Sunday 26 February 2012

A Quick Summary of Land Speed Records

The British seem obsessed with making cars go fast. Here's a comparison chart showing the chronology. Most of it is to scale (unless otherwise noted) and relative distances are those travelled in one tenth of a second.
  • A fast human, such as Usain Bolt, can cover 100m at an average speed of 23mph.
  • The fastest modern insect, Austrophlebia costalis, an Australian dragonfly can fly at 36mph.
  • racehorse can gallop at about 40mph.
  • Cheetahs can reach speeds of 70mph.
  • The Red-Breasted Merganser can fly at 80mph. This is the fastest bird in level flight..
  • Stephenson's Rocket reached about 30mph on September 15, 1830.
  • The winner of the first modern Olympic bicycle sprint averaged 31mph on April 13, 1896.
  • The electric car Jeantaud Duc for the first holder of the Land Speed Record: 39mph on December 18, 1898.
  • The Wright Flyer flew at about 30mph on December 17, 1903.
  • Henry Ford drove his Ford 999 Racer at 91mph on January 12, 1904. It was one of the first internal-combustion-engined cars to hold the record.
  • The Stanley Steam Rocket broke the record with 128mph on January 26, 1906. It held the steam car record for over a century (see below).
  • The Sunbeam 1000 hp reached 204mph on March 29, 1927.
  • The Campbell-Napier-Railton Blue Bird reached 246mph on February 5, 1931.
  • The terrifying propeller-driven train, Schienenzeppelin, reached 143mph on June 21, 1931. Not surprisingly, it never entered service due to safety concerns. It used a petrol engine.
  • The Campbell-Railton Blue Bird reached 301mph on September 3, 1935.
  • The fastest steam locomotive is LNER Class A4 4468 Mallard with a speed of 126mph attained on July 3, 1938.
  • The three-axle, seven-ton behemoth Thunderbolt reached 358mph on September 15, 1938.
  • The first authenticated speed record for a jet aircraft was 606mph in a Gloster Meteor F Mk4 on November 7, 1945. After this, the speed of jet/rocket aircraft grew expontentially, so they have been omitted from the chart.
  • The Railton Mobil Special reached 394mph on September 16, 1947.
  • The fastest propeller-driven aircraft, the Tupolev Tu-114, reached 545mph on April 9, 1960.
  • The Spirit of America reached 408mph on September 5, 1963. Its claim to the Land Speed Record was disputed because (a) it had only three wheels and (b) it was jet-powered and not wheel-driven.
  • The Bluebird-Proteus CN7 reached 403mph on July 17, 1964. It was wheel-driven and therefore claimed one version of the record, even though it was a bit slower than Spirit of America.
  • A redesign, Spirit of America - Sonic 1, with four wheels, reached 594mph on November 15, 1965.
  • The Blue Flame reached 630mph on October 28, 1970.
  • The fastest boat, Spirit of Australia, reached 318mph on October 8, 1978.
  • Thrust2 reached 634mph on October 4, 1983.
  • The fastest rotorcraft, the Westland Lynx, flew at 249mph on August 11, 1986.
  • ThrustSSC went supersonic at 760mph on October 15, 1997.
  • The fastest naturally-aspirated production car, the McLaren F1, reached 240mph when unlimited on March 31, 1998.
  • The current holder of the wheel-driven record is the Vesco Turbinator at 458mph on October 18, 2001.
  • The fastest diesel car is JCB Dieselmax at 350mph on August 23, 2006.
  • The fastest conventional train is TGV-V150 with a speed of 357mph on April 3, 2007. Maglev trains are currently only marginally faster.
  • Ecotricity Greenbird is the fastest wind-powered land vehicle at 126mph on March 26, 2009.
  • The British Steam Car took the steam record from Stanley Steamer Rocket on August 26, 2009 with a speed of 148mph.
  • Varna Tempest is the fastest bicycle at 83mph on September 18, 2009.
  • The Bugatti Veyron Super Speed is the fastest production car at 268mph on June 26, 2010.
  • The Buckeye Bullet 2.5 holds the battery-powered record at 308mph on August 24, 2010.
  • The fastest motorcycle is Top Oil Ack Attack at 376mph on September 25, 2010.
  • Sunswift IV is the fastest solar-powered vehicle at 55mph on January 7, 2011.

Monday 6 February 2012

A Small Overview of Large Aircraft

What's not to like about large aircraft? Of course, what you actually mean by "large" is moot: wingspan, length, takeoff weight, carrying capacity? Nonetheless, after my foray into Tall Buildings, I thought I'd put together a visual timeline of some of my favourite large aircraft.

Here's a chronological list:
  1. The largest flying creature ever was probably along the lines of Quetzalcoatlus from 68 million years ago.
  2. The Wright brothers' Flyer I of 1903 was of a similar size.
  3. The Germans built many giant bombers during World War One, but the only one built in any quantity was Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI of 1916.
  4. The Dornier Do X of 1929 was a German seaplane capable of carrying over 150 passengers. Three were built.
  5. The Junkers G.38, first flown slightly later, in 1929, was a land-based aircraft where the thirty or more passenger sat inside the wings. Although German-designed, it was licensed to Japan.
  6. The Russian Tupolev ANT-20 "Maxim Gorky" land-based aircraft of 1934 could carry 72 passengers.
  7. LZ 129 "Hindenburg" is the largest aircraft ever flown. It could carry 72 passengers and about the same number of crew.
  8. During the war, the Blohm & Voss BV-222 was a cargo-carrying seaplane. Its later cousin, Blohm & Voss BV 238 of 1944 was larger, but only one prototype was produced.
  9. The US Martin JRM Mars was one of the largest Allied seaplanes of the war. Several are still used to fight fires.
  10. The Convair B-36 Peacemaker first flew in 1946. It has the largest wingspan of any combat aircraft.
  11. The famous Hughes H-4 Hercules "Spruce Goose" still has the greatest wingspan of any aircraft in the world.
  12. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is the largest military aircraft ever to have scored an air-to-air "kill".
  13. The Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess was the swansong of large, commercial seaplanes. It could carry over 100 passengers in great comfort.
  14. The awesome Mil V-12 Homer is the largest helicopter ever flown. The meshing rotors are each 35 metres in diameter.
  15. The latest incarnation of the Boeing 747, originally flown in 1969, is the 747-8 variant. It is still the longest passenger airliner.
  16. The Antonov An-225 Mriya is the longest (84 metres) and heaviest (640 tonnes) fixed-wing aircraft in the world.
  17. The Airbus A380 is the world's largest passenger airliner, capable of carrying up to 853 people.
 Aircraft got large surprisingly quickly, but wingspans haven't really grown since 1946's Spruce Goose.