Okay, I'll tell you right from the start
that this one is pretty weird!
Now that you're forewarned, read on and be prepared to be amazed .... by some very odd thoughts ....
I got the idea for a Land SpeedRecord
car some time ago when I was thinking about the problems that occur on
take-off in a 747. In the plane there is a set point, called 'V1' at
which you cannot stop and must continue the take-off as the plane will
just not stop before the end of the runway. In practice, it's not that
clear-cut as for example you can get a burst tyre which will not affect
the ability of the plane to fly, and yet will most definitely affect its
ability to stop, hence in a situation like that you're often better off
continuing the take-off even though you haven't reached V1.
Say for example the V1 speed was 140kts, and a couple of tyres blew out at about 120kts. If you tried to stop at that point then there is a very real chance that the plane will run off the end of the runway as it will not be able to stop properly. It's also at it's heaviest and of course has the least amount of runway left to stop on.
What's widely regarded as being a lot smarter is to get the plane off the ground, leave the landing gear down, then dump fuel and come back & land. By doing that, you've still got the same number of useful brakes & tyres, but now with a much lighter plane and a lot more runway to play with. Also, it gives plenty of time for the emergency services to organise themselves.
This may not seem to have much in common with a LSR car, but all will become apparent shortly ... ;)
More to the point now - One big problem with LSR cars is that they are always running a very big risk with the front end lifting and the car becoming a very fast and very poor aeroplane; they always crash badly.
I had a think about it, and the solution
to that problem, and the problem of stopping the LSR before it runs out
of flat road may in fact have a common answer.
Think about it - The LSR car has a problem with becoming airborne, and a problem stopping in the limited room available, so why not make it a plane that flys just in contact with the ground?
I figure that something like a MiG-29 suitably modified would be a good starting point. They can be picked up from the old Soviet states relatively cheaply, and the engines are also quick cheap to get a hold of. The bonus is that if the plane does start to get out of control then it already has an ejection seat to get the driver/pilot out of there. ;)
The MiG's landing gear would have to be
removed and something like a very streamlined set of four legs sticking
down at a 45° angle or so with some wheel made of the wonderful
material 'unobtainium' on the ends. The legs would have to be able to
move up & down on conventional type springs by roughly 3" or so to
take the bumps on the track. There would need to be four legs as the
rules state that to make it a car it requires four wheels in contact
with the ground.
The wheels would be extremely tricky to make, as 'conventional' LSR car's wheels are normally quite large to keep the rotational speeds and hence g-forces down, but there would only be room in the streamlined legs for relatively small diameter wheels so the rotational speeds would be very high indeed. The rotating speed by itself isn't too much of a bother, but they have to do it whilst being pounded along the ground at over 800mph. Tricky ... But with modern alloys and plastics I think it's solvable.
A very accurate system of measuring the ride height above the ground would be needed, so as to keep the right pressure on the legs to stop the plane from flying up or squatting down too hard. Again, with something like a laser altimeter it's not impossible.
The 'run' would go something like this -
A normal take-off would be made anywhere along the dry lake area, then
the plane would climb up a couple of thousand feet to gain speed and
circle around to line up with the measured mile for the record run. The
plane would drop down towards the surface and accelerate past mach one
as it got to less than 500', then continue to accelerate to the desired
speed as it approached the surface, touching down just before the start
of the measured mile where the timing starts. To keep the car/plane
straight, the driver/pilot would use the rudder pedals instead of the
joystick, and the plane's computer would have to be modified so that
when in contact or at least very close to the surface the rudder pedals
would yaw the plane and the ailerons automatically keep the wings level.
At the end of the measured mile, the car/plane would simply pull up
into the sky to decelerate safely, and also to gain room to turn around
to do the return run inside the 60 minutes that's required to make the
record stick. It normally takes a conventional LSR car close to that
hour to be able to do the run, but in the LSR MiG it could be done in a
couple of minutes. The return run would be done in the opposite
direction but otherwise there'd be no other changes.
The car/plane would pull up after the last run to decelerate to landing speed and then make an otherwise conventional landing on the lake bed.
Reading about the problems that the Thrust SSC team had, I think that most of them would be solved by using the MiG-29 as the basis for the LSR vehicle. Some of the main problems that had were that they had to be very sure that both afterburners lit up and equally at the same time so as to not throw the car sideways at any point during the runs, (not a problem in the MiG, as by the time it's anywhere near the ground the engines are stabilised) the structure of the car was getting a huge pounding from the shock wave trying to pull the panels apart, (The MiG would be riding a lot higher than Thrust SSC did, and it's also Russian built and so likely to be very strong indeed) they had constant problems with stopping the car, (just pull up into the sky for as much room as you need to slow down) and they were wisely and naturally terrified of the car lifting at the front and flying off into the sky. (The MiG would become a conventional plane again, though would still need a firm hand to keep it under control)
I don't think that the power would be a
problem at all, as the MiG's have about the same amount of thrust as an
F-111 has, and I know for sure that an F-111 has been clocked at 200'
above the ocean off Brisbane in Australia at Mach 1.44, which is about
1090mph. I have also talked with an ex-Navy chap who has seen an English
Electric Lightning go past his ship at Mach 1.9 at about 100'! (Clocked
on radar at 1,500 mph, or 1,300kts, etc)
The current record is about M 1.07, so the power & speed shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The inlet system of the MiG's are also built to take running on dirt runways, as you can see in the above picture by the screens that have come down to stop rocks & so on from getting into the engines. When they are working like this, most of the air gets sucked in through the top of the wing, then as the wheels come up the screens move out of the way to improve the airflow even further. Again, not a problem for the LSR run as the engines would be higher above the ground than the inlets of Thrust SSC.
Now if I can just get a hold of Richard
Noble, Glynne Bowsher, and Andy Green ... ;)
On to the -
- Geothermal Power Plant
- Laptop computer electronic circuit simulator
- Anti-aircraft missile system
- Horizontally opposed diesel aircraft engine
- Different electric car
- Listening spy device
- Super cooler device
- Radar Jammer
- Water speed record contender