-41.

Although the KhAI-55 was accepted for limited service as the Ne-4, it was obvious that there was considerable room for improvement. The KhAI-8 began as a clean-sheet design but was quickly revised to use the basic KhAI-55 airframe. The key differences were further cockpit armouring (with the pilot's canopy taken directly from the delayed Ilyushin Il-2). The flush retracting main undercarriage was replaced by a sturdier gear which retracted rearward into Ilyushin-like underwing pods. This allowed the retracted main wheels to protrude, reducing potential damage in the event of a wheels-up forced landing. More importantly, this undercarriage type also free up the entire wing centre section for fuel tanks.

It had been found with the Ne-4 that, under vigorous low-level manoeuvring, the horizontal tailplane could sometimes blank the rudder. As a simple expedient, the prototype KhAI-55 had its vertical tail moved forward. Testing at the LII-VVS showed that this change corrected the tail blanking problem while increasing rudder authority. Accordingly, this forward-mounted tailplane was also adopted for the KhAI-8.

The KhAI-8 was a promising design but Neman was unable to secure his preferred engine type - the M-88 twin-row radial (as used in the Sukhoi Su-2). In its place, Neman was forced to retain the KhAI-55's large-diameter Shvetsov M-63 engine. The KhAI-8 was accepted for service as the Ne-6 but this attack aircraft was doomed to be underpowered. Neman persisted with an M-88A powered design under the KhAI-82 designation. A further development was to be the KhAI-85 (Ne-8) powered by the forthcoming Shvetsov M-71F radial. Neither of these projects were ever completed. Small numbers of Ne-6s were issued for service use in the desperate days of late 1941 but flew were still flying by the end of the following year.

Bottom Kharkov KhAI-81 (Neman Ne-6A) ground attack aircraft. Note that his sub-type had a forward-firing armament of two 20 mm ShVAK cannons and four 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns. This aircraft is missing the usual Ne-6A underwing racks for RS-82 rocket projectiles.
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
Don't make a sound they're not dead, just sleeping"

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2208 on: June 11, 2019, 06:37:39 AM »
You've totally nailed that 1930's version of art-deco design on that lovely white KhAI-55/Ne-4, apophenia!

What a treat to see an update and one so easy on the eyes too!

Brian da Basher

Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2209 on: June 12, 2019, 01:33:30 AM »
The real world KhAI-52 for comparison:



Mars Models are producing a kit in 1/48 in case you wished to adapt it to recreate these in plastic:




All hail the God of Frustration!!!

You can't outrun Death forever.
But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2210 on: June 14, 2019, 07:01:19 AM »
Cheers Greg ... great stuff. On RW Neman designs, the main undercarriage always looks underscale to me - I guess its just because those main wheels are so honking big.
____________________

More on Neman ...

When the development of his planned KhAI-85 (Ne-8) with a Shvetsov M-71F radial was cancelled, Iosif Neman switched his focus to an engine that was available. With production of the MiG-3 interceptor winding down, Mikulin's liquid-cooled AM-35 V-12 would soon be available. KhAI received a running AM-35A engine along with a complete MiG-3 cowling from GAZ-1 in Moscow. Suitable engine mounts were devised and this powerplant was quickly adapted to the in-production KhAI-8 (Ne-6) airframe.

The prototype conversion was re-designated KhAI-15 and flown to Tushino for tests by the LII-VVS. However, Neman had already received orders to replace the Ne-6 on the Kharkov production lines as soon as possible with the Mikulin-powered variant - which was to 'recycle' the KhAI-85 designation of Ne-8 for service use. Like the Ne-6, the Ne-8 was to be a dedicated ground attack aircraft (Shturmovik) which was relatively lightly armoured. The Ne-8s were to act as 'fill-ins' until sufficient numbers of fully-armoured Ilyushin Il-2s were available to frontal aviation units of the VVS.

Top Prototype Kharkov KhAI-15 (Neman Ne-8) ground attacker. Note that this aircraft has no wing guns fitted (and yet to be equipped with its radio transmitter).

Conversion of the Kharkov line to Ne-8s was rapid. Two closely-related variants were to proceed down those lines simultaneously. Aft of its firewall, the KhAI-151-1 (Neman Ne-8A) differed from the Ne-6 primarily in having a shortened tailcone (with an optional remote-controlled 'sting' gun) and radiators mounted under the wing centre section. As with the Ne-6, launch rails for RS-82 rocket projectiles were mounted under the outer wing panels. Fixed armament was as per the Ne-6 - two 20 mm ShVAK cannons and four 7.62 mm ShKAS machine guns.

Every tenth airframe in this new series would be a KhAI-151-2 (Neman Ne-8P) with revised armament. The 'P' designation suffix was for 'Pushka' or 'Cannon' indicating an additional 20 mm ShVAK per wing. This variant had the outer-wing rocket rails deleted to reduce weight. Few of the 'Pushka' version were completed but, when available, the Ne-8Ps were employed as flight leaders on strafing runs.

Bottom Kharkov KhAI-151-2 (Neman Ne-8P) in temporary Winter camouflage. This aircraft has its turret gun in the ready position (with the turret fairing stowed). Note the tailcone 'stinger' gun (often removed to save weight).

When Kharkov fell to the Germans, Neman was working on a revised version - the Ne-8M (KhAI-154) which was to be powered by the new Mikulin AM-38 engines and armed with 37 mm cannons. Neman had yet to receive an official 'go-ahead' on his proposed Ne-8M (KhAI-154). An obvious objection would have been the increasing availability of the superior Il-2 which employed the same powerplant. With the fall of Kharkov, those became moot points.
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2211 on: June 15, 2019, 02:15:51 AM »
The camo on the bottom one is pure eye-candy!

Your talent is off the charts, apophenia!

Brian da Basher

Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2212 on: June 16, 2019, 07:52:09 AM »
Cheers Brian. I have one more Yak-4 based posting to go ... but forgot to bring my thumb drive with me today  :-[  (I'll post 'em on Monday, PST).
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
Don't make a sound they're not dead, just sleeping"

Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2213 on: June 18, 2019, 04:34:23 AM »
As promised, my final installment on Yak-4 derivatives ...

In 1940, Yakovlev produced a fighter variant of the Yak-2 recce-bomber. Designated BB-22IS (aka I-29), this  'least-mod' fighter derivative failed to impress during testing and was quickly abandoned. A more thorough re-design resulted in a heavy interceptor, internally designated BB-22TI (for Heavy Destroyer BB-22). This variant would have the crew compartments moved to the centre-of-gravity with a new nosecone containing a heavy cannon armament. Construction of a prototype was approved for evaluation.

The Yakovlev 'BB-22TI' was assigned an official designation of DIS-3 (for Dvukmotorny Istrebitel Soprovozhdeniya or Twin-Engine Escort Fighter). This fit better with VVS policy goals but, in fact, Alexandr Yakovlev had not intended for his design be an escort. Although ordered as the DIS-3 escort fighter, officialdom was quite aware that Yakovlev was building a heavy interceptor. [1] Based as it was on the BB-22 airframe, the prototype DIS-3 was completed quite quickly. It was flown without armour or armament but performance was not exceptional. The DIS-3 inherited the BB-22 series' instability.

There were also growing concerns about the DIS-3's intended armament installation. Could Soviet industry produce sufficient ShKAS cannons to satisfy general VVS needs let alone the 6-gun armament proposed for the DIS-3? In the end, the DIS-3 prototype never flew with its offensive armament. The entire programme was ultimately cancelled and the prototype was turned over to the Letno-Issledovatel'skii Institut - the VVS' Flight Research Institute - for purely experimental purposes.

Top LII-VVS Yakovlev DIS-3 fitted with four Western 'Gispano' 20 mm cannons for comparative testing with Soviet ShKAS guns, 1942.

A much more radical fighter development of the BB-22 design was the I-36 high-altitude interceptor. Devised in cooperation with the Moscow-based GAZ-1 factory, the Yakovlev I-36 combined a revised BB-22 airframe with the huge Mikulin AM-35 engine from the MiG-3 fighter. This combination was quite apropos. After building 81 BB-22s, GAZ-1 had switched to producing MiG-3 fighters. As such, the Moscow plant was ideally suited to building the I-36 airframe. However, the I-36 was no straightforward adaptation of the BB-22 to a single powerplant.

For its high-altitude role, the I-36 was to be fitted with twin turbosuperchargers - one mounted on each side of the rear fuselage. A large belly fairing contained a pair of engine coolant radiators flanking a large intercooler for the turbosuperchargers. In appearance, the I-36 resembled Yakovlev's I-26 frontal aviation fighter. But the I-36 was a much larger aircraft. It was ordered off the drawing board into limited production as a target defence interceptor for the PVO (Protivovozdushnoi Oborony) as the TVI-4 (Tyazhelyi Vysotny Istrebitel or Heavy High-Altitude Destroyer). [2]

As with the DIS-3, prototype construction was quickly completed but delivery of its turbosuperchargers and other specialized equipment was another matter. Once the German invasion was underway, doubts emerged about the wisdom of expending resources on defending targets which then might need to be immediately abandoned to the rapidly advancing enemy. When the TVI-4 prototype suffered a turbo fire on its fourth flight, a final nail was driven into the coffin of Yakovlev's high-altitude interceptor. GAZ-1 would continue with MiG-3 fighter production. The PVO would not return to a high-altitude fighter requirement until the middle of 1943. [3]

________________________

[1] Including 'escort' in the official designation may have been an attempt to dodge accusations of duplicating the heavy interceptor efforts of Vsevolod Tairov's design bureau.

[2] This designation was a strange one. The '4' in TVI-4 obviously related to 'Yak-4' but, under the Soviet system, fighter aircraft were usually given 'odd' number designations.

[3] This requirement would be satisfied by the I-220 (aka MiG-11) - a much smaller aircraft than Yakovlev's TVI-4 - but no production was undertaken. By the time that the MiG was under test, the threat of Luftwaffe bombers beyond the Urals had largely disappeared.
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
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Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2214 on: June 18, 2019, 04:39:44 AM »
Those are both excellent and well worth the wait, apophenia!

I especially like your treatment of the turbo-supercharger. I imagine it's not easy to capture that look.

The bit in the back story about not being able to secure enough of the right parts was delightful and has a ring of truth to it.

Very well done!

Brian da Basher

Offline jcf

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2215 on: June 18, 2019, 07:47:16 AM »
Those are really long turbo feeds, as they're mounted exposed
to the air I have to wonder about the effect on thermal efficiency
and velocity, especially as altitude increased.
 ???

I realize the P-47 had long pipes, but, being mounted inside the
skin they would probably have lost less heat than if exposed to
the slipstream.
“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
-The Peripheral, William Gibson 2014

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2216 on: June 20, 2019, 05:54:20 AM »
Thanks for the feedback.

Jon: Good point. I was mainly looking for a simple way of attaching the feeds to a welded steel-tube fuselage. Sounds like I also found a way of reducing turbo efficiency to around zero  :P
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2217 on: June 21, 2019, 03:46:40 AM »
As threatened, I'm reposting an image (sans backstory) from my aborted CleanBC thread for the Beasts of Burden GB. I may finish off other, related images and post them later ...
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
Don't make a sound they're not dead, just sleeping"

Offline Brian da Basher

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2218 on: June 21, 2019, 03:52:18 AM »
Those are simply magnificent and that is one of the classiest liveries I've seen recently.

I especially like the details of the poor tech fixing the engine on the bottom example.

Pure eye-candy, apophenia!

Brian da Basher

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2219 on: June 21, 2019, 04:00:51 AM »
Cheers Brian. I'm keen on the Pacific Coastal livery too. I've also got a few invented airline liveries in the works to follow ...
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
Don't make a sound they're not dead, just sleeping"

Offline jcf

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2220 on: June 21, 2019, 04:09:09 AM »
Bring QCA back from the dead.  :smiley:

Perhaps a Beriev A-40 or Shinmaywa US-2 in the black and yellow livery.  ;D

“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
-The Peripheral, William Gibson 2014

Offline kitnut617

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2221 on: June 21, 2019, 04:47:48 AM »
I used to see the Pacific Coastal Saab 340s a lot when I was at YYC, they're used in WestJet's WestJet Link partnership and had WestJet scheme although I did see the normal schemes too.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2222 on: June 21, 2019, 05:53:41 AM »
Bring QCA back from the dead.  :smiley:

I like it! First aircraft would have to be titled 'Spirit of Jim Spilsbury', of course  ;)
"How many moles do you suppose they're keeping?;
Don't make a sound they're not dead, just sleeping"

Offline ericr

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2223 on: June 21, 2019, 01:51:02 PM »
Perhaps a Beriev A-40 or Shinmaywa US-2 in the black and yellow livery.  ;D

 :smiley:

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2224 on: June 25, 2019, 05:20:34 AM »
Continuing on with the CleanBC theme ...

Air BC was founded in 1980 by the Jim Pattison Group but 85% of Air BC was bought by Air Canada in 1987. In January 2001, Air BC had been merged into Air Canada Regional Inc operating as Jazz. Then, in 2002, Air BC ceased operations altogether.

Always the canny businessman, in 2020, Jimmy Pattison ceased the opportunity to relaunch Air BC as an independent regional airline. Air BC became the driving force behind the new Jim Pattison Aviation Group. [1] Original plans were to resume operations with an updated version of the old fleet - BAe 146s and Dash 8s. That scheme was shelved while awaiting a potential release of the Rolls-Royce/Airbus E-Fan X concept as an upgrade for the BAe 146. In the meantime, Air BC would be relaunched with 'short-bodied' Dash 8s converted to LNG to satisfy CleanBC requirements.

The Dash 8 LNG conversions were a joint project of two subsidiaries of the Jim Pattison Group - Montebello Fuel Systems and Atlantic Aviation. Although Air BC livery suggested that the airline had wrapped itself in the BC flag, the Montebello pressurized LNG tanks were made in the US and all installation and systems integration was handled by Atlantic Aviation Palm Springs. The conversion was unusual in the positioning of its 'Highbrow' rooftop LNG tank mountings - with four tanks forward of the wing and another four tanks aft, all covered by a aerodynamic fairing of  composite construction. Filling these high-mounted tanks was all done from a close-to-the-tarmac, central refuelling point.

Top Air BC Dash 8 LNG, a DHC-8-201 conversion operated as 'City of Kelowna' (C-GJPE)

Another BC airline to operate LNG-powered Dash 8s was Air Tofino. [2] Although home-based at Abbotsford, Air Tofino actually operated a scheduled circuit between YVR (Vancouver's South Airport), Comox, Tofino, and Victoria (Pat Bay). The Air Tofino fleet consisted of three Dash 8 100 series aircraft - two DHC-8-102s and a single DHC-8-103. All three aircraft had been refurbished and had Dash 8 LNG conversion kits developed by Abbotsford-based Conair.

The Dash 8 LNG conversion kit was easily identifiable by its lower fuselage-side 'pannier' tanks -  immediately dubbed 'love handles' by ramp crews. A somewhat less sophisticated arrangement than Air BC's 'Highbrow' tank mountings, the Conair 'panniers' were less expensive to install making them an accessible conversion for smaller operators like Air Tofino. As a result, Conair kit and installation sales for the Dash 8 LNG were fairly brisk while, in British Columbia, the 'Highbrow' conversion was used only by Air BC.

Bottom Air Tofino's 'Chesterman Beach' (C-GTAE), a DHC-8-103 with the Conair Dash 8 LNG conversion kit

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[1] Initially, the Jim Pattison Aviation Group was a somewhat unfocused organization which subsumed non-aviation enterprises from the Vancouver-based conglomerate (such as Jim Pattison Packaging Group's Montebello Packaging).

[2] Air Tofino wasn't a revived airline. Although largely inactive since 2015, the owners of Sechelt-based Tofino Air refused to sell the rights to the name of their one-floatplane operation.
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