In any case, Tuna commented that one of the aircraft looked like it had been “designed in a vineyard, or at least after a few glasses of vino.” Having tipped a few glasses of vino in my day, I quickly saw the resemblance and since he said it was a French plane, the possibility that his statement is totally accurate I’d say is high.
|Hard to get a feel for size, but the glass area between the nose and the intake is the cockpit, so large enough to seat a person.|
So, I read through the rest of the post and made one of my usual pithy comments, then scrolled back through to the French Leduc .22. Something bugged me about it and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I studied the picture, but it was still eluding me. Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V the name into Google and off we go. (USAF Birthday last week, had to do it)
|The Leduc .22. Look at how the cockpit is arranged. Here is a better picture of it. Source|
Anyhow, there’s the usual Wikipedia article, which following Suldog’s guidance, I read for background and links to other good sources. Not a lot of info in the 4 sentences provided and the only web link is to a web page in French. One of the bits of information mentioned that it was a ramjet. Knowing that the USAF is still perfecting Ramjet technology, this piqued my interest and I dug a little deeper.
Cutting and pasting the French Web Page into Google Translate, (not wishing to impose on Sarge’s French translation skills on his day off), gave me some key pieces of information.
|The two portals on the front are where the pilot sits. Not sure how (if?) he'd have gotten out in an emergency.|
|The Leduc .10|
|Because a ramjet provides no thrust unless air is moving through it, the .10 required a lift and dropoff to fly. The.22 was fitted with a conventional jet engine as well as the ramjet, so could actually take off on its own power.|
At that point, I knew what it was about the picture that bugged me. It didn't have Whitcomb’s area rule pinch. Richard Whitcomb, in 1952, had been working at the Langley Research Center and published a paper outlining how to overcome the drag that built up along the fuselage of an aircraft as it approached the speed of sound. It involved reducing the size of the fuselage in the area where the wing is attached. Since most jet engines at the time were comparatively low powered, they could not easily get through the sound barrier.
By “pinching” the fuselage, there isn't an abrupt increase in the total surface area of the aircraft being pushed through the sky. The buildup of drag as the supersonic shockwave made its way down the aircraft was reduced. And reduction in drag is almost always a good thing in the flying world.
Clearly, Leduc’s would-be supersonic fighter would have benefited from a pinch in the waste. As I pondered that, I remembered that both the T-38 and the F-4 had that feature.
|You can see the area rule adjustment right where the US Air Force is on the side|
|You can also see it here starting at the intake and becoming very pronounced at the bump between the green and brown paint.|
However, I didn’t remember it on the F-15. Had they done away with it? The Pratt and Whitney engines were certainly powerful enough. Yet, the F-4 was the epitome of the saying, “with enough power, even a brick will fly”. If McDonnell Douglas engineers had decided it was worth it for the F-4, I didn’t believe they would forsake it on the Eagle.
So, I’m reading about Area Rule, and come upon a forum that had a thread about it and why modern fighters didn’t have the pinch. Most of the commenters said it was because of “so much thrust”. One of the commenters however said that one of the reasons the 747 was so efficient was that the designers had taken Area Rule into account, and rather than pinch the fuselage which would reduce interior seating space, they had built the now famous 747 bump.
This picture shows that the bump ends almost exactly where the wings begin.
Which got me to thinking about the F-15.
As I’m looking at pictures of the F-15, I thought I had figured out how the engineers had done it with this picture.
And knew I did with this one.
|Loaded for bear!|
Clever those McD Engineers. Building the canopy, engine bays, wing roots and nacelles to not only have outstanding visibility, hold the engines, and provide lift all while reducing drag.
For those of you that would like to see the Leduc .22 in flight, I present this. Hopefully you are fluent in Spanish.