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Burnelli Aircraft

Burnelli Aircraft

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Aeronautical History
Aeronautical History

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Published by: retread1 on Apr 03, 2010
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11/07/2013

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Burnelli Aircraft
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The following article is an amalgamation comprised of many that are separately published on various websites and is an attempt to describe the Burnelli story in a logical & chronological order www.mysteriesofcanada.com/Canada/Canada_Car/ccf_part_3_CBY3.htm
Vincent J Burnelli was born in Temple, Texas, on November 22,1895. In his early youth, Burnelli showed an interest in aviation.In 1915, Burnelli and a friend, John Carisi, were designing gliders in New York. By 1915 the two had designed and built their first powered open biplane. They tested the plane at Hempstead PlainsAirfield, which was later renamed Roosevelt Field cargo. World War I created a demand for aviation designers and Burnelli used theopportunity to establish himself in the aircraft industry. He worked atvarious times for the International, Continental, and Lawson aircraft companies as engineer, designer andsuperintendent. He designed the first aerial torpedo plane.As an aircraft designer Burnelli promoted a revolutionary design concept. He based his design on lift-bodytheory. The theory is simple. A convention airplane design (a tubular body with wings) is designed to carry people or cargo. The wings provide all the lift needed to carry the drag of the body. Lift-body design, on theother hand, created the body of the aircraft in the shape of a wing, thus providing lift from the body (get thename?) added to the lift from the wings.
 Burnelli designed and built several aircraft throughout the
1920‟s, 1930‟s
and
1940‟s
to prove this theory. He patented several devices; his aircraft provedsuperior to many contemporaries. Although well respected as a designer during this time, politics appears to have played a great part in the lack ofunding for his later designs. The following is a composium of internetresearch concerning the man and his contributions towards aircraftdevelopment.www.eu.aircrash.org/burnelli
Burnelli's Lifting Fuselages
Aeroplane Monthly, March 1980 issue, starting at page 144
HOWARD LEVY and RICHARD RIDING describe the series of unusual lifting fuselage aeroplanes designed by Texan Vincent J. Burnelli.Many aircraft designers have pursued radical ideas throughout their aeronautical careers. Men such as Professor G. T. R. Hill Dr. Alexander Lippisch, Horten and Kallinin, who experimented with tailless aircraft, wereconvinced that such a configuration represented the ultimate in flying safety and controllability.Others believed that, for sheer aerodynamic efficiency, the flying wing was the only answer. They argued that, by leaving out everything but the wing, one could fly faster and further than conventional aircraft oncomparable power.One of the keenest supporters of this theory was Professor Hugo Junkers who, as early as 1909, envisaged largeflying wing aeroplanes capable of carrying hundreds of passengers over vast distances. In 1923 his ideas
 
2 progressed as far as the drawing board, and plans were produced for a 262ft span flying wing capable of carrying 100 people. Yet despite the paper advantages, only Northrop was to put a flying wing into productionwith their YB 35 (see Aeroplane Monthly, January and February 1974.)A designer who pursued yet another avenue of research was Vincent J. Burnelli. When he died on June 22,1964, he had spent 50 of his 69 years designing and building aeroplanes. Although his formative years wereoccupied with light aeroplanes and even a helicopter, he is remembered for his unconventional lifting fuselagetransport aeroplanes, a theme he was to develop from 1920 until his death.These articles are concerned with these rather ugly but functional designs, and it is hoped that a separateappraisal of his earlier and equally interesting products will be published before too long. The basic theme behind Burnelli's lifting fuselage theory was that the fuselage, by way of its large surface area and aerofoilshape, could contribute as much as 50 per cent of the aeroplane's lift, thus giving all kinds of advantages over conventional aeroplanes, particularly with regard to safety and performance.
RB-1
In 1920 Burnelli teamed up with T. T. Remington, and theAirliner Engineering Corporation of Amityville was formed atLong Island, New York, to build the first Burnelli aeroplane toincorporate his lifting fuselage. Designated RB-1, this 74ftspan biplane transport looked like nothing else that had been built up to that time.The main feature was its enormous slab fuselage, shaped likean aerofoil in section and sufficiently wide at the nose to housetwo 55 h.p. Scottish-built Galloway Atlantic engines side byside without the propeller arcs overlapping. The fuselageretained the same width from front to rear, tapering in sectionto a knife edge at the tail and providing a useful lifting area of 504 sq ft. Although the parasite drag of two individual enginenacelles waseliminated, it was considered by some that the disadvantages of having two propellers situated so close to oneanother, their consequent blanketing effect, and the effect of the thick aerofoil section's airflow around the tailrather outweighed any advantage gained by such an arrangement. The fuselage was built up on three transverse plywood partitions and covered with corrugated duralumin. The forward section housed the two pilots, in opencockpits, while the middle section contained the roomy passenger cabin with cushioned seats for 32 passengersand the tapering tail section supported the tail unit.The wings of the RB-1 were built on an orthodox wooden framework and were fabric covered. It appears thatthe RB-1, bearing the serial number 9182, did all that its designer claimed, except that it lacked good directionalcontrol. It was very sluggish in turns, which had to be made with as little bank as possible. The first RB-1 waslost at Staten Island, New York, in 1923, when a violent storm immersed it in salt water and rendered itirreparable.Evidence suggests that a second RB-1 was built within a year of the first machine's appearance. Similar in basicoutline, it was powered by a pair of 420 h.p. Liberty XII engines, had twin-wheel main undercarriage unitsreminiscent of those on the Vickers Vimy, extra cabin glazing, balanced ailerons and reduced fin area. The largefrontal radiators of the Liberties were eventually replaced by vertical units mounted against the forward centresection struts.
 
3
RB-2
This aircraft probably became the next machine, the RB-2 of 1924, claimed to be the world's first freight aeroplane.Following the loss of the RB-1 No 1 in 1923, that machine'sGalloway Atlantic engines and single-wheel mainundercarriage units were apparently installed in the RB-1 No2, which had its original, fabric covered wings replaced bynew units covered in corrugated duralumin, making the RB-2 acompletely metal covered aircraft. Its fuselage contained an18ft x14ft passenger cabin capable of accommodating 25 passengers in "parlour car" comfort, there being ample stand-up headroom. Alternatively, the RB-2 could be converted tocarry 6,000lb of freight, plus a crew of three.Weights for the RB-2 are quoted in tons! Grossing out at aboutnine tons, the aeroplane weighed five tons empty. Thisdemanded too much from the engines, for the performancewas hardly sprightly; the maximum speed was around 110 m.p.h., and the cruise some 20 m.p.h. less. However,what it lacked in speed the RB-2 made up for in other respects. It was claimed that because the lifting fuselageaccounted for around 50 per cent of the total lift, the wings were of 30 per cent less span than comparableaeroplanes carrying the same weight. Fuel consumption was also claimed to be 20 per cent less than comparablecraft, and sufficient could be carried for 36hr flying.The RB-2 was demonstrated at Curtiss Field, and also before the Army Air Corps at Mitchell Field, LongIsland, on August 7/8, 1924, when it reached an altitude of 4,200ft in the hands of Burnelli pilot Romer Weyantand Navy pilot Lt George Pond.The following year the RB-2 demonstrated its load-carrying capabilities ina spectacular fashion when Hudson Motors used the aeroplane to carry anEssex auto on an aerial sales tour. Automobile producers in America arenot known for small cars, and the RB-2 was capable of carrying two!Vincent Burnelli used the above as his sales pitch, and all subsequentBurnelli types incorporated all these features. Next month we will look atthe first of the Burnelli monoplanes.It is reported that the RB-2 was fitted with more powerful engines at thistime, probably 650 h.p. Rolls Royce Condors, it is doubtful whether itwould have carried such a load with its original power plant. The aircraftwas later sold to the Aerial Transport Company, with whom it flew freightfor eight years before finally being scrapped for its metal. The RB-2 was Burnelli's last biplane to embody hislifting fuselage principle; all subsequent designs being monoplanes. They were to follow design criteria whichhad already been largely proven by the biplanes. Some of the criteria were still theoretical, but they are listed briefly as follows:1. Propellers operate close together, thus providing maximum flight efficiency and excellent single-engine controllability in the event of engine failure. In the event of propeller failure their location aheadof the cabin structure precludes the blades striking the fuselage or tearing loose any sustaining structure.

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