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WWII aircraft question...... (Randy would know)


dads706
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Many of the WWII air documentaries show the fighter planes flying with the canopies open. Not just on takeoff but in formation as well as combat. I have flown (as a passenger) in a WWII trainer with the canopy open and at speed the wind really hammered you. 

My question is.....why do they fly with the canopies open? Better vision? Easier escape? 

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Posted (edited)

Carrier planes took off/landed canopy open so as to escape should the engine quit and they had to ditch. The canopy could jam in a ditching and drown you.

I belonged to an USAF flying club and we had T34s which we could fly canopy open. I believe there was a speed limit on open canopy flight but can't remember back that far. I believe there was a partial open position that was good for some air in the summertime.

Edit: I forgot to answer the combat question. I don't think anyone would fly combat canopy open as it kills speed, which you need. Perhaps open to spot enemy planes without the plexiglass in the way but not while fighting.

Edited by New Englander
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6 minutes ago, New Englander said:

Carrier planes took off/landed canopy open so as to escape should the engine quit and they had to ditch. The canopy could jam in a ditching and drown you.

I belonged to an USAF flying club and we had T34s which we could fly canopy open. I believe there was a speed limit on open canopy flight but can't remember back that far. I believe there was a partial open position that was good for some air in the summertime.

Sounds plausible.  I would “Concur.” with that.

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l don't know about combat flying, but when l got to fly in a friend's CAF T-6, we flew with the canopy open most of the time. The airshow season is primarily in the summer months and the temps are above a 100° a lot of the time. Even at a 150mph+, it's still just hot air like a furnace in your face.

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8 hours ago, Rawleigh99 said:

In addition to the carrier landing issue, I think it helped in cooling at lower altitudes in the Pacific.  Plexi can be like a greenhouse in the sun!

And doesn't filter out UV

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9 minutes ago, Ian Beale said:

And doesn't filter out UV

Remember the mid 50s fords with the plexiglass sunroof, didn’t last long, like a sauna.

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11 hours ago, Rawleigh99 said:

In addition to the carrier landing issue, I think it helped in cooling at lower altitudes in the Pacific.  Plexi can be like a greenhouse in the sun!

I can only imagine how hot it would have been in the nose of B-24 or B-25 on a sunny summer day.

 

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7 hours ago, Steve C. said:

I can only imagine how hot it would have been in the nose of B-24 or B-25 on a sunny summer day.

 

Generally pretty damn cold! The standard lapse rate is 2 degrees Celsius or 3 degrees Fahrenheit per thousand feet of altitude. 90 degrees at seal level is 60 at 10,000', below freezing at 20,000'. So yeah, hot taxiing out and initial climb but electric flight suits at altitude whilst sucking on an O2 mask. Better to be in the sun as it does help.

Even in the South Pacific heat most combat started at pretty high altitude where it's cold.

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1 hour ago, Rawleigh99 said:

And I though it was bad preflighting and taxiing a 152 on a hot day!  Cannot imagine doing it in a bulky flight suit!

Well at least you can open the window and hang your arm out. Look at the guys in the Cherokees trying to get some air.?

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9 hours ago, New Englander said:

Generally pretty damn cold! The standard lapse rate is 2 degrees Celsius or 3 degrees Fahrenheit per thousand feet of altitude. 90 degrees at seal level is 60 at 10,000', below freezing at 20,000'. So yeah, hot taxiing out and initial climb but electric flight suits at altitude whilst sucking on an O2 mask. Better to be in the sun as it does help.

Even in the South Pacific heat most combat started at pretty high altitude where it's cold.

When my gurl got married in ‘07 in Vegas the wedding party did a jump, I put in because it was my 60th coming up, the standard jump was 4000 ft, but for an extra 200.00 or so they would take us up to 15,000 ft, it was 115 degrees outside and when we jumped at 15,000 it was damn cold and as you free fell you could feel the temperature rise and then like being in an oven, I always wanted to jump and this was more fun than I ever thought.

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16 hours ago, New Englander said:

Generally pretty damn cold! The standard lapse rate is 2 degrees Celsius or 3 degrees Fahrenheit per thousand feet of altitude. 90 degrees at seal level is 60 at 10,000', below freezing at 20,000'. So yeah, hot taxiing out and initial climb but electric flight suits at altitude whilst sucking on an O2 mask. Better to be in the sun as it does help.

Even in the South Pacific heat most combat started at pretty high altitude where it's cold.

Don't forget there wasn't any global warming back then so must have been freezing at 10,000' ?

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I think it's all been covered, but for naval aircraft it was part of landing protocol for escape, obviously at one time. I imagine there was a relief of the confines of the cockpit with a window open wherever possible, but as speeds increased, it was increasingly difficult to do so. The buffeting at high speeds would be enough to make anyone close it up. :)

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On 6/1/2021 at 1:10 PM, New Englander said:

Well at least you can open the window and hang your arm out. Look at the guys in the Cherokees trying to get some air.?

I was gonna chime in about how hot it is in a GA plane. I have that little 4"x4" thing open ALL the time. Would kill for an openable canopy.

I've never flown high enough to benefit from cooler air.

I jumped out at 10,000' a few weeks ago and that was cold for a few seconds, but I think it had as much to do with the freefall speed as the air temp.

The escape thing reminds me of the off-field landing procedure -at least in a Cherokee, that calls for opening the door first. The wind keeps it nearly closed, but you're supposed to unlatch it so it (maybe) makes escape easier when it's crumpled and quick escape is necessary. I shudder to think of how that step got added into the procedure.

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18 minutes ago, KWRB said:

The escape thing reminds me of the off-field landing procedure -at least in a Cherokee, that calls for opening the door first.

That applies to all the light aircraft I've flown. You can't open them in flight against the relative wind but they will trail.

Reminds me of a funny. Years ago the shop foreman and I were up in a Beech Bonanza for a test flight for something and the door popped open. Beech says there's no way to close it in flight but he was determined that there must be, so, he tried a number of stalls including a sort of hammer head, side slips, etc. to no avail. The final attempt resulted in a spin and it still wouldn't latch. I said, Jim, let's give it up before we end up in a smoking hole. He then declared that the manual was indeed correct.?

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2 hours ago, New Englander said:

That applies to all the light aircraft I've flown. You can't open them in flight against the relative wind but they will trail.

Reminds me of a funny. Years ago the shop foreman and I were up in a Beech Bonanza for a test flight for something and the door popped open. Beech says there's no way to close it in flight but he was determined that there must be, so, he tried a number of stalls including a sort of hammer head, side slips, etc. to no avail. The final attempt resulted in a spin and it still wouldn't latch. I said, Jim, let's give it up before we end up in a smoking hole. He then declared that the manual was indeed correct.?

My wife would say that I am that stubborn.

 

Probably just another example of why women live longer than men.

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2 hours ago, Dave Downs said:

@New Englander

YIKES!

You spun a V-tail?!!!!

 

Nah, F33A, which other than the quick release door is almost the same as the acrobatic version.

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Smithsonian had a documentary on midway last night and explain the diving and dropping of torpedo bombs by the SBD, the front canopy was closed but the gunners in the back had open all the way for protection, very intense flying around 20,000 feet spotting an enemy ship and crash dive to 1500 feet and 500 yds off the ship armed with bombs and torpedoes that didn’t always work.

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45 minutes ago, Rawleigh99 said:

Same model as my debonair! It was a damn good plane, especially after we put the 550 in it.

Long way from the original 225 Debs. I never flew one with more than an IO520. I'm probably a little biased having worked for a Beech dealer but I really loved all of them. I flew pretty much every model at the time up through the King Air 200 and even the B100 King Air with the Garrett engines.

I was in the right seat of the above mentioned Bonanza and we were looking to address some customer complaint but it's been so long ago that I don't remember what. I do remember laughing at the other guy when it snapped over into the spin. I don't think he expected it although I though we were riding the edge a bit. He cross controlled it a bit and it went slightly inverted and spun, almost exactly like the T34s did - steep for half a turn then flat then steep. came right out after a couple of turns.

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On 5/30/2021 at 7:24 PM, dads706 said:

Many of the WWII air documentaries show the fighter planes flying with the canopies open. Not just on takeoff but in formation as well as combat. I have flown (as a passenger) in a WWII trainer with the canopy open and at speed the wind really hammered you. 

My question is.....why do they fly with the canopies open? Better vision? Easier escape? 

One other point in canopies open, a flyer lost it on landing, SBD went over the side and the rescue crew were already in action as he stood on his seat to get out as they were getting near him the plane suddenly lurched and went down his leg was caught up in an antenna wire and he went down with it, I watch these shows all the time and the stories just break me up all the time.

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