US 3583520 A
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent (72] Inventor Nntan Kirpltlnikoff 3,268,022 8/1966 Gustafson 180/1 16 28 Rechov l laneviim, Tel Aviv, Israel 3,288,236 11/1966 Padial 180/126 [21) Appl. No. 814,093 3,304,900 2/1967 Greenwood... 114/66.5(F)  Filed Apr. 7,1969 3,322,223 5/1967 Bertelsen 180/120 Patented June 8,1971 3,382,513 5/1968 Jennings l14/77X Pnomy 2:3 1968 Primary Examiner-A. Harry Levy I 29851 AnorneyBenjamin J. Barish  AnLCUsmON VEHICLE ABSTRAFIT: An air cushion vehicle having means for producing an air cushion at the bottom of the and means for 6 Claims, 8 Drawing Figs.
propelling the vehicle over a surface, 15 characterized in that  US. Cl 180/117, the hull of the vehicle is made of two basic integral sections, 1 l4/6 113 6/ 416/244 one section constituting the upper part of the vehicle hull and  Int. Cl 860v l/06, formed with a passenger cabin, the other section constituting 360V the lower part of the vehicle hull and forming a downwardly  Field ofsearch 180/116, enin plenum chamber, the two sections being secured together along a peripheral flange formed on each section.
416/203, 244 The lower section is formed with a top wall, a downwardly extending, outwardly sloping inner sidewall wall forming  References cued therewith the plenum chamber, and an upwardly extending, UNITED STATES PATENTS outwardly sloping outer sidewall forming with the inner 1,61 1,547 12/1926 Miller 416/244X sidewall a buoyancy chamber around the top wall and protect- 1,813,248 7/1931 Mestice..... 1l4/77X ing the inner sidewall and top wall, and thereby the plenum 3,106,260 10/1963 Bollum Sr.. /1 16 chamber, from puncture in the event of collision. The flanges 3,126,169 3/1964 Kucher 180/120X extend outwardly and are sealed by a sealing strip forming an 3,132,417 5/1964 Irwin 9/8X external peripheral bumper.
PATENTED Jun mm 3.583; 520
sum 1 or 4 NNNNNN OR NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN FF Pmmmwu 8mm 3.583520 NATAN KIRP TZNIKOFF ATTORNEY FIG?) INVENTOR NATAN KIRPITZNIKOFF ATTORNEY AIR-CUSHION VEHICLE BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to improvements in air cushion vehicles, namely vehicles having means for producing an air cushion at the bottom for causing the vehicle to hover over a surface, such as land, water or ice, and means for propelling the vehicle over the horizontal surface. Such vehicles are also frequently referred to as ground effect machines.
2. Description of the Prior Art A number of different types of air-cushioned vehicles have been designed, but as a rule they are relatively complicated and expensive to produce, and therefore such vehicles have found only very limited application to the present time.
SUMMARY OF THE PRESENT INVENTION A broad object of the present invention is to provide improvements to air cushion vehicles which enable the construction of simpler and less expensive vehicles of this type.
According to the invention, there is provided an air cushion vehicle of the foregoing type in which the hull of the vehicle is made of two basic integral sections, one section constituting the upper part of the hull and formed with a passenger cabin, the other section constituting the lower part of the hull and forming a downwardly opening plenum chamber, the two sections being secured together along a peripheral flange formed on each section. The lower hull section includes a top wall circumscribed by a downwardly extending and outwardly sloping inner sidewall and forming therewith the downwardly opening plenum chamber. The outer end of the inner sidewall is circumscribed by and joined to the lower end of an upwardly extending and outwardly sloping outer sidewall spaced from the inner sidewall. The two hull sections are joined together along their peripheral flanges. Vertically aligned openings are formed in both hull sections for the air cushion power means. The outer sidewall spaced from the inner sidewall forms with it a buoyancy chamber around the top wall, and also protects it, and thereby the plenum chamber, from puncture in the event of collision. A sealing strip is applied to cover and seal the joined peripheral flanges and forms therewith an external bumper around the periphery of the hull. These and further features of the invention to be described below enable the construction of relatively inexpensive air cushion vehicles.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS The invention is herein described, somewhat diagrammatically and by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:
FIG. I is a perspective view of a simple plenum-chambertype air cushion vehicle constructed in accordance with the present invention;
FIG. 2 is a longitudinal sectional view of the vehicle of FIG.
FIG. 3 is a top plan view particularly illustrating the upper hull section ofthe vehicle of FIG. 1;
FIG. 4 is a plan view, looking from below, of the lower hull section of the vehicle of FIG. 1;
FIG. 5 is a sectional view along lines V-V of FIG. 4;
FIG. 6 is a sectional view along lines VI-VI of FIG. 4;
FIG. 7 is an enlarged fragmentary view, in section, along lines VII-VII of FIG. 2; and
FIG. 8 is a sectional view illustrating a construction of one of the lift fans that may be used in the vehicle of FIG. 1.
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS The hull of the air cushion vehicle illustrated in the drawings is made of two basic, integral sections, namely an upper section 2 and a lower section 4. Both sections are preferably made of reinforced molded fiberglass and are formed with outwardly extending peripheral flanges, 2' and 4' respectively, for joining them together. The joint is covered and sealed by a sealing strip 6 forming an external bumper around the periphery of the vehicle hull.
The upper-section 2 houses the passenger cabin 8 at the front end, there being a separate canopy 10, also preferably of reinforced molded fiberglass, attached to the upper section and forming therewith the passenger cabin. Canopy 10 is formed with windows 12 and doors 14 for the cabin.
Also separately attached to the upper hull section 2 is a shroud or housing 16 for the pusher propeller l8, shroud I6 also carrying a plurality of air rudders 20 for providing directional control. Shroud 16 may also be made of reinforced molded fiberglass, and preferably includes metal tube braces 19 secured to the engine mounting 21.
The upper hull section 2 is molded to form a plurality of short ribs 22 at the front end of the vehicle, and two long fins 24 one at each side of the body, the latter fins providing directional and horizontal stability. In addition, a door 28 is provided for gaining access into the interior of the vehicle for maintenance purposes. The upper hull section 2 is also formed with a pair of openings 30 and 32 serving as the air inlets for the lift fan units (e.g. 33 in FIG. 2) which produce the air cushion at the bottom of the vehicle. Each air inlet opening 30 and 32 is covered by a protective grill 34 and 36, respectively.
The passengers gain access into the cabin through doors 14 by stepping on the upper hull section 2 adjacent to the cabin, and for this purpose, the upper surface of this part of the hull may be made textured so as to be nonslippery.
The lower hull section 4 carries a peripheral skirt 40 at the lower end and forms therewith a downwardly opening plenum chamber in which is formed the air cushion produced by propellers 33. Section 4 includes an outer sidewall 42 formed with the flange 4' to which the upper section 2 is attached as described above. Outer sidewall 42 is substantially rectangular in shape. It is slightly curved as it extends upwardly in the outwardly sloping direction. The lower hull section also includes a top wall 43 circumscribed by a curved, downwardly extending and outwardly sloping inner sidewall 44. The outer end of inner sidewall 44 is circumscribed by and joined to the lower end of outer sidewall 42. Top wall 43 is substantially flat but is provided with a reinforcing axial beam 46 and with a plurality of reinforcing transverse ribs 48. If desired, a plurality of angular ribs 50 could also be provided for further reinforcement.
The peripheral skirt 40 is attached to the lower hull section 4 along the bottom of the curved sidewall 44, at its juncture with outer sidewall 42. Skirt 40 is curved as a continuation of the curve of sidewall 44, so that the two together form an are greater than but less than 180", preferably about I30". It will be seen, however, that the are formed alone by the curved sidewall 44 is no greater than 90 so as to enable the lower hull section 4, as well as the upper section 2, to be molded in a one-shot molding operation.
The reinforcing axial beam 46, and also the reinforcing ribs 48 and 50, are formed integrally with the lower hull section 4 during the molding of this section. In addition, this section is formed with a pair of openings 52 adapted to be aligned with openings 30 and 32 in the upper hull section 2. The two openings 52 in the lower hull section are each circumscribed by an upwardly extending flange, e.g. 53. A cylindrical housing 54, preferably of metal such as aluminum, is interposed between each pair of aligned openings when the two sections are attached, and serves to house one of the lift fan units 33. A pair of ribs, e.g. 30 and 52, are formed adjacent to each opening, each rib of the pair being formed at one side and protruding slightly across its respective opening. The ribs receive between them the housings 54 for the lift fan units 33.
It will be seen that the upper and lower sections 2 and 4 form the upper and lower skins, respectively, of the vehicle hull. When the sections are made of reinforced molded fiberglass, the skins may be very thin and light and still be sufficiently strong to meet the structural requirements of the vehicle. They may also be constructed so as to enable each section to nest with a plurality of other like sections for shipment or storage. The outer sidewall 42, being spaced from the inner sidewall 44, forms with the latter a buoyancy chamber 45 circumscribing top wall 43, and also protects it and the inner sidewall, and thereby the plenum chamber, against puncture in the event of collision. The space between the two sidewalls may be filled with lightweight material, such as foam rubber, or may be divided into a plurality of separate hollow compartments.
The engine for driving the lift fan propellers 33 is indicated at 55 and is preferably disposed in the center of the vehicle. The gas tanks 56, there being preferably two, are each located on opposite sides of the longitudinal axis passing through the center of gravity of the vehicle for stability purposes. A separate engine disposed within housing 21 is used for driving the pusher propellers 18.
Also for stability purposes, a pair of balancing weights are provided, one weight 60 movable underneath the cabin 8 of the vehicle in a transverse direction, and another weight 62 movable along the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.
The vehicle may optionally include four landing wheels 64 protruding just below the lower surface of the hull section 4, but above the lower surface of the peripheral skirt 40. In addition, a plurality of retractable keels 66 may be provided, these being pivotably mounted at 67 and extendable so as to protrude below the peripheral skirt 40. The vehicle illustrated also may include one or more rockets 68 mounted at the rear in a direction to provide a braking thrust.
As shown in FIGS. 2 and 7, the peripheral skirt 40 preferably includes a flexible cable 70, such as of steel strands, extending along the lower periphery of the skirt. ln addition, a pair of rigid pipes or extrusions 72 may be included within the skirt, each pipe extending along only the straight portion of each of the sides of the skirt and terminating short of the curved ends. Flexible cable 70 and/or rigid pipe or extrusion 72 may be secured within the skirt by doubling up the end of the skirt and securing the doubled-up end by fasteners 74.
FIG. 8 illustrates a lift fan construction that may be used for fans 33. The fan includes two metal sections 76 and 78 each having in profile a semicircular wall, 76' and 78' respectively, and a diametrical wall, 76" and 78" respectively. The semicircular walls 76 and 78 carry the fan blades 80 and 82, and the two sections are coupled to each other and to the drive shaft 84 of the fan by fasteners 86 passing through the diametrical walls 76" and 78". The latter walls are each formed with a central semicircular recess, 88 and 90 respectively, adapted to receive the drive shaft 84 and to firmly clamp it between them when fasteners 86 are tightened. The two sections 76 and 78 are designed so that walls 76" and 78" are slightly spaced apart, or just come into contact with each other, when attached to the drive shaft 84, whereby the latter will be firmly clamped between the recesses 88 and 90 of the sections.
Preferably the two sections are formed with one or more radially extending walls 92 and 94 for reinforcing them.
It will be appreciated that many of the disclosed features may be used with or without others and also that many variations, modifications and applications of the illustrated embodiment may be made.
1. An air cushion vehicle having a hull, power means for producing an air cushion, and power means for propelling the vehicle over a surface, characterized in that said hull includes a hull section having a top wall circumscribed by a downwardly and outwardly extending inner sidewall and forming therewith a downwardly opening plenum chamber, the outer end of said inner sidewall being circumscribed by and joined to the lower end of an upwardly extending and outwardly sloping outer sidewall spaced from said inner sidewall, said outer sidewall forming with said inner sidewall a buoyancy chamber circumscribing said top wall and protecting the inner sidewall and the top wall, and thereby the plenum chamber, from puncture in the event of collision, said top wall being formed with an opening, said air cushion power means including a lift fan supported on said top wall over said opening and rotatable on a vertical axis, and a flexible peripheral skirt attached to the lower end of said inner sidewall and circumscribing said plenum chamber.
2. An air cushion vehicle according to claim 1, further characterized in that said hull includes a second section constituting the upper hull section and being joined to said firstmentioned section constituting the lower hull section, said upper hull section and said outer sidewall of the lower hull section each being formed with an outwardly extending peripheral flange, the two sections being joined together along said peripheral flanges, and a sealing strip covering and sealing said joined peripheral flanges and forming therewith an external bumper around the periphery of the hull.
3. An air cushion vehicle according to claim 2, wherein said upper hull section and said top wall of the lower hull section are each formed with a pair of said openings one on each side of the longitudinal axis of the hull, said power means including a pair of lift fans each disposed between one of said openings in each section and rotatable on a vertical axis.
' 4. An air-cushion vehicle according to claim 2, wherein said upper hull section is formed with a cabin and a pair of fins each rising from one side thereof.
5. An air-cushion vehicle according to claim 1, wherein said top wall is formed with a reinforcing axial beam and with a plurality of reinforcing transverse ribs.
6. An air-cushion vehicle according to claim 1, further including vehicle balancing weights comprising a weight undemeath said top wall and positionable transversely of the vehicle and another weight positionable along the longitudinal axis of the vehicle.