oly720man
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Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:54 am

Interesting story on the BBC site

In the midst of World War II, workers at a Welsh aircraft factory gave up their weekend off to build a Wellington bomber from scratch in just 24 hours. Why? To set a new world record.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-11107561

I know there was a pretty fast turnaround of aircraft during the war, well there had to be, but to go from all the bits to the complete aircraft leaving the ground in just under 25hrs is an achievement under any circumstances.

There's a video here, though it seems to be made up from stills.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVk1OP_LQH4
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ptrjong
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:29 am

Quoting oly720man (Thread starter):
In the midst of World War II,
Quoting oly720man (Thread starter):
Why? To set a new world record.

As the article says, this was actually propaganda, and should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.

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oly720man
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 1:24 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 1):
As the article says, this was actually propaganda, and should perhaps be taken with a grain of salt.

Awwww, cynic.

Sure it's a flag waving exercise to buoy up the nation, but it took perhaps half the time of regular manufacture, presumably just with more people involved.
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kc135topboom
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:23 pm

It is great to see this, these 'compititions' happened all the time during WWII. IIRC, in a California ship yard, the set a record by building a Liberty ship in less tahn 4 days. Also, the original Mustang Mk. I (later called the P-51 by the USAAF) built for the RAF went from a design concept to flying example in less than 120 days.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 2:44 pm

Quoting oly720man (Reply 2):
Awwww, cynic.

I don't think so, and I don't doubt that they worked very hard in those days.

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
Also, the original Mustang Mk. I (later called the P-51 by the USAAF) built for the RAF went from a design concept to flying example in less than 120 days.

And it was one of the most brilliant aircraft ever conceived. Some things have changed, I know, but it still shouldn't take a couple of decades to develop the Eurofighter or V-22 or A400M (The Europeans are the worst offenders here).
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 9:11 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 4):
it still shouldn't take a couple of decades to develop the Eurofighter or V-22 or A400M

Or many others, including the F-22 and F-35.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:18 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 5):

I was under the impression that the F-22 did a little bit better, but maybe not. I guess the F-35 is going to be completely hopeless, with three US services and multiple nations involved.

I was looking at the Eurocopter Tiger versions recently and I think it's completely ridiculous that France and Germany didn't reach agreement on a common version. This is setting back things for years, with no real advantages.

Sorry for drifting competely off topic.

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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:55 pm

Quoting KC135TopBoom (Reply 3):
Also, the original Mustang Mk. I (later called the P-51 by the USAAF) built for the RAF went from a design concept to flying example in less than 120 days.

If I remember correct, also some late-war prototypes in Germany were very fast to be developed. In many fields the technological achievements of WW2 were never again reached.

However, it should not be forgotten that much higher resources were used as well then. In wartime, there is much less testing and much more will to use it directly at the front line.

Even today examples happen: In the 2nd gulf war, some modifications to weaponry were done very quickly. Today, German army was very quick on improvising IED protection for their equipment in Afghanistan, as well.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 10:57 pm

Quoting oly720man (Thread starter):
In the midst of World War II, workers at a Welsh aircraft factory gave up their weekend off to build a Wellington bomber from scratch in just 24 hours. Why? To set a new world record.

In contrast the restoration of the RAF Museums well cared for and intact Wellington is expected to take several years at least...

Scroll down a bit at this link:

http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/london/

edit: link didn't work..

[Edited 2010-09-13 15:59:37]
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 13, 2010 11:00 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 4):
And it was one of the most brilliant aircraft ever conceived. Some things have changed, I know, but it still shouldn't take a couple of decades to develop the Eurofighter or V-22 or A400M (The Europeans are the worst offenders here).

Or F-22 etc, I agree completely and from the moment Lockheed got the go ahead until the first flight of the A-12 was 2 1/2 years... and this with no computers, and everything including fuel/oil/tires etc having to be designed themselves from scratch, and to do that which no air breathing manned aircraft had done or would do til this day.
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 1:35 am

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 9):
and this with no computers

Indeed. To go even further off topic, but this is a fact of life that really baffles me:

In the 19th century, they could build long railway lines, even through very difficult alpine terrain, in just a couple of years. Railways that are still perfectly good to use today. Today, it seems to take much longer to build the same railway line. Of course, we have nimbies and the environment to consider, and we don't killl as many workers in the process. But hey, we have experience and computers and heavy machinery. And still we take longer.

Kennedy went to the moon before the decade was out. And despite the fact that we've done it before, it seems totally impossible to do that same thing within a decade now, in the unlikely event that we would want to. Of course, there was immense funding and political pressure back then, but even with all the resources needed, it would seem very difficult to launch even a straight copy of Apollo within that timeframe. Am I mistaken here? If not, isn't that weird?
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HaveBlue
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 2:14 am

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 10):
Kennedy went to the moon before the decade was out. And despite the fact that we've done it before, it seems totally impossible to do that same thing within a decade now, in the unlikely event that we would want to. Of course, there was immense funding and political pressure back then, but even with all the resources needed, it would seem very difficult to launch even a straight copy of Apollo within that timeframe. Am I mistaken here? If not, isn't that weird?

You are not mistaken, and it is weird. Was watching a show about America all day yesterday on the History channel and one segment mentioned that when the first personal computers became available commercially... that that one personal computer had more computing power than the whole of the Apollo program. Which seems insane. And as you state even with our computational powers orders of magnitude greater, and our understanding and capabilities so much more advanced.. still we lumber along lethargically thru similiar programs today that back then were done so much faster, yet with less.
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 10:43 am

So it seems that technological progress allows us to develop things - aircraft, for example - that are a bit better/more efficient than their predecessors. But progress and experience are doing nothing to make the development process more efficient, to the contrary.

Are we just too perfectionist? Let me stress that I'm not an engineer. But shouldn't a design team say: 'Hey, with a century of experience, we know pretty well what the tail section of a transport aircraft should be like, so we'll give ourself just two weeks to design ours. If we take one year, we could maybe make it 1% lighter, and maybe eliminate some risk of having to change it later, but it's simply not worth all the trouble, time and money.' Any thoughts?

Quoting TheSonntag (Reply 7):
In many fields the technological achievements of WW2 were never again reached.

Sorry, I overlooked your post. Amen to this, although there's no doubt that many things were done too hastily.

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oly720man
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:30 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 12):
But progress and experience are doing nothing to make the development process more efficient, to the contrary.

If innovation was a more gradual process then experience helps enormously. So improvements on a single design that come through experience with the first models are a natural progression. But there are so many advances in materials, manufacturing techniques and capabilities, and the like, that every step forward seems to have a backwards step to get familiar with what's new and learn its positives and negatives and this is what can eat time and money.
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 4:46 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 12):
So it seems that technological progress allows us to develop things - aircraft, for example - that are a bit better/more efficient than their predecessors. But progress and experience are doing nothing to make the development process more efficient, to the contrary.



As I mentioned in another thread, during wartime with a known objective and opposition, then development can be focused. in "peacetime" we have little in the way of absolute mission so we try to cover all bases with all a/c, ground and naval equipment. That makes for tremendous complexity and enormous tradeoffs .. you know the old "jack of all trades and master of none".

Also post war product lines are often too short to realize benefits of mass production... Look at B-17 production vs B-1's... OK the F35 will have a chance, but they'll mess it up.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:05 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 6):

I was under the impression that the F-22 did a little bit better, but maybe not.


The Lockheed YF-22 won the fly off over the Northrop YF-23 in April 1991? It's taken them 19 years to built about 165 of them. I don't consider that "a little better".

Quoting HaveBlue (Reply 11):
You are not mistaken, and it is weird. Was watching a show about America all day yesterday on the History channel and one segment mentioned that when the first personal computers became available commercially... that that one personal computer had more computing power than the whole of the Apollo program. Which seems insane. And as you state even with our computational powers orders of magnitude greater, and our understanding and capabilities so much more advanced.. still we lumber along lethargically thru similiar programs today that back then were done so much faster, yet with less.



The problem is that when you have all that computing power you want to use it! So additional tasks and tests are performed because "we have the capability".

Some years ago I assisted on a NASA program. They originally had six (6) different parameters they wanted to monitor during the tests (altitude/speed/fuel flow/heading/temperature/aileron position). When they found out that the test console could monitor over a hundred parameters the test parameters were expanded because "we have the capability".

Kelly Johnson's "KISS" philosophy is not compatible with the computer driven world.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 14, 2010 9:08 pm

There was a documentary on BBC4 tonight with interviews and reminiscences from some of the workers, as well as a Wellington pilot. It can be downloaded, if it's allowed to your bit of the world.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tr2p5
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Mon Sep 20, 2010 6:04 pm

You also have to consider risk aversion and design committees as part of the modern design problems. Adding more people and levels of management results in more hurdles, not more progress.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 21, 2010 7:43 am

Funny enough, civilian producers are usually better. Airbus did a lot of design studies for a long time on the A380, but despite all delays, they were quite fast getting the plane ready to fly. This also applies to the 777. Ok maybe not the 787, but also this plane was designed and built relatively well.
 
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RE: Building A Plane In 24hrs - Wellington During WW2

Tue Sep 21, 2010 8:23 pm

Quoting ptrjong (Reply 4):
And it was one of the most brilliant aircraft ever conceived. Some things have changed, I know, but it still shouldn't take a couple of decades to develop the Eurofighter or V-22 or A400M (The Europeans are the worst offenders here).

The Lockheed P-80 Shooting Star ( the first real American jet fighter) was designed and flown in 1944 in less than 90 days (under the leadership of famous Kelly Johnson).
Similarly the Manhattan Project faced several extremely difficult tasks at the leading edge of physics and managed to get the results just within 4 years.

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