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How the future can revive the past

Discussion in 'Living History' started by JJWilson, Oct 10, 2017.

  1. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    I have been studying and reading about the war for the skies in WW2 since I was 6 years old, so about 11 years. I have also had the pleasure of seeing hundreds of warbirds fly in front of me in dozens of airshows throughout the United States and next year, Duxford England. Reading about warbirds like the P-51 and P-40 isn't nearly as exciting as seeing them grace the skies, and feel the reverberations through your body. Sadly Thousands of these beautiful aircraft were scrapped soon after the war, leaving only a handful left, and even fewer that could fly. Warbirds had the best chance of being saved by collectors and private owners, and yet many warbirds wouldn't fly again until the 70's or even later. Warbirds from other nations weren't so lucky. Axis warbirds were nearly wiped off the face of the planet, and Russian aircraft were just as rare. Thankfully a few aviation enthusiasts saved, restored, and re-built the metal birds of the Second World War for millions too see. However restoring warbirds is no easy or cheap task by any means at all. Fewer and fewer mechanics know how to fix the aging engines and work with older avionics and airframes. Speaking of engines, a Merlin engine (used in Spitfire, Hurricane, P-51) in relatively good shape is anywhere from 500,000 to 1 million U.S dollars now and days. This is part of the reason why there are so few flyable examples of warbirds today. But with the incredible advancement of technology, it seems there could possibly be an alternate method to restoring and maintaining warbirds..........3D printing. 3D printing is what many aviation experts believe is the future for warbirds. For right now 3D printing is still new and expensive technology, but it has the possibility of forever changing the aviation world as we know it. Where there are a lack of parts, 3D printers can make these parts quickly and efficiently. The only other problem is blue prints. Some warbird designs have been lost since the war (moslty Axis aircraft ) making it nearly impossible to attempt a re-build. Despite some of these setbacks I hope warbird restorations will become a common achievement for an inexpensive price.
    -Wilson

    Here are some numbers regarding flyable warbirds today compared to how many were produced:
    B-17 Flying Fortress- Total produced 12,731 Flying examples 11
    B-24 Liberator- Total produced 19,256 Flying examples 2
    B-29 Super Fortress- Total produced 3,970 Flying examples 2
    A-20 Havoc(Boston)- Total produced 7,478 Flying examples 1
    B-25 Mitchell- Total produced 9,618 Flying examples 44
    P-38 Lightning- Total produced 10,037 Flying examples 10
    P-40 Warhawk- Total produced 13,738 Flying examples 39
    P-47 Thunderbolt- Total produced 15,636 Flying examples 11
    P-51 Mustang - Total produced 15,813 Flying examples 376
    C-47 Skytrain- Total produced 11,174 Flying examples 400 approximately
    F4F Wildcat- Total produced 7,885 Flying examples 17
    F6F Hellcat- Total produced 12,275 Flying examples 7
    F4U Corsair- Total produced 12,571 Flying examples 32
    SBD Dauntless- Total produced 5,935 Flying examples 5
    TBM Avenger- Total produced 9,839 Flying examples 40
    PBY Catalina- Total produced 3,305 Flying examples 22
    Hawker Hurricane- Total produced 14,385 Flying examples 17
    Supermarine Spitfire- Total produced 20,351 Flying examples 52
    Bristol Blenheim- Total produced 4,422 Flying examples 1
    Avro Lancaster- Total produced 7,377 Flying examples 2
    Hawker Typhoon- Total produced 3,317 Flying examples 0
    I-16 Polikarpov- Total produced 8,644 Flying examples 5
    Mig-3- Total produced 3,422 Flying examples 3
    La-5- Total produced 9,925 Flying examples 0
    Yak-3- Total produced 4,848 Flying examples 7
    Il-2 Sturmovik- Total produced 36,183 Flying examples 1
    Tu-2 Tupolev- Total produced 2,257 Flying examples 0
    Bf-109- Total produced 33,984 Flying examples 10
    Bf-110- Total produced 6,170 Flying examples 0
    Fw-190- Total produced 20,709 Flying examples 3
    Me-262- Total produced 1,430 Flying examples 1
    Ju-52- Total produced 4,845 Flying examples 7
    Ju-87 Stuka- Total produced 6,501 Flying examples 1 (Does not fly)
    Ju-88- Total produced 15,138 Flying examples 0
    He-111- Total produced 6,508 Flying examples 0
    A6M Zero- Total produced 10,940 Flying examples 4 (1 original)
    Ki-43- Total produced 5,919 Flying examples 1 (Does not fly)
    D3A Val- Total produced 1,638 Flying examples 0 (One under restoration)
    B5N Kate- Total produced 1,149 Flying examples 0
    G4M Betty- Total produced 2,435 Flying examples 0
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I think there is about 5 CAC Boomerangs flying today...And the 3D idea is a good one, but not sure about engine parts...engine parts need serious strength and heat resistence. The frame and internals may be a snap for the technology though.
     
  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    Like you mentioned CAC not every component and part of a warbird can be printed but costs and time would go down significantly after a couple of years. A potential business idea is to make certain warbirds and sell them to the public, leaving the originals with museums and foundations. Single engine fighters mostly. The key with the bombers is to maintain them and keep up with parts......que 3D printer!
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    The 3D printer may be able to produce half sized (RC) versions pretty quickly...imagine a squadron of the same aircraft!
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    Good idea for RC makers indeed! They would save themselves and consumers a lot of time an pain.
     
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  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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  7. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    Interesting.......My knowledge on 3D printing is lacking, but if that printer is as efficient in making metal as they say, than the process could be even more successful and money friendly than I or probably anyone thought.
     
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  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    LIGHTSPEE3D!
     
  9. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    Your first comment mentioned the Boomerangs, I had no clue there are that many still flying! Australia and many other commonwealth countries take more interest in preserving history than the United States so it makes sense. But still, keeping 5 flyable aircraft out of what 200 some odd aircraft made is 4 or 5 times better than American warbird survivability percentages.
     
  10. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    We are hoarders! We don't throw out much...
    I understand the world having enough of war after 46...sick of the sight of war machines. I keep fantasising about some pristine WW2 aircraft in a secret stash underground...that the few who knew about it have died...imagine a garage of just built Me262s!
     
  11. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    A few months ago a man searching for some car parts traveled to a farm in Idaho where the owner had died a few months before. He found 3 or 4 mustangs in pretty much perfect condition, and around 14 unused brand new Merlin engines along with a couple of wings and other parts. That guy stumbled upon 20-25 million dollars worth of material. I would pass out and go into a joy induced coma if I found that!
     
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  12. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Wow...me too.
    The farmer probably just sat in his garage with a beer or joint and just breathed it all in...
     
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    You would need a lot of beer, and a couple of days to take it all in!
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My understanding is that it would be difficult to get many WWII planes certified for flight if you built new ones that were identical to the originals. Didn't the replication Me262 for instance have a better engine? I think it was a bit smaller as well. Now if you do sub scale models you don't need to stick with metal either which makes drones a very appealing proposition. You could even have mock combat with them.
     
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  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    And made cheaply enough to destroy...paint ball guns or pellets? Even put a go pro or better in the cockpit and either fly from a monitor or VR goggles...Tallyho!
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    cheap lasers and sensors could do the job as well and limit the replacement costs. I would imagine there would still be occasional collisions as well as damage from exceeding the controlled flight limits.
     
  17. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    I can see where you’re coming from...but the receivers of the lasers would have to be everywhere...part of the paint basically, otherwise you can’t paint over the sensors so the aircraft has no colour...and anyway, that’s a little boring...not much more than a super realistic computer game...go to a salt pan/desert and have teams a few km from each other...have a ceiling of say angels 1 or 2, and see who can climb and spot the other first...then it’s on! I wanna see the camera shudder when the four pellet guns or paint guns chatter...I wanna see bits coming off my opponent...will your wing man stay true? Probably not... : )
    A simple parachute deploy system could save most components...and anyway, the idea is to eventually just put the damage aircraft prices into a vat and melt it down to certain constituents...and remake the broken pieces...the cost just the power, and not even that if you have an eco house...(I’m talking from 10 years from now)
     
  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I don't think the receivers would have to as ubiquitous as you suggest. Laser beams do spread out. Your other comments on the other hand are quite valid. You could probably design it to take "damage" from lower powered pellets sort of like the model aircraft held together with rubber bands and the pieces that flew off could be recoverable in many cases. Of course you could have similar effect with computer programs that assessed damage and ejected the relevant parts. Might even want to have a couple of divisions. Learn with lasers and very minimal damage then move up to the more lifelike version once you were well enough versed in aerial combat (and provided you had the funds to do so)>
     
  19. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Yep...there would have to be a cheaper "learner" league...
     
  20. JJWilson

    JJWilson Member

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    With certain aircraft like the 262, they didn't even have the blueprints of the original engines, and even if they did they wouldn't use them (Jumo engines were prone to fire with rapid acceleration). For the B-29's Fifi and Doc they didn't use the original engines because they too had reliability issues. In terms of creating drones I think that would be a very expensive project that few would undertake just to potentially be damaged or destroyed. I do like the dog fighting idea though, but I think it is too expensive for companies to take the risk.
     

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