Post by Jim Wilkins
My hang gliding instructor built a model flying wing consisting of only
a straight untapered airfoil with a dowel protruding in front to provide
balance. He said the design was stable only at certain scales, one of
which was suitable for a hang glider. IIRC the model's wingspan was 14
inches. He had borrowed a homebrew analog computer that ran a model of
its pitch stability and demonstrated that the model dove and climbed in
sync with the output voltmeter.
On the hang gliding hill the model flew back and forth in the updraft
along the crest for many minutes before turbulence brought it down.
(Go to the Quora to see the pictures & comments.)
Was a piston aircraft engine ever manufactured that was installed
entirely within the wing (linear, horizontally-opposed, driving an
external propeller) to greatly reduce drag?
Yes: And here it is - I give you the amazing and magnificent YB 49 from
Northrop Aviation. It competed against the B52. (see EDIT) There was a
jet version below. It was better, carried nearly as much, further and
faster and was safer.
EDIT again: I though I had done this one already. The jet powered
version was contemporary with the B52 but contrary to a report I read
about 35 years ago it did NOT comete against the 52. Indeed it may only
have flown once! My jibe at Boeing was a bit OTT so now gone.
EDIT: Ken Hennessey rightly pulled me up on nomenclature. The piston
version was the YB35; the YB49 was the jet powered one. Beware that the
google resources are frequently wrongly named (as i have now found
out!). For clarity, the 35 competed against Convair B36 which also had
buried engines and was pusher driven; the 49 against the B52 as i said.
And of course the engines were buried in the wing with obvious
maintenance issues. and they were props with equally obvious performance
Although small his plan shows how complex the wings were - ailerons,
flaps and what look like leading edge slats. As many have said, computer
control would have been useful for stability.
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