What aircraft do you guys think were designed "perfect" from the outset?

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by Doggzilla, Jan 20, 2020.

Help Support HomeBuiltAirplanes Forum by donating:

  1. Jan 20, 2020 #1

    Doggzilla

    Doggzilla

    Doggzilla

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,102
    Likes Received:
    457
    Location:
    Everywhere USA
    In another thread someone brought up how the P-51 Mustang was almost entirely redesigned even though it only served for the last 2 years of the war.

    That got me thinking, and I cant think of any aircraft except the F4U Corsair which was both successful and did not need to be redesigned. Most aircraft which were not redesigned were failures which were not redesigned because they were simply abandoned. But there were not many successful aircraft which did not need major redesign in order to become successful.

    I think maybe the P-38 might be second best of its day, as it only needed redesign of the controls to add boosters. Otherwise remained nearly unchanged, and very successful as well.

    What other aircraft from ANY time period do you guys think were designed near perfect from the outset?
     
  2. Jan 20, 2020 #2

    Wanttaja

    Wanttaja

    Wanttaja

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2013
    Messages:
    1,332
    Likes Received:
    1,551
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    What constitutes "perfect"? For me, to be perfect, the initial prototype of a given aircraft should be nearly indistinguishable from the last production versions. Not true of many aircraft. XP-51 is nearly a different aircraft from a P-51H; the last marks of the Spitfire are significantly different from the early planes.

    The B-17 went through tremendous changes in its production run, but there was little "wrong" with the earlier models. They just needed more protection and defensive armament.

    I think the F6F Hellcat might qualify; only minor changes. The changes to the Corsair were minor, too, but initially, at least, it was not considered to be well-suited as a carrier aircraft...which is what it was supposed to be. Took them a bit to solve the issues. Hard to describe it as "perfect" when it took rework to let it do the job it was supposedly designed for.

    Ron Wanttaja
     
    bmcj likes this.
  3. Jan 20, 2020 #3

    Victor Bravo

    Victor Bravo

    Victor Bravo

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2014
    Messages:
    6,560
    Likes Received:
    5,338
    Location:
    KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
    AS-W20 sailplane, Dipl. Ing Gerhard Waibel, 1976 (no major design changes from initial production aircraft to successful competition on the world stage)

    Schweizer SGS 2-33 training glider, Ernie Schweizer, 1965 (no major design changes over 50 years)

    RV-3 sportplane, Richard VanGrunsven, 1973? (minor structure upgrades only)

    Cassutt Sport Racer, Tom Cassutt, 1950 (basic design largely unchanged despite hundreds of individual racer modifications)

    Taylorcraft. 1935, C. G. Taylor (basic design remained unchanged for 50+ years, only went through several minor changes to increase useful load or increased power)

    Convair B-36 (designer name unknown), 1945 (most successful military aircraft in history, lived up to its "Peacemaker" name without ever having to be demonstrated as a weapon, only significant change was adding more power from aux. jets)

    Fiseler Fi-156 Storch, Gerhard Fieseler, 1935? (final version nearly identical to early version)
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  4. Jan 20, 2020 #4

    lr27

    lr27

    lr27

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2007
    Messages:
    3,518
    Likes Received:
    522
    DC-3? I don't think there were a whole lot of changes apart from rearranging the interior and using various engines.
     
    rdj, Pops and delta like this.
  5. Jan 20, 2020 #5

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    320
    Location:
    Sydney
    You guys seem to forget a certain little wooden wonder.

    Fastest propped wings, faster than a fighter even when used as a bomber. Highest mission completion rate, very low crew losses. Only two crew, large bomb load. Used as photo recon, fighter, night fighter, path finder, ground attack- absolutely a train/tank killer.
    Killer of war ships and subs when fitted with a massive cannon.
    Destroyer of enemy moral esp Nazi leaders, high precision tactical hitter when everyone else was into carpet bombing. Could take damage that a metal aircraft could not.


    Made by wood workers from balsa and some other woods, very smooth, and deadly fast.

    The Mosquito, gets my vote- perfection from drawing board to battlefield.

    Did they change it- sure but that was to create variations to meet specific missions- not because it was under designed or did not meet its design brief. In fact the trogs could not believe it could be done, when its test flight smashed all expectations- they could see a winner even when they were biased against a wooden aircraft.

    P38? they wish. Might had been the same idea for roles but a far cry from the complete domination a mosquito could give.
     
    stanislavz and Doggzilla like this.
  6. Jan 20, 2020 #6

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    320
    Location:
    Sydney
    B 17?

    Sorry guys,but it was a big heavy thing that was slow, needed a lot of firepower and heavy armour to protect itself. Had a very big crew and a slow way to get a limited bomb load a long distance.

    The sheer numbers of crew lost indicates it was not a successful design. Its only advantage was you were able to build them in huge numbers.
     
  7. Jan 20, 2020 #7

    BJC

    BJC

    BJC

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    10,195
    Likes Received:
    6,918
    Location:
    97FL, Florida, USA
    Its advantage was that it was flown in daylight hours for more precise bombing of strategic targets. You may think of it as the airplane that led to your speaking English.


    BJC
     
  8. Jan 20, 2020 #8

    Doggzilla

    Doggzilla

    Doggzilla

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2013
    Messages:
    2,102
    Likes Received:
    457
    Location:
    Everywhere USA
    The B-17 actually had a horrendous stall defect because it had no stall warning. The test engineers rated it unsatisfactory.

    And the Corsair Carrier operation issues turned out to be overstated. The Royal Navy operated them off carriers and they earned a legendary reputation. They were even more well respected than Seafires.

    Corsairs weren’t just good, they dropped more tons of bombs than all other US single engine aircraft COMBINED.

    During testing in 1943 they matched or exceeded every single fighter tested except for the turn rate of the spitfire. Despite being 3 years older than the other aircraft. That says a lot.
     
  9. Jan 20, 2020 #9

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    320
    Location:
    Sydney
    Ah.........you do realise I am from Australia not Austria and we spoke English since 1788, bar the 500 odd native languages already here.

    Been used for 'precise carpet bombing" in day time at high altitude is not considered a advantage rather- all they were good at.

    I do not think the crews taking flak and attacked by fighters saw the day runs as good news.
     
  10. Jan 20, 2020 #10

    Mad MAC

    Mad MAC

    Mad MAC

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2004
    Messages:
    500
    Likes Received:
    229
    Location:
    Hamilton New Zealand
    Oops there was a bit of redesign that raised the cockpit to allow sufficient forward vision to land on carriers (RN managed to use the early versions, aka the bird cage ones on carriers but the English tend to be a bit stoic with military kit, at that point they had been relegated to the marines only).

    The problem with military stuff is that they don't get used quite as intended, which drives the need to improve it.

    The DH 98 Mosquito was pretty good, it had lower structural margins than typically accepted of the period (which probably contributed greatly to its performance, also thr design, build and repair were pretty radical for the day).

    The resource consumption of the B17 for payload delivered was pretty terrible, the ability to hit targets in daylight while better than the night time raids, was much much lower than expected. The B24 in many ways was more notable, for the period it had a very high aspect ratio wing and limited design improvements (well until the navy got at it). There is an interesting theory that had they removed all the gun turrets form the Lancasters, the Germans would have had a very low probability of interception on night raids, given the expected ceiling and airspeed increase.


    The EE Canberra probably fits the bill not really a lot of changes during its service life (don't think the B57 counts as that was a role / country change).

    Depressingly the Cessna 172 should be on the list. the tail change was just for marketing.
     
  11. Jan 20, 2020 #11

    BJC

    BJC

    BJC

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    10,195
    Likes Received:
    6,918
    Location:
    97FL, Florida, USA
    The Omni-Vision and the swept tail both degraded the performance of the C172. I do like the change to the one piece windshield, and some eventually got the right engine, the 180 HP Lycoming.

    It’s hard not to recognize the commercial success of the C172.


    BJC
     
    Doggzilla, Pops and cheapracer like this.
  12. Jan 20, 2020 #12

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    320
    Location:
    Sydney
    The EE Canberra was the real sucessor to the Mossie and a great aircraft.

    We loved em over here and used them to great effect esp in Vietnam. It was the most effective machine available, more missions , more success and less crew lost. What is not to like.

    And they are actually a extremely competent high altitude recon machine. A version was used in lieu of the U2 and was a much more pilot friendly and survivable machine.

    Up close and personal the Canberra is a sexy machine of death.

    Given it was on the drawing in WW2 and flew in 1949 and is still used for special roles today, indicates how special it is.
     
  13. Jan 20, 2020 #13

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,150
    Likes Received:
    3,459
    Location:
    Saline Michigan
    Not the Corsair either. It was terrible at carrier ops even at the end of it service as the Super Corsair, had an awful record for carrier recoveries due awful stall characteristics. Even Bill Kershner got a pass on wrecking one during a carrier recovery on a gusty day. It worked, but your stal/spin margin for carrier work was tiny...

    Closest powered airplanes I know of are the C-47/DC-3 and Spaceship One.

    Aerodynamically and structurally, the DC3 and C47 were the same from beginning to end, but it had lousy lateral stability. Someone may be able to fill in some blanks on adjustments between drawing board and first production airplane.

    Spaceship One went from drawing board to the Smithsonian and smashed all of the X-15 records with only one little aero fix applied ahead of the horizontal stabilizer. Flight characteristic less than perfect - on first space flight one wing stalled during vertical flight boost, and ship snap rolled all the way through rocket burn. Subsequent flights were conducted with slight positive g throughout boost, commencing at less than vertical. Two different engines were run, during the program, with different fairings to suit. Other airframe mods: Control system friction was reduced during program; Weight reduction through judicious part trimming (excess part margins and bolt lengths) throughout the airframe prior to X-Prize flights. It worked...
     
    Doggzilla and bmcj like this.
  14. Jan 20, 2020 #14

    litespeed

    litespeed

    litespeed

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2008
    Messages:
    1,550
    Likes Received:
    320
    Location:
    Sydney
    Can we really call Spaceship One, impressive it certainly is, a Powered aircraft or more a rocket that is launched from high altitude and glided down?

    **** awesome machine but more sub orbital spacecraft than powered aircraft. So I see it more as the worlds fastest, highest glider, with the worst L/D ratio this side of a brick. And you have to bungee launch at mach 0.9 from a 50,000 feet cliff face.

    Unless it can fly off the ground and land again in a condition able to take off again- it ain't no powered aircraft in my book. I know you glider guys (I am very impressed with gliders) might object but no power source etc. If we accept glider tows then move to fuselage drops......in air at minus 100 degrees Celsius...... at a stretch it is a assisted glider.

    Nah... sub orbital space rocket glider

    The DC3 aka Goonie bird aka c47 is a legendary aircraft and a light year away from the Rocket ship. It did what it was designed to do and very well overall. But it sure has quirks and not a perfect off the drawing board design and even when developed. A notable machine in history that was able to benefit from the massive industrial might of the USA at the time, so numbers were huge. A bit like Early Fords- made on mass, so that whats what people know. It surely is a contender for one of the most memorable and significant designs of the period and its production enabled millions of troop/passenger/gear loads.

    And still used in many a abusive pilot relationship-:fear: often by wannabe TV stars:popcorn: in cold climates.

    It would have to rank certainly but close and no cigar.
     
  15. Jan 20, 2020 #15

    Marc W

    Marc W

    Marc W

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2017
    Messages:
    333
    Likes Received:
    252
    Location:
    Colorado
    The Corsair also had the cockpit moved aft during development. The DC-3 is a redesign and refinement of the DC-2 so I am not sure it qualifies.

    I think the Hellcat was one that was right from the beginning.
     
    sotaro likes this.
  16. Jan 20, 2020 #16

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,150
    Likes Received:
    3,459
    Location:
    Saline Michigan
    Geez, there is a lot of thread drift on here. The OP asked about "aircraft" that were "perfect" from the drawing board and did not need significant changes. Discussion of what their mission was is off topic, discussion of whys of their mission is way off topic, and some of the discussion sure seems to be politics too, which we do not do on HBA.com.

    Yes we can and without attempting to change what the OP established as our topic. I shall support that SpaceShipOne is an aircraft.

    It flies on wings and tail surfaces with control surfaces. The thrust line is fixed - no gimbal on the rocket nozzle. Control of all three axes is with the aerodynamic surfaces for atmospheric portions of the flight.

    An imperfection in SpaceShipOne's aerodynamics did mess up one of Mike Melvill's astronaut flights as evidenced when it snap rolled in supposedly zero lift configuration. This sure sounds like it was flying its wings while in boost...

    From drop at 48,000 feet and 150 knot IAS (way below Mach 0.9), through the turn to vertical, and well into the boost phase, it is an airplane using purely aerodynamic control through its wings and control surfaces. While "In Feather", it is using aerodynamics to make drag, like using flaps and dive brakes, only on HGH. As it descends steeply towards the airport and to land, again it is an aircraft flying on its wings and tail, much as many tactical aircraft do during engine out training. Sounds like its operation should fit right in with pilots of everything from the F4F to F-16's, which are also aircraft.

    As to being able to fly it again, after landing... how does that make it not an aircraft? Yeah, its refuel cycle is inconvenient, but so is stopping for fuel in our Cherokee on a trip to Minnesota. Does not disqualify it as an aircraft.

    SpaceShipOne was not perfect, but it did require very little in the way of changes to go from drawing board to smashing all existing records for aircraft and winning the X-Prize. And flew it on wings and tail with a stick and rudder pedals like our little homebuilts. Aircraft.

    Was it right from the drawing board or did it need a bunch of design stuff changed over its lifetime? Near as I can tell, Douglas had the design issues figured out with the DC-1 and DC-2, but the DC-3, was still a new airplane with a bigger diameter and longer fuselage, bigger engines, and larger wings and tail. As I understand it, design was pretty well done and flew through a history still being written without significant redesign. If someone knows stuff that had to be substantially changed after the prototype first flew, let's hear it.

    I suspect that the big take-away is doing an aircraft without having to fix some basic design issue is pretty tough to achieve...

    Billski
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2020
  17. Jan 20, 2020 #17

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,150
    Likes Received:
    3,459
    Location:
    Saline Michigan
    Thread drift...
     
  18. Jan 20, 2020 #18

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    wsimpso1

    Super Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2003
    Messages:
    6,150
    Likes Received:
    3,459
    Location:
    Saline Michigan
    And you are drifting your own thread... Maybe I should leave Thread Drift alone.
     
  19. Jan 20, 2020 #19

    Tiger Tim

    Tiger Tim

    Tiger Tim

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2013
    Messages:
    2,996
    Likes Received:
    1,698
    Location:
    Thunder Bay
    This is one of those questions that’s been practically engineered in a lab to spark arguments as efficiently as possible.
     
    sotaro, Dillpickle and gtae07 like this.
  20. Jan 20, 2020 #20

    BJC

    BJC

    BJC

    Well-Known Member HBA Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    10,195
    Likes Received:
    6,918
    Location:
    97FL, Florida, USA
    Is there such a thing as thread drift in the Hangar Flying category?

    Granted, forbidden subjects, such as politics, are out of bounds.


    BJC
     
    bmcj and litespeed like this.

Share This Page

Group Builder
arrow_white