victrola
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Constellation Design

Fri Feb 15, 2013 2:40 pm

My favorite airplane of all time has to be the Lockheed Constellation. I was curious about the design. While most airliner fuselages are in the shape of a tube, was their any tecnical reasons Lockheed chose to go for a its unique fuselage design, or did they just want to build something that looked cool? Also, what is the advantage of 3 tails?
 
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RE: Constellation Design

Fri Feb 15, 2013 3:23 pm

There are many books covering the Constellation series. Some claim that the triple tail was to keep the overall tail height low to utilize existing hangars at various airports.

The shape of the fuselage is certainly not because it's "cool". It's much more costly and challenging to construct something that is not a constant diameter tube. Most writers attribute the shape to the need to keep the tail low, limit nose gear length and maintain prop clearance. Some also claim that the shape made a small contribution to overall lift.

There certainly were no standard cargo containers, luggage containers or similar considerations back when the type was designed. The main goals were speed, economy, and passenger comfort and inflight experience.
 
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Jetlagged
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RE: Constellation Design

Fri Feb 15, 2013 5:14 pm

I don't know about contributing to lift, but I suspect the continuously varying cross-section reduced drag, compared to a straight tube. Howard Hughes had a big influence on the design and he was keen maximum speed as a competitive factor (as with the Convair 880 and 990). The triple tail is said to be to reduce height to be able to use existing hangars.

Whatever the reason the result is a uniquely beautiful dolphin-like shape.

[Edited 2013-02-15 09:32:26]
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timz
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RE: Constellation Design

Fri Feb 15, 2013 6:12 pm

Next question: did Hughes specify a high-drag wing? One way or another Super Constellations were slower than DC-7s with the same engines. Maybe just because they were heavier, but in any case it's hard to show Constellations were less draggy overall.

Quoting 113312 (Reply 1):
The shape of the fuselage is certainly not because it's "cool".

No reason to rule it out. The customers like cool airplanes.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Constellation Design

Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:01 am

The fuselage is area ruled. The most efficient aerodynamic shape is pretty much a cigar shape, constantly tapering. However as 113312 points out it costs much more to build a constantly changing cross section than a tube. Today's designs use flap track and wing-fuselage fairings to achieve the same effect.

Quoting timz (Reply 3):

Quoting 113312 (Reply 1):
The shape of the fuselage is certainly not because it's "cool".

No reason to rule it out. The customers like cool airplanes.

Customers don't pay the fuel bill. If an aircraft looks cool, it is a secondary consideration compared to operational and construction cost.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
timz
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RE: Constellation Design

Sat Feb 16, 2013 12:40 am

Depends what you mean by "customers". Lockheed's customers were the airlines.

No reason to think Constellations burned less fuel per ton-mile than Douglases.

(An area-ruled fuselage would be narrower at the wing than elsewhere.)
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Constellation Design

Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:03 am

Quoting timz (Reply 5):
Depends what you mean by "customers". Lockheed's customers were the airlines.

No reason to think Constellations burned less fuel per ton-mile than Douglases.

(An area-ruled fuselage would be narrower at the wing than elsewhere.)

Fair enough. Sorry just woke up. However if you took the wings off it would be area ruled. 
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prebennorholm
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RE: Constellation Design

Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:24 am

Quoting victrola (Thread starter):
Also, what is the advantage of 3 tails?

The reason for three vertical fins was to make it fit into some smaller hangars of that time. A single fin would have been much higher.
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Mir
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RE: Constellation Design

Sat Feb 16, 2013 3:39 am

Quoting victrola (Thread starter):
Also, what is the advantage of 3 tails?

None, but as was said the airplane needed to fit into existing hangars, and thus it had to have three shorter tails instead of one larger one.

-Mir
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Fabo
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RE: Constellation Design

Mon Feb 18, 2013 2:27 pm

Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 7):
The reason for three vertical fins was to make it fit into some smaller hangars of that time. A single fin would have been much higher.

Case in point is the B377 that had a folding tail.
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Viscount724
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RE: Constellation Design

Tue Feb 19, 2013 2:10 am

Quoting Fabo (Reply 9):
Quoting prebennorholm (Reply 7):
The reason for three vertical fins was to make it fit into some smaller hangars of that time. A single fin would have been much higher.

Case in point is the B377 that had a folding tail.

Photo with tail folded.

http://i1117.photobucket.com/albums/k593/pilot852/hangar.jpg

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