The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

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Renegadenemo
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo » Sat Apr 25, 2015 2:09 am

With only one of its two Olympus engines on reheat it could outrun a lightning which had reheat on both Avons!
The Lightning was an interceptor, designed to hurtle to great height in double-quick time to see what the Russkies were up to and so was fuel-critical unless extra tanks were strapped to it for other roles. The TSR2 always looked to me like it had a pair of massive, afterburning Oly's, but no wing and nowhere to carry any fuel, and it was supposed to carry bombs too?
Then it sort of went away for a while and came back as the Tornado with worked out engines and a wing that did what it said on the tin and in the meantime those designs that were fundamentally right endured. Canberra, Vulcan, Victor and especially the Harrier.
I'm certainly no expert but I always suspected that the politics of the time has been used as misdirection because the TSR2 actually wasn't very good...
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Sat Apr 25, 2015 1:51 pm

The TSR2 debacle is one of those complex issues that is never satisfactorily resolved. The aircraft had room for bombs (nukes, if needed) in the under-fuselage bay and on a pair of underwing pylons, whilst fuel for long-range missions could be carried on two further underwing pylons inboard of the bomb-toting ones. Good capacity was there for both fuel and ordnance, as was a short-field capability that would have increased mission flexibility - and there was every indication that a blistering low-level performance was in prospect, had flight-testing been allowed to continue. The engines were iffy, under-developed, but the likelihood is that they would have been sorted out given time.

The aircraft couldn't meet its original mission spec, but that spec was absurdly ambitious, so that doesn't mean the aircraft would have been a flop.

People who think the TSR2 was a turkey have a compelling case - but so too did those who were its advocates. I was fortunate enough to talk to the test-pilot Beamont about it on several occasions in the years before his retirement. He was not a man given to exaggeration or hyperbole, so when he described it as a "real pilot's aeroplane" it was high praise indeed - given that there were so few flights completed. From what I've seen and read of what he said in interviews he gave since that time, the passing years did not alter his firm conviction that the aircraft was a winner, and nor did they soften his anger and frustration at what happened.

For me, the bottom line is that the requirements as set out for the aircraft demanded much-too-much at a time when the technology simply wasn't there to deliver it at the expected price, but that the future that awaited the aircraft - had its development and in-service introduction been allowed to proceed - could very well have been a successful one.

It is one of those things we will never know, and the "For" and Against" campaigners will forever debate it in vain.

Nigel

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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:08 pm

I was fortunate enough to talk to the test-pilot Beamont about it on several occasions in the years before his retirement. He was not a man given to exaggeration or hyperbole, so when he described it as a "real pilot's aeroplane"
Ah, but how much of that was saving face because he'd passed on the Concorde gig and left Trubshaw to go on to fame and acclaim?
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Sat Apr 25, 2015 6:38 pm

Who's to tell? I don't know the answer to that one.

I didn't know him - I only had the privilege of talking to him several times, when I was still very wet behind the ears - but pretty much everyone who had any dealings with him say what a kind, patient and courteous fellow he was, and that was certainly my experience, so I wouldn't brand him as an ego-merchant particularly. Besides, he'd already made the first flights of the Canberra and the Lightning, and had a distinguished wartime career as a fighter pilot behind him, so career-wise he really had the legs of Brian Trubshaw (which is a really snotty remark, I know - for which I apologise).

I must say I didn't know Beamont had passed up on the chance of test-flying Concorde. He was on the military side of BAC, a Warton man, whereas Trubshaw had rather swung into the civil side of things with the Vanguard, BAC 1-11 and VC10, which as far as I know were all Weybridge projects (although he had earlier test-flown the Valiant V-bomber).

In a way your post makes my point for me, in that who knows for sure after all this time what the true story really is?

TSR2 certainly arouses strong feelings on both sides, even now. Rather like, "Who was the greatest racing-driver of all time?," it offers the prospect of a heated debate whenever and wherever real men are gathered!

Nigel

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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by polo » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:00 pm

Roland Beaumont was a good friend [as was Trubshaw] of one of the British Pursuit Team. He turned up to see the boat K8 on the water.
His opinion was that TSR2 was politically 'canned' and maligned as a bad plane. He said it was a 'devastating' machine and a joy to fly. It was 'canned' as it was a serious threat to all the other nations of the world as they had nothing to touch it and very serious 'pressure' was put on the government to stop the project.
If the plane was so bad , why did they order the cutting up of all the planes the destruction of the plans and the burning of what was left of the space frames? a lot of effort for a plane that was supposed to be rubbish!
Can anyone name another plane where so much effort was put into its destruction ?

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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Sat Apr 25, 2015 8:51 pm

Here we go ... heated debate! :D

It will never be resolved. The mysteries of the TSR2's cancellation are many.

As far as the destruction of parts and jigs goes, everybody blames everybody else.

N.

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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo » Sat Apr 25, 2015 9:02 pm

Roland Beaumont was a good friend [as was Trubshaw] of one of the British Pursuit Team. He turned up to see the boat K8 on the water.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WUIe7SAHJaM
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by sbt » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:19 pm

quicksilver-wsr wrote:The TSR2 debacle is one of those complex issues that is never satisfactorily resolved. The aircraft had room for bombs (nukes, if needed)

The nuclear requirement actually drove much of the design - basically the aircraft was sized around them.

There was a lot of politics, but a lot of people forget the inter-service politics. The RAF are documented to have worked very hard to exclude the Buccaneer from consideration, an aircraft that could do quite a lot of what TSR 2 could. That appears to have been one of the things driving the ambitious requirement - there had to be no possibility of Buccaneer being an option.

TSR 2 appeared at a time when many things were becoming possible but the technologies were not mature. When you look at the history of the broadly equivalent F-111 you can see that the issues that were becoming apparent with TSR 2 meant that the US had to wait a long time and spend a lot of money to get a worthwhile aircraft that didn't spend most of its time in bits. It was to early for an aircraft like TSR 2, whatever its flying qualities.

Neither was the organisational structure required to manage such complicated projects in place and 'bedded in'. This was still in many ways the case as late as the 1980s when Nimrod AEW failed. The approach that gave us the Lancaster was no longer good enough for such a complicated aircraft. Various people knew this and tried to do things about it (hence, in part, the much lamented consolidation of manufacturers) but the required changes were not in place until many years later (not that they are perfect now).

TSR 2 failed for many reasons in parallel. However the fallout and lessons learnt were part of what made the next iteration of aircraft possible.

Looking for single reasons, a-la newspaper headlines, is, in my experience, one of the major barriers to understanding history and military-technological history in particular.

----

PS: The small wings were good, given the aircrafts role. You want a high wing loading if you are at low level, otherwise you get bounced around by turbulence and accumulate huge amounts of fatigue that causes you to retire your aircraft early before (sometimes after) the wings drop off.

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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by Renegadenemo » Sat Apr 25, 2015 10:39 pm

I get that the small wing is good at low level. Look at what happened to the Victor when forced into a low-level role... They had to snip the ends off to unload them a little. And the Vulcan only got away with it because it was built like a brick utility room and even then, several tons of steel had to be added to keep them flying. The point l was getting at is that there was nowhere to put the fuel in the TSR2 and afterburning Oly's are hungry beasts. I also read somewhere about it needing ever increasing lengths of runway if ever it was to be loaded with fuel and stores.
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Re: The Vulcan XH558 & General Aviation Thread

Post by quicksilver-wsr » Sun Apr 26, 2015 9:59 am

Bill, there was provision for two 450-gal drop-tanks on the inboard underwing pylons, in addition to the internal capacity. I forget how much could be carried internally.

TSR-2 couldn't fully meet the GOR.339 spec, but at that time neither could any other aircraft in the world. The spec was unrealistic.

Sir Sydney Camm knew a thing or two about aircraft design. His view of the TSR-2 ...

"All modern aircraft have four dimensions: span, length, height and politics. TSR-2 simply got the first three right."

The opinions of the likes of Sydney Camm and Roland Beamont - Camm a Hawker man, of course, with no allegiance to BAC - for me far outweigh those of the project's detractors.

The consequences of the cancellation are much underestimated.The UK lost loads of good people in a brain-drain to the USA as a direct result, and our sub-contractor infrastructure was badly damaged. We spent hundreds of millions of pounds in the long run patching-up the gap the TSR-2 cancellation left. But most importantly of all, Britain lost its place in the cutting edge of aviation innovation.

The likelihood is that the aircraft would have found a useful place in our armoury as role requirements altered down the years of its service lifetime - as they invariably do. The Vulcan and the Buccaneer are just two examples of British aircraft whose roles altered considerably between their inception and their eventual retirement.

Nigel

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