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Slingsby T53B

Old 25th Feb 2010, 13:13
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Slingsby T53B

Have been following some comments about early experiences with Slingsby T53B. I've got a T53B N1664 S/N 1688 which flys regularly. Find it a good performer, pleasant and undeserving of the slings and arrows. Welcom any and all comments, photos, stories, experiences and references anyone can provide.

Tom Holland
Serendipity Soaring
Baker Cuity, OR USA
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Old 25th Feb 2010, 15:43
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I have to admit that I only flew the T-53B (XV951) once in 1971. It was a long time ago and I remember not a lot about it except that I wrote in my log book "dreadful aircraft".

It certainly was not a success and the rest of the military order (XV952-990) was cancelled. I don't remember anyone else lining up to buy them either.

One friend, who had a lot to do with testing the thing and who was one of the very few really natural pilots that I ever met in my long aviation career described it as being the most expensive method known to man for raising a decent canopy above the ground.

Mind you, if you are used to 10 knot wave conditions then it is probably fine.
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Old 25th Feb 2010, 18:02
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I think you are being rather unkind, JW411. Possibly the ATC demo one was not typical of the few civilian ones. Terrible compared to the Cadet Mk III it was intended to replace? We operated an instrumented one for Met research at Reading University 1969-71. It was used more for developing the instruments and software than data gathering (the instruments then did several years serious research on a Slingsby T61 until the Research Coucil ran out of money the last time Labour drove the economy into the ground).

My logbook shows around 50hrs with a longest sortie of 3 hrs. Initially the 'bonk' noise the wings made as you pulled into a thermal was amusing but soon faded into background noise. The way the aerotow rope jumped from one side of the nosewheel to the other with the compromise hook and no nosehook. I wondered why the stick was about 50% longer than necessary for comfortable stick forces. Good view from both seats, and plenty of room for comfort. It seemed to perform better than the looks would initially indicate.
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Old 25th Feb 2010, 19:13
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I agree with you Fitter2, it certainly wasn't the nicest handling glider I have flown but it wasn't the dog that some make it out to be.

I once flew one in a formation display at an airshow as number two; the leader was in a Bocian. I think from memory the book numbers showed that the T53 had an edge in glide ratio and sink rate, but our two were virtually identical.

I had forgotten about the "bonk" noise.
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 09:40
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Like JW411 I flew '951 for a couple of trips with Duggie King in the back seat. My main recollection was when turning, the slightest amount of aileron caused massive adverse yaw which required a bootfull of rudder. Eventually of course you learnt to 'lead' with rudder, but I accept this was an evaluation aircraft for Air Cadets and not necessarily representative of production T53s built for the civil market.
By the way, the story at the time was that HQAC really wanted to buy a batch of Blaniks which were readily available, but the Whitehall mandarins wouldn't fork out for aircraft built in communist countries so Slingsbys were asked to produce a 'copy' ie all metal with swept forward wings.
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 16:51
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Fitter 21:

"I think you are being rather unkind".

Not really; I did say that I had only flown XV951 once and that I remembered little about it except that I had written in my log book "dreadful aircraft".

I never ever had anything to do with the Air Cadet movement (apart from getting my "A" and "B" in 1957 with the ATC) but I was afforded the opportunity to fly XV951 in my capacity as CFI of an RAFGSA gliding club. (I was also a long standing training captain in Mrs Windsor's 4-engined transport fleet at the time).

I suppose I was comparing it with the ASK13 and the SZD Bocian (which I loved - particularly for aerobatics). (I never really had a great love for the Blanik).

"Terrible compared to the T-31 that it was supposed to replace"

Now that cannot be a serious comment. I remember Chris Wills (son of Phillip Wills - the great grand father of British gliding) saying to me in the gliding club bar one night in the 1960s:

"The T-31 is not a glider old boy; it is a device" - how very true.

chevvron:

"Adverse yaw"; now that has jangled a bell with me. The controls were not at all well harmonised and you are right, XV951 suffered badly from adverse yaw.

I also remember the clanking from the wings.

tholland53:

None of the above really matters. If YOU are happy with your bit of kit then be happy with your bit of kit. In fairness, you did ask for comments so you must accept what comes next be it good or be it bad.

My good friend DSB who invited me to fly XV951 was an extraordinary flyer of extremely modest proportions. For example, he was on 111 Sqn when they used to loop no less than 22 Hawker Hunters in very close formation, he flew Lightnings, he was the UK glider aerobatic champion and finished up as an L1011 captain. There was not much that DSB did not know about flying machines.

It was he that made the "expensive canopy" comment.

I have already told the story on another thread of the day that Slingsbys arrived at Sutton Bank (a hill site not far from their factory at Kirkbymoorside) with the first T-53 in a trailer. They started rigging it, and, to my and everyone else's astonishment, mounted the tailplane before they had even put a single wing on.

You have already worked out what happened next!

They dropped the fuselage with the tailplane attached with expensive results and that was the end of that for the day. Off they went back to the factory.

Come to think of it, perhaps that is why it suffered so badly from adverse yaw?

How many T-53s were actually completed?
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 17:37
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How many T-53s were actually completed?
17 completed, of which 15 were T53B (1 protype T53A and 1 T53C)

4 under construction were detroyed by fire.

Yorkshire Sailplanes built at least 1 YS-53, with extended fin & rudder.

JW411 - would DSB have been Dougie Bridson? (I think OPSEC no longer applies to this). The most 'intrepid' pilot I had the pleasure to fly with. Quote 'It was a relief to go solo - my instructors seemed determined to stop me killing myself'.
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 18:43
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Fitter2:

Having recently been banned for a week from pprune for apparently "outing somebody" (who had already outed themselves) I dare not confirm your suspicions or I shall be banned for ever more.

However, DSB knew more about flying aeroplanes with finesse and flair than you and I will ever learn.

He owned the prototype Skylark 2 (especially beefed up for aeros). He never ever landed out in it and frequently appeared going past the gliding club bar, along the taxiway upside down at not a lot of feet, about one hour after we had closed the hangar doors and he would then set about doing a wonderful display having been gone for most of the day.

His aerobatic displays in the Bocian were beyond belief. I can remember him coming on after the noise and the razzamatazz of 4 Lightnings at a Battle of Britain display.

Despite the total lack of noise and razzamatazz of DSB in the Bocian, he got a standing ovation from around 25,000 spectators. His perfect square loops were a wonder to behold (not easy without an engine).

DSB was beyond the normal categories of "Above the Average", "Exceptional" etc. etc. He was one of that rare breed called "Natural Pilots". Whatever aeroplane he happened to be flying, he put it on like a "ratting jacket" (for our colonial friends, that means that he wore whatever machine he happened to be flying as if he had been born in it).

P.S. I quite enjoyed my week of being banned from pprune and so did my local landlord. My sex life improved also!
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Old 26th Feb 2010, 20:03
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Yes, that's DSB. Square loops in the prototype Dart 15 at the South Cerney World Gliding Championships in 1965. As he disappeared at the closing ceremony display between the hangars (to land on the sport's field out of sight) Andy Gough was on top of the offices behind the hangar with a pile of scrap boxes to push over for a sound effect. Unfortunately at the critical moment a passer by stood underneath to ask what he was doing.

DSB had a splendid air-to-air photo of his Skylark 2 inverted with Cranditz in the background in his quarters loo.

I watched him from on top of an air raid shelter at MiddletonStGeorge passing by below in the Blue Diamonds solo Hunter.

I endorse your opinion above.

Sorry for the thread creep. Incidentally, the YS-53 prototype was modified from the first production T53B (previously XV451).
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Old 27th Feb 2010, 05:16
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Hi Tom
Have you got any photos of your beast ??
I had a half share in the YS53 back in the mid 90's !
I thought she was very pleasant to fly ,the added fin/rudder area probably helped.The wings were ridiculously over engineered LOL,from memory there was a rib every 9 inches...ooh my aching back !!
My syndicate partner always said we should remove half the wing ribs - I did not disagree but thought that the BGA might complain LOL.
She had been flipped over in the gales of 1987 so had been modified with a K13 ish canopy
sorry about the poor quality pics,I dont have any better ones.



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Old 27th Feb 2010, 10:53
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T53

You can see a short film promoting Air Cadet Gliding showing pictures of the T53, and the aircraft it was "designed" to replace on YouTube here.

Those were the days! Enjoy.
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Old 27th Feb 2010, 14:12
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Just been doing some memories in me old log book,we had a fun flight in sep 95 (my synd partner + me) of 3h 40m,my last 2 flights in sep96 were 2h 16m and 3h 17m,so easily soarable even in britain.
Istr that because she was a heavy old girl - you didnt want to get slow on finals because she would 'mush' at the flare if you let the speed get slow.
She glid quite well at fairly high speed but back in the circuit the airbrakes were pathetic (mounted way too far back on the chord) and one got used to 'discussions' about low approaches LOL.
But as to general flying she was pretty good,I dont recall any unusual adverse yaw etc - very comfy cockpit - great vis !!
As fitter 2 said - I could never figure why the stick was so large either ??
We used to leave her rigged from march to october,the effing wings were just too heavy for regular derigging,a Hawk canopy cover 'borrowed' from work covered the whole fuselage from nose to base of fin L/E.
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Old 27th Feb 2010, 14:23
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Found this pic of the YS53 - copyright Martin Pole,looks like she still has same paint but with some added lines etc.
Shows to advantage...loads of headroom with the K13 type canopy,but not as sleek as the original !
I believe taken at Haddenham

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Old 28th Feb 2010, 00:51
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When I first saw pictures of the T53 in Flight, I remember being very impressed with the visibility from the rear cockpit, but not with the non-tapered wings. What were Slingsby thinking of? I presume the cheapest possible manufacturing costs.

I see from the pdf attached to this page - http://www.apss.org.uk/projects/APSS_projects/T53/history/index.html - that they put servo-tabs on the T53C to help with the aileron stick forces. Servo-tabs on a glider?
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 08:08
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Same with the Skylark 3b...I flew a 3b fairly extensively in zimbabwe ,this a/c had original ailerons without tabs...result the ailerons were pretty ineffective.- istr that the 3f had aileron tabs fitted (also larger ailerons ?) to make roll control easier,i believe many 3b's were modified to have tabs retrospectively.
I know people tend to call them servo tabs but of course they are good old fashioned balance tabs,a true servo tab is directly connected to the wheel on large a/c.

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Old 28th Feb 2010, 08:33
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Just had a quick look in the sailplane directory to compare the T53/Blanik !

T53b empty wt = 354kg/780lb
Blanket L13 empty wt = 292kg/644lb
I would guess much of the wt difference was in the wing design,big shame and missed opportunity there for slingsby,i think if they could have reduced the empty weight then it could have had sales potential esp usa/australia.
The T53 fuselage design (my opinion LOL) was much superior to the blanik,lets face it - for a fairly tall person the blanik rear seat was not a comfy place to be !!
As to the wing shape,slingsby did a fair bit of research/liason with american manufacturers...the T53 looks pretty much like a 'Hershey bar' type -built for ease of manufacture rather than form.

edit...could not get these links to work earlier,but ok now

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&sou...crcNauDK6JZoBQ

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&sou...9HAnSo11vQVOsQ

great cutaway showing why the wing was so heavy (how many ribs ? LOL) and why the airbrakes were so ineffective.
I loved the comment about the airbrakes being as good as a skylark !!...yeah right !! more in the standard libelle class I would say.

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Old 28th Feb 2010, 14:41
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LR,
good old fashioned balance tabs
That makes much more sense, but still, having to put tabs on a glider's ailerons indicates a pretty serious basic design flaw.

Reading the Flight article you posted, it looks like Slingsby were influenced too much by the HP-14 design. The Blanik's ailerons are much larger and the forces quite reasonable.

I was amazed to see the empty weight - 150lb more than a Blanik - and the correspondingly higher minimum sink speed - 48 kts compared to 39 kts. Also, the wing loading is 23% higher!

Politics aside, Slingsby and the ATC would have been much better served by license-built Blaniks. There are many L-13s still providing basic training all over the US and Canada.
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 15:04
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Hi IFT
I think many of us involved in ATC gliding at that time would have been extremely happy to get K13's !!what a fantastic all rounder that is - much superior to the blanket in my view.
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 15:29
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I've never flown a K13 but I have often heard complimentary things about it. I was offering the Blanik as an alternative all-metal aircraft

I have a few instructional hours in Bergfalkes and 2-33s, but quite a lot of time in the backseats of the Lark and the Blanik. The Blanik has the worst backseat view of the lot, but you get used to anything after a while. Just make sure the towplane's wings are sticking out of the student's ears.
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Old 28th Feb 2010, 15:43
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Hmmm yes Istr that the Bergie seat wasnt all that comfy either LOL.
The K13 really was (almost) a 2 seat K8,and still a very widely used club 2 seater over here.
The blanik was strange because the front seat was like sitting in a tin armchair (very comfy) but the back seat was cramped and uncomfy.
Some of the students in zimbabwe had trouble converting from the Blanik to the Slingsby Swallow,one minute in a tin armchair - the next ...in a little wooden thing with (seemingly) no nose,a few just could not cope with the change,but the 2 seaters were too valuable to risk on early solos.
Much easier to use the german system of Ka7 or K13 and then into a Ka8 where you felt quite at home.

rgds baz
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