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Miles M.52 and the X-1 - again!

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Miles M.52 and the X-1 - again!

Old 2nd May 2010, 09:48
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One aspect I have not seen mentioned in this thread was something I read, I think, in Derek Woods 'Project Cancelled' (not 100% sure on that).

This was that with the end of the war and the acquisition of German swept wing research the Air Ministry suddenly got cold feet and believed that Miles straight wing design was a blind alley and that, plus cost, was the combined reason for the cancellation. In an earlier post a mention is made from a Flight magazine report, of an 'alternative project using German research' which it claims 'in hindsight did not exist'.

But one did. If briefly, there was an AW designed transonic research proposal put forward with both prone pilot and conventional cockpit with a 45 degree sweep wing and T tail and I read that the creation of this design was the reason the M.52 was axed. Of course it went nowhere.

The old 'reciprocal visit' story is a curious one though as exactly the same thing happened with the DH121 and Boeing 727 in the late 1950's. Did the stories get confused or were we really daft enough to do it twice?
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Old 2nd May 2010, 10:07
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Yes I think a couple of our companies were 'Lambs to the Slaughter' to the US post war.
ISTR that the idea with the M52 wing was that it was designed so that the wingtips stayed inside the 'nose' shockwave - presumably also for the F104 !!
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Old 2nd May 2010, 11:53
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Is it any co-incidence I wonder that Labour governments were in power when both the M52 and TSR2 were cancelled?
Probably. Duncan Sandys was the Conservative minister who famously produced the 1957 Defence White paper that saw off various military aircraft projects. He went on to be Minister for Aviation and got shut of the Fairy Rotodyne.

Sandys also lost his head in the famous polaroid sex scandal photographs featuring the Dutches of Argylle. At the time the only polaroid camera in the country was in the possession of the Ministry of Defence and Sandys had access to it.
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Old 2nd May 2010, 15:28
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Now there's a new slant to the story !

I've always had a pet theory that Duncan Sandys and Dr. Beeching were one and the same person...

I'm reliably informed that the Rotodyne made such an infernal racket it would be banned not just at the airport it was using, but any others in the same county.
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Old 2nd May 2010, 16:55
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Double-Zero - it did. I heard it at White Waltham on an AEF visist!
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Old 2nd May 2010, 17:33
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@DoubleZero
London Journal - A Sex Scandal of the 60's, Doubly Scandalous Now - NYTimes.com
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Old 2nd May 2010, 23:30
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M52 Cancellation/Design transfer

I seem to remember a few years ago, the story emerging that the senior civil servant or minister responsible for the M52 project, stated that he had cancelled the project, as he did not believe that it would succeed in breaking the sound barrier, that the pilot would have no chance and would be killed, and he did not want the death of a brave man on his concience.

I think that it was also mentioned that the urgency behind breaking the sound barrier was no longer needed due to the allies winning the war.

Re the Rotodyne, yes it made the most awfull noise, I heard and saw it virtually throughout the flying programme. The noise level that it produced was unlikely to have been acceptable flying, let alone at an aerodrome or heliport. I believe it was a result of the tip jets and blade design.

SO they said ...............................
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Old 3rd May 2010, 01:02
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So, I suppose Denis Bancroft just made his story up about an exchange of data between Miles and Bell - No doubt for a large amount of the folding stuff all for the sake of TV sensationalization...

See Clarksons:

YouTube - Miles M52 v Bell X1

Although I seem to remember an earlier documentary (Maybe, Horizon or a Channel 4 series?) that went into it in greater detail

History Channels "Breaking the Sound Barrier"

YouTube - 3of5 Modern Marvels: Breaking The Sound Barrier

Entaxei, you got there before me... I thought the excuse given for it cancellation was "Too dangerous a risk for pilots" Also there were pilots queing around the block to fly it!

So, we gave information to the Americans in 1944, with the M.52 having the moving tail already fitted to the prototype - The X-1 powered flights started mid 1947 without the moving tail, at .94Mach the X-1 becomes unstable and according to Chuck, Bells team quickly decide to use a moving tail.

Two things, how come the Miles team had the M.52 fitted with the moving tail from the begining and yet the American team didn't realise there would be a problem with instability until they started powered flight tests?

Perhaps it was just a case of the Americans were in too much of a rush and just slung a big powerful squib into a bullit shaped aircraft with thin straight wings, thinking they would just push their way through the sound barrier...

Last edited by Mr BlueSky; 3rd May 2010 at 09:08.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 11:56
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Perhaps it was just a case of the Americans were in too much of a rush

Or maybe the NIH syndrome coming into play, ('Not Invented Here'), so must be useless!.

On a slightly different note - I seem to remember vaguely - that powered models were produced of the M52 and fired off down at Pendine Sands, they all flew extremely well and very fast, so much so that none were recovered - problem is that this may well be faulty memory/short circuit and nothing to do with the M52 - so until verification please reach for the salt celler!!

Cheers
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Old 3rd May 2010, 12:27
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Copied from Wikipedia...

Several thousand pounds would have been required to complete the first M.52. Instead, the government instituted a new programme involving expendable, pilotless, rocket-propelled missiles. The design was passed to Barnes Wallis at Vickers Armstrong, and the engine development took place at the RAE. The result was a 30% scale radio-controlled model of the original M.52 design, powered by an Armstrong Siddeley Beta rocket engine.[14]
The first launch took place on 8 October 1947 at high altitude from a DH Mosquito, but the rocket exploded shortly after release.[17] Only days later, the Bell X-1 broke the sound barrier. There was a flurry of denunciation of Labour's decision to cancel the project, with the Daily Express taking up the cause for the restoration of the M.52 programme, to no effect.[18] On 10 October 1948, a second rocket was launched, and the speed of Mach 1.38 was obtained in stable level flight, a unique achievement at that time.[14] Instead of diving into the sea as planned, the model failed to respond to radio commands and was last observed (on radar) heading out into the Atlantic. Following that successful supersonic test flight, further work on this project was cancelled,[14] being followed up immediately by the issue of Ministry of Supply Experimental Requirement ER.103 (below).

Theres a much better write up in my copy of "Project Cancelled" that I will copy when I get home...
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Old 3rd May 2010, 13:15
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The Bell X-1 was a better thought out project than the Miles M-52 first because it was air-dropped from a 'mother-plane' and secondly because it was rocket powered which concentrated on the objective of breaking the sound barrier rather than building something which might have developed into an interceptor
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Old 3rd May 2010, 13:58
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M.52 was initiated in October,1943 as test bed for Whittle W2/700 by-pass, plenum-chamber-burning engine which found no application. MAP R&D Controller cancelled it, drifting and billing, February,1946, when, if you recall, UK had no enemy, or money. He was scorned for muttering about endangering the pilot: but what he was trying to do was not to blight market credibility of Brabazon Type VB Miles M.60 Marathon, whose designer was “very good at biffing out small cardboard (types, but who) hadn’t really produced (subsonic) let alone supersonic ones (in metal)M.Morgan,DCARD/MoS, at P.108,R.Turnill/A.Reed, Farnborough,Story of RAE, Hale, 1980. Neither X-1 nor M.52 offered any military utility, which is why they were assigned as experiments to "spare" design teams. M1+ in a straight line, with no load, off a very long piste...why?

Lots of schemes were, rightly, chopped as extravagances in Peace, not to say austerity. Why this endless resurrection of this one? If it's a notion that UK wuz robbed by F-86, may I suggest: a) it's the powered flying controls that count, not the idea of a slab; and b) that UK enjoyed 438 free-loan F-86E (370 airframes were C$-funded) to sustain RAF pending Swift/Hunter.
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Old 3rd May 2010, 14:09
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R.A.E. – Vickers Transonic Research Rocket

R.A.E. ? Vickers Transonic Research Rocket - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 4th Jul 2015, 07:07
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This thread intrigued me to the extent that I’ve done a little research , and postulate a possible answer to the conundrum.
Captain Eric “Winkle” Brown RN was the pilot designate for the M.52, and wrote a book “Miles M.52, Gateway To Supersonic Flight”. He makes a number of claims in his book re the X-1, to wit,
1. The X-1 had a tailplane adjustable in incidence for trim purposes, with a conventional trailing edge elevator
Correct. The specification supplied to Bell specified that the XS-1 be equipped with a movable horizontal stabilizer to provide pitch (nose up or down) control when shock waves made the elevators ineffective, and spelled out also the rate of movement (1°/sec). Brown also notes the X-1as built “incorporated none of the design features of the Miles M.52”
2. ….. Yeager lost control when flying at Mach 0.94….. Both he and the engineers thought that was the end of the road. Magically a solution was provided by Bell almost instantaneously, in the form of a ‘field fix’ variation of the ‘flying tail’ encountered on the UK visit to Miles. Bell’s control solution was to use the pre-existing tailplane trimmer to modify the incidence of the tailplane in flight, by means of a switch in the cockpit. Two flights after evaluating their ad hoc ‘flying tail’ Yeager attained supersonic flight.
Not so, Bell did not change anything – see comment to 1. Yeager has always given the project flight engineer Jack Ridley the credit with coming up with the idea to use the tailplane trim as a means of pitch control during the period when the elevator lost effectiveness. Ridley, however, just had his finger on the pulse with respect to the papers crossing his desk IMHO. The ability to control pitch with stabiliser in the transonic regime was investigated by Axel T. Mattson in his paper NACA RM No. L7A03 “FORCE AND LONGITUDINAL CONTROL CHARACTERJSTICS OF A 1/16-SCALE MODEL OF THE BELL XS-1 TRANSONIC RESEARCH AIRPLANE AT HIGH MACH NUMBERS”, May 21 1947
3. When the X-1 ran into compressibility problems in 1947 it was rescued by fitment of the “flying tail”.

4. The British aviation fraternity is firmly convinced that the Bell X-1 owed its success to what the Americans gleaned from their visit to the Miles factory in Autumn 1944, and in particular what Bell learned from the M.52’s ‘flying tail’. Certainly, in spite of American protestations that they had their own original ideas on a ‘flying tail’, there does not appear to be any solid evidence of its appearance on test before the X-1 ran into transonic trouble in 1947.

5. On seventh flight, after ‘flying tail’ has been fitted to the X-1, Yeager attains controlled supersonic level flight, Mach 1.02.

6. The Americans will not admit that the flying tail which was on the M.52 was what let the Bell X1 break the sound barrier, Chuck Yeager had run into severe compressibility trouble at Mach .94. In fact, General Albert Boyd, head of the Flight Test Division at Wright Patterson AFB, had said, well fellers, this is the end of the road. Then three days later Bell came charging down with this all-flying tail, designed by a guy who had been to Woodley and had seen the tail on the M.52. He’d done some work on it, but basically it was the M.52’s tail, which he admitted more or less on his deathbed. They popped it straight onto the X1 there and then, and it did the trick.
There is nothing for the Americans to admit to. It's interesting how Brown's narrative changes from that given in 2. to that in 6.

Yeager’s flight test report following the first supersonic flight.

Date 14 October 1947
Pilot: Capt. Charles E. Yeager
Time: 14 Minutes
9th Powered Flight

1. After normal pilot entry and the subsequent climb, the XS-1 was dropped from the B-29 at 20,000' and at 250MPH IAS. This was slower than desired.

2. Immediately after drop, all four cylinders were turned on in rapid sequence, their operation stabilizing at the chamber and line pressures reported in the last flight. The ensuing climb was made at .85 - .88 Mach, and, as usual, it was necessary to change the stabilizer setting to 2 degrees nose down from its pre-drop setting of 1 degree nose down. Two cylinders were turned off between 35,000' and 40,000', but speed had increased to .92 Mach as the airplane was levelled off at 42,000'. Incidentally, during the slight pushover at this altitude, the lox line pressure dropped perhaps 40 psi and the resultant rich mixture caused the chamber pressures to decrease slightly. The effect was only momentary, occurring at .6 G's, and all pressures returned to normal at 1 G.

3. ln anticipation of the decrease in elevator effectiveness at speeds above .93 Mach, longitudinal control by means of the stabilizer was tried during the climb at .83, .88, and .92 Mach. The stabilizer was moved in increments of 1/4 - 1/3 degree and proved to be very effective; also, no change in effectiveness was noticed at the different speeds.

4. At 42,000' in approximately level flight, a third cylinder was turned on. Acceleration was rapid and speed increased to .98 Mach. The needle of the machmeter fluctuated at this reading momentarily, than passed off the scale. Assuming that the off scale reading remained linear, it is estimated that 1.05 Mach was attained at this time. Approximately 30% of fuel and lox remained when this speed was reached and the motor was turned off.

5. While the usual light buffet and instability characteristics were encountered in the .88 - .90 Mach range and elevator effectiveness was very greatly decreased at .94 Mach, stability about all three axes was good as speed increased and elevator effectiveness was regained above .97 Mach. As speed decreased after turning off the motor, the various phenomena occurred in reverse sequence at the usual speeds, and in addition, a slight longitudinal porpoising was noticed from .98 - .96 Mach which (was) controllable by the elevators alone. Incidentally, the stabilizer setting was not changed from its 2 degree nose down position after trial at .92 Mach.

6. After jettisoning the remaining fuel and lox a 1 G stall was performed at 45,000'. The flight was concluded by the subsequent glide and a normal landing on the lake bed.


Yeager’s presentation at the first XS-1 conference, 9 January 1948.

As the Mach number was increased from .87 the buffeting became more severe and a nose down trim change was noted. The forces were quite light and the movement of the control column remained the best means of indicating the trim change. At approximately .90 Mach number trim change previously mentioned reversed and the tendency was for the nose to rise and in the range of approximately .92 Mach number the buffeting became quite severe.

At this point in the program it was decided from a correlation of model test data that the one degree per second actuator for the stabilizer might prove to be too slow for proper control during subsequent flights and an interruption in the program was made to install a faster motor. In the first flight after the new stabilizer actuator was installed the Mach number was increased to .94. At this point the trim change again reversed to a nose down tendency but it was still easily controllable and approximately 3° of up elevator provided level flight. From .94 to .96 the elevators and rudder became increasingly ineffective until at the latter figure they could be moved throughout their range of displacement with very slight response from the aircraft. At approximately .95 the buffeting decreased rapidly and became non existent at .96.

Up to this time a stabilizer setting of 2° leading edge up was used in all of the high speed test runs. The next flight was therefore initiated to investigate the effectiveness of control by the stabilizer at the higher speeds above .96 since the setting had only been varied in climbs up to this time. As the speed was increased on this flight the stabilizer was changed to 1° leading edge up and returned to 2° leading edge up successively at .84, .88 and .95 Mach numbers. The acceleration experienced in the cockpit was approximately the same for all speeds and it was decided that the stabilizer was still effective even though the elevator and rudder had lost their effectiveness. The ailerons remained effective throughout the range. With the stabilizer setting of 2° the speed was allowed to increase to approximately .98 to .99 Mach number where elevator and rudder effectiveness were regained and the airplane seemed to smooth out to normal flying characteristics. This development lent added confidence and the airplane was allowed to continue to accelerate until an indication of 1.02 on the cockpit Mach meter was obtained. At this indication the meter momentarily stopped and then jumped to 1.06 and this hesitation was assumed to be caused by the effect of shock waves on the static source. At this time the power units were cut and the airplane allowed to decelerate back to the subsonic flight condition.


Of particular note, is that the program was interrupted in order to install a faster trim motor, not to install a ‘flying tail’ as insisted by Brown. The X-1 retained the stabiliser/elevator system as spelled out by Brown in quote 1. through out its life, and was never modified for the supersonic flight, as a reading of Yeager’s reports above confirms.

Brown, in his book calls the M.52 tail a “flying tail”, and it was what would be called a “slab” today, a unitary piece with no separate stabiliser/elevator. Here is where I feel the problem lies. NASA and Yeager, even to this day, refer to the X-1 trimmable stabiliser and elevator set up as a, you guessed it, “flying tail”. Two contemporaneous aircraft, the D558 and the F-86A, both had the same set up as the X-1, trimmable tailplane with elevator, and Yeager credits the F-86 with its “flying tail” as giving it the edge over the Mig-15. It seems to me to be another case of two countries separated by a common language. Has Brown merely misunderstood the USA use of terminology? I can think of no other explanation, because the plain fact is, the X-1 tail never underwent modification from the day it was built, other than the trim motor.

It would be interesting to interview Brown to gain an insight into why he has the idea that the X-1 tail was modified.
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Old 4th Jul 2015, 13:13
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M.52

Megan
The definitive account of the design and construction of this aircraft (up to the end of the war) is in the second volume (pp 389-411) of Peter Amos' in-depth study of Miles Aircraft "Miles Aircraft: The Wartime Years 1939 - 1945 published by Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. in 2012 www.air-britain.co.uk
The post-war cancellation of the project will be detailed in the third volume of the series, due for publication later this year.
Peter has been assiduous in assembling every shred of evidence, from the National Archives, the project's aerodynamicist (recently died), papers from George Miles' archives, from the USA and from Eric Brown.
By no means all the issues of interest have been solved to explain the design of this extraordinary aircraft. But what is clear is that the technical problems faced by Miles were enormous, and are much more interesting than the relationship with the X1. An excellent account by Brian Brinkworth in the Aeronautical Journal in March 2010 puts the project into its historical perspective.
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Old 4th Jul 2015, 17:51
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The design of the M52/X1 was not the optimum for supersonic flight which is clear by the fact the profile didn't last past the experimental stage. The fighters coming off the drawing board contemporaneously were clearly able to achieve Mach 1. And it's fairly certain that George Welch beat Chuck Yeager in the XP86 (prototype F86) to the sound barrier by about two weeks. Although not recorded officially, the double boom was heard by many - including those USAAF pilots, including Capt Yeager, drinking in the Happy Valley Riding Club, over which George thoughtfully decided to "drop his boom". However, the official records show that the XP86 could only achieve supersonic flight in a dive and these days, Yeager is officially accredited as being the first pilot to achieve supersonic level flight. Thanks to a bloody big rocket - and of course the all moving tail-plane - wherever that was designed!

But before George's feat, it's quite likely that more than one Luftwaffe Me163/Me262 pilot achieved it before the end of WW2 by their accounts.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 10:04
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The shape of the M.52 was determined by Whittle's need to accommodate his "Augmentor" after-burning system for the W.2/700 which required a cylindrical fuselage of constant radius. Else, I'm sure Miles would have tapered the fuselage in the conventional manner. Like the X1, the 'plane was really designed to explore the transonic zone as a research vehicle. Witness the ability to change the angle of both the main wing and the tailplane. Personally, I think one should look at it as a test vehicle for Whittle's new generation of jet engines rather than a serious attempt to reach 1000 mph.Compared to the technologies then available, particularly within Miles, it represented a huge step forward into the unknown, and was a considerable engineering achievement. Its cancellation was regretted by all but a handful of politicians.
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Old 11th Jul 2015, 19:32
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Although it is possible that an Me262 or 163 exceeded Mach 1, I think it would've been in an uncontrolled and ultimately fatal dive.
Knowing just how much fuel early turbo jets burn, I don't believe the M1 could've carried enough to take off in burner, climb to altitude, make a mach run (again using the afterburner, or reheat as I believe the Brits call it) and return.
There's good reasons why the X-1 used rockets, and was air-launched.
IMHO, of course.
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Old 12th Jul 2015, 13:34
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Once upon a time...

A very interesting thread for me as I used to work in the old Miles factory at Woodley where, of course, Bader lost his legs.
Now, a hearty mixture of hindsight and speculation often produces a rich heady broth of what might have been, and that is obviously applicable to the development of jet aircraft. If the wartime Miles jet had been completed and tested it might or might not have worked but the knowledge gained, combined with that of Whittle, pre-war Germany, and other UK and international pioneers would, I feel sure, have secured the UK a dominant position in general aviation development and production. Furthermore, the consequent spin-off of knowledge and experience in areas like that of fatigue, stress and metallurgy, let alone computing, avionics and radar would, almost certainly have avoided many of the errors built into the brilliant but flawed Comet programme. And if that had gone well I think it would have been the start of a new golden age for British aviation, instead of the beginning of the slow decline of the industry into what it is today, an important bit player in the general aviation scene. UK Politicians certainly did their best over the years to damn the industry with their dead hands of ignorance and lack of foresight and they succeeded. That is still happening today so, perhaps, nothing much has changed. I feel that the root cause of the British problem is the five year parliamentary system which encourages short-termism and the continuation of the status-quo.
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Old 13th Jul 2015, 19:07
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But before George's feat, it's quite likely that more than one Luftwaffe Me163/Me262 pilot achieved it before the end of WW2 by their accounts.
Very unlikely Dan for a few very practical reasons

To quote myself from last years thread....

I think one has to be a little sceptical about certain claims...even Willi Messerschmitt calculated that the 262 would be out of control after mach .86,so the critical mach number would probably not have been much faster than that - true supersonic flight would have to wait until the advent of powered controls and 'proper' swept wings !
The 262 did not really have a swept wing as such,there was a big thread on another forum 3 or 4 years ago discussing this claim and those who had the greatest grasp of aerodynamics were the most sceptical about this claim !
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