August 25, 2005

To Pick Or Not To Pick? 

I just read the latest DenBeste's (20050824) article on airplane design (inspired by the anime Porco Rosso) and I am torn: should I write my own article to correct some imprecision in his, or not? I know he hates nitpicking, but I spotted some statements rather off the mark - however, the overall meaning of that article does not change.

Update: I decided to go on with this, but more than a criticism my piece will be an integration.

Is a V engine an inline one? I think technically they're two different things, but it is also true that a V engine has two banks of cylinders in line. And both these engines are radically different from the radial ones - that's what matters.

The turbine blades of jet engines can be cooled (this may be a relatively new development) circluating cooler air in tiny channels inside the blade itself, but what is cooling is a relative concept: blades working at 1500 C are cooled by a circulation of air at 600 C, I have read - enough to glow dull red anyway. Modern turbine blades are single crystals of nickel silicide ceramic, covered with a thermal barrier layer presenting extreme resistance to high temperatures (alumina or similar materials). Turbine blades are very advanced objects with extreme performance; the materials available during WWII were much less performing. I happen to know a woman who did her PhD on turbine blades, by the way.

Steven's point, that an airplane design is based on the available propulsion systems (and that fantasy authors often get these things wrong) is valid nonetheless. There could be no Boeing 777 without the gigantic and impressive GE90 engines.


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