Sunday, 24 April 2011

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind Aircraft

Well then, Nausicaa is filled with interesting aircraft. From the little jet-assisted glider that Nausicaa herself owns to the great, huge lumbering Tolmekian "Airships", they are all very interesting. Let's have a look.
Nausicaa's little glider is an interesting development. It is possible to achieve, but would be very difficult to control the pitch in flight. The wings are also very short and have a thin camber, which would be unsuitable for such a short wing. The jet system appears to be beyond our technology, able to burst into life and give out great speed when activated. The aerolons look big enough to give a good roll control. There are no rudders to control yaw, so that would undoubtedly make is difficult to control in flight.
So, a would-be analysis:
Handling: Difficult. You would have to stop it from simply falling over and stalling all over the place during flight.
Speed: Quite high. Or high enough for what is like a surfboard in the sky. In the film, it did show to keep up with other, larger aircraft, though.

I don't have a picture of one of these, unfortunately, but let me describe it to you - enormous metal pile of reclaimed scrap.
The wings, which must be at least a quarter of a mile long, eclipse anything made in real life. Ever. They have a low aspect ratio and unbelievably high camber, with the trailing edge about an eighth of a mile behind the leading edge. These would produce, I suppose, in theory, a bit of lift, but would be massively inefficient. The wings have a seemingly random amount of jet-pods containing powerful... well, jets, that shove the unsightly behemoth around the sky. The rest is simply feuselage, containing many decks of metal things. I think it's safe to say that they wouldn't fly very well, if at all.
Would-be analysis:
Handling: Non existant. It would probably collapse under its own weight.
 Speed: Very, very slow.


Once more carrying on the tradition of having no empannage, it would fall backwards or forewards in flight. The wings have a high angle of attack, high camber and interesting tip arrangement, which would probably create a medium amount of lift. The jets, which are all inside the wings, would probably make the wing explode with the pressure as it seems that some of the jet is projected towards the aerolons. Whilst this might create some interesting maneuverability effects, the aerolons would more like than not simply break off. The massive cannons would weigh as much a tank on the nose and probably cause it to simply, hmm, what's the word... snap off.


I don't know exactly what it's called, but it's frigate-like, so that's what I'll call it. With tandem wings in a high camber with a high angle of attack, they would fail. One wouldn't. But two on equal elevation would, as the airflow for the second wing would be disturbed by the front one. Also, it features four jet pods. Once more, if it were simply just the front ones there then maybe it would be alright, but then the Tolmekians decided to plonk another two directly behind them, which would create some very interesting air flow effects. Even if that was alright, it once again lacks a tail so it would simply crash through lack of yaw control.
Would-be analysis:
Handling: Good, as the wings could all work with eachother to achieve movement. Unfortunately, there wouldn't be any lift produced by the rear wing (or at least, none to speak of), so it would probably stall backwards. also, with the front jets pushing directly against the front jets, the rear wing would probably just get yanked clean off.
Speed: Fast, with four high-tech jets pushing that relatively small amount of metal around.

Porco Rosso Aircraft

OK, as this is the first post in this blog, I'd just like to say to whoever looks at it that I'm going to use my fairly quaint knowledge of aeronautics to examine some of the aircraft in the Studio Ghibli films. I know about the designs of airfoil, balance characteristics of aircraft, time period technology, materials, and other such things. I also know that the Ghibli films are only films, and that the aircraft were most likely just drawn down on a piece of concept art paper, but hey, I'm gonna do this anyway. But that's enough of that.
First, then, it's Porco Rosso and the aircraft in that. The most obvious first choice would be the Savoia S.21 that Porco pilots. The material that it is made out of appears to be wood, as seen in that bit when Curtiss picks up a fragment of it for evidence that he shot down Porco. However, it is later shown that when rebuilding the aircraft the women are bending metal sheets, presumably to cover the aircraft. A wooden frame with metal covering is a common strategy of aircraft construction, and offers a fairly light construction with quite strong characteristics.
You can see in the film the aircraft having a middling wing camber on the aerofoil. There aren't any surprising deep camber designs in it, so it would produce a middling lift wing middling drag. For a seaplane, this isn't the most fantastic idea, as it requires plenty of lift to get one off of the water. There are also no flaps on the airplane which would again make it difficult to take off and land. But of course, we have to include that high angle of incidence on the wings. This generally helps jet aircraft be more aerodynamic in the air and help it to maneuver more easily, but on a 1930s seaplane I think that it might have a detrimental effect on the lift produced and the ability to move about at the comparatively low speeds that the plane would be able to achieve. Even in flight, it would stall fairly easily because of the angle of incidence. Also not helping the stall characteristics would be that enormous engine sitting on top of the wing. Let's put this together - the wing is supported above the fuselage by several metal rods, and then the engine is mounted on top of the wing using several more. Whilst having a smaller, lighter engine all that way up would maybe be alright for it's centre of gravity, a big, meaty racing engine would weigh the plane down, pull the nose down when the throttle is touched, and make the centre of gravity somewhere thirty miles above the where it should be. Although, it must be said, having all of these characteristics with enough lift would produce an extremely agile aircraft, but I think that the high angle of incidence on the wings would make the S. 21 overweight even at the highest of speeds. Perhaps if it had a lower centre of gravity and more powerful engine then it would be a little more feasible, but certainly still an... interesting thing to fly.
So, would-be stats:
Handling: Unbelievably difficult to not stall, take off and land, but would probably handle veyr well in flight because of the instability
Speed: Very fast, with that angle of incidence and that enormous engine sitting on top
Ok, so Porco does say it's difficult to take off in the film, and a wonder to handle in the sky. So, I suppose, it's more or less feasible. I'd like to at least see a higher camber and angle of attack on the wings to generate extra lift, and perhaps a lower centre of gravity.
  Alright. Next up is the pirate gang Mamma Aiuto's seaplane, the Dabohaze. Immediately striking is the all-metal construction, the tandem engines and "twice as thick as you think" wings.
So, an all metal construction would make the Dabohaze extremely strong, but very heavy, needing that extra engine. As can be seen in the film, the wings have a high camber and angle of attack and high aspect ratio, which would produce plenty of lift to haul all that metal up into the sky. Those tandem engines, popular on 1920s and 30s Italian flying boats, would create a contra-rotating effect that would cancel out rotational air flow. Oh, but obviously, not very well, because of that huge gap between the propellers. In any case, they would produce quite a lot of power. The floats on the bottom of the aircraft are a bit of a strange addition, and would probably produce more drag than anything else, and probably not do much to stop the ends of the wings from dangling dangerously into the water. But, with all that weight down below, the centre of gravity should be nicely in place near the epicenter of the wing camber, and inside the feuselage, producing stable characteristics when in flight. The tailplane mounted rudders and t-tail configuration empannage is an interesting development, which would produce fairly good pitch and yaw movement. The cockpit, whilst strangely shaped, would give quite good visibility and protection from the elements.
Would-be stats:
Handling: Slow, difficult to take off and land from the primitive aerolons, but sturdy with good protective ability.
Speed: Slow, as the engines would have to haul all that metal up out of a lot of draggy water, with those big floats weighing it down.
Well then, it doesn't look entirely impossible, but I'm not convinced that the tail is far enough away from the wing to create a stable platform. Assuming that was alright, it would be a lot like any other seaplane of the era. A bit slow, but reliable. Of course, the wings would continuously be dipping into the sea when moored up or taxiing, which would create some big problems.

Interestingly, all the other aircraft on Porco Rosso are modeled off of real life aircraft. With a little poking around on the internet, I'm sure you can find out what they are. I'm not giving off any hints :D