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DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:36 pm

FORTUNATELY it didn't, but I wonder how could it resist the missile hit!

I guess this kind of missile is designed to homing into the engine exhaust, should it home into the fuel tank, it would be another story.
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:54 pm

There are literally hundreds of instances where the fuel tanks have been ruptured (by missles or other flying debris) and didn't explode.

The very nature of jet fuel is that it burns at a constant rate and doesn't explode. Fuel that explodes is highly unstable, which would make for some really difficult storage problems, and would actually damage the interior components (burner cans, turbine blades, etc.) of the engine.

The best example I can think of quickly is the Concord that crashed outside of Paris a couple of years ago. The fuel was burning furiously but the crash was caused by loss of control due to engine loss and flight control problems.

Had the missle hit a wing spar or other structural component all bets would have been off. That was one very lucky crew. If the fire had burned long enough to damage critical structure it would have been an entirely different ending. There's three more very religious people getting caught up on their tithes.

If there's a fire, the thing to do is get on the ground as quickly as possible where it can be put out by the fire brigade.

Forget the movies you've seen (especially ones like Die Hard 3). Things like that just can't happen, sorry.
One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Tue Nov 25, 2003 10:13 pm

You don't get explosions from liquid fuel, you get explosions from the fuel vapors being in the proper ratio with the oxygen in the air to provide for rapid ignition. Rapid ignition is probably a better term than explosion. The fuel tank that was hit may have been full of fuel so there were little or no vapors to ignite.
Having been in the middle of a rapid ignition of natural gas in the basement of a house, that is what I saw. The people upstairs felt the whole building shutter.
Being knee deep in flame for an instant will get you to change your skivies though.  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:53 am

One contributing factor is that the warhead on man portable SAM's such as the Stinger or SA-14 are small and the A300 is a big plane.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:01 am

To add to this, jet fuel has a very low flash point. If the fuel is cool enough you can drop a match into a bucket of Jet-A and it will not ignite the vapor. Kids, don't try this at home.  Smile

While this will more than likely get all the conspiracy theorists angry, one of the items that was listed as a possible cause with TWA 800 was the empty center tank. A short circuit or something like that could have caused a spark that ignited the fuel vapor in the tank which might be why it exploded.
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 9:18 am

jet a doesn't put matches out, we tried. the effects weren't pretty. jp7 will though. Big grin
"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Thu Nov 27, 2003 5:21 am

Having talked to a few people on the ground where the incident took place, perhaps this might help: the missile is, I believe, a proximity weapon which fragments close to the target. The missile detonated near the wingtip, with shrapnel causing structural damage to the outer trailing edge - with a resulting loss of fuel and subsequent fire. To explode, a lot of fuel would have to be released in one go, and mixed with the appropriate volume of air - plus an ignition source. If the missile had detonated closer to the engine (presumably its source of guidance, although I've had no confirmation from the investigation team that it was a heat-seeking weapon) then the damage might have been a lot more severe.
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Sat Nov 29, 2003 10:50 am

You also have to keep in mind that if the tank that ruptured fuel in it was ruptured by a flying piece of metal, and the fuel doesn't ignite inside the tank, then there really is no immediate danger if the draining fuel does catch outside, say from getting close to the engine or something. All you have is a flame off of the back of the wing, and, at flight speeds, that flame won't be on fire until a number of feet off of the trailing edge of the wing, thus not posing any hazard at all. It is really a simple principle.. otherwise propane burners would be dangerous... if anyone has ever used a lab-style bunsen burner, you know that the metal doesn't even heat up, even though that is where the flame comes from.

Twin Cessna 812 Victor, Minneapolis Center, we observe your operation in the immediate vicinity of extreme precipitation
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Sat Nov 29, 2003 11:39 am

Because the Aviation God's where looking over that crew on that day
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog"
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Sat Nov 29, 2003 1:50 pm

Jet fuel is explosive, not high explosive.

Meaning that you need compression to make it go boom.

So unless that fire was inside the tank where the expansion from the heat of the fire would have no place to go or it lit off the fumes, which is high explosive, it would just flame.

There was a great training film a number of years back where a firefighter in a bunker suit walks up to this container of fuel. He turns on a fan and has it blow across the surface of the exposed fuel. The then lights a match and drops it in the fuel, which puts the match out.

Point being, that fuel is hard to ignite if the fumes aren't there.

Needless to say, don't try that experiment at home.
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RE: DHL: Why Didn't It Explode?

Sun Nov 30, 2003 9:42 am

Not only fuel involved also hydraulic fluids, which also can burn...
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