Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Art and Science of Aviation

It was natural that one would want to work for Glenn L. Martin
by David B.
At the Glenn L. Martin Company in Middle River Maryland, in 1951, Mr. E. E. (Pete) Clark, the chief of aerodynamics, interviewed me for several hours, including lunch and afterwards. We agreed I should work there. It was the gift of a lifetime! Mr. Clark found out that I had built model airplanes all my life and had worked at a grass strip airport covering wings, welding and riveting, repairing, inspecting and modifying light planes. He found out, too, that I had earned a Bachelor of Science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute in aeronautical engineering. I had graduated with honors, and was placed number one in the class. I felt lucky to be hired.

Starting on August 2, 1951, the company assigned me to the Canberra project in the aerodynamics group. Joe Burghardt was the project engineer and Howard E. (Howie) Schick was in charge of stability and control, so I sat next to him. The English Electric Company had earlier delivered three Canberra aircraft to be used at Martin, and we still had WD932 and WD940, in the effort to turn it into the United States Air Force B-57. It required not just changing skin gauges and rivet sizes, but meeting MIL-SPEC-F-8785 ASG, the flying quality spec for piloted aircraft. It was said, at the time, that this was something to do with the balance of payments abroad, having to do with the war. This was hard to swallow, as we still had a Martin XB-S1 on the field, a really advanced aircraft with swept wings, two pod-mounted jet engines, a high T-tail, bicycle landing gear and other features to make it a really high-speed bomber. Later, it became clear that the Canberra had the greatest ratio of low speed to high speed of anything in the inventory, and this became increasingly important as we improved the high subsonic capability in flight test and then were invited to build a special purpose high-altitude variant. Wing Commander W. E. W. Petter had designed a beautifully streamlined, low-drag airframe with lightweight structure. He had chosen the equivalent of a NACA 0012 airfoil, inboard, which had plenty of room for deep spars but also avoided the early Mach problems over the upper surface of cambered airfoils. Contributing to low weight, he had avoided hydraulics on the controls, and used geared and spring tabs on the ailerons, elevator and rudder. All of this later enabled us to use the aircraft in a special high altitude variant—the BS7D.

These are my first memories at Martin. Thank you!

The Martin B-57 Canberra