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Author Topic: The Daily Express  (Read 665 times)

Ric Gillespie

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The Daily Express
« on: June 28, 2020, 09:42:45 AM »

I'm working on a two-part research paper for TIGHAR Tracks about the Daily Express. This is the intro.

"In May 1937, as Amelia Earhart’s Electra was being repaired following the accident that ended her first world flight attempt, a nearly identical aircraft, the only other Lockheed Model 10E Special, successfully completed two transoceanic flights, each one longer than Earhart’s planned flight to Howland Island and flown almost completely blind in instrument weather conditions.
Perhaps because they did not result in an epic mystery, the back-to-back Atlantic crossings of NR16059 are today largely forgotten but the parallels, similarities, and crucial differences between the Earhart World Flight and the Coronation Goodwill Flight provide revealing perspective and context for the tragedy that befell its sister ship NR16020."

In digging into what we know about NR16059 I turned up a bit of a mystery.  After a short and rather bizarre career, the airplane ended up in Moscow being disassembled to study its design.  A photograph from that time shows the interior of the cabin with most of the fuselage fuel tanks removed.  Only the two forward tanks are in place.  There is a lot to unpack from this photo.

•  Notice the cabin structure of cn1065 is different from Earhart's cn1055.  The airframe that became Earhart's Electra was already under construction but not yet skinned when it was assigned to be completed as a 10E Special, so only one standard passenger window was installed on each side of the cabin.  The airframe that became the second 10E Special was completed and delivered to millionaire Harold S. Vanderbilt as a passenger aircraft with five widows on each side of the cabin.  When the ship was later converted to long-range configuration, the plexiglas was removed and the holes patched-over, but the supporting structure for the windows remained in place - so the patches that covered the window holes on cn1065 required much less internal stiffening than the patch that eventually replaced the special navigator's window on cn1055.

•  Notice the two forward fuel tanks in cn1065 are of different manufacture than the tanks in cn1055. The forward tanks in cn1065 held 113 gallons each. The forward tanks in cn1055 held 118 gallons each.

• The mystery is the large cylindrical tank behind the starboard-side forward fuel tank.  Any ideas?


« Last Edit: June 28, 2020, 09:44:22 AM by Ric Gillespie »
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Friend Weller

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #1 on: June 28, 2020, 10:36:42 AM »

I'm wondering what the two black "devices" are that are mounted to the wing spar center section adjacent to each forward tank.  The cylindrical tank appears to be connected to the one on the right.  Are there similar devices on c/n1055?  I haven't seen anything like them in the photos I've seen of c/n1055 but they appear to be "sandwiched" between the forward and main fuselage tanks. Also the line running from the lower end of the cylindrical tank is valved and in the "off" position.  Perhaps a gravity-fed day tank or expansion tank of some sort?  How lossy were the the lubrication systems of the 10E?  Perhaps an additional oil reserve tank?
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #2 on: June 28, 2020, 10:52:02 AM »

I think the devices on the left are radios.  I like the idea of an oil reserve.  All radial engines use oil at a prodigious rate.  The standing joke is you tell the line boy to check the fuel and top off the oil.
Standard oil capacity for the Model 10E was 17 gallons. NR16020 carried 80 gallons of oil in 4 tanks.
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Daniel R. Brown

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2020, 11:30:49 AM »

How do you feel about those ALC24ST markings?

Dan Brown, #2408
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Martin X. Moleski, SJ

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2020, 11:45:45 AM »

The mystery is the large cylindrical tank behind the starboard-side forward fuel tank.  Any ideas?


Would they also have carried a small high-octane tank for takeoff? 


If that is a gas tank, would it hold 15 or 20 gallons?

LTM,

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #5 on: June 28, 2020, 11:48:56 AM »

How do you feel about those ALC24ST markings

Pretty good.  The font indicates the aluminum was produced at ALCOA's Edgewater, NJ plant.  Most interesting is the angle of the labeling that is not parallel to the edge of the sheet.  Normally, labeling is rolled on during the manufacturing process and is always parallel to the sheet edge.  The labeling on Artifact 2-2-V-1 is in "Franklin Italic" font indicating the metal was produced at the Alcoa, Tennessee plant.  It is not parallel to the sheet edge which, according to ALCOA engineers, indicates it is "reserve stock", approved for repairs and modification but not original construction. Reserve stock is hand stamped.  The angled labeling on the cn1065 patch is the only example we've seen (other then 2-2-V-1) and supports the hypothesis that the patch on NR16020 was made with reserve stock from the Tennessee plant.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2020, 11:51:50 AM »

Would they also have carried a small high-octane tank for takeoff? 


All of the fuel aboard the Daily Express was 100 octane because it was readily available.
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Bill Mangus

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2020, 12:33:44 PM »

I like the idea of a reserve oil tank but do not see piping to get it out to the engines.  Perhaps below the shelf it's sitting on?
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Simon Ellwood

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2020, 02:44:58 PM »

Perhaps the black object next to this cylinder behind the right hand tank is a hand pump for the oil tank - there seems to be a handle on it. Like Bill though, I don't see any pipework for it. There is a dark colored pipe running down through the spar underneath the cylinder, but that doesn't seem to connect to the 'pump'.
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #9 on: June 29, 2020, 10:02:29 AM »

Here's a detail from the photo lightened-up in Photoshop.
David Billings follows our discussions and sends me his input via email.  Today he wrote:
"The Daily Express was at times fitted with Wing Leading Edge De-Icer boots both when used by Captain's Merril and Lambie over the Atlantic and also by Sir Hubert Wilkins in the Arctic where it operated on skis.

I have no idea of what the boots were in the way of operation....i.e: whether pneumatically inflated or whether they seeped fluid but either operation would require a tank for compressed air or a tank for de-icing fluid.

References to the aircraft  are in Merril's book, 'Wings of Man" and "The Last Explorer" by Simon Nasht"

To which I replied,
"I don’t see boots on the wings or props in this photo of the Daily Express or in film of Merrill’s departure (https://youtu.be/ZUF622vTyk8) but it would make sense to add de-icing equipment for work in the arctic.  Pneumatic boots are inflated by an engine-driven compressor, not a tank of compressed air.  The tank could be alcohol for windshield and prop anti-icing but that would be one helluva lot of alcohol.  We had an alcohol system on the DC-3 I flew, but the tank held only a couple gallons (and the line to the windshield ran overhead in the cockpit and leaked).

Whatever the tank is, it’s something Earhart didn’t have, and the photo was taken after the arctic work, so anti-icing seems like a good possibility.

BTW,  I have a copy of “Wings of Man” ghostwritten by Jack L. King.  Lots or errors. I was not aware of “The Last Explorer.”  I just ordered a copy."
 
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Andrew M McKenna

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #10 on: June 29, 2020, 11:11:37 AM »

Ric

If you trace the pipe coming off the bottom of the tank, it appears to me to run under the black mechanical thingy, bends up, and is connected at the left side of the mechanical thing.  Looks to me that the outlet of the mechanical thing is the black line coming off the right side, which then runs up the wall.  Or maybe that is the electrical supply to the mechanical thing, and we can't see the outlet.

Perhaps you can enhance the photo to bring out that detail more, but it looks to me like the black thing is a pump, and it would suck fluid out of the tank and push the push it up the wall and over the cockpit to ??

Seems like de-icing is a logical possibility. 

Or maybe a giant coffee percolator with direct delivery to the cockpit :-) 

Andrew
« Last Edit: June 29, 2020, 11:13:29 AM by Andrew M McKenna »
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Bill Mangus

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #11 on: June 29, 2020, 11:30:25 AM »

I agree the diagonal feature on the black object at the base of the tank might be a hand pump.  It does not seem to be usable for someone sitting in a cockpit seat though.  If it's deicer fluid for windscreen/leading edges,  locating it somewhere out of reach when it might be needed in a time critical fashion seems not the best thinking.

For topping-off engine oil though, it seems more logical.


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Friend Weller

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #12 on: June 29, 2020, 01:26:20 PM »

Could the braided line running down the fuel tank from above and then turning left (from our perspective) over to the "device" be a power connection?  It appears to be a twisted pair of wires as it comes from the "motor" end of a pump over to the end of the braided line.  Could the "pump handle" be a priming or manual operation lever?

Also, referring up to the original photo above, could the heavy, black diagonal line running down to the starboard wing root from the "device" along the aft surface of the fuel tank be the pressurized line to deliver <insert fluid of choice here> to it's intended destination (deicing boots/lubrication system/pilot's caffeine system)??
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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #13 on: June 30, 2020, 08:45:20 AM »

This photo of cn165 as CCCP H-214 shows no de-icer boots on wings or props.

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Ric Gillespie

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Re: The Daily Express
« Reply #14 on: June 30, 2020, 09:20:02 AM »

I was not aware of “The Last Explorer.”  I just ordered a copy."

"The Last Explorer" is a biography of polar explorer Sir Hubert Wilkins.  He did participate in the search for Levinevski but in a PBY, not the Electra.  There are only a few paragraphs about the search and no mention of the Electra.
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