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Greatest ever blunder in the history of the UK aircraft industry?

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Greatest ever blunder in the history of the UK aircraft industry?

Old 19th Jan 2011, 09:14
  #121 (permalink)  
 
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599: maybe you are remembering: The Man “who put power into the Merlin” Sir S.Hooker, Not Much of an Engineer{Airlife,84}: Ford/UK (for the Trafford Park Agency Factory) came to him with a "problem": he assumed they would confess that RR's tolerances were beyond auto-skills; but it was the reverse: inter-changeability, essential to permit Model T to be “repeatable” by diluted labour, alien in Aero, required precision beyond RR’s practice. Ford took a year to engineer “very good” Merlins, seen as 30% cheaper than RR.

This was however not a "blunder". Few/no Aero products will be built in auto quantity.
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 12:09
  #122 (permalink)  
 
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So, it seems that some Blue Streaks, at least the first stages thereof, made it to Australia and to Kouru without a Belfast.
Blue Streaks made their way to Woomera by sea. They were taken by road from Stevenage down the Great North Road and thence to the London docks where they were loaded as deck cargo.

As a small boy I watched a couple start their jouney this way. Getting the load through Knebworth was a squeeze - no A1M in those days!

Last edited by Carry0nLuggage; 19th Jan 2011 at 12:11. Reason: Wording made me look like a fat, wheezy kid!
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 13:02
  #123 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by Jetex_Jim View Post
In 1930s while Germany was stamping out the first Beetles priced so that workers could drive them on the new autobahns, the British car manufacturers were still proudly elitist and held on to methods which called for a level of ‘fitting’ during assembly. This approach was presented as a virtue, the low volume luxury car makers held that their cars were built by craftsmen and this was promoted as exclusivity.
You can make the comparison with the American and British aviation industries, and in they way they worked. Spitfires were hard to produce (in terms of man hours) due to the amounbt of hand-produced metal work thaty was needed for the complicated curves. Mustangs were easy to produce because the Americans used mass-production techniques - stampings for complicated shapes for example.
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 13:53
  #124 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by lasernigel View Post
Valiant must rate as a blunder, not many built and those that were had tail failures.
1. It was the main spar not the tail.

2. It was not Vickers but the MoS that supplied the spar metals in a new and unproven alloy.

Vickers produced an excellent aircraft and also a high-speed low level version that would probably have bested the Vulcan and the Victor except that the RAF had not yet realised it needed a high-speed low level medium bomber.

By 1955, even though the Air Staff had realised that target marking was an outdated tactic and the new bombers would be quite capable of finding their targets in all weathers using radar, the cancellation of the B.2 Pathfinder variant gradually became apparent as a mistake. It was just beginning to be realised that high altitude penetration of Soviet airspace was going to be a lot more dangerous in the future.
YouTube - Vickers Valiant B2

Spot the cuckoo at about 1.24
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 14:32
  #125 (permalink)  
 
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@Tornadoken

It's true that aircraft are not built in numbers like cars or vacuum cleaners, but, to produce aircraft in the numbers per week that Airbus and Boeing do absolutely demands PRECISION and Standardisation at every stage of the build process, from suppliers to final assembly. Customers, too, with large fleets, don't want to have aircraft that are nominally the same, but in the details that count, are diefferent enough to cause problems in on-time operation. The A320, for example, is being turned out at 38 - 40 per month and recently the company announced it was "studying" an increase to 44 p/m, and Boeing must be at similar rates for the 737. Airbus recently announced that it has just reached the 10,000 mark in total orders - 4000+ for the A320. (far from the totals of DC-3s and B-17s, I know, but the modern jet transport is a different fish-kettle from its war-time predecessors.)
Airbus had many years of experience of major sections being built by different firms in remote sites and flown to final assembly - a system which Boeing decided to adopt for the 787, with less experienced builders of some major sections, which has led to problems and delays, not all of which are attributable to their other decision to go for an "all-carbon fibre" construction. They'll get over it, of course, but are some 3 years behind schedule, by which time they'll have got the Precision and Standardisation bit sorted.
PS Software has to be standardised too, as Airbus found out after, to save money, two major factories used different versions of CATIA on the A380. Cost 'em, that did ...

Last edited by Jig Peter; 19th Jan 2011 at 15:31. Reason: PS for "Levelling playing field"
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 15:09
  #126 (permalink)  
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Customers, too, with large fleets, don't want to have aircraft that are nominally the same, but in the details that count, are diefferent enough to cause problems in on-time operation.
But they had to learn that lesson too with aircraft like Vanguard and Trident practically ordered like RAF aircraft and bespoke for one mission.
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 16:57
  #127 (permalink)  
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" Customers, too, with large fleets, don't want to have aircraft that are nominally the same, but in the details that count, are diefferent enough to cause problems in on-time operation.

But they had to learn that lesson too with aircraft like Vanguard and Trident practically ordered like RAF aircraft and bespoke for one mission
."

Sadly, that is not quite true with regard to one particular blunder.

Those of you who operated / maintained the 748 / Andover can thank whoever you never encountered the final variant....the ATP.

Conforms to both of the quoted paragraphs with ample room for expansion as to why the type should have been dumpted on any range you care to name and used accordingly thereafter.

Only type I can think of where the manufacturer had a "hearts and minds" meeting for some very p£$sed of customers...not to mention the IFSD suffered by Loganair....on the delivery from Woodford to,er, MAN.

Each one was truly, "hand crafted"...
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 17:07
  #128 (permalink)  
 
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@Pontius Navigator

Still wildly off-thread, B U T ... Within a fleet, the need is that every bit of the individual aircraft must be standard - pipes, ducts, wiring harnesses etc. Somewhere on PPRuNe recently I saw a mention that the Comet fuselages on the MRA4 were out by inches, while on the B777 any discrepancy's measured in thousandths. The discrepancies in internal systmes must be mind-boggling, no?
When you're knocking up, basically by hand, aircraft in a "hobbies shop", as someone said about Handley Page, to fulfil an order for say 50 aircraft at the most, you've got little incentive to invest in sophisticated jigging and you won't get the accuracy that is now needed for a production passenger jet, for which you've got orders for thousands and are delivering at a rate of, say, 10 per working week.

PS - Sorry Mods for drift ...
JP
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 19:09
  #129 (permalink)  
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JP, quite. I was making the point that Trident and Vanguard were also ordered in small numbers so again jig costs were the issue.

I was going to comment on the delivery rate of the Vulcan - 1/month - then saw the Airbus was at 38/month.

I wonder what the economics of producing one V-bomber at 20/month for 5 years compared with one per month over how ever long? I think across the 3 types it was less than about 1/month over the 10 years over 3 manufacturers.
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Old 19th Jan 2011, 21:45
  #130 (permalink)  
 
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>599: maybe you are remembering: The Man “who put power into the Merlin” Sir S.Hooker, Not Much of an Engineer{Airlife,84}:<

It may well have been; either there or L J K Setright's classic The Power To Fly. Unfortunately I lent my copy of Hooker to someone and it never managed to RTB.

Is it a vicious rumour or is there any truth in the anecdote that no two Tucanos are the same size?
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Old 20th Jan 2011, 10:58
  #131 (permalink)  
 
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It's true that there was an indecent amount of company rivalry involved in the TSR2 story and the first flight saga was a classic example. It was pretty obvious that the aircraft should have gone to Warton from the start but Vickers clearly thought that the aircraft was their project - and the way that the Government acted simply reinforced this notion. It was Vickers' pre-occupation with VC10 and BAC-111 which encouraged the project to be gradually exported to Warton.

As for whether we needed TSR2 it's back to politics. If we'd remained East of Suez then we obviously would have needed it, but for the European theatre the aircraft was perhaps over-specified. But as has been said, TSR2 eventually led to Tornado which was (for once) the right aircraft for the right role.

I guess one could conclude that no aircraft could be too good and it would have been great if the RAF had received an aircraft which was actually over-specified for the roles to which it was assigned. But everything comes at a price and nobody can doubt that we simply couldn't afford TSR2. Likewise, we can never know just how good TSR2 really would have been. On paper it promised to be a brilliant aircraft but as the flight test programme was hardly even started, and the avionics were still in their infancy, we will never know for sure.
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Old 20th Jan 2011, 11:39
  #132 (permalink)  
 
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Chopped up for scrap, Britain's £4 billion fleet of Nimrods

This is absolutely horrific if true. £4bn's worth of unique kit that's critical for safeguarding our nuclear deterrent, performing long range Search & Rescue and a dozen other important functions. Whose woeful ignorance, not to mention criminal negligence, is responsible for this stupidity?
Chopped up for scrap, Britain's £4 billion fleet of Nimrods
Originally Posted by Daily Telegraph 20 Jan 2011

The Government has been accused of “gross vandalism” after industrial cutters have been moved onto an airfield to begin chopping up nearly £4 billion worth of the world’s most advanced reconnaissance aircraft.

On Monday private contractors hired by the Ministry of Defence will take chop off the wings of the first of nine Nimrod MRA4 aircraft. To avoid government embarrassment each £400 million aircraft will be draped in tarpaulin and dragged to a remote corner of an airfield where they will be “brutally” dismantled.

Politicians and defence workers have accused the Government of acting too swiftly as the implications to national security have not been fully understood.

The termination of Nimrod was a surprise announcement in last October’s Strategic Defence and Security Review and the MoD is insistent their destruction will go ahead...
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Old 20th Jan 2011, 13:36
  #133 (permalink)  
 
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For K'nc really...

...I know someone who was heavily involved with the "hearts and minds" meetings about the ATP.
It was a Loganair captain who eventually raised the problem of the toilet ventilation system which seemed to be directed straight to the flight deck, "Within a few secs I can tell the fact that the first user of the bog had a vindaloo last night and I AM P&&SED OFF ABOUT IT. SORT IT OUT!!"
The "solution" was to let the bog contents be flushed all the way to the end of the tube which led to the emptying valve on the outside skin of the aircraft. Fine, until after a reasonably long cold soak at height when the techie plugged in the doms trolley at the destination the frozen contents wouldn't empty. Captain now has dilemma of next load of pax and a full bog. Still not happy!!
"OK" says the company, "we'll wind a heater wire around the tube which will keep the contents liquid. Job jobbed".
Well - not quite.
"You never mentioned a thermostat" said the company, when the complaints about the three foot long tube of almost boiling sh%t were logged.......
It would be laughable apart from the fact that that sequence of events actually happened.
I think it was perhaps because the company used a toilet of their own design rather than buying one that already was proven to work from someone else.
The same toilet was used in the Nimrod as well and was deeply unpopular for similar reasons.
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Old 20th Jan 2011, 14:16
  #134 (permalink)  

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Is it a vicious rumour or is there any truth in the anecdote that no two Tucanos are the same size?
.... Did hear from a very reliable source that just as they entered service (Cranwell? Linton?), a whole ruck of them were lined up smartly on dispersal for a publicity picture.....

...... when it was discovered (by the photog!!) that you could line up the noses ...... or the tails ....... but not both!
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Old 20th Jan 2011, 17:13
  #135 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Rossian View Post
The same toilet was used in the Nimrod as well and was deeply unpopular for similar reasons.
Which brings to mind a war story.

A GSU Trapper, AEO IIRC, went to the bog but omitted to take his headset with him.

Once securely seated and job done he couldn't open the door. With no headset he could not call for help either.

Oddly none of the knockers noticed his plight
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Old 21st Jan 2011, 17:01
  #136 (permalink)  
 
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A recent book on the Lancaster relates how 'Bomber' Harris tried long and hard to persuade Shorts to cease manufacture of the abysmal Stirling and start making Lancasters, or even components of Lancasters. Shorts, however would have none of it, claiming that it would take too long to retool for the Lancaster. I'm inclined to wonder just how many lost lives could be attributed to a cost accountant's reluctance to invest in tooling (even British wartime levels of tooling) and, of course the lost 'cost plus' production that such a switch over would have entailed.
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Old 21st Jan 2011, 17:25
  #137 (permalink)  
 
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I thought that Beaverbrook and MAP had assumed total control of what got made rather than the manufacturers by the time the Lanc arrived.

However, had someone told Avro to incorporate a ventral turret on the Lanc, many lives might well have been saved.
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Old 21st Jan 2011, 18:42
  #138 (permalink)  
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draken, while that may be true a ventral turret would have had a significant effect on its bombload and range. Would Harris supported a fortress route?
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Old 21st Jan 2011, 19:27
  #139 (permalink)  
 
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PN

By 1943 the RAF new that the front and even mid upper turrets were seldom used at night. It dropped the latter for the Dams raid and later on both were often dispensed with. Nothing was ever done to counter the Schrage Musik Night Fighter attack profile for reasons that remain a mystery.

Another point worth mentioning is that some heavy nighfighters like the Me110 weighed down with radar and cannon had a heck of a time catching Lancs. Greater speed may have been more of a defence than four 0.303 Brownings.

The boffins did fit active radar to tail turrets but that only served to illuminate our aircraft as targets to the enemy once they had discovered this.
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Old 21st Jan 2011, 19:30
  #140 (permalink)  
 
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They tried a ventral gun, as opposed to a turret on both the Halifax and the
Manchester and then removed it. If a tail gunner could not see a German night fighter approaching in the dark I fail to see how a ventral gunner would.
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