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THE B 60 BOMBER NEVER HAD A CHANCE by Joseph Stanovsky PhD

2013 by J.S. ABSTRACT This paper describes an engineers observations about the elimination of one good product with the acceptance of another, supposedly selected in a competition. The two products evaluated by government agencies were the newly designed and recently built airplanes: the Boeing B 52 and the Convair B 60. In late 1953 the B 52 was selected as part of the arsenal of the Strategic Air Command of the U S AirForce. A consequence, the B 60 project ended crisply, the construction contract to build more B 36 bombers was cancelled and all B 36 airplanes then in use were ordered destroyed. That is, the B 36 was cut into pieces of about 12 inches in length. The Boeing Airplane Company began the new and original design of the B 52 in 1952. In contrast, the B 60 was to be the metamorphosis of the B 36 from six internal combustion engines and four jet engines to a swept wing version of the B 36 with new and more powerful jet engines. The evaluation of these two airplanes was made difficult because the two units had such different characteristics. The bomb bay of the B 60 was wider and longer than that of the B 52, the bomb load of a B 60 was several times more than the capacity of the B 52, and a fully loaded B 36 could fly at an altitude of 70,000 feet and the B 60 flight tests indicated were similar whereas Boeing claimed the limit for the B 52 was 34,000 feet. It was determined from flight tests that the maximum speed of a B 52 at sea level was greater than that of the B 60. The tests and decisions were made in the District of Columbia when the President was Dwight Eisenhower and the vice president was Richard Nixon. Political ideas of that era can be established by reading about the activities of Senators in the 83rd U S Congress. Consider eleven senators from that era: John F Kennedy, Prescott Bush, Joseph McCarthy, Price Daniel, Lyndon Johnson, Warren G Magnusen, Henry M Jackson, William Purtell, Estes Kefauver, Barry Goldwater and Roman Hruska. INTRODUCTION The principal purpose of this paper is to describe as many of the details used by the DCers to select a Boeing 8-jet B 52 bomber rather than the 8-jet General Dynamics B 60. The B 52 was Boeings new design whereas each of Convairs B 36 bombers was to be modified into a bigger and faster B 60 swept wing bomber. This paper also describes the work done by test engineers in the Fort Worth Convair plant between 1951-1953. Supposedly, it was at the end of the review that the Boeing B 52 was selected and in order to end all future speculations about possible uses for the B 36 the B 36 fleet was summarily ordered scrapped (some say the B 36 was cut into 12 inch segments). The initial price of a B 52 was $22,500,000. The cost of metamorphosis, from a B 36 to a swept wing B 60 with 8-jet engines, was only $9,500,000. BOEING AIRPLANES Boeing aircraft had been used in military service for a long time. Boeing P 12 fighters were used by the Army Air Corps between 1929 and 1935. The 1930 design


THE B 52 OR THE B 60
of the Boeing B 17 bomber was introduced to the Army in 1932. The B 17 saw service throughout World War II. After its first flight in 1942 the Boeing B 29 became the largest bomber on active service during the cold war. In 1952 the B 52 was the replacement for the Convair B 36. The Boeing B 52 was built from 1952 to 1962 and remanufactured often. The B 52 had new features. One of the difficult features to accept, then and now, was the location of the landing gear --- in the bomb bay. That feature fueled arguments for not selecting the B 52. Another argument for not selecting the B 52 was the weight of the bomb load. The maximum B 52 bomb load was 70,000 pounds but less than that if the bomb bay was fitted to carry only 500 pound bombs. The first flight of the B 52 was in April 1952. The maximum speed of a B 52, fully loaded, was about 300 miles per hour at an altitude less 34,000 foot. The initial selling price was $22,500,000 but the Airforce actually paid three times more because the wing of the first units built were so flexible that first flights taxed the skills of experienced pilots. That was due to the fact that a pilots command to turn left did begin with a turn to the left but the wings twist. It was the deformed shape of the wing that caused the plane to turn right. A contract to build a new airplanes with this built-in flaw would have been immediately cancelled. Even with this usually fatal news DC someones did make a quick decision to continue building B 52 airplanes in Seattle, then these useless airplanes were flown to Kelly Airforce in San Antonio, often described as a one time flight to a repair center. Actually, the B 52 was not repaired. It was rebuilt. This process required dismantling the B52, which included most of the electrical cables and fuel lines, removing the engines from the wing support structure and the wing removed. A new and stiffer wing was designed, manufactured and then shipped from Wichita Kansas to San Antonio Texas. Next came the rebuilding process. The new wing was installed along with the 8-jet engines. Afterwards, airplane mechanics had to do all of the fiddly bits that make a new airplane fly (calibration, vibration tests, test flights and more). It was the second building after every B 52 in San Antonio was first built in Seattle. It was a process that was expensive and a most abnormal second chance. How much this second building project cost was not publicly known but it was likely more than three times the first purchase price. The narrow width and length of the B 52 bomb bay (compare B 52 measurements to those of the B 60) were made narrow and shorter because the main landing gear was located in the bomb bay center. The B 52 could not carry a bomb of long length, say 50 feet, nor could it carry a large diameter heavy bomb, say 50,000 pounds. In order for the B 52 to eventually carry nuclear bombs the laboratories at Sandia New Mexico and Oak Ridge Tennessee and other research centers had to to find a way to build smaller atomic bombs. Eventually they did, but the cost of re-building the nuclear arsenal to make them lighter in weight, shorter in length and smaller in diameter was a cost borne by US Tax payers and never added to the $22,500,000 paid by the Airforce for each built and rebuilt B 52. CONVAIR AIRPLANES Consolidated Vultee Airplane of San Diego supplied the US Army Air Corps with B 24 Liberator Bombers during WW II. The US Navy accepted many PBY Catalina airplanes that were designed to take off or land on the surface of an ocean, sea or lake. The Convair built B 32 was also used during WWII. The design of the B 36 was started at the Consolidated Vultee plant in San Diego and scheduled to be built at the San Diego plant. But for many reasons DCers slowed


THE B 60 OR THE B 52
the construction schedule down so that Convair selected other building projects for the San Diego plant (a jet commercial airplane and the Atlas rocket). Thus, the San Diego B 36 project was moved to the Air Force Plant in Fort Worth. The first B 36 flight took place in 1946, a year after the war in Europe ended and at the time the war in the Pacific ends. The B 36 was never used in war. The B 36 was a very large airplane. The wing was long and deep. I could stand inside the wing fuel box and not touch the structure above. The wing was more than seven feet deep with tunnels built into the wing box that mechanics could use to check engines during a flight; sometimes to tune, repair or put out small fuel fires. These fires were thought to occur because the fuel carburetor overheated. The carburetors were located farthest from the propellor, a location prone to freezing and overheating in the B 36. Both events caused power difficulties. Freezing eliminated an engine whereas fires were the result of overheating. During WWII internal combustion engines were all built the same way but when the engine was installed in a puller type airframe, like the B 17, the carburetor was located in a well ventilated warm place and likewise far from the propellor. The dimensions of the B 36 Bomb Bay were very wide, very long and very high. It was constructed like a welded steel highway truss made aerodynamically smooth by a thin, light weight magnesium sheath. Together, magnesium and steel promote long lasting hot fires. Unfortunately, this B 36 feature was used by detractors to describe the materials used in the B 36 as design and construction flaws. The intense fires just mentioned were seen only in fatal B 36 crashes, but all airplanes burn after crashing. At least all big airplanes do! The B 36 could carry 10 times the bomb weight carried by a B 17; fly fully loaded, without refueling a round-trip of 10,000 miles; fly fully loaded to altitudes of 70,000 feet; make short radius 180 degree turns at 70,000 feet with roll angles of 60 degrees. Tests showed that fighter planes of that era could neither threaten or approach a B 36 flying at high altitudes because thin wing fighters stalled during a short radius turn. When the B 36 was in use by the Strategic Air Command headed by General Curtis Le May some operational terminology influenced the myth and vocabulary of the men flying this hugh machine. One phrase, repeated here, takes place at the time of take off when it was necessary for the senior flight engineer to advise the captain about the status of the engines. Of the several brief and informative responses used there is one that is known to many. A flight engineers mantra: six turning and four burning, Sir. IN THE TEST LABORATORY AT CONVAIR In August 1949 I was appointed a Teaching Fellow in The Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Texas in Austin. In January 1951 I received the degree of Master of Science in Civil Engineering with a minor in Engineering Mechanics. Armed with 14 months of structural design work at Austin Brothers Steel in Dallas and the MS degree I became a Senior Test Engineer at Convair. I wore a candy stripe button (identifies salaried engineers). Rudy Dvorak wore a Red Button. He was my supervisor. Ralph Reed was supervisor of all supervisors in the Test Lab, including Rudy. Ralph Reed had a supervisor too; Henry Growald. Supervising all was August Essenwein, a Convair Corporation Vice President and a Fort Worth resident. I had many conversations with Felix Quirino, a Red button of test engineers with special educations in electrical engineering. There are three test engineers in Rudys group I remember, they are: Joyanto Sen, Tom Love and Robert Saunders. There were work tables, machine shop tools, and test equipment filling the space of this large building. The floor area and the total volume of the building was such that a B 36 could fit inside. The men in this machine shop were mechanics skilled in several


THE B 52 OR THE B 60
kinds of specialties --- carpentry, electrical power distribution, mechanical systems and more. These men worked at benches or lathes and such like equipment. They could quickly make, assemble and operate any part a test engineer might design to test the strength or utility of a small or large component and also satisfy a wide variety of other requests. FICON The design, manufacturing, testing and the utilization of Ficon was all done at the Fort Worth Air Force Plant then staffed and managed by Convair of San Diego. Ficon was both a simple idea and a complex mechanism. The impressive long distance flights of the B 36 coupled with the short distance but fast flying attributes of a swept wing jet airplane made by Republic Aviation are the key ingredients of Ficon. There was structure added to the F 85 and a grasp and deploy mechanism built into the bomb bay of a B 36. A common feature of both structure and mechanism were the three support mechanisms added to the F 85 and the three catch and drag supports built into a trapeze-like mechanism attached to the inside of a B 36 bomb bay. When completed, Ficon worked: the B 36 with the trapeze stowed would take off and rendezvous with the F 85 at an altitude of about 12,000 feet. The Ficon trapeze was lowered about 18 feet. The B 36 increases its speed and flies a straight and level flight condition while the F 85 pilot decreases its speed while at the same time moves slowly under the B 36. The grab and drag mechanism built into the F 85 was attached about 10 inches forward of the wind screen and at eye level of the pilot. On approach the pilot can see the latch mechanisms on both F 85 and the trapeze. When the F 85 is captured, the pilot is to move the horizontal stabilizer tail locks (the side supports). This vertical F 85 motion is rotary motion about the connecting latch and the noise of the two wing supports latching tells the pilot to turn the engine off and just sit calmly while the Ficon trapeze with the F 85 attached is lifted into the bomb bay. Airmen help the pilot exit the F 85 and to the aft waiting room. There he will occupy his time planning a low altitude photographic trip somewhere far away. With the F 85 and pilot safely on board the B 36 climbs to altitude, but unseen and not heard, heads for its destination. With those destination conditions satisfied the B 36 is guided to 12,000 feet and with the F 85 pilot back in the cockpit the Ficon trapeze is lowered. The pilot unlatches the F 85 from the trapeze so that the jet plane drops another 25 or 50 feet below and behind the B 36. The powerless F 85 glides downward. Along the way down the pilot must start the jet engine. The B 36 must wait for the return of the F 85 while it is away photographing its target. Eventually the F 85 returns and the B 36 speeds up. The F 85 pilot connects to Ficon and is retrieved. When the F 85 and its pilot are safely on board the B 36 goes up to a higher altitude and travels homeward. There were many tests performed, some were to determine feasibility while other tests about strength and stiffness of the mechanism were performed early. There were three ways a pilot could separate the F 85 from the Ficon trapeze: (1) a lever in the pilots compartment which when pulled separates the two airplanes (it does no damage and is reuseable on second attempts), (2) an electrical device, and (3) an explosive bolt. All three systems were thoroughly tested before they were installed. Rudy assigned me to examine the explosive bolt method. This bolt was the drag latch the pilot could see during each catch. The bolt was made explosive by a 2 inch long 1/4 inch diameter dynamite squid that was to be exploded by an action of the pilot. The explosive cap was made effective by a sharp, centrally located stress concentration feature so the bolt would cleanly separate into two parts. With the bolt


THE B 60 OR THE B 52
out the connection between F 85 and Ficon trapeze is broken. This is a mechanism that always worked in every test. However, if a pilot used this escape method there was no chance for a second try. Should that time ever occur it was the time for the F 85 pilot to have creative thoughts. I ask Rudy if I can do the test outside. He made inquiries but eventually was told OK for an outside test. The mechanic talked to his foreman about the bolt containing structure I designed. The foreman talked to Rudy and then Rudy talked to me. It seems the foreman had experience with dynamite squids and thought several drapes of heavy cotton canvas was all that was necessary. He convinces Rudy. Rudy says use the cotton canvas. I dropped a note on his desk, I do not take this risk. I saw him read it. In a while he came to see me and says Ill be responsible for this test set up. OK? Both Rudy and the foreman helped supervised the hang of the canvas and even added a fold or two more of the cloth. There were other men skilled in explosives that Rudy invited. Finally, all was ready. The latch mechanism supported several kirksite bars that weighed a total of 450 pounds. Finally, the foreman fires the dynamite squid. The latch separates and the kirksite bars fall about 6 inches into a box of sand. Rudy and I and a cast of many look for two parts of the bolt. We found one, it came out of the test contraption, struck the brick wall of the test lab building, about 6 feet away, then bounced back into the shrouds of cotton canvas. We look in the direction of its likely travel. There was a chain link fence about 100 feet away and beyond that was a parked B 36. Rudy had to get special permission for us to enter the place where the B 36 was parked. Eventually we got in and found the other half of the bolt about 800 feet away from where it started. On our way out I walked under the parked B 36. Rudy and foreman join me. They thought I was looking at the beast itself. I was, but what I saw was a 4 foot long scratch or crease on the underside of the fuselage. We walked away, quietly, but Rudy, the foreman and I knew that we missed hitting a fully loaded, parked B 36. This explosive bolt figured in two later events. The first of these was between me and the test pilot. Our conversation took place after he had been briefed on his assigned task. He came to the test lab looking for Rudy. That done Rudy invites me to meet the test pilot. The pilot and I walk and talk. In the briefing conference the pilot heard of Rudys test group and Rudy thought I might be able to explain the tests performed. The test pilot asks about the three emergency escape methods plus the normal one. I explain that I was asked to check out all four methods. I had three test engineers repeat each test. We were just checking to see if they worked. Mechanical engineers did the design and testing of the lever built in the pilot house, electrical engineers did the design and testing of the basic system and the electrical emergency system. The only thing I worked on was the exploding bolt system. The pilot asks if any of the tests had failed to work. My answer was simple. I didnt know. I did add that the explosive bolt tests I ran always worked. Design engineers in the long building had that one figured dead on. The pilot asks a question about the number of tests performed on the explosive bolt escape system. My answer was many. He politely says goodbye, leaves but just waves at Rudy. The test pilot was not again in the test lab for about 6-weeks. The day he appeared in the test lab occurred on the day of his first test flight. The B 36 waited for the F 85 at an altitude of 12,000 feet. There was a small, 2-engine airplane assigned to watch and photograph the first catch and grasp of the F 85. The details of that first attempt were never described to me clearly. I heard stories from several participants. There was a story about the first connection that is easily summarized: dont do this if winds at 12,000 feet are gusty. As best we could determine the photographic and verbal comments the pilot had made during the fuselage latch did connect but wind


THE B 52 OR THE B 60
turbulence caused the light plane to roll first one way and then another. In order to escape the connection and loud wing support noises the pilot actuates the explosive bolt. It works. The F 85 is clear of Ficon but the jet engine flames out at the start of his get away dive. The F 85 pilot was able to start the engine again and get into level flight. However, he was then at an altitude of 2600 feet. Soon he was back at Carswell, lands and taxies to the Convair site he had departed earlier. He spoke to no one. He marches into the test lab, straight to my desk and declares that the explosive bolt worked. Then he turns and leaves. We never try to recover pieces of the explosive bolt. It probably rests on land of the 6666 ranch (4-sixes). There was a photograph showing the bolt would likely hit the airplane carrying photographers but the slug just missed its target. There were several tests at the beginning of the Ficon program. One of these were measurements used to calculate its flying qualities. Among these tests were the as built dimensions of the F 85; location of the center of gravity; the minimum moments and products of inertia, best described today as distributions of mass and symmetry. Test engineers Sen, Love and Saunders help make the measurements just cited and helped to suspend the F 85 from the ceiling structure for pendulum tests. The F 85 was tethered to the wall by a piece of hemp rope for several pendulum swing tests. What was so peculiar about each test was the way Love severed the rope connecting F 85 to the stationary wall. Tom Love stands on top bar of ladder and cuts the rope with a hatchet. Rudy approves the method but did chuckle when he watches an early test. BOMB DROP MECHANISMS One test that was repeated on 50 bomb drop mechanisms that had been purchased by the Air Force for another airplane. The test was to determine the durability of each mechanism. A bomb drop mechanism was to be tested as if had been installed in the bomb bay of an Airforce Plane with its rack loaded with bombs, flown to a war or training site where the bombs are dropped. The estimated service life of the mechanism might be 2 years but in order to insure the bomb drop mechanism would work every time, the test program required 5000 repetitions of loading and dropping the bomb. The number of bomb loadings and drop repetitions was set by statisticians who say that neither the mechanism or the device used to simulate the loading and drop sequence could fail in less than the required 5000 cycles. I knew the test engineer assigned to perform this important test and both he and I thought it a boring test. THE UNIVERSAL TESTING MACHINE A very large testing machine was installed in a corner of the laboratory near a large door to the outside of the test lab. This was a universal testing machine. The machine stretches or compresses a structural test member. The label, a universal test machine, meant it could both compress a test specimen or stretch it. The force at which the member separates into two parts or a failure defined by a buckling feature more often seen in a compression tests is weighed in a hydraulic scale built into the test machine. THE HYDROGEN BOMB DROP MECHANISM The first hydrogen bomb was a bigun. It weighed more than 50,000 pounds, just right for the B 36. The diameter was one or two inches less than the width of the B 36 bomb bay while the length of the bomb was more than 50 feet. The B 36 was the only airplane that could be loaded, flown with bomb aboard and then dropped from altitude. The test was carried out in the South Pacific. Hundreds of navy ships, sailors and officers of the U.S. Navy were employed as well as hundreds of officers, women and men of the Strategic Air Command (SAC). This big bomb was loaded into the bomb bay of the only airplane ever built that could carry the hydrogen bomb --- a B 36.


THE B 60 OR THE B 52
Airplanes like the B 29 were often used to measure global weather conditions but that equipment and its soldiers and officers were also used by the U.S. Air Force to measure the effects of an exploding hydrogen bomb. The Airforce flew an old, worthless and pilotless B 17 through the airborne debris after the hydrogen bomb was detonated over the central lagoon of Bikini Atoll while the navy parked old and out of service ships around the Bikini Atoll and sought to measure the damage produced by an exploding hydrogen bomb. The test was a success --- on 1 March 1954 the 15 Megaton hydrogen bomb was exploded at the Marshall Islands Bikini test site and made the Atoll radio active. The bomb drop mechanism was designed at Convair in the long building. The bomb drop mechanism was part of the bomb storage system. The bomb was lifted into the B 36 bomb bay using the B 36 built-in motors designed to lift a bomb from a truck on the ramp to its stowed position in the bomb bay. The test bomb was made of wood shaped like a very large but cylindrical barrel with sand inside the barrel. The combined weight of the wooden barrel and sand was less than the capacity of electric lifting mechanism built into the B 36. The B 36 lifting capacity was many times less than the approximate bomb weight listed before and even less than the actual weight of the bomb tested in Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands . The strength of the parts used to make the support belt were determined separately and together. Airforce administrators were asked and then gave their permission for a less than the bomb weight test for the drop mechanism. A deep pit surrounded by walls of concrete was built near the test lab. The width and length of the sand pit were larger than the dimensions of the wooden test bomb. There were many drop tests performed; something new was learned with each test. At the start there were many spectators but their number significantly dropped as the tests continue. The big problem was to add and connect snubbers to reduce the possibility of damage to the B 36 structure. Eventually, drop test results were performed safely with no damage to the structure of the B 36. Next, a successful test had to be demonstrated to the Airforce. This public relations show was developed in the long building. Notices of the test were sent many agencies; some letters looked more like invitations to a party than to observe a test. That test day began early. Some mechanics I had not seen before appeared wearing clothes like actors in an advertising commercial. Neither Rudy or I are pleased. I ask him to get back the mechanics who had got us to the last test. He did that but it took a bit of talking to people he didnt know. There was a compromise; the pretty guys stood around and were supervised by someone unknown while my scruffy guys did all of the preparatory work. We were almost thirty minutes from the test when a Colonel talks to Mr. Herb Peterson, Convair vice President of Engineering. Eventually Rudy and I were told the news from an "eagle;" General Curtis LeMay is flying his own airplane and was at the time in the landing approach to Carswell Air Force Base and could we not start the test until he could observe the test. General LeMay lands his B 24 airplane and taxies to the Convair side of Carswell. He parks by the test lab, about 40 yards north of the test pit. With all of the players in place the test begins; Rudy asks if all is OK but doesnt expect an answer. He says something to Herb Peterson and Herb nods a silent OK. The mechanics start a last-look at the snubbing system but as it turned out that last-look was more act than action. The mechanics were nervous. Oh, we drop the bomb, but one rebounding snubber punches a hole in the bomb bay magnesium sheath. We hear groans. Herb brings LeMay et al to see and hear Herb fix everything by his talk to Rudy and me. Rudy tells Herb that we know how to fix the problem and we will be ready for another try in thirty minutes. He asks Herb to invite the SAC


inspectors (Omaha) to a coffee break 20 yards away. SAC AND CONVAIR That delay was worked out but before the General and his staff leave Herb starts one of the most rediculous tirades I ever heard. Herb, moves in close to me and yells loudly says: that wooden dummy bomb has sand in it? Right! The weight of wood and sand is less than the actual weight of the bomb? Right! And thats your problem. Make the bomb heavier and it will fall faster. Most hear the rebuke but the observers had kind thoughts for the test mechanics but harsh feelings for Herb. All this was noticeable as they slowly moved away. I go talk to the Foreman of the mechanics. He and the mechanics find the problem and say they can lift the bomb into the B 36 and get set for another test in twenty minutes. Rudy listens and smiles when I ask the Foreman to do just that, with thanks. The observers were invited for the second test. General LeMay led the group. The first bomb was dropped by a Convair Test Pilot seated in the left chair far from where the action takes place. We had a podium set-up used to launch a bomb. I ask Rudy if we could dismiss the test pilot and ask General LeMay to launch the bomb, or make the drop. Rudy nods yes. Rudy and I were standing by the outside podium, not used before that day, but now activated for a drop. I ask General LeMay if he would drop the bomb. He says yes. I show him the safety switches and how to access the launch switch. He says thank you, hesitates and then asks are we ready. Rudy and I both nod yes and say yes too. The General makes it go. It was a good drop. General LeMay looks at me, smiles and says thanks Joe. He turns, quickly, walks to his parked airplane. As LeMay walks away I could see his co-pilot going over the check-list and contacting the Convair tower and the tower at Carswell. Rudy and I talk. Herb leaves with all of his friends. The Foreman and his group of mechanics were busy lifting the dummy bomb into the B 36. I last saw General LeMay as he waved good bye from the open window on the left side of his airplane. The next thing I see was his airplane flying about 1500 feet above Lake Worth. B 36 LANDING GEAR TEST During each workday I would see mechanics and test engineers attempt to solve the assigned problem. Swede Asplundhs assignment was to measure the maximum force the B 36 landing gear could support. I watched mechanics struggle with very long and very heavy components. The landing gear was connected to the wing box with a pivot tube that rotated so that after takeoff the landing gear and wheels were stored inside a wing compartment. Swede had mechanics put as much of the structure in the machine as was possible. He was clever enough to start with a small part of the mechanism. He discovered that the columns of the hugh testing machine bent. He tried to control column bending by wrapping cable around test structure and the universal testing machine. When the test machine was actuated the column bending problem became more worrisome. I had observed Swedes landing gear test adventure but neither made a comment or a suggestion to him. I was 21 years old at the time and Swede was about 52. I stayed away because Rudy told me that Swede would rather work alone than ask the help of a younger Senior Test Engineer. Swede and I became friends later. On one occasion ask: what school did you attend? Swede says no college. I worked here as a mechanic for a while and Mr Reed thought I could be a Test Engineer. Reed had seen me using a book of formulas. I still have the book. Wanna see it? This afternoon I saw Rudy watching Swedes test. I was on my way someplace but



stopped to say hello to Rudy and watch just as he was watching. Rudy was concerned: I havent seen any of this before. Have you? I answer, havent seen it either, Rudy, but buckling of statically indeterminate structures was taught me. I read about buckling problems associated with tests of unstable structures. I learned that test personnel had been injured by fractured sherds. Rudy invites me outside the test lab so we can talk. It wasnt as noisy as where we had been. Rudy and I talk. He asks questions. I answer his questions. After a while Rudy excuses himself. I went back to what I was going to do, a trip to structures in the long building where I met with Munson, Redwine, Haller and Mulcahey. All this happens on Friday. It was about 4:40PM by the time I get back to the test lab. Swedes test had been shut down and Rudy wasnt at his desk. On Monday Rudy tells of an alternate method for measuring the ultimate strength of the landing gear structure. Instead of loading the landing gear structure only the strength of individual members were to be measured and engineers in the long building were to analyze the results. Rudys explanation to corporate officers and engineers about test changes with the support of Air Force Officers was a success everywhere. Swede was happy too. ESSENWEIN CALLS There were unusual tasks too. On one occasion a call came into the lab from August Essenwein. Reed had the call transferred to Rudy and I watched Rudy listen and nod, listen ... then nod some more. Rudy says to me go see Mr. Essenwein. Mr. Essenwein worked in a large, beautifully appointed, quiet office. Our meeting was awkward at first but became a friendly tell and listen show. The problem, as I saw it, was to solve his odd urge to sleep about 2:00PM each afternoon without bending his thoughts of a malfunction in the air conditioning system. I tell about my visit to Rudy. I watched a slight grin form and then disappear. Rudy says figure it out ... somehow. I got air conditioning engineers, electrical engineers and chemists, all with Rudys help, provided work order numbers, and off they go to do their magic. I mostly work on other things but did check on their progress from time to time. I saw August once and he said he was pleased with visitors to his office making discrete measurements. It wasnt long before I held a report prepared mostly by the chemists. I showed it to Rudy. He wanted me to invite the chemists et al to a meeting in a conference room in the long building. Rudy invited a secretary to be present at the meeting. The essence of the meeting was to discuss the test methodology, the kinds of test performed and by whom, with special emphasis on suggested remedies. This investigative group did find an unusual air conditioning anomaly in the air discharged into August Essenweins office. The main air duct dead-ended in the office. The oxygen content was measured in several places. It was the oxygen content in Mr Essenweins office that was thought to contribute to the problem that started the search. The oxygen content in Mr. Essenweins office was 0.0191% greater than the discharge in adjacent rooms. It was thought by some that a small excess of oxygen could lead to the afternoon sleepyness that Mr Essenwein complains of. Rudy had the report polished, summarized and sent by courier to Mr. Essenwein. THE BOMB DROP TEST I had many visits with the tragic figure assigned to test the bomb drop mechanism. Two visits are described here. I was attracted to the first of the two visits because there was no test in progress and no noise. When I inquired Walter says the test machine broke at 2123 cycles. And what are you doing to get back to testing. The broken mechanism had been taken



to the metallurgists and having new parts made and after which the parts were to be heat treated. After his news I leave and say; it breaks at less than 1600 cycles. I was visiting with Walter, the bomb drop tester, at the end of 1350 test cycles. The testing machine had broken again. Walter asks; how did you know? I answer; I just suspected fewer cycles than before. When you heat treat parts you do increase their strength but you lose toughness. Toughness is important for shock loaded structures. I respond to a question in which he asks what I would do to fix his machine; get rid of the alloys used by the metallurgists, use hot rolled low carbon steel and change the butt welded pivot by drilling a hole in the frame, slip the 3/4 inch rod through the hole and fix it in place with a circumferential weld between rod and frame. I see Walter often after that. He was usually just sitting and watching. I stop to see Walter when his test set up is again quiet. I havent stopped to visit for months. Your machine usually makes too much noise. Walter answers; The night shift-man and I have certified 18 bomb drop mechanisms and we do make noise. The repairs you suggested work well. Any reason why? Oh, there is a simple explanation. The rod is now longer so the volume of material deformed in torsion shock is thousands of time greater than the volume of a butt weld. Walter summarizes the increased torsional strength of the rod differently; make a member longer and it gets stronger! Walter laughs while I leave. ESSENWEIN AGAIN On this spring day in April, about 10:00AM August Essenwein calls Rudy directly and asks Rudy to send Joe to see me when hes available. Im in his waiting room with others. It was 2:00PM. At 2:15PM an appointments secretary asks me to follow her to another waiting room. A friendly August Essenwein enters the room. August explains he had visitors in his office but wanted to get me started as soon as possible. The problem he says is a frosted glass window high in the outside wall of his office. He tells me the glass was beautiful and always kept clean, inside and out, but birds liked to perch on the ledge outside and sing to one another. That chirping takes place about mid day. Many after lunch visitors say they were distracted by the chirping of birds and have said so. It was 2:24 when I closed the door to a room I had not seen before and August was on his way back to his desk. I walk to the exit and wait for the next plant bus. By 3:00PM I was back in the test lab. There I told Rudy about the short meeting. With my tale told Rudy went back to work and so did the tale teller. Rudy contacted nearby bird experts. This group met with Rudy and others working in the Test lab. The group of 3 women and 4 men listened to the problem on our hands but never laughed or sniggered. They left and returned a week later. At this second meeting the experts provide a written report with a likely solution for Convair. Should we accept their solution the committee included the name of an ornithologist qualified to supervise the outside alterations to August Essenweins window. Rudy took care of that. He invites me to see the repair made. Little bells made tinkling sounds (not heard inside), mirrors flashed and other things happened when a bird lights on the window ledge. The system built worked so well that August Essenwein calls Rudy to say thanks. WHERE ARE THE ENGINES The newly designed Pratt and Whitney Engines were manufactured in Connecticut. It was decided somewhere by someones that the first 8-engines off the assembly line at Pratt and Whitney were to be delivered to Convair Fort Worth for the B 60, but there were improvised delays. One delay developed after a serious search for engines began.

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The our engine search started after news of Boeings first flight of the B 52 (with engines installed). The furor developed after a note from Pratt & Whitney says the engines had been shipped to Fort Worth 6-weeks before the question had been asked so where are the engines? The engines were found a few days after P&W sent their note to Convair. The engines were found in a long term storage warehouse (say hidden) in Seattle with the shipping labels in contact with the ground. There had to be many, many people involved for this to happen. Some culprits had to be at Pratt &Whitney, some at Boeing, Senators from Washington Connecticut and Texas must have been involved, freight loaders in Connecticut and freight unloaders in Seattle must have been aware of the deception and there is likely a cast of hundreds more, all friends of FBP. FUEL CALIBRATION This test was performed after the dummy engines were installed. Unfortunately, the Fire Marshall would not let the fuel calibration test proceed because the B 60 was then inside a hangar. That led to a conference organized by Rudy Dvorak and me in which those attending were Ralph Reed, Henry Growald and Rudys group of test engineers all scripted. The problem at hand was discussed with the Fire Marshall and his crew. All who smoked cigars were offered the very best cigars to smoke; it was a cloud-filled event. Smokers were advised to puff and throw lighted cigar butts into a 5-gallon red bucket filled with what looked like water. The Fire Marshall and his crew participated. I cough and cry tears just writing about this smoky room, the serious conversation in it was like play and aimed at denouement. The Fire Marshall says no but was asked if he would reconsider his decision. At this point in the conversation he threw his newly lighted almost fresh cigar into the red bucket and says I havent heard anything here to change my mind, and thats when I say but we have something to say ... to you. At the right time I tell the Fire Martial of the plan to use naptha instead of jet fuel. He listened but says he was not knowledgeable about naptha. All were prepared to tell him about it. These explanations, offered by many, took lots of time to say. About the time the cigar smoke was gone I drop a hammer into a smoky honors lap. Sir, the liquid in that red bucket is naptha. See the cigars, once lit, now spent, floating at the top. After a while away from the meeting the Fire Marshall returns and says we can perform the fuel calibration test. Oh, there were safety rules to work out but they were doable. HOW THE B 52 WAS CHOSEN The denouement is next. The committee selected the B 52 for reasons of their own. It was known that this group had asked to make many comparison tests. Most tests were made in secret and only a few ever knew what the tests were or their purpose. There were, however, two tests circulated at Convair because the results of the one test was so predictable because it favored Boeing, but it was a useless test. The second feature that permeated the comparisons were political attitudes that tended to support Boeing and denigrate Convair. The first test was to measure the top speed of each airplane, not at high altitude but at sea level. At sea level the thinner wing of the B 52 automatically makes it a faster airplane than the B 60. Why is that a useless request? Simply because you dont bomb at sea level. If comparisons were to be made at altitude the speed of both units would be about the same at 34,000 but the best altitude for the B 60 would have been at 40,000 feet. That comparison was never made, probably because the B 52 couldnt climb to 40,000 feet even empty, then or now.

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If there had been an attitude of corporate disrespect during the evaluation process it was the comment made by Herb Peterson. Department of Defense officials likely ignore any expertise Convair had earned earlier because of what Herb Peterson says: that heavy bombs fall faster. That statement was then and is now complete nonsense --- or bluntly, a vocal demonstration of corporate vice presidential stupidity. Most importantly though, it was heard by General LeMay. DUMMY ENGINES AND MY DEPARTURE Unfortunately, the engine delay essentially killed the B 60 project because installed engines were required early in the project in order to perform the calibration of stored fuel and its gauging along with a vibration test designed to determine the vibration mode shapes that might occur in flights of the B 60. Rudy appointed me the job of planning and performing the ground vibration test. This test was to take place during every hour of every work day for 16 days. There were dozens of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers and mechanics assigned to the project. The preparations took days too and many aircraft mechanics were required to locate and install measuring blocks and accelerometers on the fuselage of this giant machine. The 16 day test was delayed because there were no engines when we were ready to perform the test. I talked regularly with Rudy about the preparations and he was candid with me. I found out early that he had been asked to plan for a serious delay. He told me this because there was news from Pratt and Whitney indicating our engines had been shipped weeks earlier. I suggested we build dummy engines for the ground vibration test. Rudy ponders my request, then asks me to make a list of the information I would need from Pratt and Whitney. I say I will prepare the list. Rudy imagines the plan a go-do it plan but he goes off somewhere to get money not budgeted. By the time Rudy was back at his desk I had the engine details list in my hand. Rudy was excited. He says that extra money was immediately available. Ill get the information from Connecticut by an Air Force Officers conference call between our guys and theirs. With that said, Rudy was off to see Air Force Officers. By mid afternoon he had received much of what had been requested. The drawings and model of engine connector to the wing pylon support were to arrive the following morning. The next morning Rudy and I went to see a Convair manufacturing manager and asked him to build something fast. We were there with engineering drawings, comments about the delay, Pratt and Whitney drawings and the information about the engine together with an engine attachment model, and Rudys authorization letters that he had carefully accumulated during his in-house and out-house journeys. The result of these work-around efforts meant that dummy engines were built at the Convair Fort Worth plant. With the dummy engines in place the vibration test was sure to follow. It did begin a few days later but without me. The small problem I had at home became a bigger problem when I explained an imminent 24 hour work day to my wife. I resigned Convair a few days later. Rudy was sad. He assigned the job to Weldon Bailey. I put the house up for sale. Wife, son and I move to Houston. And thats that.

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