a few historical thoughts

Message posted by doctorwho on September 15, 2006 at 0:02:02 PST:

If I may express a few thoughts on Aurora and issues surrounding it.
1. Australian researchers first flew an operational scramjet engine (Hyshot) a few years ago and achieved supersonic combustion ahead of the US.
They used simple techniques including a rocket launch and for the descent, the scramjet was operational.
The US soon jumped on board the Australian programme (some say to co-opt the Australian research) and there have been follow in tests of the Australian engine as well as others.
If Aurora is powered by some high speed engine, then I tend to agree with some here who argue it can't be a scramjet. Perhaps if it exists a rocket/ramjet for instance, as why would the US join an Australian project more advanced than theirs?.

I seem to recall Russian scramjet engine work in the early 90's on anti aircraft missiles.
Whether they achieved supersonic combustion is unknown to me at this time. AWST covered it in late '91/92 as I recall.

2. British hypersonic work was undertaken in the late'50's/early '60's.
English Electric were working on the P.42 programme and
addressed a number of mach 5 bomber designs for the MOD and bomber command.
In April 1999 the UK journal Air Pictorial had a summary of these UK Mach 5 programmes by Chris Gibson (the 1989 Aurora oil rig observer).
Interesting drawings that English Electric devised and many of the principles applied to the p.42 would apply to the hypothetical Aurora, Gibson suggests.
depicts one of the more elegant designs the EAG 3303/2
mach 5 bomber design.
Others in the EAG series look much like the Mig-25 or even the Tu-22M in appearance (roughly).
I suggest a good look at this site as the overall principles involved in a 1980's Aurora concept may be relevant aerodynamically.

One wonders (conjecture) whether the North Sea 1989 Aurora was there as part of a 'special relationship' with Britain as perhaps the earlier British work was used by the Aurora designers and perhaps its a joint aircraft in some sense?.
If Britain assisted in Aurora's design, then perhaps the US thought to fly it around the UK as part of the joint nature of the project (whatever percentage that was).
I note English Electric explored kerosene and hydrogen fuel but settles initally for kerosene and limited flight at mach 5 due to thermal limits of the fuel (15 mins at most).
One wonders if the Aurora using similar designs is subject to the same limits and perhaps as Mr Sweetman suggests may explain a protracted development.

I doubt the putative Aurora uses scramjets though, but its interesting to think about the earlier UK P.42 programme.
If it had gone ahead, by the end of the '60's we may have seen the RAF with Mach 5 bombers and ahead of anything else in the world.
Technically a pity in one sense it didn't come to fruition, but it shows that there is more than one way to skin a cat!.

Doctor Who

Attached link: http://www.aemann.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/aircraft/hyper/scheme8/scheme8.htm


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