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  #21  
Old 08-02-2020, 01:12 PM
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What a fascinating thread about the Black Brant sounding rocket program! Special thanks to Blackshire for the original post, links and info; Dave for the great BB pics; and a tip of the toque to Brad Gordanier of Polyus Studios for putting together such a great retrospective video!

Apropros of the ending of the video, perhaps we can direct our scale and livery questions about the Black Brant to the Canadian Wildlife Service?
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  #22  
Old 08-03-2020, 12:09 AM
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That's a beautiful photo! I can even see the pier where my submarine would moor when we visited Port Canaveral occasionally!
Indeed--that was pretty much the viewing angle that Art Smith obtained from Miami. By the time the vehicles came near Miami's latitude they were higher above the ground (in actual altitude, if not the angular altitude above the local horizon; the Jupiter and other IRBMs [and ICBMs] started/start curving over at lower altitudes than did/do satellite, lunar, and planetary launches), and farther to the east, but Art used a telescope with his camera. (Speaking of which, Mark R. Chartrand--in his 1990 and 2001 book "Night Sky: A Guide to Field Identification" [see: https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Bo..._-srp1-_-title1 ] mentioned Art Smith in the acknowledgements section [this book is a reprint, with periodically updated upcoming eclipse dates, of the original 1982 Golden Press "Sky Guide].) Also:

He was an aviation/astronomical/astronautical raconteur, having known--and worked for/with--many of the pioneers in those fields at one time or another (and Susan B. Anthony, the women's suffrage [voting] advocate, was his aunt; he said, "I hated that woman with a purple passion" [he fully agreed with her about women's suffrage--he couldn't stand her because she was a humorless, monomaniacal person who turned every house visit into a dreary lecture, and other relatives avoided her for the same reason]). I will record these incidents below (I also have a question for *you* below, JeffyJeep), because [1] they are rocketry/aviation/astronomy-related, and [2] when I'm gone, these true stories will go with me, and I would like to memorialize Art Smith and his astronautical, aviation, and astronomical work in those pioneering days. More happily:

As a boy he was a "gofer" for Dr. Robert Goddard, before the state of Massachusetts forbade further rocket testing after the very loud 1929 flight that turned out to be a blessing in disguise (because it brought Goddard's work to the attention of Charles Lindbergh and the Guggenheim Foundation, which funded his future work in New Mexico). When Goddard was still doing small-scale experiments with powder rockets, Art (who was born in 1917 and died in 1993) was a very curious "tag-along," who carried the items that Goddard used in laboratory and outdoor rocket tests), and:

He recounted one funny incident (at Clark College, I think, as he never--to my knowledge--was at Goddard's Aunt Effie's farm, where the first liquid-fueled rocket was launched on March 26, 1926). After helping Dr. Goddard carry the various items for a powder rocket test to an open, grassy area between several buildings, Goddard instructed young Art to stand behind the corner of a nearby building, in case anything went awry with the test. Moments later he heard the roar of a rocket motor firing, and an instant later Dr. Goddard appeared (running far faster than Art had thought possible, as he told me), followed closely by the rocket! Plus:

Art also knew the astronomer Dr. Harlow Shapley, who determined the size of our Galaxy using Cepheid variable stars as a "standard candle" for measuring large distances, and who determined our Sun's position in the Milky Way Galaxy (approximately two-thirds of the way out toward the rim, not near the center as astronomers had long thought) using parallax. One evening in 1933, after the continuing effects of the Great Depression threatened the Harvard College Observatory, Art--now 16 years old--and Harlow Shapley went begging in Boston, visiting wealthy alumni and other supporters of Harvard University to ask for donations to keep the observatory open. They netted approximately a million dollars--in cash--on that fruitful night, which kept the observatory and its staff funded. As Art said, "Harlow Shapley had a briefcase with about half a million dollars in large bills in it, and I had another. That's the only time I've ever held that much money in my hands!" In addition:

In the late 1940s, Art--while traveling via ship among islands in the Pacific, near the equator--made an observation discovery which astounded Harlow Shapley (and other astronomers whom Art had gotten to know through that connection). For many years, astronomers had been building observatories on the highest practically-accessible mountaintops (Pic du Midi in France, Mt. Wilson and Palomar Mountain in the U.S., etc.) they could find, to get their telescopes above as much of the dusty, cloudy, and shimmering atmosphere as they could. But Art, taking astronomical photographs in the Pacific Doldrums https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter...onvergence_Zone at *sea level*--where the air is windless and usually clear--obtained clearer images of the stars and planets than the mountain peak observatories! It turned out that the air moving up the mountain slopes (due to winds blowing against them, and/or rising warm air that cooled--often with moisture condensation--as it rose) still caused atmospheric shimmering that "smeared" the images, especially during long time exposures of faint objects, and:

Art also knew several aviation pioneers (and later, astronauts--Buzz Aldrin was a friend of his, as was Wernher von Braun; he used to call Wernher in his Huntsville office occasionally, and they would chew the fat about the latest goings-on in space). At one time Art owned his own one-airplane airfreight line. He flew a DC-3 (the U-shaped landing gear "fork" from one served as a solar telescope alt-azimuth mount at the Weintraub Public Observatory, at the now-closed Miami Space Transit Planetarium where I worked), which he flew overnight between Miami and Boston. He would take off after sunset with a load of freshly-cut tropical flowers for sale in Boston shops. After landing in Boston and getting a few hours of sleep while his plane was checked and refueled, he would fly back down to Miami, bringing a load of Maine Lobsters for the Miami fish markets and restaurants.

He started at Pan American flying the Ford Trimotor. He liked the aircraft, even after a harrowing incident over the St. John's River in Florida, in which the center engine broke loose with no warning, and fell into the river! With the plane suddenly very nose-light (tail-heavy), he very nearly stalled and crashed into the river as well. Fortunately he had quick reflexes, and he instantly pushed all of the trims as far as they would go for tail-heavy flight, while pushing the throttles of the remaining two engines to full. Using "down" elevator and his greater speed, he managed to bring the aircraft to a safe landing at the nearest airfield. His first encounter with the Ford Trimotor, though--and a funny one--occurred in his early teens:

He was at the Miami Yacht Club one day, doing his school homework in one of the rooms, when he suddenly heard the roar of a large airplane's engines overhead. The roar became almost deafening, then suddenly stopped, but there was no sound of a crash, as he had cringed in anticipation for. Running outside, he saw--sitting on the large, broad circular driveway surrounding the building, intact and undamaged--a Pan American Ford Trimotor, its propellers still slowly spinning.

Walking unsteadily away from it, with a yacht club butler (steward) trying to take the keys out of his hand, was the pilot, whose "voice betrayed an advanced state of inebriation" (as Carl Sagan described a well-sauced caller who--seeing Comet Arend-Roland 1957 but not knowing what it was--rang the University of Chicago's Yerkes Observatory telephone to 'talk to a shrominer' when he was exposing plates for one of the staff astronomers late one night, alone in the darkened dome). Art heard the pilot--who was surprisingly deft at keeping hold of his keys, given his mental and physical state at that moment--say, "I got the 'GD thing' in here, I can get the 'GD thing' out of here!" Well:

It turned out that the pilot--who knew Art's father (who was a yacht club member), and wanted to discuss some important matter with him--had decided, after a few drinks, that the quickest way to meet with Art's father was to *fly* to the yacht club... His impaired judgement notwithstanding, Art was impressed (as was everyone else, except possibly Juan Trippe, Pan Am's President :-) ) that he had been able to safely land such a large plane in such a small space. Now, here is my question:

Did you, as a member of your submarine's crew, ever launch Polaris, Poseidon, or Trident ballistic missiles in test and/or training launches off Cape Canaveral? That is one of the two instrumented long-range locations--offshore from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California is the other one--where such FBM (Fleet Ballistic Missile) crew training/missile life-cycle reliability launches are conducted.
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  #23  
Old 08-03-2020, 01:08 AM
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Originally Posted by tbzep
If that's not some cool history, I don't know what is. Thanks!
It has put me in the mood to build one of my Skydart II's in Pan Am livery.
It hasn't put me in the mood to do any sanding, though.



.
You also reminded me--William Roy Shelton's 1967 book ("American Space Exploration: The First Decade") and L.B. Taylor's 1968 book "Liftoff! The Story of America's Spaceport" cover the early years of the Atlantic Missile Range, and Pan American's responsibilities in providing security, catering, and other services on the range, at Cape Canaveral and at the downrange tracking (and telemetry reception) stations. Also:

Shelton's accounts of the 1958 USAF Thor-Able Pioneer Moon probe shots include how Pan Am catering trucks would bring sandwiches, coffee, and soft drinks for the launch crews and reporters during the long, often late-night countdowns. He also described how those working on the Pioneer payloads at the top level of the gantry had to sign in with a Pan Am security guard posted there before donning surgical smocks to work on them (they had two probes--one was a back-up; they sterilized the probes' parts with an ultraviolet light [and, if memory serves, with disinfectant on the outside, too], to prevent false positives if later missions discovered microbes on the Moon), and:

The Pan American security guards, as these books recount, also kept the "birdwatchers" (reporters who tried to scope out what was going on at the Cape launch complexes) at respectable distances. In the early, pre-NASA days, there was a cloak of security over all Cape launches (except--at least partially--Project Vanguard; but even with it, expected launch times weren't usually announced in advance, forcing reporters to watch the vehicles [when first stage LOX venting stopped, liftoff was imminent]), because they were conducted by and for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, and were missiles, but:

Even so, the secret-keeping wasn't terribly effective (most reporters had private sources--project engineers, sympathetic military officers, etc.--who quietly informed them about when various launches were scheduled, and the reporters--who had honor and integrity as well as being patriotic, back then--returned the favors by keeping quiet before launches, protecting their sources, and pretending to be surprised at having fortuitously "caught" the launches). But the Pan American guards were effective in forcing the birdwatchers to observe the Cape from a distance (the beaches to the south [this was long before the Saturn and Titan III pads were built on and beyond the northern end of the Cape]), using high-powered telescopes and telescope-mounted cameras. But:

Things loosened up a bit, though, after the Vanguard TV-3 launch failure on December 6, 1957 (it was just a launch vehicle test carrying a tiny test satellite, as "TV"--Test Vehicle--stood for, but pre-launch news coverage had built it up to "America's answer to Sputnik," which made its fiery fall from just four feet altitude so humiliating). When Wernher von Braun's ABMA--Army Ballistic Missile Agency--team in Huntsville, Alabama was finally given permission to try to orbit a satellite using their Juno I (a four-stage Jupiter-C, using a "stretched" Redstone first stage burning Hydyne and LOX), the Army, not wanting to repeat the Vanguard TV-3 "Kaputnik" fiasco, took the Cape reporters into confidence, offering full disclosure as events transpired *IF* they would keep their information confidential until ^after^ a successful launch. The reporters, American and foreign (the BBC and other press agencies were involved, too), kept their word (something that would be doubtful today, except for a few stalwart journalists), and they brought the full story of Explorer I to the American public and to the world at large, once it was safely in orbit and confirmed to be functioning normally.
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  #24  
Old 08-03-2020, 01:58 AM
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Originally Posted by tbzep
Right off the bat I noticed the front end of a Piasecki H-21 helicopter with U.S. Air Force markings and an "Operated by Pan-Am" marking on the side. This is way up in Manitoba with the Canadian govt. in the early-mid 50's. <Artie Johnson voice> Verrrry interesting!

I knew the US operated BB's, but I didn't realize the U.S. Army reopened the Canadian site. The site was chosen in the first place because it was a Canadian military base. I wonder if the Canadian base remained open the whole time and supported the US Army research.

Sixty two BBII's launched through 1974.
Our Estes and FSI BBII's were the 3 fin A model. Did anybody kit a 4 finned B model?

Hey mojo1986, do ya'll really pronounce Nike as Neee-K?


I'm editing as I watch the video instead of making multiple posts....and Blackshire, I haven't read your entire post yet. I've jumped on that video like a Black Brant on eelgrasss!

Thanks Blackshire, that was a very good video. I wish all the major players would do a quality video of their sounding rocket families.
While I grew up calling the rocket (and the winged goddess of victory) "Nighk-ee" (with equal stress on both syllables), the correct pronunciation--"Nike" being a Greek word--is in fact "NEEK-ay" (with nearly equal stress on both syllables; the stress on the first syllable is slightly stronger than that on the second), and:

It's the same with Io (the closest of Jupiter's four large Galilean moons, named after one of the human mortal lovers of Zeus [Jupiter, to the Romans], who--seeing his wife, the goddess Hera [Roman: Juno], approaching--hurriedly transformed Io into a pretty white heifer, to hide what was going on; Hera [Juno] was not fooled by this imposture, and asked her husband to give her the white cow as a gift, which was the beginning of her bovine troubles...). Most Americans pronounce it "EYE-oh," but the correct pronunciation is "EE-oh" (some people called it "Ten," because Voyager pictures of the planet and its Galilean moons often used a sans-serif font--in all-capital letters--to indicate their names on the images, and in that font "IO" looked like the number "10"). :-) (There *was* a Jupiter 10 [written as "Jupiter X"] moon, now named Lysithea; until the 1970s, Jupiter's other, smaller satellites were known simply by numbers [like Jupiter V, now called Amalthea, after the nanny goat whose milk nourished the infant Zeus/Jupiter].) But (and no pun was intended in this line):

The most entertaining one--knowing the ancient Greeks'...shall we say, "lack of inhibitions" in this area (they would have laughed long and loud over this one [their shepherds and goatherds, who often lived in solitude, also honored the rustic, horned and goat-legged god Pan for teaching them, well..."manual joy department stimulation," to put it delicately])--involves the name of the seventh planet from our Sun. The correct pronunciation of its name, which is the name of the "grandfather of the gods" (the god of the sky, whom Gaea [or Gaia], the grandmother of the gods, created and made her equal, after she emerged from Chaos, at the beginning of all things), is "OOR-an-os." But in English, this Hellenic pronunciation becomes "Uranus," which sounds like two particular words (I'm sure that the Huntsville team, having progressed, like the outer planets' orbits, from Jupiter to Saturn in naming their missile and rocket vehicles, did not relish the name the *next* series of launch vehicles would have had, had they progressed beyond the Saturn family)...
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  #25  
Old 08-03-2020, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ez2cDave
Bobby Hamill is THE "Guru", when it comes to BLACK BRANT data . . . He appears in the first image.

Dave F.
THANK YOU, Dave!!! Bobby Hamill is definitely “The Gander” regarding all things Black Brant. :-) I am also delighted to see not only ample dimensioned drawing data for creating the four-fin (or “four-blade,” as the British would say) BBII tail assembly, including its fins’ dual-angle wedge airfoil section and root-to-tip taper, but also the rounds’ décor schemes. They look (except for on the four fins) just like the décor scheme on the three-finned BBII round that is depicted in the Estes Black Brant II scale kit! Because of this, an "inter-variant" scale kit-bash of the Estes three-finned Black Brant II scale kit into the four-finned Black Brant II would be easy.
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Last edited by blackshire : 08-03-2020 at 03:49 AM.
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  #26  
Old 08-03-2020, 02:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Ez2cDave
As a "side note", the BLACK BRANT 5C / BLACK BRANT VC is also a 4-finned version.

Dave F.
Yes--adding the fourth fin to the 3-finned Black Brant VB mightily pleased NASA and other Black Brant users, as it enabled longer payloads to be flown without troublesome "coning" motion as the vehicle spun. Three-finned Black Brant VBs are still flown occasionally (with shorter payloads, or even with long payloads where some "coning" either doesn't matter, or is even useful for sensor scanning, the absence of the fourth fin cuts drag and provides a bit more payload mass to a given altitude). In 1999, I watched a single-stage, three-finned Black Brant VB launched at the Poker Flat Research Range (a Black Brant 12 and three Taurus-Orions also flew that night); the BBVB's payload had flown many times before, and was recovered to fly again, AND:

There was even at least one Black Brant VD--this rocket was launched from the 3-rail Aerobee tower launcher at Fort Churchill in the late 1990s or early 2000s, so it had three fins (if memory serves, it also had a Terrier first stage, also fitted with three fins). It was flown primarily to test an improved Black Brant solid propellant formulation. I don't know if any other Black Brant VD vehicles were flown, or if they simply became "new and improved propellant" Black Brant VB and VC rockets.
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Old 08-03-2020, 02:50 AM
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For some reason, the "McKenzie Brothers" just came to mind . . . LOL !

Dave f.
I was slightly disappointed that our latest two astronauts (today they made the first U.S. splashdown landing since Apollo-Soyuz 45 years ago!)--whose first names are Bob and Doug--*didn't* give a nod to our Canadian colleagues (who make NASA's Black Brant sounding rockets and provided the Space Shuttles' and the ISS's robot arms) by shouting "Hoser!" after achieving orbit, or upon splashing down (or having their Crew Dragon spaceship berthed at the ISS using its Canadian-made robot arm). Mission control could have acknowledged by saying, "Okay, you knobs..." :-)
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Old 08-03-2020, 03:37 AM
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Originally Posted by Fuse Eh!
What a fascinating thread about the Black Brant sounding rocket program! Special thanks to Blackshire for the original post, links and info; Dave for the great BB pics; and a tip of the toque to Brad Gordanier of Polyus Studios for putting together such a great retrospective video!
You're welcome, and I'm most grateful to Bobby Hamill for preserving the four-finned (and other) Black Brant scale data, and to Ez2cDave for posting Mr. Hamill's model--and Bristol Aerospace of Canada--pictures and dimensioned drawings here on YORF, where they will also be preserved (and be available to everyone)! ALSO:

If anyone from Estes reads through this discussion thread and looks at the photographs, drawings, and videos herein, the four-finned BBII's close similarity (in terms of its physical form, as well as its décor scheme--yet its four fins give it a whole different character) to the three-finned BBII round that is depicted in the Estes scale kit suggests an intriguing option:

Much like how Centuri, in some of their kits (such as the Star Trooper, the Nova, the Fireflash scale missile kit, etc.), included paint scheme information and/or parts for building & finishing either an "Easy" version or a "Challenging" version, Estes could--*without* changing their Black Brant II scale kit as it is--enable the builders to build it either as the three-finned version, or the four-finned version. The fin information (dimensioned drawings) and the décor scheme information (the photos) on the four-finned BBII could be posted on the Estes website in the "downloads" section, or it could be printed on a kit insert sheet, or both, and:

The wedge-section, semi-monocoque ("stressed-skin," with a little interior bracing such as a few bulkheads) fins of the four-finned Black Brant II could be built up--in three dimensions--using Plastruct or Evergreen sheet plastic, and such fins could readily be cemented to the kit's plastic "boat-tail" tail cone. Or, if a builder didn't want to go to such lengths, he or she could simply use the fin planform drawing as a pattern to cut out four flat, 3/32" thick balsa fins.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuse Eh!
Apropros of the ending of the video, perhaps we can direct our scale and livery questions about the Black Brant to the Canadian Wildlife Service?
It might have a different--and desirable--effect. If the Canadian Wildlife Service received multiple inquiries of that kind, they might decide to change the Eastern Brant's name back to "Black Brant" again (or they might "lean on" whichever government department had that authority, if they themselves couldn't officially change the name back...) :-)
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Old 08-03-2020, 04:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuse Eh!
What a fascinating thread about the Black Brant sounding rocket program! Special thanks to Blackshire for the original post, links and info; Dave for the great BB pics; and a tip of the toque to Brad Gordanier of Polyus Studios for putting together such a great retrospective video!

Apropros of the ending of the video, perhaps we can direct our scale and livery questions about the Black Brant to the Canadian Wildlife Service?
Also--speaking of scale kit-bashing--the Estes Black Brant III kit (which uses a BT-50 body tube) can be kit-bashed into the two-stage Black Brant IV (BT-60 tubing is the correct scale diameter for such a Black Brant IV first stage--CANAROC's Black Brant III, IV, and V kits used BT-50 and/or BT-60 body tubes). At that scale, the Black Brant IV first stage could easily be set up to utilize Evan "Buzz" Nau's gap-staged booster recovery techniques (I've included his September/October 1997 "Sport Rocketry" article about them, which is attached below [it's a PDF]).
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File Type: pdf Nau_Investigations into Gap-Stage Booster Recovery.pdf (976.1 KB, 7 views)
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