Problems and Chances of Tailsitter VTOL Aircraft

SAustin16

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Excellent artwork. I wish I had your skills.


The problem with the tailsitters was the pilot trying to see and judge the landing. Fish Salmon (Lockheed Test Pilot) was a close friend of my Dad, and they discussed this in detail. Fish said the plane flew great, but landing was extremely difficult and miserable cranking your head around for prolonged periods.


Cheers from Texas
 

Gildasd

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SAustin16 said:
Excellent artwork. I wish I had your skills.


The problem with the tailsitters was the pilot trying to see and judge the landing. Fish Salmon (Lockheed Test Pilot) was a close friend of my Dad, and they discussed this in detail. Fish said the plane flew great, but landing was extremely difficult and miserable cranking your head around for prolonged periods.


Cheers from Texas
Not to state the bloody obvious, but why did they not install large collapsible rear-view mirrors - at least truck size - outside in front and sides of the cockpit?
Maybe for the same reason it took until 1921 for them appear on cars...
 

Abraham Gubler

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SAustin16 said:
The problem with the tailsitters was the pilot trying to see and judge the landing. Fish Salmon (Lockheed Test Pilot) was a close friend of my Dad, and they discussed this in detail. Fish said the plane flew great, but landing was extremely difficult and miserable cranking your head around for prolonged periods.


Convair, who actually landed their plane on its tail, came up with a solution to this problem. Replace the conventional cockpit with a sitting pilot with one in which the pilot was prone. Works all right when flying straight and level but when trying to land tail first the pilot is effectively standing upright with no problems looking downwards. They drew up a draft design with the cockpit in a pod mounted on top of the tail. The pod was also more accessible from the ground and made a great escape capsule for an over water aircraft.


http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,549.msg81033.html#msg81033
 

Stargazer2006

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Gildasd said:
Not to state the bloody obvious, but why did they not install large collapsible rear-view mirrors - at least truck size - outside in front and sides of the cockpit?

Personally, I've always wondered if it couldn't have been possible to have a seat freely pivoting on an axis, which would stay upright whatever the position of the aircraft. Not being a technician I wouldn't know the specifics for such a concept, but I can certainly imagine it... the plane moves, changes angle, but the seat is always in the same place, same 90° angle.
 

Stargazer2006

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Schneiderman said:
That would be Thunderbird One

Really?? Oh wow. Last time I watched Thunderbirds I must have been 14, so that's quite a lot considering I'll be a half-century old this year!! But I guess if T1 had that kind of device it surely must have influenced my thinking at some unconscious level! (My favorite was T2, though, the cargo one... ;-) )

PlanesPictures said:
As this one Fw-860?

No, I was thinking along much simpler lines. This Fw 860 project is interesting though, it predates the similar Nutcracker, F-16 and F-17 studies by over 30 years!
 

Jemiba

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Skyblazer said:
... a seat freely pivoting on an axis, ...

.. as proposed for the Fairey Type K tailsitter ?
 

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Stargazer2006

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Jemiba said:
Skyblazer said:
... a seat freely pivoting on an axis, ...

.. as proposed for the Fairey Type K tailsitter ?

I was thinking of something simpler... within the fuselage; this Fairey design (which I didn't know about) seems to complicate things a little (a pivoting cockpit!), but yes, it's along the same lines. Thanks for sharing.
 

CiTrus90

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Skyblazer said:
I was thinking of something simpler... within the fuselage; this Fairey design (which I didn't know about) seems to complicate things a little (a pivoting cockpit!), but yes, it's along the same lines. Thanks for sharing.

More along the lines of the Ryan X-13 and the Sukhoi Shkval maybe?
 

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Stargazer2006

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I had a feeling the pilot still had a degree of inclination in these, but I must admit I didn't look into the matter that closely.

I think this thread has completely been hijacked and I feel greatly responsible for this... so if the moderators think it appropriate, perhaps a separate topic could be created in the Bar or Aerospace sections about tailsitters and pilots position?
 

Jemiba

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Skyblazer said:
.. so if the moderators think it appropriate, perhaps a separate topic could be created

Yes, it certainly is appropriate, First for not further distracting from Jozefs great
artwork and second, because it's an interesting theme on its own, I think, especially
as tailsitters, which were more or less dead for a number of decades, are resurfacing
in the form of some UAV.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Skyblazer said:
I was thinking of something simpler... within the fuselage; this Fairey design (which I didn't know about) seems to complicate things a little (a pivoting cockpit!), but yes, it's along the same lines. Thanks for sharing.


A pivoting cockpit is likely to be easier to build than a pivoting seat. The pilot's need for access to controls and instruments is still going to remain when landing tail first in a vertical attitude. And duplicating transparencies will add a lot to weight. The pivoting cockpit configuration was also used in the Convair Model 49 VTOL for the US Army's AAFSS program. But the whole reason for a tail sitter is to avoid the inherent complexities of pivoting the thrust as in other VTOL aircraft. So if in return one ends out pivoting much of the aircraft, except the thrust, then this advantage is lost. Since a VTOL fighter only needs to hover or tail sit when landing spending a lot of weight and complexity on changing the cockpit orientation isn't worth it.


The simple solution is the prone pilot. In this configuration the pilot has even better downwards view for landing than if in a seat that has rotated to match the horizon. Also it alleviates some of the disadvantages of prone cockpits in conventional aircraft. In that there isn't the same problem of getting into and out of the plane when horizontal because when on the ground or landing the pilot is aligned vertically. The only remaining problem is the decrease in upwards rear view which is of importance for air to air combat.
 

Arjen

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SNECMA Coléoptere had a tilting seat for the pilot and windows in the cockpit floor.
First two images from http://www.diseno-art.com/news_content/2014/06/snecma-coleoptere/
Third image screen capture at 1:35
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AixAp_MgGVo
 

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Stargazer2006

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Abraham Gubler said:
The simple solution is the prone pilot. In this configuration the pilot has even better downwards view for landing than if in a seat that has rotated to match the horizon. Also it alleviates some of the disadvantages of prone cockpits in conventional aircraft.

Thanks. This reminds me... where's NASA's Puffin at? Have they given up on the concept?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puffin_%28aircraft%29

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mc66-uEkEBk
 

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cluttonfred

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The prone pilot position makes a lot of sense for a utility VTOL. Hiller had the right idea with the VXT-8.

Vxt8_coleopter.jpg


It also seems perfect for a ground attack or close support aircraft where the pilot is spending a lot of time looking at the ground as in the Martin Mighty Midget (love that name).

11045295_438783672945457_5004335485131568845_n.jpg


For a fighter like the Salmon or Pogo, however, I think most pilots would be very uncomfortable not being able to look over their shoulder in flight. Still, today that could be fixed easily with a wide-angle, high-resolution, day/night rear view camera system and the prone position offers distinct advantages in high G maneuvers.

It's not hard to imagine a pusher turboprop coleopter with a prone pilot, like the VXT-8 on steroids, doing the job of the Salmon or Pogo, or the Harrier for that matter, with far less complexity and lower cost.
 

shedofdread

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What was the Eric Brown quote? "Prone is a great position ...but not for flying an aeroplane"? (pretty sure it went something like that).


Tail-sitters may well find their place with UAVs. Take the pilot out of the equation and many problems go away...
 

cluttonfred

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shedofdread said:
What was the Eric Brown quote? "Prone is a great position ...but not for flying an aeroplane"? (pretty sure it went something like that).

Got a smile out of me with that one.... Still, the argument in favor of a prone pilot is pretty strong for ground attack. Better view of the ground, lower cross section means a smaller target for the folks you're attacking, improved ability to sustain high-G maneuvers without blacking out, etc. See http://up-ship.com/blog/?p=4468
 

Kevin Renner

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I wonder if during the development stage for the Pogo and/or Salmon they considered having a cable that the a/c would snag with an arrester type hook and then be whiched onto the deck
 

cluttonfred

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I don't think that the hauldown systems used to help helicopters land on small ships in rough weather had been invented yet, but it's an interesting idea.
 
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