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Ejector seats

Old 8th Feb 2004, 05:23
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Ejector seats

Discussion at work today about ejector seats (fuelled by that picture in The Times)

Someone in the group asked what was the first aircraft to have an ejection seat. I thought it might have been the Dornier 335(?), you know, the push and pull fighter...which I am sure had a mechanical i.e spring loaded seat.

Any offers? What was the first aircraft with a pyrotechnical seat? etc
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Old 8th Feb 2004, 05:42
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Ejection Seat Timeline


Swedish designer patents compressed air system

Jan - First emergency ejection
Saab Mk1 catapult seat tested

March - First ejection from an American designed seat at 7800 feet and 308 mph.

May - First US test ejection from a jet aircraft at 10,000 feet and 430 mph.
August - First US pilot to use a seat in an operational aircraft.

First test of Martin-Baker zero-zero seat

Martin-Baker reaches 5000 successful ejections

December - Martin Baker has its 6000th successful ejection

September - McDonnell Douglas ACES II has its 300th successful ejection


Generations of Seat Designs

First Generation - (1940-1965) These seats were purely ballistic operation with a compressed air, mortar, or rocket cartridge providing a single force to remove the seat and occupant from the aircraft. In early generation 1 seats, the occupant had to deploy the parachute manually. In later seats this became an automatic function. Examples of first Generation seats would be the Saab Mk 1 and the Martin Baker Mk 1-5 seats.

Second Generation - (1965-1975) Accumulated information had shown that a catapult alone would put too much force/acceleration on the occupant to survive an ejection without significant injury. Also, the end users of the seats were looking for zero/zero performance and performance at high speed. To accomplish this, a rocket sustainer was added. The catapult would operate from 0.15 to 0.25 seconds to keep the initial acceleration under 10G. The rocket sustainer would then act for an additional 0.20 to 0.40 seconds. The Martin Baker Mk 7 and the Douglas Escapac seats would be examples of this generation.

Third Generation - (1975-present) Automated features had been added to seats such as drogue chutes, parachute deployment based on altitude, and automatic deployment of survival gear since the first generation. But the advances in electronics allowed a computer to be placed into the seat and control the functions based on readings from sensors. Pitot - static systems, gyroscopic stabilizers, and pilot weight indicators were added to give information to the seat computer, extending the ejection envelope and improving crew survivability. Representative examples of the third generation are the Martin Baker Mk 14, The McDonnell Douglas ACES II, and the Stencil S4S.

Fourth Generation - (present) Research continues on expanding the envelope for the systems. Martin - Baker Aircraft, Boeing (McDonnell Douglas), and the former Soviet Union have either tested or placed into service seats featuring vectored thrust, flow generators, or variable thrust rockets.
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Old 8th Feb 2004, 05:52
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That timeline seems to ignore the German WWII work entirely - the He-219 'Uhu' had ejector seats, flew in 1941, was operational in 1943, and last time I checked was the first operational a/c type to have them.

Edit - a quick search brings the following:

The first ever successful escape by ejection seat (true, not a combat mission) was made by the Argus test pilot Schenk who ejected from the He280V1 on 13th Jan 1943 during a pulse engine test.

The first combat ejection took place on the night of 19th May 43' when Lt Otto Fries (pilot), Hptm von Bonin (radar operator) and Fw Staffa (observer/gunner) of II./NJG.1 ejected out of their burning He219 'Uhu' over the Florennes area. They were believed to have been shot down by Wg Cmdr Norman J.Starr of 605Sqn while flying a Mosquito VI on an intruder mission. The Heinkel He219 was the world's first production aircraft fitted with ejection seats.

Edit - a bit more digging and it looks like the He-280 was the first aircraft to have an ejector seat; the Do-335 also had one. Seems to be a lot of stuff on the net that assumes Martin Baker invented the thing first and nothing happened before 1946!!
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Old 8th Feb 2004, 18:20
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Good stuff. Only nipick would be that I think the rocket packs did rather more than sustain the velocity already achieved when they fired.
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Old 9th Feb 2004, 01:15
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Tiger Mate:
If you are going to blatently do a cut and paste from my web site, the least you could do is credit me with the work!!


Damien B...quite right on your german stuff. I am at present writting the stuff up for the web site.

There were some 60 succesful ejections by the germans during WW2.
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Old 9th Feb 2004, 03:08
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I didnt cut and paste your website, after a Google word search, I cut and pasted this one:


Guilty without trial, and you a magistrates clerk as well.

Seriously though, there are often questions here which whilst generating interesting conversation, are so easily solved witha word search. ....and I often wonder why this forum is the basis for a question that is so easily answered. I have to confess that I did not get as far as the author, and if the website above is owned by a viewer here, top site

Having witnessed the ejection practice at Langford Lodge, I find the subject quite interesting, especially when ejection seats on helicopters is the topic of discussion.
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Old 9th Feb 2004, 03:38
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Tsk tsk…

That's for not giving your sources

Also that timeline seems to miss the early British work. From ‘The Turret Fighters’ – Brew, pub Crowood, the first Martin Baker test using a dummy was 11th May, 1945 from a Defiant. ML Aviation were also working on seats and a dummy seat was ejected by them on 1st October ’45.

A MB Technician of immense courage, one Bernard Lynch was the first live ejectee in Britain soon after from a Meteor on 24 July 1946 – a Meteor F.III EE416 at 320mph at 8,000ft over Chalgrove, Oxon. He’d been banged off 24th Jan ’45 in a ground rig first. Interestingly, the same company, (Martin Baker) are using the same type (Meteor) for the same tests, in the same place over 1/2 a century later! That’s got to be some kind of record. Lynch was later awarded the British Empire Medal. Hard earned I’d say. From ‘Gloster Meteor Super Profile’ Hardy, Haynes.

Also missed out are the fifth generation seats, which are equipped with wings, fuselage, guns, in-flight refuelling and teasmade as recommended by Mr Bond’s villains…

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Old 10th Feb 2004, 04:51
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OK Tiger Mate you are forgiven. I see what you mean.

I shall take issue with Mr Herker!!

I have now updated the timeline to show some of the missing dates.
There is so much more to add.

I am compiling data to (eventually to write a book) so anyone out there with stories, anecdotes, books, data, pics, gossip etc please get in touch.

This is a whole area of aviation history which has been missed out apart from a couple of books.
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