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Tracked Landing Gear

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Tracked Landing Gear: aircraft that can land anywhere
"The ideal troop-carrier combat
transport would appear to be a large
transport of the twin-boom type for
which personnel, artillery, and vehicles
could be dropped. It should have a
range of two thousand miles and should
be equipped with self-sealing tanks,
pilot armor, and a retractable track-
laying undercarriage. This last feature
would permit its landing and take-off in
pastures and cultivated areas. It would
thus be able to enter the airhead early in
an operation, landing and taking off
from areas normally suitable only for
gliders".


---Airborne Warfare by General James
M. Gavin, 1947
Early tracked landing gear aircraft successful in the 1950s!

                                 A Retired USAF C-130 pilot
                                 writes about the C-82 with
                                 tractor gear experiment
                                 shown here:
                                     "Mike...the C-82 with
                                     tractor gear. Only one
                                     was produced, but the
  P-40 Warhawk fighter               idea was to reduce the
                                     pressure exerted from
  C-82 Packet
                                     60 psi to 20 psi and
  EB-50 Heavy Bomber                 give it the capability to
                                     land anywhere."
  XB-36 Peacemaker Ultra-
  Heavy Bomber
With its initial single-wheel main landing
                   gear, the 265,000 pound gross weight XB-
                   36 could land at only 3 airfields in the entire
                   United States!
                   “The track on the main landing gear is
                   designed for a maximum average of 57
                   pounds pressure per square inch on the
                   landing strip, as compared to a pressure
                   of 156 pounds per square inch exerted
                   by the conventional wheel-type gear on a
                   B-36 at the same gross weight.”
Tracked XB-36 on
grassy field!      Washington, D.C. April 12, 1950.
                   www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombe
                   rs/b3-69.htm

                   BOTTOM LINE: tracks can reduce
                   ground pressure over wheels by
                   2/3ds!
Current rubber-tired aircraft cannot
just land anywhere---USAF Combat
Control Team members must survey
assault landing zones with Digital
Cone Pentrometers to assess soil
hardness to support high
pressures/weights of USAF aircraft =
conservative Joint planners opt for
hard runway seizure; targets that are
likely to be heavily defended by the
enemy!
Joint warfighter requirements for land-anywhere
     capabilities drives R&D towards unsound hybrid
     fixed-wing/rotary wing compromise design types
     that are overly complex, fragile and unsafe...
     lacking other alternatives...

                                      “Hanger Queen”
                                                         Bad
                                                         helicopter
                                                         with too
                                                         small rotors




Bad fixed-wing with too large props            “Death Trap”

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Tracked Landing Gear

  • 1. Tracked Landing Gear: aircraft that can land anywhere
  • 2. "The ideal troop-carrier combat transport would appear to be a large transport of the twin-boom type for which personnel, artillery, and vehicles could be dropped. It should have a range of two thousand miles and should be equipped with self-sealing tanks, pilot armor, and a retractable track- laying undercarriage. This last feature would permit its landing and take-off in pastures and cultivated areas. It would thus be able to enter the airhead early in an operation, landing and taking off from areas normally suitable only for gliders". ---Airborne Warfare by General James M. Gavin, 1947
  • 3. Early tracked landing gear aircraft successful in the 1950s! A Retired USAF C-130 pilot writes about the C-82 with tractor gear experiment shown here: "Mike...the C-82 with tractor gear. Only one was produced, but the P-40 Warhawk fighter idea was to reduce the pressure exerted from C-82 Packet 60 psi to 20 psi and EB-50 Heavy Bomber give it the capability to land anywhere." XB-36 Peacemaker Ultra- Heavy Bomber
  • 4. With its initial single-wheel main landing gear, the 265,000 pound gross weight XB- 36 could land at only 3 airfields in the entire United States! “The track on the main landing gear is designed for a maximum average of 57 pounds pressure per square inch on the landing strip, as compared to a pressure of 156 pounds per square inch exerted by the conventional wheel-type gear on a B-36 at the same gross weight.” Tracked XB-36 on grassy field! Washington, D.C. April 12, 1950. www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/research/bombe rs/b3-69.htm BOTTOM LINE: tracks can reduce ground pressure over wheels by 2/3ds!
  • 5. Current rubber-tired aircraft cannot just land anywhere---USAF Combat Control Team members must survey assault landing zones with Digital Cone Pentrometers to assess soil hardness to support high pressures/weights of USAF aircraft = conservative Joint planners opt for hard runway seizure; targets that are likely to be heavily defended by the enemy!
  • 6. Joint warfighter requirements for land-anywhere capabilities drives R&D towards unsound hybrid fixed-wing/rotary wing compromise design types that are overly complex, fragile and unsafe... lacking other alternatives... “Hanger Queen” Bad helicopter with too small rotors Bad fixed-wing with too large props “Death Trap”
  • 7. ASB Chairman Michael Bayer told Jane's Defense Weekly: http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/landforces.janes.com/News;sz=125x125;tile=3;ord =021601085048? "The ASB found that providing strategic lift from the continental USA to intra-theatre staging grounds will continue to be the major bottleneck in transportation. Bayer noted that Boeing 747-style aircraft would provide the greatest strategic lift potential because they can carry more cargo further than the U.S. Air Force's future mainstay Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. Noting that because "there is a huge demand for strategic lift", the ASB recommended that expeditionary units plan to send as much equipment as possible on 747-type aircraft, freeing up scarce space on the C-17s."
  • 8. U.S. has over 100 passenger 747s sitting unused in the southwest desert that could be inexpensively converted to nose-loading cargo types to solve the strategic lift problem and carry Army pre-loaded light tracked vehicles----Boeing On Board Loaders can give roll-on/roll-off capability---but 747s would have to land at a long concrete runway Intermediate Staging Base (ISB) to off-load vehicles that would have to be shuttled in by USAF C-130s, C-17s and Army helicopters. Details: www.geocities.com/cargo747airlift
  • 9. The Answer: upgrade existing USAF C-130s, C-17s and a force of converted cargo 747s with TRACKED LANDING GEAR SYSTEMS to create land-anywhere extreme short-take-off and landing (E/STOL) capabilities so Joint Planners can make virtually any large area into an assault landing zone!
  • 10. The technology: unlike primitive tracked technologies of the 1950s, reinforced aramid fibers (kevlar) and high-strength steel reinforcements can make “band-tracked” landing gear easy to maintain and safe. Unlike the Concorde whose fragile, air-filled tires shredded on take off after running over a sharp object, causing a fiery crash that killed 114 innocent people, a tracked landing gear can run-over all kinds of dangerous objects and bumps without fatal damage YES! NO!
  • 11. C-130 E/STOL versus V-22 V/TOL: which works best? “J” 400 mph 100 mph sling-loads Wheeled Osprey when its flyable and not crashing, barely lifts a 3-ton rubber-tired HMMWV SUV truck Tracked Hercules can internally carry then airdrop/airland light 92 troops or tanks up to 20 tons, 500 foot Assault LZs