Monday, January 9, 2012

East Meets West: An In-house Aircraft Comparison

Here at Vintage Wings, we are all about cooperation. We all graduated from kindergarten and we know how to share and get along with each other - even though, at times, our histories may clash. Take for example the two jets sitting in the hangar. In one corner we have an L-29 Delphin, a Czechoslovakian aircraft built in the 1960’s and used by all the Eastern bloc countries (except Poland) for training. Sitting a safe distance away and closely guarded by piston fighters is a Mk V Sabre, built under licence by Canadair a decade previous, in the 1950’s and used primarily as a combat/fighter jet, mostly by the Western countries.
The L-29 sits in the hangar during importation.

The fire-engine red L-29 is a temporary resident to the building. It is being imported by Vintech Aero, Vintage Wings’ AMO (Aircraft Maintenance Organization) for a private owner. The gold coloured Sabre meanwhile, is a part of the Michael Potter Collection, featured by Vintage Wings of Canada, and it resides permanently here at the hangar.
Obvious commonalities include the fact that both are:
 a) vintage aircraft
 b) jet aircraft, and
c)  still flying.

But it is really the differences and the poached information and designs that make a comparison between the two so interesting.

L-29s were built by the company Aero Vodochody and first flew in 1959 in Czechoslovakia. From 1961 to 1974, over 3600 of these compact aircraft were produced. With a crew of two, they were used as a primary jet trainer, combat and weapons trainer, and ground attack fighter. The later versions, such as the one in our hangar, featured a Motorlet 701 turbojet engine with a single-stage centrifugal compressor, capable of producing 2,000lbs of thrust.

The Sabre sleeps with her speedbrakes deployed - is this the same as sleeping with your tongue sticking out?

The first Sabre flew for the U.S. forces in 1947. Worldwide, over 9500 of these single-seat fighters were produced. Eighteen hundred of those were built right here in Canada from 1950-1958. The Canadair Sabre came in six different flavours and featured the Avro Orenda engine, with a 10-stage axial flow compressor and single-stage turbine. The Orenda engine produced 7275 lbs of thrust for this combat/fighter aircraft that earned the name “MiG Killer” during the Korean War.
Despite the large difference in thrust, the L-29 guzzles 150-200 gallons per hour (GPH), while the Sabre, with a fuel burn of 250GPH (2,000lbs/hr) swallows only a teaspoon more. The L-29 can travel 550 miles on a tank of gas (with drop tanks), and our Sabre, following modern day IFR rules, has a range of 630 miles. The Sabre, however, weighs more than twice as much as the L-29: 18,000lbs gross weight vs. 7800lbs. And the Sabre, with a service ceiling of 51,000ft, can go almost twice as high.
What about flight controls you ask? Though the L-29 is the more recent of the two aircraft, it features all old-school manual flight controls, with hydraulics operating only the gear, flaps, and speed brakes. Stealing a bit of Western British design, the Eastern L-29 has many pneumatic systems, including the brakes and canopy jettison system. Other British steals include the type of grease nipples. Meanwhile, the Sabre’s only mechanical flight control is the rudder. The elevators and ailerons are fully hydraulic with artificial feel/feedback, similar to most modern high-performance aircraft. The brakes are also hydraulic, while the flaps are electric and the canopy is jettisoned using pyrotechnics. In a lovely bit of irony, the swept-back wing of the Sabre, a major advancement in aircraft design, was borrowed from the Germans.

The L-29 by Aero Vodochody.

Built at different times and for different purposes, the L-29 and Sabre would not normally draw comparisons. But you never know what you are going to find in the Vintage Wings hangar. Every aircraft has a story and our tour guides would love to share them with you. Now is the perfect time to come in and check it out. Call 819-669-9603 to book your free tour.

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