US 2496087 A
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hm. M Wfl J. W. P. FLEMING AERIAL TRAIN Filed Sept. 23, 1944 Patented Jan. 31, 1950 NITED STATES PATENT OFFICE AERIAL TRAIN Jacob Waggoner Pal-tee Fleming, Memphis, Tenn.
Application September 23, 1944, Serial No. 555,562
This invention relates to a method and means for forming aircraft trains, the units composing the trains being of the heavier-than-air type.
Much progress has been made in the experimental and practical use of the so-called air train, or glider trainer. These trains have usually been made up of a powered airplane provided with one or more trailing towing cables of great length. Gliders are coupled to the cables and are towed to their destinations. Upon reaching a point near the landing field, the gliders are cut loose and each unit of the train makes an independent landing. Such an arrangement requires an experienced pilot for each unit, as each unit must be independently handled from the point of take-oil to landing. The operation of this type train requires skill under the most favorable conditions, and becomes extremely hazardous under adverse conditions such as bad weather, poor visibility, or so-called bumpy air. are like kites behind the lead plane-controlled it is true-but flying in such close formation that the danger of collision is ever present.
The present invention is peculiarly adapted for use with aircraft units of the type of the general character of the one disclosed in my Patent No. 2,294,367, issued September 1, 1942.
The object of the present invention is to provide an air train in which the units are coupled in lateral alignment, wing to wing, in such manner that the individual units make up an integral whole which may be handled as a single ship.
Another object of the invention is to provide such a train composed of powered units and nonpowered units in any number, arrangement or combination desired.
A further object of the invention is to provide a rigid train when assembled by providing substantially large flat meeting surfaces between adjacent units to distribute the stresses and prevent rocking or knuckling between the units.
Other objects of the invention will appear from the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which like characters of reference refer to like parts throughout.
In the drawings:
Figure 1 is a front elevational View of an assembled air train;
Figure 2 is a top plan View;
Figure 3 is an end view;
Figure 4 is a detail View of one form of coupling mechanism; and,
Figure 5 is a diagrammatical showing of sev- The gliders I 2 Claims. (01. 244-4) 2 eral difl'erent arrangements of the flying wing units.
Referring to the drawings in detail, the air train is composed of two or more units, at least one of which is a powered unit I, others being of the glider type 2.
The units are basically the same. Each comprises an air foil 3 having an upward dihedral, and the usual vertical stabilizer 4, rudder 5, and elevators 6. The air foil 3, which forms the entire body portion, has fiat vertical end surfaces 7. Fins 8, which may conform in shape to the air foil cross-section, are located at opposite ends of the air foil and extend outwardly, appreciably beyond the surface of the air foil.
In assembling the train, the units are positioned end to end with the fiat, vertical end portions of adjacent units abutting. As the cross-sectional area of each of the air foils is substantial, there is considerable surface contact between the units when thus positioned. Suitable couplings, one form of which will be later described, rigidly connect the units.
Any desired arrangement of the units may be employed. Several examples of typical arrangements and combinations of units are shown in Figure 5. In a series of three units, thecenter unit may be a powered unit with a glider at either side, or if a heavy load is to be carried the center may be a glider with powered units at the sides. If the load to be carried is relatively light but bulky, or if the load is assembled for distribution at anumber of points along the route, it may be apportioned between a number of glider units and the entire group transported by means of a single powered unit centrally located, as is shown in Figures 1, 2 and 3. 'In the'latter arrangement, the goods consigned to each airport along the route are loaded into separate units and the units coupled together, with the units carrying the loads consigned. to the closest .port on the outside of the train, and those for the farthest port at the center. As the various ports are reached, the units consigned to that field are released from the train and permitted to glide downward to a landing, the remainder of the train flying on without stopping.
In some respects the train may be considered a unitary ship, for it flies as an integral ship, the units being rigidly attached to one another. Each unit has its own controls and the controls may be operated independently, or the controls may be all connected for simultaneous operation. A third alternative may Hoe to lock the controls of all but the central unit, the central unit controls serving to control the movement of the entire train.
Some means must be provided to couple the units together, the coupling means being capable of disengagement in the air, operable from the unit to be released or from the center control unit. Many practical forms of coupling may be adopted for the purpose; electrical, hydraulic, compressed air, or manually operated mechanisms being suitable. For the purpose of this disclosure a simple, mechanically operated coupling is shown in Figure 4.
The fiat end surfaces of the wings are depressed at points to accommodate the coupling members. Into these depressions 9 on one side of the ship, the right side as illustrated, a, coupling hook I 0 is pivotally mounted with its extended operating le ver 1 l projecting inwardly'through a slot l2 in the ships side to the inside of the ship where it can be readily manipulated. The depressions 9 on the opposite side of the ship .will receive pins l3 which the hooks l0 engage to securetwo units together. The lever H may be rocked in one direction to engage its companion pin 13 and .in the opposite direction to disengage.
By having the hook member on one side of the k ship and the pin on the other, mating members will always be juxtaposed when two units are .190- sitioned together for coupling, regardless of the side upon which the next unit is placed.
To make the coupling releasable from either. ship, means are associated with the depression carrying the pin to actuate the hook when two units are coupled together. This means comprises a push rod is which passes through the wall of the ship and is normally held in retracted position by means of a coiled spring !5 which surrounds the pin and bears against its head IS. The hook l9 carries an offset l-ug or roller against which the push rod it bears when. the push rod .is moved forward. An outward motion of the push limiting the invention as set forth in the appended claims.
What I claim is:
1, A. heavier-than-air craft, of that type in which the wing width is coextensive with the body length adapted to be joined to other similar craft r to :form an 'air train comprising, a pair of oppositely projecting air foils of uniform cross section from root to tip positioned to form an up- 4 ward dihedral, the ends of said air foils being flat, vertical and parallel to one another, fins extending beyond the air foil surfaces and lying in a plane of the vertical ends of said :air foils, a plurality of recesses in each of the vertical ends of said air foils, the recesses being similarly positioned in each of the ends so that when the tips of the air foils of two of the similar craft are juxtaposed the recesses will coincide, coupling membersin the recesses of one of said air foils having means to operate said member projecting within the air foil, companion coupling members in the recesses of the other air foil, and means to release the couplings projecting within the air foil carrying said companion coupling numbers, whereby when two similar air craft are coupled together the couplings may be released from the interior of either air craft.
. 2. In heavier-than-air craft as claimed in claim 1, said coupling members being in the form ofho0ks,'said hooks being pivotally mounted in the recesses and having handles projecting into the air foil, whereby the hooks may be operated from within the air foil, lateral projections on said hooks, said companion coupling members being in the form of pins extending across the respective recesses to be engaged by said hooks when two similar air craft are juxtaposed, and plungers. extending throughthe walls of said companion coupling members recesses in alignment with said lateral projections on said hooks when the hooks. are engaged in engagement with the pins, whereby longitudinal. movement of said plungers will cause said plungers to strike said projections and rotate said hooks to release the coupling.
JACQB WAGGONER PARTEE FLEMING.
REFERENCES CITED The following references are of record in the file of this patent-2 UNITED STATES PATENTS Number Name Date T. M. $0,434 Northrop Aircraft, Inc. June 10, .1947 1,592,917 Berling July 20, 1926 1,603,688 Hall Oct. 119', 1926 1,605,045 Mader Nov. 2, 1926 2,294,367 Fleming Sept. 1, 1942 2,375,423 Lobelle May 8, 1945 FOREIGN PATENTS Number Country Date 332,898 Germany Feb. 1, 1921 464,603 Germany Aug. 21, 1928 297,992 Italy l .June 25, 1932 515,562 Great Britain Dec. 7, 1939