Daily Archives: November 22, 2020

22 November 1952

Test Pilot Russell Morgan Roth with the first production Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak, 51-1346. (Jet Pilot Overseas)

22 November 1952: At Farmingdale, Long Island, New York, Republic Aviation Corporation test pilot Russell Morgan (“Rusty”) Roth took the first production F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak, 51-1346, for its first flight.

The swept-wing F-84F fighter bomber was an improved version of Republic’s straight-wing F-84 Thunderjet series, designed to operate at high sub-sonic speeds. Originally designated XF-96A, the prototype used the fuselage of the F-84E Thunderjet and was powered by an Allison J33 turbojet engine.

Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak 51-1346. (U.S. Air Force)

Redesignated XF-84F, the prototype was followed by two YF-84F pre-production airplanes which were powered by a more powerful Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet engine.

The first production Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak, 51-1346, with its predecessor, a F-84G Thunderjet. (Unattributed)

The F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak was 43.4 feet (13.23 meters) long, with a wingspan of 33.6 feet (10.24 meters) and overall height of 15.0 feet (4.6 meters). The wings were swept aft 40° at 25% chord. They had an angle of incidence of 1° 30′, and 3° 30′ anhedral. The total wing area was 324.7 square feet (30.17 square meters), a 25% increase over the straight-winged F-84E. The F-84F-1 had an empty weight of 13,645 pounds (6,189 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 27,000 pounds (12,247 kilograms).

The early variants used a horizontal stabilizer with elevators. This was soon changed to an “all-flying” stabilator.

 

Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak 51-1346, the first production airplane, at Farmingdale, New York, 1952. (Republic Aviation Corporation)

The first ten aircraft were powered by the Wright J65-W-1 engine, a licensed variant of the Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire. These were later upgraded to the Buick-built J65-W-3. The J65 was a single-shaft axial flow turbojet with a 13-stage compressor and 2-stage turbine. It was 10 feet, 8.6 inches (3.266 meters) long, 3 feet, 1.7 inches (0.958 meters) in diameter, and weighed 2,785 pounds (1,263 kilograms). The J65-W-3 had a normal power rating of 6,350 pounds of thrust (28.25 kilonewtons) at 8,000 r.p.m., and a maximum 7,220 pounds (32.12 kN) at 8,300 r.p.m. (5 minute limit). Additionally, the Thunderstreak was equipped with four Aerojet 14AS-1000 solid-fuel rocket engines for takeoff. These produced 1,000 pounds of thrust (4.45 kilonewtons), each, for 14 seconds.

Overhead view of one of the two YF-84F pre-production prototypes shows the airplane’s swept wings. This variant has the sliding canopy of the straight-wing Thunderjet. (Republic Aviation Corporation)

The F-84F-1 Thunderstreak had a maximum speed of 595 knots (685 miles per hour/1,102 kilometers per hour) at Sea Level (0.900 Mach). It could climb to 30,000 feet (9,144 meters) in 13.8 minutes, and had a service ceiling of 36,150 feet (11,019 meters). The fighter-bomber had a maximum ferry range of 2,150 nautical miles (2,474 statute miles/3,982 kilometers).

The Thunderstreak was armed with six M3 .50-caliber aircraft machine guns, with four mounted in the nose above the intake, and two in each wing root. Each gun was supplied with 300 rounds of ammunition.

The fighter bomber had a maximum bomb load of 6,000 pounds (2,722 kilograms). It could also carry eight 5-inch HVAR rockets, or twenty-four 2.75-inch FFARs. For tactical nuclear strike, the F-84F could carry one variable yield Mark 7 nuclear bomb.

Republic built 2,112 Thunderstreaks at Farmingdale, and 559 were built by General Motors in Kansas City, Kansas. The F-84F served with the United States Air Force and Air National Guard until 1972. It also served with a number of NATO countries.

NACA Research Test Pilot George E. Cooper with 51-1346 at NASA Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, circa 1954. (NASA)

In 1954, 51-1346 was assigned to the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics at the Ames Aeronautical Laboratory, Moffett Field, California. It returned to Edwards Air Force Base where it was used to test rocket-assisted takeoffs and zero-length launches (ZELL). It was then assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard.

Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak 51-1346 displayed at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio, circa 1995.

The first production Thunderstreak is on display at Columbus-Rickenbacker International Airport, Columbus, Ohio.

The first production airplane, Republic F-84F-1-RE Thunderstreak 51-1346 is on display at Columbus-Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, Ohio. (Photograph courtesy of Dave Peel. Used with permission.)
Russell Roth, 1937. (The Re Echo)

Russell Morgan Roth was born at Emporia, Kansas, 7 October 1919. He was the youngest of three sons of Thaddeus Roth, a farm laborer, and Dorothy Amy Shipley Roth. Mrs. Roth died 25 November 1932. “Rusty” attended Emporia High School, Emporia, Kansas, graduating in 1937.

When Roth registered for the draft (Selective Service, or conscription), 16 October 1940, he was described as having a dark brown complexion, brown hair and hazel eyes. He was 5 feet, 6 inches (1.68 meters) tall and weighed 140 pounds. (63.5 kilograms)

Roth enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet, 30 October 1941. He was trained as a fighter pilot at Luke Field, Arizona, and was commissioned a second lieutenant 22 June 1943. Serving with the 80th Fighter Squadron (“Headhunters”), Fifth Air Force, in New Guinea and the Philippine Islands, he flew 132 combat missions with the Lockheed P-38 Lightning. He was credited with shooting down two enemy airplanes and another two “probables.” Captain Roth was awarded the Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters (five awards).

Rusty Roth with his Lockheed P-38 Lightning, “Half Pint.”

Following World War II, Captain Roth was assigned as assistant chief of the Flight Development Branch at Muroc Army Airfield in the high desert of southern California.He was involved in testing the Douglas XB-43 Jetmaster, the experimental Northrop N-9M flying wing, and the North American XP-86 Sabre.

Captain Roth graduated from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in 1949. He then returned to Muroc, now renamed Edwards Air Force Base. On 11 January 1951, Captain Roth located the wreck of a B-50 Superfortress which had disappeared after departing March Air Force Base, near Riverside, California, the previous day.

Roth was released from active duty 1 October 1951, and joined Republic as a test pilot in 1952. On 9 December 1952 he flew the company’s XF-91 Thunderceptor, a turbojet/rocket-propelled fighter, to Mach 1.07 at 35,000 feet (10,668 meters). This was the first time that a U.S. fighter aircraft had exceeded Mach 1 in level flight. Republic’s president, Mundy I. Peale, described the XF-91 as “a combat-ready airplane.”

A Republic XF-91 at the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station, Edwards Air Force Base, California, circa 1951. (NASA E-475)

On 7 May 1954, Roth made the first flight of the XF-84J, a re-engined variant of the Thunderstreak. The fighter bomber was equipped with a General Electric XJ73 engine.

In 1955, Roth wrote a three-page article, “Flying the F,” for Flying Safety, a U.S. Air Force publication. He described pre-flight checks, takeoff technique and airspeed and power management. He wrote, “I still say that you really have to try to make a bad landing.” ¹

On April 23 1955, Roth was promoted to chief experimental test pilot of the Republic Aviation Corporation.

On 22 October 1955, Rusty Roth made the first flight of Republic’s YF-105A Thunderchief. He described the 45-minute flight as “a very fine ride.” On 16 December 1955, YF-105A 54-098 made an emergency landing at Edwards AFB after one of its main landing gear assemblies was torn off when it failed to retract during a high speed flight. Roth was severely injured, but he survived.

Repiblic YF-105A 54-098 landing at Edwards Air Force Base. (Ray Wagner Collection, San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives)

Russell Morgan Roth died at Lancaster, California, 10 November 1972, at the age of 53 years. He was buried at Joshua Memorial Park in Lancaster.

¹ Flying Safety, Vol XI, No. 1, January 1955, at Pages 8–10. Directorate of Flight Safety Research, Norton Air Force Base, California.

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes

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17–22 November 1946

Avro Lancastrian C.1 VH742 after installation of Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene Mk.I gas turbine engines. The inboard Merlin engines have been shut down and their propellers feathered. (Royal Air Force)

17 November 1946: A modified Avro 691 Lancastrian C.1, VH742, under the command of Rolls-Royce’s chief test pilot, Captain Ronald Thomas Shepherd, O.B.E., flew from London Heathrow Airport (LHR) to Aéroport de Paris – Le Bourget (LBG) for 17th Salon de Aviation (Paris Air Show) with two Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene Mk.I turbojet engines for propulsion. The airplane’s two Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 piston engines were shut down, except for takeoff and landing, and their three-bladed propellers were feathered to reduce drag. It was the first-jet-powered passenger transport to fly from one country to another.

A contemporary aviation industry news article described the event:

The Nene-Lanc, Flies to Paris

THE flight of the Nene Lancaster from London to Paris last Monday, to play its part in connection with the exhibition, may be said to have marked a historic part in British aircraft development, for it constituted the first time that any jet-powered airliner had flown from one country to another. Moreover, since this particular aircraft has been flying fairly regularly since round about the time of the Radlett exhibition, the flight to Paris was no special performance, but merely one more public demonstration of its inherent reliability.

In the hands of Capt. R. T. Shepherd, chief test pilot for Rolls-Royce, the “Nene-Lanc” landed at Le Bourget at 10.58 a.m., G.M.T., after a 50-minute flight from London Airport, giving an average speed of 247.5 m.p.h. [398.3 kilometers per hour] Two passengers were carried in addition to the crew; they were Mr. Roy Chadwick, the Avro designer, and Mr. R. B. William Thompson, Chief Information Officer of the Ministry of Supply.

Capt. Shepherd said that he was very pleased with the aircraft’s performance and added that, but for having to circle Le Bourget Airport Twice before landing, the flight would have been completed in 43 minutes.

FLIGHT and AIRCRAFT ENGINEER, No. 1978. Vol. L., Thursday, November 21st, 1946 at Page 561, Column 2.

Five days later, VH742 flew back to England:

Return Trip

THE return of the Nene Lancastrian on Nov. 22nd, direct from Le Bourget to Heathrow, was made in only 49 min, including landing, actual flying time from point to point being 41 min—an average speed of 322 mp.h. [518.2 kilometers per hour] This remarkable performance was in spite a beam wind and the dead weight and drag of the two inboard Merlins, which are only used for takeoff and landing.

Passengers of the return trip included Mr. Roy Chadwick, chief designer and a director of A. V. Roe and Co., Air Comdre. Kirk and Air Comdre. Pike.

FLIGHT and AIRCRAFT ENGINEER, No. 1979., Vol. L., Thursday, November 28th, 1946 at Page 588, Column 1.

Avro Lancastrian (nene engine test bed). © IWM (ATP 14764B)
Avro Lancastrian C.1 VH742 with Rolls-Royce Nene engines. © IWM (ATP 14764B)

The Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene engine first been run in October 1944. It  installed in a Lockheed YP-80A Shooting Star, 44-83027, and the engine was first flown 18 July 1945 with Rolls-Royce test pilot Wing Commander John Harvey Heyworth, A.F.C., in the cockpit. The Nene-powered P-80 had made approximately 30 test flights when it was damaged beyond repair at RAF Syerston, 6 December 1945. With test pilot Andy McDowall flying, a fractured fuel pipe caused the engine to flame out from fuel starvation. McDowall tried to glide to a landing but another airplane was on the runway. He touched down on the grass but the landing gears were pushed up through the Shooting Star’s wings.

The jet fighter had been too small to allow for adequate test equipment. A larger aircraft was needed. The R.A.F. assigned VH742 the role of test aircraft.

The new Lancastrian arrived at the Rolls-Royce Flight Test Establishment at Hucknall Aerodrome, Nottinghamshire, 30 October 1945. The modification was engineered and the airplane was modified. The Lanc’s two outboard Rolls-Royce Merlin V-12 engines were removed and two Nene Mk.I engines were installed in underslung nacelles. The wing flaps were shortened by 3 feet, 4 inches (1.016 meters) and the ailerons by 10 inches (0.254 meters) to provide clearance from the jet engines’ exhaust. Sheet steel was installed on the lower surfaces of the wings as protect against the heat.

Three fuel tanks were installed in each of the Lancastrian’s wings. The center tank contained gasoline for the Merlin engines, while the inner and outer tanks, plus two auxiliary tanks in the fuselage, carried kerosene for the jet engines. Fuel capacity was 760 gallons (2,877 liters) of gasoline and 2,420 gallons (9,161 liters) of kerosene.

In the Lancastrian’s cockpit, additional instruments were installed for the turbojets: tachometers reading from 0–20,000 r.p.m.; oil pressure gauges, 0–80 p.s.i.; exhaust gas temperature, 400˚–750 ˚C., and exhaust gas pressure.

The first flight of the modified VH742 took place 14 August 1946, with Ronnie Shepherd in the cockpit. Running on the jet engines alone, the airplane was extraordinarily quiet and vibration free. Like all early turbojets, the Nenes were slow to accelerate from low r.p.m. Test pilots had to use caution. Jim and Harvey Heyworth also flew VH742 during the last half of August.

RB.41 Nene. (Rolls-Royce)
RB.41 Nene. (Rolls-Royce)

The Rolls-Royce RB.41 Nene Mk.I was developed from the earlier RB.40 Derwent.¹ It was considerably larger and produced nearly double the thrust. It was a single-stage centrifugal-flow compressor/single-stage axial-flow turbine, rated at 5,000 pounds of thrust (22.24 kilonewtons) at 12,400 r.p.m. for takeoff.

A second Nene-powered Lancastrian was added to the test fleet at Hucknall the following year. Last Nene flight took place in August 1949.

VH742 had been ordered by the Royal Air Force during World War II as an Avro Type 683 Lancaster B. Mk.III, a very long range heavy bomber, and assigned identity markings PD194. With the end of World War II in Europe, orders for hundreds of Lancaster bombers were cancelled. The partially completed PD194 was modified on the assembly line as a Lancastrian C. Mk.I passenger transport and renumbered as VH742.

The Avro Type 691 Lancastrian was a four-engine civil transport based on the World War II very long range heavy bomber, the Avro Lancaster. The airliner was operated by a flight crew of four and carried one flight attendant. It could carry up to thirteen passengers. The Lancastrian was 76 feet, 10 inches (23.419 meters) long with a wingspan of 102 feet (31.090 meters) and overall height of 19 feet, 6 inches (5.944 meters). The empty weight was 30,220 pounds (13,707.6 kilograms) and gross weight was 65,000 pounds (29,483.5 kilograms).

The Lancastrian Mk.III was powered by four 1,648.9-cubic-inch-displacement (27.04 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged, Rolls-Royce Merlin T24/2 single overhead camshaft (SOHC) 60° V-12 engines producing 1,650 horsepower and turning three bladed propellers.

The airplane a cruise speed of 245 miles per hour (394.3 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 315 miles per hour (506.9 kilometers per hour). The service ceiling was 25,500 feet (7,772 meters) and the range was 4,150 miles (6,679 kilometers).

Rolls-Royce test pilots (left to right) Wing Commander John Harvey Heyworth, AFC; Squadron Leader Alexander James Heyworth, DFC and Bar, FRAeS; Captain Ronald Thomas Shepherd, OBE; Wing Commander Andrew McDowall, DSO, AFC, DFM; and Herbert Clifford Rogers, OBE, DFC; with Merlin 632/ Avon-powered Avro Lancastrian C.2 VL970, circa 1949. Each one of these men served as Chief Test Pilot for Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce)
Rolls-Royce test pilots (left to right) Wing Commander John Harvey Heyworth, A.F.C.; Squadron Leader Alexander James Heyworth, D.F.C. and Bar, FRAeS; Captain Ronald Thomas Shepherd, O.B.E.; Wing Commander Andrew McDowall, D.S.O., A.F.C., D.F.M.; and Herbert Clifford Rogers, O.B.E., D.F.C.; with Merlin 632/ Avon-powered Avro Lancastrian C.2 VL970, circa 1949. Each one of these men served as Chief Test Pilot for Rolls-Royce. (Rolls-Royce)

91 Avro Lancastrians were built, including modified Lancaster bombers. The transport variant first flew in 1943. In addition to the Royal Air Force, commercial Lancastrians were operated by British European Airways, British Overseas Airways Corporation and British South American Airways. The last one was retired in 1960.

Rolls-Royce built more than 1,100 RB.41 Nene engines. It was licensed for production by Pratt & Whitney as the J42. Forty Nenes were sold to the Soviet Union under the condition that they would not be used for military purposes. These were reverse-engineered and produced as the Klimov RD-45 which powered the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 fighter.

¹ While Rolls-Royce named its piston-driven aircraft engines after birds of prey, the turbojet engines were named for rivers.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 November 1944

Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer. (U.S. Navy)
Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer. (U.S. Navy)

22 November 1944: At Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, a brand new Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bu. No. 59554, took off on its first test flight. A company crew of six men were aboard.

Shortly after takeoff at 12:20 p.m., the left outboard wing of the airplane separated. The airplane immediately went out of control and crashed near a residential area in Loma Portal, a short distance west of the airfield. The wing panel struck the roof of a house at 3121 Kingsley Street. All six crew members were killed. The house was occupied but there were no persons injured inside.

The wreck of Consolidated PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bu. No. 59554, burns on a hillside west of Lindbergh Field, 22 November 1944. (U.S. Navy)
The wreck of Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer Bu. No. 59554 burns on a hillside west of Lindbergh Field, 22 November 1944. (U.S. Navy via EAA Warbirds of America)

Members of the bomber’s flight crew included Marvin Rea Weller, Robert Vencil Skala, Clifford Polson Bengston, and Rans Raymond Estis.

The left outer wing panel of PB4Y-2 Bu. No. 59554 struck the roof of the residence at 3121 Kingsley Street, Loma Portal, San Diego. It came to rest in the front yard. (U.S. Navy)
The left outer wing panel of PB4Y-2 Bu. No. 59554 struck the roof of the residence at 3121 Kingsley Street, Loma Portal, San Diego. It came to rest in the front yard. (U.S. Navy via EAA Warbirds of America)

The wing section was recovered and the cause of the separation was quickly discovered. 98 of the 102 bolts which secured it to the inner wing section had never been installed. Two workers who were responsible for installing these missing bolts, and two inspectors who had signed off the work as having been properly completed, were fired.

This photograph of 59544's outer left wing shows the position of the 98 missing attachment bolts. (U.S. Navy)
This photograph of 59544’s outer left wing shows the position of the 98 missing attachment bolts. (U.S. Navy via EAA Warbirds of America)

The Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer was a long range heavy bomber produced for the United States Navy during World War II for patrol, anti-shipping/anti-submarine and bombing missions against Japanese installations on the remote islands of the vast Pacific Ocean area. The Privateer was developed from the Consolidated B-24 Liberator (which was designated PB4Y-1 in U.S. Navy service).

The PB4Y-2 was normally operated by a combat crew of 11–13 men. It was 74 feet, 7 inches (22.733 meters) long with a wingspan of 110 feet (33.528 meters) and overall height of 30 feet, 1½ inches (9.182 meters). The bomber had an empty weight of 39,400 pounds (17,872 kilograms) and its maximum takeoff weight was 64,000 pounds (29,030 kilograms).

A Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer in flight. The aft dorsal turret is aiming directly at the camera. (United States Navy)
Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bu. No. 59602, in flight. The aft dorsal turret is aiming directly at the camera. (United States Navy)

The PB4Y-2 was powered by four 1,829.39-cubic-inch-displacement (29.978 liter) air-cooled, supercharged Pratt & Whitney R-1830-94 two-row 14-cylinder radial engines. The turbosuperchargers installed on B-24s were deleted, as high altitude operation was not required by the Navy. The R-1830-94 had a Normal Power rating of 1,100 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m. to 7,500 feet (2,286 meters), and 1,000 horsepower at 2,600 r.p.m., at 14,700 feet (4,481 meters). The Military Power rating was 1,350 horsepower at 2,800 r.p.m. to 2,000 feet (610 meters), and 1,100 r.p.m. at 2,800 r.p.m. to 13,750 feet (4,191 meters). The engines drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard propellers through a 16:9 gear reduction. The R-1830-94 was 4 feet, 0.40 inches (1.229 meters) in diameter, 4 feet, 11.63 inches (1.515 meters) long and weighed 1,573 pounds (714 kilograms).

A Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer in flight, circa 1945. (U.S. Navy)
Consolidated Vultee PB4Y-2 Privateer, Bu. No. 59602, in flight, circa 1944. (U.S. Navy)

The PB4Y-2 Privateer had a cruise speed of 158 miles per hour (254 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 249 miles per hour (401 kilometers per hour) at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters). Its service ceiling was 18,300 feet (5,579 meters) and maximum range of 2,900 miles (4,667 kilometers).

Defensive armament for the Privateer consisted of twelve .50-caliber Browning M2 machine guns mounted in six powered turrets. The maximum bomb load was 8,000 pounds (3,629 kilograms).

The most distinctive visual difference between the B-24/PB4Y-1 Liberator and the PB4Y-2 Privateer is the substitution of a single tall vertical fin for the two outboard oval-shaped fins and rudders of the earlier design. Those two fins blocked the view of gunners as they scanned the skies and oceans. Testing by Ford, the major producer of B-24 Liberators, found that a single large vertical fin also provided better stability. A second identifying characteristic of the Privateer are the gun turrets. A large, spherical, Engineering and Research Corporation (ERCO) ball turret was installed in place of the B-24’s Emerson turret at the nose. Two Martin turrets were placed on top of the fuselage rather than one on the B-24. Two teardrop-shaped ERCO power turrets replaced the open waist gun positions of the Liberator and because they could converge directly under the bomber, eliminated the need for a belly-mounted ball turret.

739 PB4Y-2 Privateers were accepted by the U.S. Navy in 1944–1945. Bu. No. 59544 was deleted from the production contract and payment for that airplane was deducted from the total paid to Consolidated Vultee. The Privateers remained in service with the U.S. Navy until 1954 and with the United States Coast Guard until 1958. Five remain airworthy today.

This aerial photograph of Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, shows the location of the PB4Y-2 crash site, and nearby, the position where the outer wing panel was found. (U.S. Navy)
This aerial photograph of Lindbergh Field, San Diego, California, shows the location of the PB4Y-2 crash site, and nearby, the position where the outer wing panel was found. (U.S. Navy via EAA Warbirds of America)

The pilot of the Privateer was Marvin Rea Weller. Weller had a ruddy complexion, brown hair and eyes, was 5 feet, 10 inches (1.78 meters) tall, and weighed 143 pounds (65 kilograms). He was born at Augusta, Virginia, 8 August 1919, the fourth of five children of Walton Tobias Weller, a farmer, and Mayna Rea.

Weller graduated from Mt. Sidney High School in Fort Defiance, Virginia, and then attended the Augusta Military Academy, 1937–38.

Marvin Weller was taught to fly by H. P. Grim, Jr., at Staunton Airport, a small airfield five miles northeast of Staunton, Virginia, in 1937. He was then employed as an assistant instructor and flew for a locally-based airline. Later, Weller worked as a flight instructor at Georgia Aero Tech in Augusta, and the Ryan School of Aeronautics at San Diego, California. Both schools provided basic and primary flight instruction for the U.S. Army Air Corps.

Weller married Miss Audrey Lorraine Brubeck of Staunton, 27 April 1941, at Fort Defiance, Virginia. They lived in San Diego.

Marvin Weller had been employed as a test pilot and aircraft commander by Consolidated-Vultee for two-and-a-half years at the time of his death.

The funeral of Marvin Rea Weller was presided by Rev. J.M. McBryde, who married Mr. and Mrs. Weller three years earlier. His remains were interred at the Thornrose Cemetery, Staunton, Virginia.

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 November 1935

Pan American Airways’ Martin M-130 flying boat, China Clipper (NC14716), leaving the Golden Gate enroute to Honolulu, 22 November 1935. Photographed by Clyde Herwood Sunderland, Jr. (1900–1989).

22 November 1935: The Pan American Airways flying boat, China Clipper, a Martin M-130, NC14716, departed Alameda, California (an island in San Francisco Bay) at 3:46 p.m., Friday, and arrived at Honolulu at 10:39 a.m., Saturday, completing the first leg of a five-day trans-Pacific flight to Manila in the Philippine Islands.

The aircraft commander was Captain Edwin Charles Musick, with First Officer Robert Oliver Daniel (“Rod”) Sullivan. The navigator was Frederick Joseph Noonan, who would later accompany Amelia Earhart on her around-the-world flight attempt. There were also a Second Officer and two Flight Engineers. The cargo consisted of 110,000 pieces of U.S. Mail.

Captain Edwin Musick and R.O.D. Sullivan, at the center of the image, next to the China Clipper before leaving San Francisco Bay with the first transpacific airmail, 22 November 1935. The three men at the right of the image are (left to right) Postmaster General James Farley; Assistant Postmaster General Harllee Branch; and Pan American Airways’ President Juan Trippe.

Pan Am personnel called the Clipper “Sweet Sixteen,” referring to its Civil Aeronautics Board registration number, NC14716. The airplane and Humphrey Bogart starred in a 1936 First National Pictures movie, “China Clipper.”

NC14716 was the first of three Martin M-130 four-engine flying boats built for Pan American Airways and was used to inaugurate the first commercial transpacific air service from San Francisco to Manila in November, 1935. Built at a cost of $417,000 by the Glenn L. Martin Company in Baltimore, Maryland, it was delivered to Pan Am on October 9, 1935. The airplane’s serial number was 558.

Pan American Airways’ Martin M-130m China Clipper, NC14716, over San Francisco, California. (Clyde Herwood Sunderland, Jr./Library of Congress 94509045)

The M-130 was operated by a flight crew of 6–9, depending on the length of the flight, plus cabin staff, and could carry 18 passengers on overnight flights, or a maximum 36 passengers.

Cutaway illustration of Pan American Airways’ Martin M-130 China Clipper. Detail from larger image. (National Air and Space Museum SI-89-1216-A)
Martin M-130 3-view drawing. (Flight)

The Martin M-130 was 90 feet, 10.5 inches (27.699 meters) long with a wingspan of 130 feet, 0 inches (39.624 meters). It was 24 feet, 7 inches (7.493 meters) high. The total wing area was 2,315 square feet (215 square meters), including the “sea wings”. Its maximum takeoff weight was 52,252 pounds (23,701 kilograms).

The flying boat was powered by four air-cooled, supercharged Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp S2A5-G two-row 14-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6.7:1.  They had a normal power rating 830 horsepower at 2,400 r.p.m., and 950 horsepower at 2,550 r.p.m. for takeoff. They drove three-bladed Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed propellers through a 3:2 gear reduction. The S2A5-G was 3 feet, 11.88 inches (1.216 meters) in diameter, 4 feet, 8.75 inches (1.441 meters) long, and weighed 1,235 pounds (560 kilograms).

Martin M-130 NC14716, right rear quarter view.

The airplane had a cruise speed of 130 miles per hour (209 kilometers per hour) and a maximum speed of 180 miles per hour (290 kilometers per hour). The M-130’s service ceiling was 10,000 feet (3,048 meters). Its range was 3,200 miles (5,150 kilometers).

Martin M-130, NC14716, China Clipper, moored at some distant exotic locale.
Martin M-130, NC14716, China Clipper, moored at some distant exotic locale. (Unattributed)

© 2020, Bryan R. Swopes

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22 November 1933

Kalinen K-7
К-7 на аэродроме (“K-7 at the airport”), right front quarter view. (Уголок неба)

22 November 1933:

The K-7 Disaster

     On Wednesday, November 22, the Russian aircraft K-7, claimed to be the largest landplane in the world, crashed near Kharkhoff, 420 miles south-west of Moscow. Fourteen lives were lost. It is reported that M.K.A. Kalinin, the designer and director of the Kharkhoff aeroplane works, and Snegeriff, one of the best-known pilots in Russia, are among the dead. It seems that sabotage is suspected by the authorities, for the O.G.P.U. (Soviet secret police) is represented on the commission of experts investigating the disaster. Twenty trial flights had been successfully made before the crash.
 

     The design and construction of the K-7 took five years. She had a span of 208 ft., weighed about 20 tons and accommodated 120 passengers. She was considered a big stride forward in the approach to the “all-wing” aircraft, and most of the accommodation and equipment was in the wing. A few days before the accident the existence of the K-7 was revealed to the general public by “Pravda.” It was declared that the aircraft represented a “victory of the utmost political importance,” as she was constructed entirely of Soviet steel from the mills at Duiepropetrovsk. Hitherto Russia had [imported] materials for her aircraft.

—The Aircraft Engineer, Supplement to FLIGHT, 30 November 1933, at Page 1201.

The K-7 was designed by Konstantin Alekseevich Kalinin and built over a two-year period at the Kharkov State Aircraft Manufacturing Company factory at Kharkov, Ukraine. It was intended as either a heavy bomber in military service or as a civil transport. The K-7 was the largest airplane built up to that time.

К-7 в полете (“K-7 flight”) (Уголок неба)
К-7 в полете (“K-7 flight”) (Уголок неба)
Константин Алексеевич Калинин

The K-7 was an effort to perfect a “wing only” aircraft. The tail surfaces were supported by tail booms. It was operated by a crew of 11 and could carry up to 120 passengers in compartments inside the wings. The K-7 was 28.00 meters (91 feet, 10.4 inches) long with a wingspan of 53.00 meters (173 feet, 10.6 inches). The extremely large wing had an area of 254.00 meters².

As originally built the airplane was powered by six 2,896.1-cubic-inch-displacement (47.459 liter) liquid-cooled, supercharged, Mikulin AM-34 single overhead cam (SOHC) 60° V-12 engines mounted in nacelles on the leading edge of the wing. The engines were rated at 750 horsepower, each, and drove two-bladed propellers. When it was determined that power was insufficient, a seventh and then an eighth engine were added to the trailing edge in pusher configuration.

The K-7 had an empty weight of 21,000 kilograms and maximum weight of 40,000 kilograms. It’s cruise speed was 204 kilometers per hour (127 miles per hour) and the maximum speed was 234 kilometers per hour (145 miles per hour). The service ceiling was 5,500 meters (18,045 feet) and the range was 1,000 kilometers (621 miles).

In military configuration, the K-7 would be armed with 20 mm cannon and 7.62 mm machineguns. A bomb load of up to 16,000 kilograms (35,274 pounds) would be carried.

Cамолет К-7

The Kalinin K-7 made only 7 test flights before it crashed. 15 of the 20 persons aboard were killed. Kalinin was not among the dead, as had been report by Flight in the article above. One of the two tail booms failed. Some suggested that sabotage was involved. A government commission determined that the structure of the tailbooms was sufficiently strong, but that oscillations induced by aerodynamic flutter led to the failure.

During World War I, Konstantin Kalinin was awarded the Order of Sv.Stanislav. He had been given the Order of the Red Banner of Labor in 1935. However, during the Stalin purges, on 23 October 1938, he was executed as an enemy of the state.

Kalinen K-7
К-7 на аэродроме (“K-7 at the airport”), left front quarter view with engines running. (Уголок неба)

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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