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World Association of International Studies

Post Variable-Sweep Wings
Created by John Eipper on 02/10/19 6:12 AM

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Variable-Sweep Wings (Michael Sullivan, USA, 02/10/19 6:12 am)

A correction to John E's comment of February 9th. The Boeing SST did not have variable-swept wings, but it was envisioned with them initially and then discarded for financial and technical reasons. The Russian Tu-144 had variable-swept canards.

Several fighter aircraft were designed with variable-swept wings with 1950s and '60s technology. American fighters and military aircraft developed with the variable-swept wings were the F-14 Tomcat, the F-11 Aardvark and the B-1 Lancer bomber.

The Brits and Germans had the variable-sweep winged Tornado, and the Russians had several MiGs and SUs fighter aircraft with them. The object was to let them fly at very high speeds with minimum drag with the wings swept fully aft and then fly slowly for landing approaches or aircraft carrier landings. This theory was soon replaced by better design of wings and fuselages. No modern aircraft are designed with them today.

JE comments:  Michael, can you tell us more about your thesis project on the American SST?  I've been intrigued ever since you mentioned it in yesterday's post.  When the program was canceled, did you move on to a different topic?

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  • My 1971 Thesis on the SST (Michael Sullivan, USA 02/13/19 3:42 AM)
    John E asked about my 1971 thesis on the SST. My thesis was accepted, as it was a one-of-a-kind paper on the SSTs built by the Russians (Tu-144), the British/French Concorde, and the on-paper version of the Boeing SST.

    The Boeing SST was going to carry twice the passengers compared to the Tu-144 and Concorde and of course, was a much larger aircraft. Boeing thought that the increased passenger load would help with profitability and defray costs. There were huge risks in the future of SST profitability and the development costs, and the Boeing SST turned out to be unacceptable for Congress to help fund.

    I was hoping the US would build it, as man has always wanted to go faster whether in an aircraft, car, boat or train! Cutting the flight times between Europe, the US, Asia, Africa and South America to less than half of the current flight times makes international travel more appealing, and the businessmen and women who travel internationally for a living very happy! With a global economy, air travel is increasing internationally every year, so if a new SST can be operated generating profits, why not?

    As technology keeps developing more fuel-efficient engines, less fuel consumption to increase range, stronger metals to increase the airframe's capability to withstand the high temperatures, and it becomes economically feasible to develop an SST, somebody will attempt to build one again!

    JE comments:  I wonder what the Congressional SST money ended up being spent on.  One thing's for certain, it wasn't as cool or as memorable as the supersonic plane.

    Even the Seattle SuperSonics (basketball) are no more--they moved to Oklahoma City.

    Michael, I share your hope that we'll see a viable SST someday.  Elon Musk, are you listening?

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    • Airbus to Discontinue Production of A380 Superjumbo (Edward Jajko, USA 02/17/19 5:01 AM)
      WAIS has discussed airplanes recently.

      Here's a story about an airplane that, like the commercial American SST, has fallen victim to changing economics.

      Airbus to Scrap A380 Superjumbo Production as Sales Slump


      JE comments:  This is sad, but the existing A380s will keep flying into the 2030s.  The largest customer is Emirates, which is outside my circle of travels.  Who in WAISworld has flown on the massive A380?

      Ah, economics!  You've dashed many a grand vision.

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