Airborne Aircraft Carriers


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12 July 2006
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Two different ways to carry microfighters were analysed by Boeing (together with the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory) and Lockheed.

The USAF Colonel "Riccioni would become Commander of the Aeromechanics Division at the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory, where he would push the conceptual limits of lightweight fighters. One of his projects involved an airborne aircraft carrier, a Boeing 747 transport stuffed with 10 microfighters each weighing less than 10,000 pounds." (SOURCE: "The Pentagon Paradox" by Stevenson (page 96)

Lockheed's design was to carry more than 20 of these tiny fighters under the wings. (SOURCE: "Jane's Aviation Review 1983-84 (page 100).

(Lockheed produced so many CL-... and GL-... and Model numbers, so I'm sure most of the published artworks has got such a designation, but which one ... ?)


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Btw, a wind tunnel model of the possibly accompanying FDL microfighter was shown in Aviation Week 7 January 1974. The captions are "Micro-fighter aircraft by Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory is representative of a low-profile programme that updates the concept of airborne carriage and launching of small fighters from large, long range aircraft. Design pictured here could be air-recovered also could land on conventional runways. Wind tunnel model has been tested at Arnold Engineering development Center at subsonic to supersonic Mach numbers." and
"Three-view drawing is similar to wind tunnel model except that twin vertical tails are substituted for larger single tail."


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It seems there was a problem uploading the Lockheed image. Here it is again.


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From Flug Revue 2/1978

I guess this could be a micro ground attack fighter but my German it is very limited and I'm not sure to understand the text:

"Konzeptstudie SB-1 eines kampfflugzeugs für direkten Angriff auf Erdziele"

Who is the manufacturer?


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The FLUG REVUE article doesn't say anything about the manufacturer (all other proposals in the article were better described). The article is based on a report written by Norman Lynn. Does anybody know him for asking? (Okay, it was 28 years ago ...)

can you translate the text, please ::)?

"Konzeptstudie SB-1 eines kampfflugzeugs für direkten Angriff auf Erdziele"
Concept study SB-1 for an attack aircraft for direct attacks against ground targets.
Thanks a lot fightingirish!

Then this SB-1 it's off topic here...but any idea about its origins?
Very interesting project! I downloaded that USAF/Boeing report and its part one of a two part report. The second part is the technical evaluation of the designs. Anybody got that one or know how I can get it via that website? Sure like to find out the particulars of the launch/retrieval system.

Way back in high school (late 1960's early 1970's), I was just starting to "design" fictional aircraft. My sketches were very rough and today, almost illegible (I scribbled terribly). One of my designs (and I wish I could find the drawings) involved an airborne aircraft carrier (a subject I still am intoxicated with), using a C-5a and some kind of turboprop powered fighter (obviously inspired by the Convair POGO). If only I knew enough back then to patent my "designs", at least as toys.

I'm not a military expert, but it seems to me that the concept of the MF/AAC could still be valid. Maybe the Airbus A380 could be used as a carrier. Any other candidates for the carrier?
I suspect - merely suspect - that this aircraft is a microfighter to be carried by a "flying aircraft carrier." It otherwise seems far too small.

The picture is actually kind of funny. I wonder how it killed the MiG.
The picture is actually kind of funny. I wonder how it killed the MiG.

There were some "Foxbat-killer" AAM designs in the 70's
Yildirim said:
The picture is actually kind of funny. I wonder how it killed the MiG.

The MiG's pilot could not believe his eyes - surely he was imagining things...such a bizzare aircraft could only be the product of his imagination! the time he was in gun range it was too late! ;D
Yildirim said:
The picture is actually kind of funny. I wonder how it killed the MiG.

It looks as if the MiG-25 has tried to climb away from the mini fighter judging by its attitude. But the mini fighter has out climbed the MiG and shoot it down. Weapons damage looks like guns as the MiG has a fire but no major structural damage (missing wings, etc). Of course its just a painting...
Just call me Ray said:
Aww, how cute, the little airplane thinks he can play with the grown-up airplanes :)

Given how big the engines are compared to the size of the plane, it would likely have some pretty good performance. What it *wouldn't* have is a lot of duration, especially if it was runway-launched. Were it carried to altitude and to the battle zone by way of a booster stage (be it a rocket, a bigger fighter, perhaps, or a converted jetliner/cargo plane), it could be an effective short-term MiG killer.
the imagined motherplane would be far more impressive .
That microfighter design looks like it would be incredibly fun to fly... man I could only imagine how maneuverable that thing would be *drools*

KJ Lesnick
some 20 years ago ı was shown "this picture" - which will be henceforth called the original by me for the purposes of any discussion that might arise in this particular topic- ; to see whether ı could keep my mouth shut . ı got to draw what ı remembered a few years later while ı was busy failing at industrial engineering faculty as a pencil work . Being a loner is really hard if you have to while away the time .

the MiG was slowing down for safe ejection .( If the Jun70 on the illustration denotes the time , Russians wouldn't have that superlative seat .) The venue was up North over the crystal clear blue sea which ı moved south to Black Sea to match the THK roundels ı placed on the western fighter which didn't look like the one here and it was turning away , but as it has already been said we are talking about a drawing . In my imagination the weapon was a Sidewinder size missile and my smoke probably matched the one in this thread ; Russians were really accustomed to duds .
Original source must be a french magazine.
The other pictures have been already shown on this forum.

Dear Mods, at this computer right now I'm not allowed to download or attach these pictures.
That's why I'm only posting the links. If these pictures do not violate copyright or forum rules, please feel free to attach them. :)
There is a very interesting article on Parasite Fighters over at Air Vectors (Vectorsite). Includes info on both Boeing's 747 ACC and Microfighter concepts. One thing the article forgot to mention though, is that the USAF also looked at using the 747 ACC with RPV (drone) fighters.
Excerpt from NAVAL WAR COLLEGE NEWPORT PAPERS 37; Innovation in Carrier Aviation.

What is easily forgotten when considering the activities of BuAer under Rear Admiral
Pride’s leadership is the menu of possibilities that wartime expenditures had produced.
There were the obvious ones: jet propulsion, rockets, radar for night fighters, airbreathing
missiles, and new supersonic-aircraft designs, such as the delta wing. But
there was much more. The BuAer “Research and Development Master Program” for fiscal
year 1947—a document put together early in 1946—contained some breathtaking
proposals. Perhaps the most audacious was Project JUPITER, an “airborne aircraft carrier”
that would carry both “parasite” manned fighters and pilotless aircraft. This flying
carrier was to have been “an airplane in the 4–600,000 lb. class, powered by gas turbines,
cruising at 35 to 40,000 feet at 400 to 475 MPH, with a radius of action of 2500–
3500 miles.”48 The Army Air Forces analog to this behemoth was the November 1945
general operational requirement for the next generation of heavy bombers.Meeting
this requirement led U.S. Air Force officers to develop a 1948 design of a swept-wing jet
aircraft weighing over three hundred thousand pounds, carrying a ten-thousandpound
payload to forty-five thousand feet, and flying almost seven thousand miles at a
speed of approximately 450 knots.49

The “Research and Development Master Program” also contained proposals for refining
the liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rocket engines for the Gorgon, Super Gorgon, and
Lark missiles, plus money proposed for work on pulse-jet engines for missiles and target
drones.What drove BuAer’s investment in both Project JUPITER and missiles was
the need to extend the range of a carrier’s striking power against land targets. A 1947
BuAer memorandum argued that “carrier striking power cannot be limited to a range
of six to seven hundred miles, otherwise the carrier program would stand in a precarious
situation when compared to the long range bombardment plans of the Army Air
Forces.”50 As Malcolm Muir notes in his history of Navy surface warfare after World
War II, the Bureaus of Aeronautics and Ordnance “advanced a bewildering variety of
missile projects during the immediate postwar period.”51 One of Rear Admiral Pride’s
more difficult tasks, therefore, was to wade through all the proposals and research-and
development efforts and decide which ones really mattered.


48. “Research and Development Master Program,”
Fiscal Year 1947, Bureau of Aeronautics,
“Parasite Fighter Study” section (no
page number). This document was in “Navy
Department, Bureau of Aeronautics,” subhead
4, “Appropria. Aviation, Navy 1947,
1771502.004, Experimental.”

49. See Mandeles, Development of the B-52 and
Jet Propulsion

50. See Norman Friedman, U.S. Naval Weapons
(Annapolis,Md.: Naval Institute Press,
1982), p. 217.

51. Malcolm Muir, Jr., Black Shoes and Blue Water:
Surface Warfare in the United States
Navy, 1945–1975
(Washington, D.C.: Naval
Historical Center, 1996), p. 29. For wartime
developments, see Buford Rowland and William
Boyd, U.S. Navy Bureau of Ordnance in
World War II
(Washington, D.C.: U.S. Navy
Dept., Bureau of Ordnance, 1953).
And don't forget the flying aircraft carriers so well displayed in this film:

;D ;D ;D
Reading Trimble's STRIKE FROM THE SEA and saw a reference to Project JUPITER. Or as the book describes it pretty much as a 400-600,000 land bomber with six parasite fighters effectively making it a "Navy B-36".

My curiousity was piqued.

A Google search led me to the commentary on this thread and this document, which pretty much says the same thing here.

What else is know about this behemoth aircraft concept besides that it existed as a concept from 1946?

What powerplants were looked at? What type of fighters were to be carried. What exactly was the conops for this beast? I'm curious now

Now it has me wondering if Douglas putting Skyrays on their Models 1211J and 1240 concepts was some sort retroactive marketing toward appealing to the Navy, four years after JUPITER was proposed. Hmm.

The soviets had very fascinating ideas on that.

Good night


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...wait, what? I don't recognise some of those designs ...any more info?
athpilot said:

The soviets had very fascinating ideas on that.

Good night

Careful, the source says "alternate history," are those real Soviet designs or just extrapolated "what if" drawings?
That site features pur "what-ifs", but a long list of real types and projects, too. For example,
I found a number of articles, that principally were very good translations from the German
"Luftfahrt International" series.
We had discussions about that site here, too, (haven't found it with a quick search still yet),
IIRC, it's recognisable by the section, where it is posted.
Avimimus said:
...wait, what? I don't recognise some of those designs ...any more info?
Could this help? B)
Yep Jemiba is right. This site also contains real und less known projects, prototypes a.s.o. If you speak russian you can quickly see what is an article about real or "what if". This projekt was real. It was started in 1932 by ingeneer Вахмистров (Vachmistrov) in coopüeration with ZAGI in Moskau. It never left the drawing boards. Heres are two more pictures from the sam site.
But the most common soviet aircraft carrier plane was the heavy 4 engined TB-3. If you google you will find more pics and informations (e.g. on wikipedia).

Greetings Athpilot


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