Bristol Brabazon

I have not been able to make much progress on the Buzz Bomb over the past two weeks. The United Express summer flying schedule out of Dulles Airport is very busy this year.  So the good news is lots of time flying around the eastern half of the United States in the CRJ-700, but less time in my model airplane workshop.  July should be a lot better with a few days of vacation to look forward to!

The Bristol Brabazon being towed to the flight line

The Bristol Brabazon being towed to the flight line

I added a page today on the development of the Bristol Brabazon, an early attempt by the British to build an airliner that could fly across the Atlantic non-stop.

We take long-range air travel for granted these days. Just as recently as June 3rd of this year, United Airlines inaugurated the longest non-stop flight by a U.S. airline with service between San Francisco and Singapore.  The length of this flight depends on the headwinds, but the initial flights were around 16 hours and 40 minutes.  I predict this will be a popular route as the previous stop in Narita or Hong Kong enroute to Singapore has been bypassed.

But these long range non-stop flights entailed a great deal of development. Work had to be done on everything from aircraft design to the all-important use of efficient jet turbine engines.

The Bristol Brabazon was an early attempt to meet these long range flight design goals. Much dedicated engineering effort went into this remarkable aircraft.  But commercial performance targets were not clearly understood in the mid-1940s, with the result that only one Brabazon was ever built and later sold for scrap after less than 200 test flights. A remarkable story worth reading.


Rotary Engines

I added a page today on the history of the rotary engine. There are some great YouTube videos included showing these unique engines in operation.

Detail of rotary engine showing connector rods attached to the fixed crankshaft

Detail of rotary engine showing connector rods attached to the fixed crankshaft

Rotary engines were used to power aircraft for around eight years, from 1910 to 1918. They filled a perfect niche in those early days of flight for a powerful and lightweight aircraft engine.  They were primarily used on fighter aircraft.

In-line engines were in the earliest stages of development during this period. These engines were heavier than rotaries due to the materials used and the need for additional equipment such as flywheels and cooling systems.

By the end of World War I technology had advanced sufficiently that in-line, as well as radial engines, became the aircraft power plant of choice for all aircraft.

Rotary engines make for a great visual point on any World War I radio control model. It is a relatively straightforward matter to fabricate a dummy rotary engine and allow it to freely rotate in the airstream, making for a convincing presentation while airborne.