Category SUPERPLANES John Gabriel Navarra

SUPERPLANES John Gabriel Navarra

Oceans and mountains are no longer significant barriers to travel. In this age of jet aircraft the time it takes to cross such barriers is not very significant. Today it is possible to reach any location on this planet of ours in less than twenty-four hours.

The high-speed transportation of jet aircraft is available to almost everyone. Each day commercial airlines carry more than one-half million people on giant subsonic air­craft. High-performance military aircraft are streaking across the sky at twice the speed of sound. And commer­cial supersonic transports are carrying passengers from continent to continent.

Our present world-wide transportation network would not be possible without jet aircraft. The airplane is an im­portant part of our social, political, and economic life. In this book you will find information about some of the air­craft used in commercial and military aviation. In addition, you will find a section that details the use of aircraft for special purposes such as weather forecasting, astronomical observation, and surveying.


SUPERPLANES John Gabriel Navarra


A modern fighter aircraft is smaller than a bomber or a transport. But it is far from being a small airplane. It must be large enough, for example, to carry sufficient fuel to ac­complish its mission and return to its base. A modern fighter must also carry a heavy payload of cannon, air-to – air missiles, rockets, and guns.

A Lockheed F-104 Super Starfighter is shown in the photo on the next page. This plane has a speed of better than Mach 2. The Starfighter can operate at altitudes above 100,000 feet. An F-104 can climb as fast as it flies straight and level.

The F-104 has stubby knife-thin wings and a high T – shaped tail. From nose to tail the Starfighter measures 54 feet, 9 inches. It stands 13 feet, 6 inches high and has a wingspan of 21 feet, 11 inches.

Some F-104S are assigned to the Air Defense Command. These Starfighters are being used as air-defense fighters. This means that they are designed and equipped for attack against enemy bombers that are unprotected by enemy fighters. Thus, an air-defense fighter carries rockets. Radar equipment on board is used to find the enemy aircraft and aim the rockets at the incoming bombers.




An F-шА is shown in the photo above. This plane is a tactical fighter. As a tactical fighter its mission may involve an air attack on enemy ground forces or positions. Such an aerial attack is often undertaken in close support of friendly ground forces.

The F-111 was developed by General Dynamics in 1964. Two basic models were put into service in 1967: the F-111A and the F-111B. The F-111A is used as a tactical fighter by the U. S. Air Force. The second model, the F-111B, is operated from the decks of aircraft carriers by the U. S. Navy.

Two other types of F-ins using the same basic design have been built: the RF-шА and the FB-111. The RF – 111A is a reconnaissance fighter. And the FB-111 is a stra­tegic bomber.

The F-111 is a variable-wing aircraft. This means that its wings can be moved into various positions. When a slow takeoff is desired, the wings are extended or placed in a position that is almost perpendicular to the fuselage. In flight, the variable-sweep wings can be folded or swept back into a triangular or delta configuration. The delta configuration is used when very high speeds are desired at both low – and high-flight altitudes.

The wings are usually extended during takeoff and land­ing. The extended or perpendicular position with a wing­span of 63 feet provides maximum lift. When the wings are extended, less than 3,000 feet of runway are required for takeoff and landing. The position of the wings shown in the photo of the F-111A is an intermediate angle be­tween the perpendicular and the delta positions. In the delta position, the wingspan is a mere 32 feet.

The F-111 is a 72-foot-long supersonic aircraft. It has a maximum speed of Mach 2.5 at 60,000 feet. The F-111 has a range of 5,000 miles without refueling. This means that it can be sent on transoceanic missions. In addition, how­ever, this aircraft is equipped so it can be refueled in flight.

The F-111 is equipped to carry both conventional and nuclear weapons. Its armament includes air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and rockets.

Commercial Aircraft

Today the airline industry is large and varied. If you want to fly nonstop from New York to San Francisco, you can make a reservation on any of a number of domestic com­mercial airline flights. An around-the-world tour is ar­ranged through an international commercial airline.

Much of the success of an airline stems from the careful selection of the aircraft it uses. Other things being equal, airline passengers favor the airline that gets them there first. Speed is one of the factors in attracting passengers. There is a constant race among the airlines to be the first with newer, larger, and faster planes.

The design of an airliner evolves slowly. It is usually a compromise between what several airlines want. The pres­ent realities also play an important part in the design of a commercial airliner. For example, the sudden jump in the cost of jet fuel has made a lot of the aircraft currently flying too costly. And other aircraft are too noisy to meet the new environmental rules! The airliner of the future must be quiet and it must be economical to fly.


Modern bomber aircraft are streamlined giants. They are equipped with the best jet engines, which produce speeds that compare favorably with fighter aircraft. Bombers nor­mally have extensive ranges. And when a bomber is equipped for aerial refueling, it has a virtually unlimited range.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is the last of the so – called “conventional bombers/’ The first B-52 was flown in April 1952. The last Stratofortress came off the production line in 1962.

The B-52 was designed as a nuclear bomber. Its belly is divided into two separate bomb bays to carry two nuclear weapons. As many as twelve Short Range Attack Missiles (SRAM) can be carried externally under the wings.

The last of the B-52S built has a wingspan of 185 feet. From nose to tail, the plane is 160 feet long. The B-52 is

powered by eight jet engines that push it through the air at 650 miles per hour. Its unrefueled range is more than

6,0 miles, and the plane normally flies above 50,000 feet.

The Stratof or tress carries a crew of six. There are two pilots, a navigator, a radar bombardier, an electronic coun­termeasures officer, and a fire-control director who sits in the forward section of the aircraft. The tail guns are trained through the use of radar that is mounted in the tail.

A Convair B-58 Hustler is shown above in the process of completing an aerial refueling. The B-58 is a Mach 2 bomber that was first flown on November 11, 1956. The Hustler was the first supersonic bomber in the world.

The B-58 with an overall length of 97 feet is much shorter than the B-52. The B-58S delta wing spans almost 57 feet. The delta-wing design of the B-58 requires that all takeoffs and landings be made at high speeds. The takeoff speed of a B-58 is often above 230 miles per hour. Its landing speed is as high as 190 miles per hour.

The B-58 shown above carries a three-man crew consist­ing of the aircraft commander, bombardier navigator, and the defense-systems operator. The entire wing and most of the fuselage behind the cockpit are used to store more than fifty tons of fuel. The weapons payload—18,000 pounds of bombs—is carried beneath the aircraft in a long pod. The pod can be seen in the photo; it is numbered B-1105.

A photo of the B-i strategic bomber is shown on page 53. This aircraft was developed by the Air Force to mod­ernize its bomber fleet. The first flight of a B-i took place on December 23, 1974. A rather extensive flight test pro­gram was developed by the Air Force for the B-i.

The В-1 is a variable-wing bomber. In the extended or forward position the wingspan is 135 feet. In the folded or swept-back position the wingspan is 78 feet. The swing wing allows the B-i to perform efficiently at low and high speeds.

At low, slow speeds a straight wing is much more efficient than a swept wing. During takeoffs, landings, air­borne loiter, and aerial refueling there is a distinct advan­tage to being able to place the B-Ts wings in a straight or forward position.

Four powerful jet engines give the 150-foot-long B-i a top speed of Mach 2.1, which is approximately 1,350 miles per hour. For high-speed supersonic flight at both low – level and high altitudes, there is a definite advantage to having the wings in a swept position.


Scheduled commercial aviation began on April 6, 1926. On that historic day, the small Swallow biplane—shown in the photo below—lifted into the air at Pasco, Washington, and flew toward Elko, Nevada, 487 miles away. The cargo on board was sixty-four pounds of mail.

Interest in flying was high in the 1920s. People wanted to go along as passengers on the mail planes. The only space available for a passenger, however, was in the open cockpit along with the mail sacks!

The first airplane designed for passengers had a forward cabin. But the pilot flew in an open cockpit. Passengers are in the process of boarding the Boeing 40B-4 shown in the upper photo opposite. There was space for four passengers in the forward cabin area between the wings. The Boeing 40B-4 was in service in 1926. It soared along at 110 miles per hour.

The forerunner of the all-metal airliner was the sleek


Boeing Monomail. This single-engine plane had cabin space for passengers just forward of the open cockpit. The Monomail—shown in the lower photo on page n— had re­tractable landing gear.

By 1930, the Boeing 80A, a tri-engine plane, was the last word in comfort. It featured cushioned seats and wide windows. Twelve passengers traveled in relative comfort between San Francisco and Chicago on the flight shown in the photo above.

In the photo, the Boeing 80A is flying just north of Chicago’s Loop. The Chicago of today is quite different from the Chicago of 1930. But some familiar landmarks can be seen in the photo. In the background at the upper left you can see the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower.

The first Douglas DC-3 was flown on December 17, 0.935. The DC-3 became the workhouse of the airlines. It was the first airliner capable of earning a profit carrying only passengers. The industry put these planes into service as fast as they could be produced. More than 10,000 DC – 3s were built and about 1,000 are still in service through­out the world.

The DC-3 shown below was designed for twenty-one passengers. It has a wingspan of 95 feet and a length of almost 65 feet. A maximum speed of 230 miles per hour is developed at 9,000 feet. The DC-3’s cruising speed is 155 miles per hour. It has a range of 1,300 miles and a service ceiling of 29,000 feet.


A military air transport is an aircraft designed for the movement of cargo and passengers. Transports usually have the capability of being modified so they can be used for special missions. For example, the photo below shows the interior of a C-141 modified to provide litters, oxygen equipment, and the facilities necessary for the air evacua­tion of wounded.

A Lockheed C-141 Starlifter is shown in the photo on the opposite page. The Military Airlift Command began using these planes in 1963. The C-141 has a maximum takeoff weight of around 320,000 pounds. Today the C-141 is used primarily for carrying troops.

The C-141 has a 145-foot fuselage. It has a wingspan of 160 feet. The T-tail stands 39 feet high. The C-141 has four fanjet engines. Each of the engines develops 21,000 pounds of thrust, which allow the C-141 to cruise at more than 500 miles per hour.

The C-141 can carry troops in airline-type seats. Study the photo of the C-141 interior on the opposite page. There are seven rows of airline-type seats behind the lit­ters.

The C-141 was the first pure jet aircraft specifically de­signed and built to meet military standards as a troop and cargo carrier. This four-engine, T-tailed jet regularly flies nonstop from Dover Air Foce Base in Delaware to Ger­many. It can fly nonstop from San Francisco to Tokyo.

The gigantic С-5 Galaxy, put into service in 1970, is modeled after the C-141. But it is much larger than the C-141. The C-5, for example, has a maximum takeoff weight of 760,000 pounds. This is almost two and one-half times greater than the C-141S takeoff weight.

The C-5 is just about 248 feet long. It has a wingspan of almost 223 feet. The T-tail of the C-5 reaches 65 feet into the air.

The C-5 has unique front and rear cargo openings. The visor-nose opening at the front of the plane can be seen in the lower photo on the opposite page. The cargo compart­ment is 121 feet long, 13.5 feet high, and 19 feet wide. The C-s’s cargo floor area is triple that of the C-141 Starlifter. And the volume of the C~5’s cargo hold is four and one-half times larger than that of the C-141.

The C-5 does not carry troops in the cargo compart­ment. The second story or upper deck, however, has sev­enty-three seats that are in a rear compartment. Drivers and operators of equipment being airlifted use the seats available in the rear compartment on the upper deck. The forward compartment on the upper deck has accommo­dations for a six-man crew, a six-man relief crew, and eight couriers. The flight deck, of course, has the work sta­tions for the crew.

Four jet engines are mounted on pylons beneath the wing. The average cruise speed of the C-5 is 520 miles per hour. The Galaxy flies above 35,000 feet and has a range of 6,300 miles with 100,000 pounds of cargo. The maxi­mum load it can carry is 255,000 pounds.






Air transportation was revolutionized when jet aircraft re­placed piston-driven planes. The graceful French Caravelle with twin engines mounted aft made its first flight in 1955. On July 14, 1961, the speedy Caravelle—shown in the photo below—was the first two-engined jet to enter service within the United States. It was used on short-to-medium – range flights—especially the Chicago to New York run.

A return to American built tri-motor aircraft was made when Boeing introduced its 727. The three powerful fanjet

engines of the Boeing 727 are nestled at the rear of the airplane. This sleek 6oo-mile-per-hour jet can carry from 96 to 113 passengers on short-to-medium-range flights.

Three other entries in the tri-motor class can be seen



on page 16. They are Lockheed’s L-1011 Tristar, the Hawker Siddeley Trident, and the Douglas DC-10. The Tristar—shown in the lower right photo—is capable of car­rying more than 250 passengers. The DC-10, called an airbus, is a fat-fuselage plane that is 20 feet wide. The



THE JET AGEairbus—shown in the lower left photo—can cruise at 600 miles per hour and carry more than 300 passengers for dis­tances of 3,000 miles. The Trident—shown in the upper photo on page 16—is a large-capacity, short-range aircraft. The British Trident can carry up to 180 passengers over a range of 1,500 miles.

On long hauls, the workhorse jets of the 1960s were the Boeing 707s and the Douglas DC-8s. But fuel and other operating costs skyrocketed during the 1970s. And as a re­sult, airlines found that they needed to fill more than 60 percent of the seats on these planes just to break even. In the competitive market of today, especially on international flights, it is difficult for these older aircraft—the DC-8 shown above, for example—to make money for their oper­ators.

In order to hold costs down and increase profits, the air­lines have turned to the jumbo jets. The long-haul work­horse of today is the Boeing 747. It is an aircraft that is very efficient.

The 747 can carry up to 490 passengers. The 231-foot – long craft cruises at 625 miles per hour, and it has a range of more than 5,000 miles. The 747 can weigh up to 712,000 pounds at takeoff.

The 747 s cabin is 20 feet wide and nearly 186 feet long. It is partitioned into five sections, which gives a passenger the feeling of being seated in a small theater. Movies are shown on screens in each section.

Economy seating is nine abreast with two aisles. Each aisle is 20 inches wide, which is sufficient to permit passen­gers to move about. First-class seating is four abreast with one center aisle. There are six galleys for preparing and serving food, and there are twelve lavatories for the con­venience of the passengers.

The 747 s wingspan is 195 feet. A single wing on this giant jet weighs 28,000 pounds. And the wing area of 5,500 feet is larger than a basketball court!

A 747 carries its own weather radar system. The on­board radar allows a pilot to detect a storm up to 300 miles away. The pilot can use the radar to study the storm and plot a safe course.

The Boeing 747 is equipped with two special naviga­tional systems. The systems are self-contained and do not rely on outside radio or radar signals. This unique naviga­tional equipment makes the jet’s exact position available to the pilot at all times. When the special navigation equip­ment is connected to the autopilot, the system automat­ically steers the aircraft.





Special Aircraft

The traditional purpose of aircraft has been to provide a means of transportation for people and cargo. In this third section, you will read about helicopters, VTOLs, and the space shuttle program. Each of these machines is designed to accomplish the task of transporting people and cargo in a very special way.

Many agencies of government are beginning to find that their missions can best be accomplished by the use of air­craft. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis­tration, a branch of the United States Department of Com­merce, for example, has found that specially outfitted aircraft can provide valuable information about the atmos­phere and the ocean. In addition, specially equipped re­search aircraft are being used by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to make surveys of the Earth’s surface and objects in space.

Private companies are finding that aircraft can help them in their tasks, too. The Zapata Corporation, for exam­ple, is a company that uses modern technology to good ad­vantage. They have found a very important use for a spe­cially equipped light plane.


An airport complex consists of runways, taxiways, terminal buildings, service areas, hangars, landing aids, and access roads. The aerial view of New York’s La Guardia Airport on the opposite page shows all the parts that make up an airport.

At the top of the photograph, two of La Guardia’s run­ways project on piles over the water of Flushing Bay. Hangars at the left – and right-hand edge of the photo flank the passenger terminal.

A huge five-level parking garage, which accommodates almost 3,000 cars, is in the foreground of the photo. Two passageways connect the parking facility with the central passenger terminal.

La Guardia Airport has a 150-foot-high control tower. The tower is located in the westernmost arcade of the pas­senger terminal at the left of the aerial photo. The control tower—designed in the shape of a flared urn—has twelve working levels.

The success of the airlines in the 1960s caused many problems on the ground: Airport facilities throughout the country were inadequate for the traffic. In the late 1960s, for example, Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was handling 600,000 takeoffs and landings a year—more than one a

minute. Airports serving other major cities also found it difficult to accommodate all the aircraft landing and taking off. During periods of bad weather the problems multi­plied. There were long delays on the ground and in the air!

New and larger airports were built throughout the United States to solve the problems of handling commer­cial flights. Most plans to avoid airport crowding recognize the need to establish a system of airports in and around, major cities. New York City—a city hemmed in by other urban areas—has such a system.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey oper­ates Newark Airport, Kennedy International Airport, and La Guardia Airport. Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, which is used for business and private aircraft, serves as a reliever airport. In other words, Teterboro is used to re­duce congestion at the three primary airports. A second reliever airport is operated at Farmingdale, New York.

Newark Airport is located on 2,300 acres of land be­tween the New Jersey Turnpike and U. S. Route 1. The basic plan of the airport can be seen in the aerial photo on the opposite page. The central passenger area consists of three terminal units. Three jet parking areas are attached to each terminal unit. Two of the terminal units with their six jet parking areas were in full operation when this photo was taken. Only two of the jet parking areas at the third terminal unit had been built at this time.

Runways are the areas on which airplanes make their takeoff roll. A runway is also the area on which a landing airplane touches down. The major runways at Newark Air­port are clearly visible in the photo.

Note the two parallel runways just below the six jet parking areas at Newark. These runways stretch for 8,200

feet from left to right across the photo. Can you see that the right-hand end of each of these runways is marked with the number 22?

A runway is marked to the nearest 10 degrees of the compass heading on which it is laid out. The last zero of the compass heading is omitted. Thus, the number 22 on a runway stands for a compass heading of 220 degrees. This means that a plane approaching these parallel runways from the right of the photo is on a heading of 220 degrees. The opposite ends of these runways are marked with the number 4, designating a compass heading of 40 degrees.

There is a third runway at Newark Airport. This third runway, located at the right of the unfinished terminal unit, is numbered 29 at the one end and 11 at the other end. An airplane approaching this runway from the bottom of the photo is on a heading of 290 degrees.


Most helicopters flying today use simple rotating blades to get lift and control. A main rotating blade lifts the craft. The small blade at the tail helps the pilot to move the hel­icopter in different directions.

The tail blade does something else, too. It balances the twisting forces of the main blade. Without the tail blade the cabin of the helicopter would spin like a top.

Sikorsky Aircraft s ABC helicopter is shown in the photo below. The ABC does not have a tail blade. It has two main blades. One is placed above the other. These blades rotate in opposite directions. They balance each other and the cabin does not spin.

The ABC in the photo is flying over the Connecticut countryside. The tail with movable parts allows the pilot to change direction. This new tail feature gives the pilot greater control of the craft and offers improved maneu – ■ verability.





Sikorsky Aircrafts twin-turbine-powered S-76 shown above has a four-blade main rotor. No wheels can be seen in the photo. The wheels are retractable. The S-76 carries up to twelve passengers plus a crew of two. It has a maxi­mum cruise speed of 179 miles per hour and a range of 460 miles.


The instrument panel of the S-76 is shown below. IFR equipment is installed. The S-76 is equipped with com­munication and navigation aids for all-weather operation.

The Sikorsky S-58T—shown in the photos on this page—is a medium-lift helicopter. The S-58T above is heading for a drop zone on the shore in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The helicopter is carrying a load of cement from one of the ships waiting in the harbor. Helicopter unload­ing is being used because Jeddah’s dock facilities are not adequate for the amount of shipping coming into the port.

The Sikorsky S-61 can carry thirty passengers plus its crew. This helicopter has a cruise speed of 140 miles per hour and a range of about 500 miles. Okanagan Helicop­ters in Canada and New York Airways in the United States put the S-61 to good use in passenger service.


The S-61 gives good reliable service. One of these trans­port helicopters operated by the Evergreen Company is shown landing on a drilling rig in the Gulf of Alaska. High winds, heavy seas, ice, rain, and snow are constant threats to operations in these waters.