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Rotary bomb bay

AeroFranz

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The Martin XB-51 pioneered a curious weapons bay right after WWII. The weapons were mounted on the inside of this rectangular "slab" that would also form the door of the bay. The whole assembly would rotate 180 degrees around the longitudinal axis to expose the weapons to the airstream. This was done because of acoustic/structures problems associated with opening large cavities while flying fast on the deck (the XB-51 mission).

The same design was subsequently applied to the P6M Seamaster, and the Martin-built B-57 Canberra. The Buccaneer also has a rotary bomb bay, i wonder if it's the same design.

Does anyone have good pictures/diagrams of these systems? I have been looking like crazy but don't have much to show for... :(
 

sferrin

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The F-101 VooDoo had something similar but with missiles on BOTH sides of the door.
 

flateric

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These are from the best XB-51 reference ever, Scott Libis' Air Force Legends #201 Martin XB-51 by Ginter Books. I highly recommend obtaining a copy and looking their other titles, I've collected almost all of them - that's how these books must be made by standard.
 

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Jemiba

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From Tim Laming "Buccaneer" a drawing of the bomb door :
 

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flateric

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F-101B Weapons bay door (from Detail&Scale #21)
 

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Just call me Ray

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Interesting, I wonder why it fell out of favor. Of course rotary bomb bays are in vogue for large bombers, but they're still tucked very much away inside.
 

Rickshaw

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The Blackburn Buccaneer had such a weapons bay. I wonder, did any other aircraft apart from the Buc, the US Canberra and the aforementioned XB-51?
 

flateric

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F-101B, P6M Seamaster as well - if you are reading carefully :)
 

AeroFranz

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Just call me Ray said:
Interesting, I wonder why it fell out of favor. Of course rotary bomb bays are in vogue for large bombers, but they're still tucked very much away inside.

I think the rotary door arrangement tends to occupy more volume for a given weapons load than a conventional arrangement. Structures-wise, the door leaves a gaping hole in the bottom of the vehicle, which requires overall strengthening. I guess with a conventional bay, you can still run a keel/stringer through the middle and split it in two. I am not sure on the last point since I failed most of my structures classes in college :)

By the way, thanks for the awesome pics. I spent a couple of hours on the flight archive and came up empty handed. Now I have plenty to work with :)
 

flateric

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...and again CodeOne Magazine rocks

A Martin technician inspects the six 750-pound bombs loaded on the innovative rotary launcher used on the XB-51 medium bomber prototype, circa 1949. The bombs, rockets, or other weapons would be loaded on to the door itself. Once hoisted up into the aircraft, the wheels would be removed and the weapon/door combination would be attached to a spindle at each end of the bomb bay. Near the target, the door and weapons would be rotated 180 degrees. The weapons would be released or fired and the now-empty door would rotate back into place. The system allowed for accurate bombing at relatively high speeds. Two XB-51s were built, but the Air Force's medium bomber competition went to the English Electra Canberra design, which Martin later built under license.
 

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SOC

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The F-108 used (well, it would've used) a bay with a rotary pallet. One side was the bay door, the other side had a T-shaped assembly mounting the three GAR-9 AAMs.

The F-101B initially used a rotary pallet with six Falcon AAMs. Three on the "outer" side had retractable launch rails for low-drag carriage, three on the "inner" side had launch rails that did not retract. Anyone know when they stopped using that one?
 

Spark

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AeroFranz said:
The Martin XB-51 pioneered a curious weapons bay right after WWII. The weapons were mounted on the inside of this rectangular "slab" that would also form the door of the bay. The whole assembly would rotate 180 degrees around the longitudinal axis to expose the weapons to the airstream. This was done because of acoustic/structures problems associated with opening large cavities while flying fast on the deck (the XB-51 mission).

The same design was subsequently applied to the P6M Seamaster, and the Martin-built B-57 Canberra. The Buccaneer also has a rotary bomb bay, i wonder if it's the same design.

Does anyone have good pictures/diagrams of these systems? I have been looking like crazy but don't have much to show for... :(

Hi'
There was a British proposal circa 1937 for a British bomber with such a system, Possibly Airspeed? Looked a bit like an early Boeing but with a rotary bomb bay. Will try to find the original article but it was published many years ago.
 

AeroFranz

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Sounds new to me. By all means share if you can find it! ;)
 

SOC

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No, they had true weapons bays.
 

sferrin

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flateric said:
...and again CodeOne Magazine rocks

A Martin technician inspects the six 750-pound bombs loaded on the innovative rotary launcher used on the XB-51 medium bomber prototype, circa 1949. The bombs, rockets, or other weapons would be loaded on to the door itself. Once hoisted up into the aircraft, the wheels would be removed and the weapon/door combination would be attached to a spindle at each end of the bomb bay. Near the target, the door and weapons would be rotated 180 degrees. The weapons would be released or fired and the now-empty door would rotate back into place. The system allowed for accurate bombing at relatively high speeds. Two XB-51s were built, but the Air Force's medium bomber competition went to the English Electra Canberra design, which Martin later built under license.

Airtime Publishing's Classic Wings issue on the XB-51 has a shot of the rotary bay door used with the 4000lb bomb. Bulges out quite a bit.
 
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joncarrfarrelly

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Spark said:
Hi'
There was a British proposal circa 1937 for a British bomber with such a system, Possibly Airspeed? Looked a bit like an early Boeing but with a rotary bomb bay. Will try to find the original article but it was published many years ago.

I believe you may be thinking of the Boulton-Paul P.79 to B.1/35 featured in 21st Profile Vol.2, No. 16.

The design featured rotary bomb dispensers, similar to the B-1B, rather than a rotary bomb bay.

Attached are the GA and bomb dispenser drawings from the article.

Jon
 

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AeroFranz

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wow, not what i was expecting but just as interesting. I wonder if the wing racks can be considered an early example of 'semi-conformal' carriage. I was also happy to find an explanation for the raked back windshield, which had always baffled me.
Thanks for posting that! :)
 

Pioneer

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verner said:
Didn't the F-111 and B-1B have these also?

Verner my friend I think they had conventional bomb bays (with the B-1B and the proposed 'FB-111H' utilizing a rotary launcher system within them.

Regards
Pioneer
 

F-14D

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One plane that we seem to be overlooking is the Thud, the F-105. I believe (I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong) it had a rotary bomb bay mostly intended for nukes, but theoretically conventional gravity bombs could be loaded. In practice, though, the bay was not used for ordnance but to carry a large internal fuel tank, as illustrated here.
 

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InvisibleDefender

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Now THAT'S a rotary launcher!!! ;D
 

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Madurai

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F-14D said:
One plane that we seem to be overlooking is the Thud, the F-105. I believe (I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong) it had a rotary bomb bay mostly intended for nukes, but theoretically conventional gravity bombs could be loaded. In practice, though, the bay was not used for ordnance but to carry a large internal fuel tank, as illustrated here.

The Thud's bay door didn't carry the load, but it did slide out of the way rather than being hinged.
 

F-14D

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Madurai said:
F-14D said:
One plane that we seem to be overlooking is the Thud, the F-105. I believe (I know someone will correct me if I'm wrong) it had a rotary bomb bay mostly intended for nukes, but theoretically conventional gravity bombs could be loaded. In practice, though, the bay was not used for ordnance but to carry a large internal fuel tank, as illustrated here.

The Thud's bay door didn't carry the load, but it did slide out of the way rather than being hinged.

Thanks for the correction. They were pretty strong doors, as they mounted full bombed-up pylons on them during the Vietnam War.
 

andy_d

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This is a naïve question, but when the Buccaneer had the bomb bay door fuel tank fitted, did the rotary bomb bay still work? Or did the tank fill the bay? I ask because the tank always appears 'bulged,' and it's hard to imagine how the door could rotate and release ordnance.
 

TomS

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Yes, the internal bay still worked even with the bomb door tank installed. The tank rotated into the space normally occupied by the bombs.
 
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