Friday, February 23, 2007

Grumman History

This diagram shows the rather large number of products produced by Grumman with a diversity ranging from aerospace to a ocean research.The time period is from 1930 through early 1970. Those were the days when there was less reliance on computers and when small companies were able to do so much in so little time.
Between 1965 and 1970 Grumman had the F111b, the Gulfstearm II, the OV-1D,the F14,the Flagstaff hydrofoil, the EA6b,the LEM, and the PX15 submersible all in development at the same time!Add Image

Grumman Design 134 Tilt wing Mohawk

en route to Alaska ,summer of 1959

Friday, February 16, 2007

gulfstream start

There are a bunch of similar stories yet untold about many airplanes that I think might interest your readers. For example, Nancy Pelosi's airplane needs: As you know the AF has suggested using a military 767 instead of the Gulfstream 500 (C37a ) that Denny Hastert used. I am pretty familiar with both of these aircraft having worked on development of each. The C-37a has range of 6300 miles range and is certainly able to fly from DC to San Francisco.


In fact the Gulfstream 500 is the probably the best executive airplane ever built(I flew on  the first Jet Gulfsteam G2 to Denmark in 1976 when we were trying to sell planes to the Danish Air Force. In those days twin engine airliners were not approved for transatlantic flights. FAA part 135 regulations  required twin engine aircraft to be within 90 minutes of an airfield in the event of a single engine failure. During the 80's Boeing got relief from this requirement by establishing improved engine and systems reliability. Both 767's and 757's now routinely fly transatlantic and other long over water flights("ETOPS" Extended-range Twin-engine Operations permit qualified aircraft to be as far as 180 minutes from an emergency landing field)


Well whether the speaker of the house really needs a 767 instead of the world's classiest executive airplane we will wait and see.

But what few people know is the history of the Gulfstream airplane creation. The series of airplanes now totaling about 800 ( I may be incorrect) all started back in 1956 when the Grumman Mohawk left preliminary design and began actual development. I was working in PD(preliminary design)and needed something to do  as our work on the Mohawk was done. This was the era of converting war surplus airplanes into business transports, like the C47s used by many company's like Exxon, Shell, Kodak, IBM, Sperry, AT&T for example. Grumman had built the Mallard amphibian as fill in job at the end of WW2 and founder Leroy Grumman thought it would be good to design a brand new executive airplane in as much as the fleet of old C47s were not very fast and could not fly over the weather.


However we in PD started originally on a turboprop version of the C1A carrier born utility transport. They never told us what Leroy really wanted, and he was on vacation in Florida. So I worked on how we could replace the piston engines with Lycoming T55 turboprops. Well lots of things had to change. First the fuselage had to be made circular in cross section so it could be pressurized. And while we were at it, a new wing was required for the turboprops. Ok we could do that, but now we needed a much longer landing gear because the props were so big. Well my boss Mike Pelehack (later to become president of Grumman)insisted we could adopt the existing C1A gear. I made design  study after design study, but could not convince him that it could not be done. That all ended when we finally were told that they didn't really want a new carrier airplane but an executive transport!


Then began the first layouts of what was eventually to become the Gulfstream series of great airplanes. This is the beginning of a really interesting story, which includes how the airplane became a low wing design and how Grumman commissioned a market survey to see how a brand new airplane would sell.( you would not believe the result of the survey and the decision to go ahead with the program)