Naval Design Takes a Giant Step
Maritime Reporter, March 1954.—During the past 20 years, the Bureau of Ships occasionally has undertaken evaluation of ships having experimental machinery installations, The most recent and far reaching was the U.S.S. Timmerman (EDD-828) project, in which several hull innovations were combined with a highly experimental propulsion Plant.
Even though the Timmerman trial program is still in the early stages, and underway operations have been limited, many technical achievements already have been realized. New ships now in service and under construction are reflecting such advances as the use of controlled circulation boilers, higher tooth loading in main reduction gears, and 400-cycle turbo-generators.
The Timmerman was one of the DD-692 class destroyers on which construction was suspended at Bath Iron Works when World War II ended. Construction was resumed in 1946 when the Navy decided to complete the ship as an advanced design destroyer with Gibbs and Cox, Inc., as the design agent.
To develop a 100,000-shp machinery installation which could replace a 60,000-shp plant (see Table I) required new viewpoints on:
- Reduction of design margins.
- Elimination of the pyramiding of design margins.
- Reduction in factors of safety.
- Use of higher rotative speeds.
- Use of higher voltage and frequency.
- Use of better materials.
Table 1. Machinery Weight Comparison—Timmerman and DD-692 Destroyer
Stand, displacement (tons)
Machinery weight (tons)
Wt./shp. in per cent DD-692 Wt. shp.
Wt. of elec, equip, (tons)
Wt. of elec, equip, in per cent of DD-692
- The “Circular of Machinery Design Requirements” finally prepared for the Timmerman was based on the following general concepts:
- Except for shockproofness, the technical portions of the “General Specifications” were not to be applicable.
- Machinery features were to be open to any new developments or designs leading to advancements in economy, space, or weight, commensurate with reliability.
- Guarantees were to be required only on workmanship and material. Failure to meet performance requirements was not to penalize the shipbuilder or supplier.
- Machinery life expectancy was specified.
The general characteristics of the machinery plant are outlined in Table II. Numerous design studies were made in selecting the most promising steam conditions, electric plant characteristics, and characteristics of components and systems.
Subcontractors were encouraged to break with accepted practices and “go out into the blue” to obtain truly radical, advanced designs. This was necessary, if the Navy was to get a ship which was fully 15 years ahead of her time. Suppliers showed exceptional willingness to take risks that left them extremely vulnerable to criticism, if the end product failed. Consequently, the ship which grew from this venture included many untried features and variations from usual designs.
Table II. Machinery Plant—General Characteristics
100,000 shaft horsepower
Number of shafts
Not less than 40 knots
Shaft revolutions per minute
Steam drum pressure
Not less than 750 psi gauge
Steam temperature of outlets of superheaters
Not less than 1025 F
Steam pressure at superheater outlets
Not less than 700 psi gauge
Steam pressure at main control valve
Not less than 650 psi gauge
Steam temperature at main turbine control valve
Not less than 1000 F
Shaft horsepower astern
20,000 (later modified to 8,000)
Ship’s speed for best economy operating split plant
The starboard machinery installation uses two single-furnace, 875-psi, 1050-F boilers equipped with fully automatic combustion controls. The boilers supply steam to a main propulsion unit consisting of cruising, high-pressure, and low-pressure turbines with a full power rating of 50,000 shp. These are connected through a single reduction gear to the high-speed line shafting, through a planetary second reduction gear and low-speed line shafting to the propeller shaft. The high-speed shafting between the first and second reduction gears is 7¼ inches in diameter, turns at 1800 rpm at full power, and is made up of four sections totaling approximately 72 feet. It is supported by seven trunion roller bearings. The planetary gear is the first of its size to be used in Naval service. The outboard shafting is supported by sealed anti-friction bearings, lubricated through the struts.
The port plant has two single-furnace 2000-psi, 1050-F controlled circulation boilers with fully automatic combustion controls. The boilers furnish steam to cruising, low-pressure, and high-pressure turbines rated at 50,000 shp at full power. A double reduction gear unit is used, and the shafting arrangement is a conventional design.
The electric plant uses a 1000-volt, 400-cycle, 3-phase system supplied by two 600-kw synchronous turbo-generators, which are “package units.” One unit is supplied by the 2000-psi, 1050-F steam system and is direct coupled, turning at 24,000 rpm,and having a static excitation system. The other is driven by an 815-psi, 1045-F turbine, direct coupled, turning at 12,000 rpm and having a rotary exciter.
Two 1000-volt, 400-cycle, 3-phase emergency generators were installed. The forward unit is driven by a gas turbine, the after unit by a four-cylinder, 2-cycle radial diesel engine. Both were rated originally at 250 kw, but operational experience set a limit between 175 and 200 kw.
All pumps and other auxiliary machinery, with the exception of feed pumps and main forced-draft blowers, are driven by 950-volt, 400-cycle motors. These high-speed motors, using silicone insulation, are substantially smaller and lighter than conventional shipboard motors. It was found possible to use newly developed, small diameter power cable for the 1000-volt system, in spite of its having been designed for 440 volts, with a consequent saving in weight.
To improve sea keeping qualities in the Timmerman the sheer line at the stem was raised two feet above that of the DD-692 class and was faired into the DD-692 class sheer at about frame 42. The forward five-inch gun mount was moved aft seven feet and lightweight anchors in deck edge bolsters were installed.
Construction of the aluminum deckhouse yielded information on the relative merits of welded, riveted, and bolted aluminum construction. The fabrication of a welded aluminum foundation for the five-inch gun supplied valuable knowledge of welding large, thick-section structures.
A new type steering gear, using a ball bearing nut and screw with hydraulic drive, and weighing approximately one-fourth as much as standard destroyer gear, replaces the conventional hydraulic ram system. An automatic steering system also is provided.
The twin rudders are mounted in roller bearings and fitted with seals. Provision was made for the installation of conventional sleeve bearings, if the others failed. For a comparative evaluation of the effects of water flow, erosion, and corrosion, one of the rudders has medium steel plating, and the other S.T.S. plating.
Operational Experience to Date
Some components which were destined for the Timmerman failed under laboratory test to warrant shipboard use. In all but two of these instances, alternate units were used. In one case involving the main feed and booster pumps for 875-psi plant, spare pumps from another shipbuilding program were diverted to the Timmerman. For the 2000-psi auxiliary feed and booster pump there was no available substitute, and the ship was accepted without this unit, one of the main feed pumps being adapted for in-port use.
Some of the more significant operational difficulties or material failures encountered through the fitting-out period were:
Motors. The 950-volt, 400-cycle motors are smaller, have less thermal capacity, and higher operating speeds and temperatures than ordinarily met with. Not surprisingly, therefore, numerous failures occurred—insulation breakdown, bearing failure, or both. The following program now in progress is designed to solve these problems:
- Using heat-stabilized silicone-lubricated antifriction bearings, which stand temperatures up to 150 C.
- Checking bearing fits and tolerances and alignment of motors.
- Replacing in some instances end bells of stamped construction with more rigid end bells of cast construction.
- Exercising closer control over silicone insulation application.
Motor Controllers. A high incidence of motor controller casualty was caused by failure of relays, control transformers, and contactors. Flash-over sometimes occurred when the circuits were interrupted.
Turbo-Generators. The electronic governor system on number one turbo-generator has not given the desired speed and frequency control, and several failures of parts have occurred. Experience with the high-speed rottary exciter led to the decision to replace it with a static excitation system.
Extensive modifications to the number two turbo-generator were made. The capacity of the machine was found to be less than expected due to internal shorting in the field coils and arcing in the slip rings. This unit now is generally satisfactory, except for limited brush life, and improved materials are under investigation.
Emergency Generators. The high ambient temperature in the emergency gas turbo-generator compartment reduces the output of the machine, and ventilation modifications are being made. The diesel emergency generator is being modified to provide for an oil-lubricated instead of a grease-lubricated bearing in the generator end, after repeated bearing failures.
Internally Threaded Exhaust Valves. Exhaust valves fitted with internal threads soon were rendered inoperative by high exhaust temperatures, and were replaced with valves having an externally threaded yoke.
Number One Low-Pressure Turbine. Instances of leakage in the after bearing oil seals were numerous, and several modifications were directed toward correcting this. The most recent permitted operations approximating 30 knots. In addition there is vibration in this turbine, as yet unaccounted for.
In June, 1953, the ship got underway intermittently for about six weeks, steaming nearly 2,500 miles. These operations ended rather abruptly when a series of casualties in the electric generating plant necessitated repairs.
To date maximum speed attained has been 31 knots, which is less than one-half the full power rating of the ship. It is expected that in the near future, full power trials will be possible with speeds approaching 40 knots.
To evaluate the many unique features of the Timmerman, an extensive trial agenda has been prepared. The machinery trials have necessitated the installation of instrumentation which is far more extensive (approximately 3,000 items) and complex than ever before on a naval vessel. The trial program is broken down into three major phases the first of which, totaling about 20 tests, is completed.
Sonic Boom: A Potential Weapon?
Aviation Week, March 8, 1954.—Los Angeles.—Shock waves from supersonic aircraft such as the F-100 may have sufficient force to knock a light-plane out of the air and are potentially useful as an offensive military weapon, according to engineers at North American Aviation.
To avoid danger to other aircraft in the air, new NAA flight regulations forbid company pilots from flying supersonically within 5,000 ft. of private planes or commercial transports.
The North American study of shock waves is one of the most complete undertaken in this country and the first to indicate publicly that the increasingly familiar “sonic boom” may be potentially dangerous.
“It is a very serious problem,” says Raymond H. Rice, vice president and chief engineer of the company. “Light-planes, light structures could definitely be endangered by shock waves from supersonic aircraft.”
“If you buzz a Piper Cub supersonically, you might split it open,” warns H. A. Storms, Jr., NAA chief technical engineer.
North American, builder of the nation’s first supersonic production fighter, has been studying shock wave effects closely in its flight tests of the F-100. The new safety regulations are a result of that study.
In addition to the 5,000-ft. rule, the regulations include:
Level supersonic flights always must be made at an altitude above 10,000 ft.
Supersonic dives are forbidden within 15 miles of any inhabited area.
Rice believes shock waves produced by low-flying supersonic aircraft may have some value as an offensive military weapon.
Pointing out that shock waves of the order of 50 lb./sq. ft. may be expected in the not too distant future, he notes that this pressure would correspond to a hurricane of 140-mph velocity.
Although the duration of a hurricane is longer than that of a supersonic pressure jump, its buildup is gradual compared to the shock and oscillatory nature of a supersonic boom.
Vulnerable to Attack
“Lightly built structures that are always found in large, populated areas may prove to be exceedingly vulnerable to this type of attack.” North American’s chief engineer comments. “The simultaneous failure of thousands of windows, with the attendant flying pieces of glass, is not pleasant to contemplate. Furthermore, radar detection at low altitude may be extremely difficult and there may be no warning whatever until the shock is felt. The effects of panic would be enormous.
“With this type of attack, the explosive store part of the logistic problem will be greatly simplified since the former will not be needed. Also, for this reason, the operating radius for this type of aircraft can be greatly increased.”
An aircraft designed for such an attack should have a sea level speed of between Mach 1.2 and 1.5 for best efficiency and should be as large in cross sectional area as possible consistent with the ability to achieve the desired Mach number, according to Rice.
Anyone who observed the press demonstration of the F-100 that shattered the USAF administration building at Palmdale; Calif. (Aviation Week, Oct. 26, p. 12) would agree to the potential value of a shock wave as a possible panic weapon.
“Lest I cause some to worry unnecessarily about low-flying, friendly aircraft,” says Rice, “it should be understood that low-flying at supersonic speed takes a great deal of pilot skill and advance planning. It is almost inconceivable that this could ever be done inadvertently and it is certain that irresponsible people would never be permitted to control such machines of destruction.”
Although it is unlikely that shock waves could do any more at present than rock a heavier aircraft slightly, North American’s engineers believe it is necessary for military pilots to exercise caution when flying in the vicinity of any fabric-covered aircraft.
George Welch, NAA’s senior engineering test pilot, reports he has flown the F-100 past an F-86 at well over Mach 1 without any adverse effect on the Sabre.
“As a matter of fact, he didn’t feel anything,” says Welch.
When larger aircraft begin flying supersonically, the problem might increase, according to one NAA expert. The bigger the aircraft going through the sonic barrier, the bigger the shock wave will be, he says.
But higher Mach numbers do not necessarily mean a proportionally greater sonic boom, according to technical engineer Storms.
“Once you get supersonic it doesn’t make too much difference how supersonic you are,” he says. “Mach 2 does not mean twice the sonic boom of Mach 1.”
★ ★ ★
Russia Backs Red China Airlines
Aviation Week, March 1, 1954.—Russia appears to hold a senior partnership in Communist China’s civil airlines.
Sketchy details of the Peiping government’s commercial aviation operations have appeared in the Russian publication Krilya Rodiny (Wings of the Fatherland). They reveal that Soviet technicians and advisers were instrumental in organizing Red China’s Civil Aviation Administration in 1949 and still are prominent in the picture.
Moreover, main Chinese air routes now are tied directly into those of the U.S.S.R.’s Civil Air Fleet.
The Russian article, written by V. Danilychev, chief of the International Aviation Communications Administration of the U.S.S.R.’s Civil Air Fleet, indicates the Soviet-Chinese Stock Company for Civil Aviation (Skoga), organized in 1950, is the main force in building Red China’s airlines and airports.
Danilychev describes Skoga as “one of the finest evidences of brotherly friendship and economic cooperation between the U.S.S.R. and the Chinese People’s Republic.”
Red China reportedly began regularly scheduled civil airline flights in August 1950. Danilychev says both passenger and cargo operations have expanded greatly during the past three years “despite the fact that the Chiang Kai-shek forces removed most of the planes and equipment and destroyed the airports.”
Principal routes include: Peiping-Hankow, Peiping-Chungking, Peiping-Kunming, Peiping-Canton and Peiping-Kashgar (Shufu).
The Peiping-Kashgar link, stretching nearly all the way across China to the Russian border in Central Asia, is about 2,865 miles long. Intermediate stops are at Taiyuan (Yangku), Siking (Changan), Lanchow (Kaolan), and Tihwa, capital of Sinkiang Province.
Both Siking and Tihwa are important hubs for China’s civil air network. Routes extend from Siking into southern China and from Tihwa north to Sharasume (Chenghwa) near the border of Russia’s East Kazakhstan, and west to Kuldja (Ining) and Alma Ata, capital of the Soviet’s Kazakh Republic, as well as to Kashgar (Sufu) gateway to U.S.S.R.’s Tadzhik Republic.
Danilychev does not disclose what equipment is being used by Red China’s civil airlines or what schedules are maintained. He says, however, the 2,865 miles from Peiping to Kashgar were covered in 20 flying hours.
Soviet Merchant Marine
La Rivista Marittima.—The Soviet system of communicating only the precentile elements, without any concrete figures, makes it difficult to get a breakdown of the strength of the Soviet merchant navy.
According to reliable information, the makeup of the fleet (units over 100 tons), which totaled in June, 1939, some 699 units for 1,305,959 tons, had risen by the end of 1952 to 1,019 units for a total of 2,260,535 tons.
By the end of 1952, the Soviet merchant fleet was in ninth place among the world’s merchant marines, following the United States (27,331,351 tons, including the Great Lakes), Great Britain (18,623,654 tons), Norway (5,905,738), Panama (3,740,451), France (3,637,853), Holland (3,364,227), Italy (3,289,215), and Japan (2,787,163).
Of the total 90,180,350 tons of merchant vessels in the world, the Soviets possessed 2.5%.
Although the Soviet Union and the countries under its control constitute an essentially continental bloc, for which the maritime communication routes assume a peripheral character, and in the long run are less important than for the other countries; although the economic isolation, sought by the western countries in the first years of the communist state, made possible the rise of a closed economy, practically autarchic; and despite the fact that transports by sea constitute one of the less important elements of the communication system of the Soviet bloc; nevertheless, the government of the U.S.S.R. has elaborated a plan to increase its merchant marine to sizeable proportions.
The five-year plan initiated in 1951 and ending in 1955 provides for an increase in merchant tonnage of from 55% to 60%.
If, as seems likely, the plan is to have complete implementation, by early 1956 the Soviet merchant fleet should total 3,400,000 tons.
The increase is, however, planned in varying proportions, depending on the type of vessel. Maximum increases affect fishing vessels and small tonnage units (3.8 times the tonnage of 1950) easily adaptable for river and canal navigation or suitable for minesweepers, anti-submarine vessels, or coastal patrol, etc., and capable of being mass-produced and manned by personnel of less than usual specialization.
Second in order of importance is the increase in vessels for dry cargo and for tankers (2.9 times the figure for 1950). Almost nothing is planned for mixed cargo and passenger vessels. In this field, the U.S.S.R. has in fact, very few possibilities of expansion, either due to the lack of its own passenger traffic with the outside or the apparent diffidence of foreigners toward Russian ships.
As has already been stated, the Soviet merchant fleet now constitutes 2.5% of the world’s merchant marine. But a study of the percentiles in various years indicates that the Soviets have not been able to maintain their own position in relation to the totals of other fleets, but continue in 9th place with the percentile given in 1951: 2.55%.
The reason is to be found in the creation of new national fleets by states which had no shipping of their own (Turkey, Egypt, Israel, South American countries, India, Pakistan, etc.), and in the increase of fleets under “shadow flags” (Panama, Honduras, Liberia), as well as in the general increase of all postwar fleets.
The percentile increase in recent years has been as follows:
In addition to these factors, we must consider the acquisitions from U. S. lend-lease, plus the German war prizes, as well as new construction on western yards (either contract or war reparations), and over-age vessels scrapped.
When we consider the age factor, we find that the Soviet fleet of the end of 1951 had a high percentage of old vessels.
Over 5 years
10 to 14 years
15 to 19 years
20 to 24 years
25 years and older
Calculating the average useful life of a merchant vessel at 30 years, it may be concluded that as of now, half of the Soviet fleet must be replaced within the near future.
The tanker situation, counting only vessels over 1,000 tons (162,409 tons by the end of 1952), is rather better:
Vessels under 5 years
Vessels 5-9 years
Vessels 10-14 years
Vessels 15-19 years
Vessels 20-24 years
Vessels 25 years & over
However, the tanker fleet must be replaced in large measure during the years immediately ahead. The above data do not take into account the fluvial tonnage, much of which is of recent construction.
The Sovtorgflot, which operates the Soviet merchant marine, has recently tried to operate a few vessels in the great passenger lines which are exploited so successfully by western fleets. It does not seem, however, that the projected Odessa-Italy-New York passenger route has much promise of economic success. Aside from the hostility of the mass of passengers, considerable difficulty would be met in New York, due to the application of the MacCarran Act, which went into effect in December, 1952.
The five-year plan provides for the following over-all increases in means of transport:
The absolute figures of the mentioned transport refer to 1950:
600 billion ton/kilometers
45 billion ton/kilometers
38 billion ton/kilometers
21 billion ton/kilometers
The figures for aerial transport and pipelines are noteworthy, and indicate their rôle in the general plan of passive anti-aerial defense, calling for the greatest possible isolation of industrial zones from the main avenues of communication. Only recently has there been a tendency to build pipelines. Until 1951, the fluvial and land transports were considered of greatest convenience.
The corollary of these programs is found in the decentralization of Soviet industry and its gradual movement toward Asiatic Russia.
The complex productive capacity of Soviet shipyards is in rapid evolution because of the expansion now in progress at many maritime and fluvial yards. Present output is chiefly handicapped either by diminished output of the coal basin of the Donetz or by insufficient production of auxiliary and electrical machinery required for the vessels.
As in all other countries, the production of Soviet ships is cloesly linked to the steel and machine industry, and the present increase planned for the yards is tied to the plan which calls for an annual production by 1960 of 500 million tons of coal, 60 million tons of steel, and 70 million tons of petroleum.
At present, the establishments are being expanded at the yards of Leningrad, Idanov, Novorossiisk, Makhachkala, Murmansk, and in the two major yards of Odessa and Nikolaiev, both of which are capable of building ships of any tonnage, including battleships.
In any case, the Soviet yards would be able to cope with the new construction planned for the merchant navy, if their potentialities were not almost entirely absorbed by construction of fighting ships.
The impossibility of handling the needs of both merchant and military ship construction has led the Soviet Union to place orders in foreign yards, in exchange for raw materials, for the largest possible number of merchant ships.
In support of this need, an intensive propaganda campaign by various national communist parties in the west has sought to exert pressure on the governments of these countries to authorize merchant vessel construction for the U.S.S.R. The campaign is organized to make it appear as though Russia were playing the benefactor in providing employment in the western countries concerned.
Thus, in Italy, the Pietraligure yards built 2 mixed cargo motor ships of 3,650 tons and 15 knots, the Norilsk (delivered December, 1951), and the Tobolsk (delivered March, 1952), which were taken over by the V. O. Exportkhleb of Moscow and sent to the Far East.
There are now under construction for the Soviets in western countries at least 60 vessels on Russian order, including 10 tankers. Many of these are nearing completion. In the last 6 months of 1952, at least 22 vessels were delivered to the Soviet Union by.the yards of Belgium, Holland, Sweden, Denmark, and Finland.
In recent years, a considerable number of medium and small units (571 tot.) were built by Finland as war reparations, while an additional 50 were built on the basis of commercial treaties. A further 45 steel fishing vessels were built by Sweden.
Denmark has already delivered one tanker and has two others in advanced stages of construction, plus 5 refrigerator vessels of 56,000 tons, and 8 small boats of 250 tons officially designated as seal hunting boats.
In Holland there are now 32 Soviet units under construction, including 6 tankers, a whaling factory (the Soviets already have in service the 29,000-ton Slava), 10 whalers, 3 dry cargo vessels, and 7 fishing vessels of 1,500 tons.
Finally, in Belgium, 2 cargo vessels are under construction, while early last year 4 ex-German transatlantic liners were rebuilt.
It will be noted that there will be a tendency for Soviet orders on western yards to diminish, either from pressure by the U.S.A. or from the conviction of various governments that every merchant construction they accept from the Soviets enables the latter to put out a military vessel on their own yards that might be used some day against the country that built the merchant vessel.
Seto Instead of Nato
The Economist, Feb. 13, 1954.—The security system proposed by Mr. Molotov on Wednesday is a more precise elaboration of a kind of Monroe Doctrine for Europe which he put forward in his Note to the western powers last November. The chief difference is that it cannot now be said to have even the merit of bringing about the reunification of Germany. Mr. Molotov has all along made it plain that he is intent above all on breaking up the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but for a time it seemed possible that he might be prepared to pay a price for it. Now it can be seen that he intends to have his cake and eat it. He means to retain the Soviet zone, unless his plan for un-free elections and an imposed peace treaty is accepted; and he also proposes to replace Nato and the EDC by a Soviet-dominated European network of alliances, which may here and now be dubbed Seto.
The Russian proposals are, in brief:
Germany will remain under the occupation powers until the Molotov plan for a peace treaty is carried out; the east and west German states will join the Soviet-European Treaty Organisation. The usual treaty obligations for joint prior consultation and resistance against armed attack will be undertaken. There will be a permanent political and military committee which will be only consultative, and on which the United States and China would sit, presumably balancing each other out.
Perhaps it might seem that these proposals offer a way of uniting East and West and that the European system might be added to the North Atlantic Treaty. But article seven shows that this is not the Soviet intention. It declares that the parties should “undertake not to enter any coalition or alliance or conclude any agreement the purposes of which would contradict the purposes of the treaty on collective security for Europe.” Often enough Mr. Molotov has made it clear that this description applies to Nato, the EDC and the coal-steel community.
His objections to the EDC are first and foremost levelled at its links with the United States through Nato, and there would be no point in his proposing an alternative European system if it were not to sever Europe’s ties with America. It would be sheer illusion to think that, because Mr. Molotov said “not to enter” instead of “must leave,” he has in mind that the European states could remain in the western security system when the American and British had withdrawn from Europe. On the face of it, West Germany and the communist states would be the only ones which would be bound “not to enter” the North Atlantic alliance, because they are the only ones which are not already in it one way or another. But it is inconceivable that a system based on the free world’s common defence against Soviet expansion could be combined, on Soviet terms, with a system intended to exclude America from Europe.
British Develop Carrier ‘Landing Sight' To Ease Return of Supersonic Aircraft
New York Times, March 15, 1954.—London, March 14.—A new “landing sight,” intended to make it possible for supersonic fighters to make clean, sure landings on air craft carriers, has been developed for the Royal Navy, the Admiralty announced today.
The device will take the place of the “batman” who signals to pilots for landings or “waves them off” for another try. It consists of a large mirror mounted in a gyroscopically stabilized cradle, and of lights that an incoming pilot watches to keep himself lined up at a perfect landing angle.
The mirror looks like the swiveled mirror on a dresser but it is gently concave in a vertical plane. Extending on either side is a horizontal line of lights shining after in the pilot’s direction.
Another compact blob of lights shines into the mirror from aft on the carrier and is reflected up toward the pilot at the correct angle. To the incoming pilot the line of fixed lights and the reflection at their center must all be a straight line. If the reflection drifts either upward or downward the pilot must correct his path. If it moves sidewise he must also correct.
Need Long Recognized
The need for the new device has been recognized for some time and it joins the angled carrier deck and the steam catapult in the series of British inventions designed to adapt the aircraft carrier to the age of supersonic flight.
The landing signal officer signalling with his two paddles could not be clearly seen at the distances made necessary by high landing speeds.
Since the pilot must constantly watch the “sight” during his approach, a method had to be devised to enable him to know his airspeed. This consists of a system of red, amber and green lights that, reflected from his windscreen, tell him when he is at the correct speed and when he deviates.
The landing angle can be varied by setting the mirror according to the type of plane that is coming in. The device is especially useful for night landings, the Admiralty stated.
Several hundred successful trial landings have been carried out with the device during the last eighteen months aboard the carriers Illustrious and Indomitable, some of them under the eyes of United States and Canadian naval observers. The Admiralty said the device would soon be fitted to all its carriers and would be used at naval air stations ashore as well.
Cost Much Time and Effort
On land there will be no need for the gyroscopic stabilizer, which keeps mirror steady in spite of the motion of the carrier. It is this feature that has cost most time and effort to perfect.
The navy began its tests by having high speed jets fly over a carrier at the calculated landing speeds of the planes of the future. They did not land but the experiment proved that the hand-signaling system would not do.
The man whose idea led to the new landing sight is now serving on the naval staff of the British Joint Services Mission in Washington. He is Commdr. H. C. N. Goodhart, aged 34.
“Prone Pilot” Jet Flight
London Times, Feb. 11, 1954.—The first British jet aircraft to be flown by a pilot lying in the prone position, the “Prone Pilot Meteor,” made its maiden flight yesterday.
The aircraft, an adapted Armstrong Whitworth night fighter version of the Meteor interceptor, took off from the manufacturers’ airfield at Baginton, near Coventry, and after a 28-minute flight landed at another of the firm’s airfields at Bitteswell, near Rugby.
The aircraft has a special nose for its prone cockpit, and the normal seat remains behind. At the controls was Squadron Leader E. Franklin, Armstrong-Whitworth’s chief test pilot, who lay down on his stomach with his body, head and elbows supported by shockabsorbing “cushions.”
Great Britain, the United States, and other nations have been making experiments for some years in prone piloting. As the speed of aircraft is pushed steadily higher and the era of supersonic flight opens, some of the greatest problems confronting designers are not purely aerodynamic but rather how the human body can withstand the forces increasingly imposed upon it. In tight turns, or steep dives at high speed, the great G or gravity forces are sufficient to check the normal circulation of the pilot’s blood and cause temporary black-outs.
The pressurized G suit worn by the fighter pilot helps to offset such gravitational effects on the wearer. A pilot lying prone is not affected by G to the same extent as the seated pilot.
Trials with prone pilots have been going on for some years at the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough and elsewhere in Great Britain, but all these experiments have been with light, piston-engined aircraft.
Japan to Ask U. S. for 17 Warships
New York Times, March 13, 1954.—Tokyo, March 12.—Japan will ask the United States for seventeen warships including two powerful destroyers.
This disclosure was made before the budget committee of the upper house of the Diet (Parliament) today by Masao Maeda, Parliamentary Vice Minister attached to the National Safety Board. Meanwhile, debate on the mutual defense agreement with Washington went into its second day in the lower chamber.
Yesterday Government spokesmen were booed from Opposition benches when they attempted to explain benefits Japan might expect to receive under the pact signed Monday.
Mr. Maeda, under questioning by Socialist councilors, said the government expected to negotiate for the lease of five destroyers, two submarines and ten auxiliary vessels of a total 27,000 tons.
Although the Mutual Security Act, he said, permits the United States to make available vessels only up to 15,000 tons, Japan was hopeful an additional agreement can be made to procure other ships.
Will Seek Other Craft
The vice-minister specified as Japan’s aim the acquisition of two 2400-ton destroyers, three of 1600 tons and two of 1400 tons. The two submarines would be 1600-ton types. Additional negotiations would be started for five minesweepers, two LST (landing ship tank) and one 7000-ton repair ship.
If the lease is arranged it would put Japan into possession of a small but comparatively well-armed flotilla. At the close of 1953 the Japanese Marine Security Force consisted of more than 100 vessels, including eighteen frigates and fifty support landing ships acquired from the United States under lease-charter arrangement.
Besides the warships, the committee was told by Kentaro Kamimura, chief secretary of the National Safety Board, the Government hopes for 143 aircraft of various types as well as enough weapons to equip two divisions.
Armed Forces To Be Increased
Under the “self-defense” bill scheduled to implement the mutual defense agreement, Japan would be committed to raise the strength of her ground forces during the coming year from 110,000 to 130,000 infantrymen for whom the new weapons will be needed.
Government speakers gave no explanation of the role to be played by the warships if and when they are acquired. It was noted, however, that information regarding the proposed increase in maritime strength came at a time when not only South Korea, but the Soviet Union and Communist China have been seizing Japanese fishing boats in the China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan and in Siberian waters.
The Republic of Korea recently announced that Japanese ships would not be returned but would be sold in Korea to the highest bidder.
Japanese Government spokesmen recently indicated it might be necessary to guard fishing fleets in the China Sea.
According to the Kyodo news agency, Mr. Kamimura was “non-committal” when asked by Socialist Diet members whether Japan also intended to negotiate for a small aircraft carrier from the United States. Before the lower house, however, Tokutaro Kimura, Director General of the Public Safety Board, asserted there was a “possibility” that Japanese aircraft and ships wherever based “will go out to territorial skies and territorial waters” if necessary.
Britain Remodels Navy
Christian Science Monitor, March 11, 1954.—London.—The British Navy, famed since the days of Horatio Nelson for the intensity of its tight-lipped devotion to duty, is to have a completely new deal.
There is to be the biggest humanizing campaign in the whole long history of Britain’s senior service.
At the same time, the Navy is to be refashioned from stem to stern as a fighting force. Its striking power is to be tremendously increased and its equipment modernized.
Guided missiles and nuclear weapons are being produced for it. New ships, new planes, new guns, new bombs, and revolutionary new antisubmarine gear are to make it virtually a new force.
The Explorer a new-type submarine using high-test peroxide in its power plant and capable of very high underwater speeds and great underwater cruises, was launched a week ago.
The Royal Navy also has developed a lethal antisubmarine mortar nicknamed the “Limbo.” This weapon is combined with new sonar gear operated by an “electronic brain.”
New carriers with angled flight decks and steam catapults are to be capable of carrying heavier and more powerful planes. A new plane is a supersonic twin-motored swept-wing fighter able to carry atom bombs.
For cruisers there is a new six-inch gun “with a revolutionary rate of fire.” New three-inch guns have a rate of fire usually associated with heavy machine guns.
Powerful and fast mine sweepers, gunboats, escort vessels, and torpedo boats are being built at the rate of one ship of each type a week.
Meanwhile, the patient English seaman is to get a new deal. A better family life with less time away from home is to be the keynote of the duty-routine changes just announced. This is to replace in emphasis the old recuiting slogan, “Join the Navy and see the world.” There also are to be more comfort and consideration for the men on board ship.
Blamed for Sabotage
Mind you, this humanizing program must be judged against a recent period of inadvertent dehumanizing in the Navy whose full consequences are only just being fully recognized. This dehumanizing has resulted from modern ships becoming so full of gadgets that there is barely room for anything else.
It is this process of dehumanizing which now is judged to have been the main cause of the many sabotage incidents in the Royal Navy since 1949.
When he introduced the new Navy estimates to the House of Commons on the night of March 9, J. P. L. Thomas, First Lord of the Admiralty, said his department and the government were satisfied that the sabotage incidents were not attributable to an organized Communist campaign, as has been suggested in newspapers and other quarters both at home and abroad.
Better Conditions Due
New plans to meet these problems include these:
Starting in June this year most warships are to be absent from their home bases for only one year instead of the traditional period of 2½ years.
For men serving abroad on shore stations, the maximum duty period away from home will be 18 months except where Navy personnel are able to take their families with them.
There are to be better conditions in other respects. Better chances for promotion from the lower deck are promised. A new scholarship scheme for cadets is to be launched.
All the same, the Labor opposition charged that there is still too much class privilege in the British Navy’s promotion system. In particular, Commander Harry Pursey, a Labor spokesman, charged that if Nelson went before an Admiralty election board today “he wouldn’t stand a chance” of being accepted as an officer cadet.
Experimental Atomic Battery
Mechanical Engineering, March, 1954.—An experimental atomic battery, which for the first time converts atomic energy directly into small but useful quantities of electricity, has been unveiled by Radio Corporation of America, New York, N. Y.
How Atomic Battery Works
As described by Dr. E. W. Engstrom, executive vice-president in charge, RCA Laboratories Division, the new type of atomic battery consists of a radioactive source to which is coupled a wafer of semiconducting crystal (germanium or silicon). An impurity material has been alloyed into the crystal to form a junction. The junction is similar electrically to those used in a junction transistor, but is considerably larger, with an area of 1/20th of a square inch.
Strontium-90, one of the most abundant of the materials resulting from the fission of uranium in a reactor, is a highly active source of beta particles—high-speed electrons—and is one of the long-lived beta-emitting substances. Its half-life is roughly 20 years, i.e., every 20 years half of its radioactivity is dissipated.
In the battery, 1/300th of a cubic centimeter (a quantity that would fill a cube 1/16 in. on a side) of radioactive strontium is spread in a thin layer against the junction wafer. The layer of strontium bombards the semiconducting crystal water with several billion electrons per second. As the electrons penetrate the wafer they release many more electrons, an average of 200,000 for each bombarding electron.
Previous radioactive generators simply captured the high-speed electrons as they came from the radioactive source with the result that they provided approximately one electron for each bombarding electron. In the RCA experimental atomic battery, each high-speed electron releases in the crystal, on the average, 200,000 low-speed electrons. These released electrons flow across the wafer’s junction producing a voltage which can be applied to an electronic circuit and cause a current to flow.
The electron action within the crystal wafer is known as the electron-voltaic effect, a phenomenon of solid-state physics which heretofore has not been put to any practical use.
When connected to the transistor oscillator circuit, the battery’s ⅕-volt potential provides a current of 5 microamp, an output of approximately one millionth of a watt.
The best efficiency of energy conversion so far obtained exceeds one per cent, i.e., the ratio of useful electric power developed by the battery is at least 1/100th the energy of the beta particles as they leave the radioactive source. The greater part of the original energy is lost as heat in the crystal wafer. At present techniques are refined, an efficiency of 10 per cent appears to be a reasonable goal for such devices.
According to David Sarnoff, chairman of the board of RCA, the atomic battery is likely to be applied first to miniature devices such as portable and pocket-size radio receivers, hearing-aids, signal control, and similar devices that require reliable power sources with great length of service. It may also be possible to use them for operating portable short-range transmitters for radio telegraph and telephone communication and radio beacons for navigation by air or by sea, he said.
Such atomic batteries will be highly compatible with future equipment using transistors. Both the battery and the transistor have the potential advantages of compactness, ruggedness, and long life, Mr. Sarnoff pointed out.
Distant Future Prospects
In addition to the foregoing, Dr. Engstrom pointed out that previous proposals for large-scale electrical power generation from the fission of uranium in a reactor have been based on an indirect method. By that method the tremendous amount of heat energy created by the fission is used to produce steam, which drives a turbine, which in turn drives a conventional electrical generator. But in contrast, RCA’s laboratory method of converting nuclear energy to electrical energy is a direct conversion.
Hitherto, power from the atom has been used in much the same way as coal in the furnace of an electric power plant, said Dr. Engstrom. All the remainder of the plant remained unchanged—boilers, and an engine or turbine driving an electric generator. Only the nature of the fuel was altered when nuclear energy replaced coal or oil.
But, he said, if the promise of the RCA atomic battery is ultimately fulfilled on a large scale, the power plant of that day would have only an atomic generator connected directly to cables carrying to far-flung communities the power needed for the multitudinous purposes of peace. Boilers, engines, and electric generators would then increasingly become elements of the past.
Naturally, much fundamental work and applied research remains to be done and many years will elapse before such a goal is attained. Nevertheless, Dr. Engstrom said, this prospect offers a bright hope for mankind.
“Nerve” Net Fights Ice on Jet Planes
New York Times, March 2,1954.—Seattle, Wash., March 2 (UP).—A revolutionary electrical nerve system, bearing a startling resemblance to the nerves in human skin, has been developed by an aircraft electronics manufacturing company to overcome deadly icing conditions in jet airplanes, an official of the company said today.
Howard H. Suskin of United Control Corporation revealed that the wing, tail and engine surfaces of planes could be heated to 100 degrees by the company’s “thermal ant-icing control system.”
The system already provides continuous protection against icing in flight for Boeing jet bombers.
The system depends on electrical receptor “nerves” for its effectiveness. The receptor nerves are about the size and shape of a silver dollar. Mounted flush in the skin of the aircraft, they consist of a flat coil of wire carrying a small electric current. The coil is able to sense temperature changes because of the properties of the metal from which the wire is drawn.
Temperature changes are monitored continuously by an electric regulator that evaluates the signals from several receptors at the same time. The regulator then adjusts a valve that controls the amount of heated air being fed to the inside surfaces of the wings and other areas where icing conditions might cause disaster. The control system for the wing of a B-52 bomber weighs less than five pounds.
Research in Upper Atmosphere
London Times, Feb. 13, 1954.—An “upper atmosphere research committee” has been appointed by the Academy of Science to find out what conditions will face jet aircraft and guided missiles flying to heights of 200,000 feet. Research had been made necessary by the steady rise in the possible ceilings of aircraft and rockets, the Supply Minister, Mr. Beale, announced to-night. He said:
“New problems of flight will certainly be encountered. For example, there is reason to believe that winds of unprecedented strength exist, that the air will be much hotter at greater heights, and that meteors from outer space—normally burned away by the earth’s outer cushion of air—will bombard aircraft and missiles with velocities twenty times greater than a rifle bullet.”
The new committee, Mr. Beale went on, would have the facilities of the Woomera rocket range at its disposal, and had already outlined a broad programme, including rocket experiments at 200,000 feet. As a result of extensive development at Woomera, he said, “it has now become possible here to project instruments directly into the high atmosphere by rockets and other means and relay readings back to earth during flight.”—Reuter.
New Gyroscope Is Called Most Sensitive Ever Built
New York Herald Tribune, March 6, 1954. —Minneapolis, March 5 (UP).—The United States now has a gyroscope so sensitive it could measure the width of a city block on the moon or detect motion 3,000 times slower than the hour hand of a watch.
The Minneapolis-Honeywell Regulator Co. today announced development and mass production of the new type of gyroscope, which it said is the most sensitive airborne instrument ever built.
The instrument was developed for the Air Force for use in flight bombing and fire control systems. It has other uses ranging from ocean-going vessels to sixty-ton tanks.
Much More Sensitive
The new "floated” gyroscopes are hundreds of times more accurate and sensitive than conventional gyros, Honeywell officials said. Despite their accuracy, the cylindershaped instruments weigh less than three pounds.
Honeywell said the instrument is so sensitive that a drop of dust weighing 1/1,000 of a gram would have the same effect on it as a handful of gravel in the transmission of an automobile. However, it is so rugged that engineers have used a demonstration model to drive nails through a board without affecting the instrument’s accuracy.
Minneapolis-Honeywell said the instrument could measure the speed of motion and arc of a man walking in a circle whether the journey took him one second or five years.
If a man could stand in Los Angeles and read a standard-size newspaper in New York, Honeywell engineers said, the gyro could measure the angle of change made by his eye between the right and left hand columns.
Friction Almost Nil
The secret of the amazing instrument is in the almost entire lack of friction among its moving parts. If the same low friction level could be reached by a boy on a sled, Honeywell officials said, he could cost about 1,000 miles down a one-foot high hill.
Gyroscopes, which operate on the same principle as a spinning top, are the “brains” of automatic pilots and other automatic robots needed to control super-sonic flight.
Engine Which Moves to Trim Plane
Manchester Guardian, Feb. 12, 1954.—Patents are to be applied for for a new means of trimming single-engined jet aircraft in flight which, it is claimed, would also give improved “lift” in certain special conditions. It consists of a means of moving the engine bodily, sliding it forwards or backwards so as to alter the position of the centre of gravity of the whole aircraft.
It is argued that this is a more efficient way of changing flying trim than that of setting trim tabs or other aerodynamic surfaces which must inevitably increase “drag.” Moreover, it is claimed that as the engine can be tilted as well as moved backwards and forwards, additional jet “lift” may be secured in some circumstances.
In a hypothetical design of a medium-powered aircraft the total movement of the engine is six inches forwards and six inches backwards from “neutral”; but for special conditions, such as landing, a much greater movement is possible. The engine is mounted on rails and is held by lugs attached to two hydraulically operated jacks. These jacks are under the pilot’s direct control.
Navy Discovers Promising Alloy
New York Times, Feb. 27, 1954.—Washington, Feb. 26.—The Naval Ordnance Laboratory announced today development of a new heat-resistant alloy of aluminum and iron which one day may be used in items ranging from electric toasters to jet engines.
Carroll W. Lufcy, head of the laboratory’s magnetics division, said the alloy, known as Thermenol, might eventually become “almost as common as iron.”
“Of course,” he added, “Thermenol is still new to us, but already we have determined it may have wide applications in the aircraft industry. It is light and has high resistance to heat, oxidation and chemical corrosion. Thus it appears likely it will take the place of many present high temperature alloys now being used in making jet engines.”
Thermenol was developed as a by-product of work the laboratory did on “16-Alfenol,” a soft magnetic alloy of aluminum and iron which was discovered last year. Metallurgists later found that by adding vanadium or molybdenum and treating it with heat, the heat resistance of the alloy was increased.
Thus a new group of heat resistant alloys, including Thermenol, resulted.