14 April 2010

“The Mighty Ear Banger”

x-planes | Republic XF-84H “Thunderscreech”

the Republic XF-84H “Thunderscreech” - designed to combine the speed of jet aircraft with the long range, low fuel consumption and low landing speed of propeller-driven aircraft. It incorporated a turboprop engine in a modified F-84F Thunderstreak fuselage.

* Two were built. The first aircraft made 11 flights (Test Pilot Hank Baird), with 10 of these ending in forced landings. The second flew only once, Test Pilot Lin Hendrix refusing to fly the plane again.

* “The nickname comes from the fact that the aircraft was quite possibly the loudest aircraft ever built. Also known as the “Mighty Ear Banger”, it could reportedly be heard 25 miles away when on the ground. Unlike standard propellers which turn at subsonic speeds, the outer 24–30 inches of the blades on the XF-84H’s propeller traveled faster than the speed of sound even at idle thrust, producing a continuous visible sonic boom that radiated laterally from the propellers for hundreds of yards and was reportedly strong enough to knock a man down.

Coupled with the already considerable noise from the sub-sonic aspect of the propeller and the dual jet turbines, the aircraft was notorious for inducing severe nausea and headaches among ground crews. In one report, a Republic engineer suffered a seizure after close range exposure to the shock waves emanating from a powered-up XF-84H. The pervasive noise also severely disrupted operations in the Edwards AFB control tower by risking vibration damage to sensitive components and forcing air traffic personnel to communicate with the XF-84H’s crew on the flight line by light signals…”
Stranger than fiction, man...

I'd like to think that this thing wouldn't have even needed weapons.  It could just fly over East Berlin and been loud at the communists.  At the very least it could have kept the Kremlin worried about our top-secret seizure inducing sonic weapon.

I kind of miss the days of Cold War weapons development, when the dominant paradigm seemed to be "try lots of wacky shit and hope some of it works better than the wacky shit the Russkies' are dreaming up."

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