Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything!

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Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything!

Postby planecanadian » Mon Apr 17, 2017 7:25 pm

Hello, Simviation forum goers!

My name is Charles Bain, and once upon a time I was a contributor here at Simviation, writing articles on lesser-known WWII aircraft. It marked the first time I was ever invited to contribute historical work, and it’s stayed with me ever since. Many years on, this original inspiration (and many of the aircraft!) served as the basis for a book entitled 'Rare Birds', available from fine Amazons everywhere (Such as here!) through the great people at Fonthill Media.

I’m not at all surprised to find Simviation still going strong – it’s always been a fantastic, welcoming community. I’m here today to do an ‘AMA’ for those of you who enjoy Reddit, an “Ask Me Anything”. If you’ve got any aircraft questions, I’ll take the best swing at them I can, as well as answering any other historical questions you might have (my academic area of expertise is the First World War, but I roam far and wide). If there’s anything I can answer about the old Combat Flight Simulator days, I’ll do that too!

If you’re at all interested, feel free to take a look at my blog here, or you can follow me on Facebook.

I’ll answer questions as soon as I get to them – if I’m delayed, it’s likely me doing a bit of research to ensure a better answer. If anyone has technical detail to add, please feel free to do so!

I look forward to your questions!
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Hagar » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:41 am

Hi Charles. Good to see you again after all these years. A blast from the past. 8-)

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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby planecanadian » Tue Apr 18, 2017 7:04 am

Hagar wrote:Hi Charles. Good to see you again after all these years. A blast from the past. 8-)

Hagar aka Grumpy1


It's good to be back - Simviation has always been a wonderful place. And I seem to remember that tagline, too!
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby pete » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:03 am

Here are your old pages from our old site Charles - good to see you back!


http://simviation.com/fsdcbain.htm
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Roypcox » Tue Apr 18, 2017 9:36 am

Hi Charles and welcome back and stick around don't leave us again. Your knowledge is priceless!!! Hold steady old chum. Roy {homeboy}
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby planecanadian » Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:59 pm

pete wrote:Here are your old pages from our old site Charles - good to see you back!


http://simviation.com/fsdcbain.htm


Thanks, Pete, though goodness me it's something to look at the old articles now!
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby planecanadian » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:00 pm

Roypcox wrote:Hi Charles and welcome back and stick around don't leave us again. Your knowledge is priceless!!! Hold steady old chum. Roy {homeboy}


The upside to things are, I have significantly more of it now! And good to hear from you again! Hopefully a lot of people chime in with questions along the way here.
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Steve M » Wed Apr 19, 2017 6:29 pm

Hello Charles, I have a question about aircraft fuel in WW1. Castor Oil. A few years back I posed a question saying did the exhaust from castor oil give pilots the "runs". If I remember right Doug (Hagar) explained that that was the reason those open cockpit pilots wore scarfs in order to avoid ingesting that stuff. ( If I remember correctly ). What was the reason they used castor oil when ground vehicles (engines) were already using gasoline?
I only have a three hour window to reply each evening so please excuse.
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby planecanadian » Wed Apr 19, 2017 8:50 pm

Steve M wrote:Hello Charles, I have a question about aircraft fuel in WW1. Castor Oil. A few years back I posed a question saying did the exhaust from castor oil give pilots the "runs". If I remember right Doug (Hagar) explained that that was the reason those open cockpit pilots wore scarfs in order to avoid ingesting that stuff. ( If I remember correctly ). What was the reason they used castor oil when ground vehicles (engines) were already using gasoline?
I only have a three hour window to reply each evening so please excuse.


Hello Steve!

First, to the exhaust question. I can't say conclusively it didn't happen, but the processes of the engine would possibly have made sure that the fumes coming out weren't the same as inhaling it directly in an inert state. The thing is, I've heard the story too, and it appears even on official websites - but I've never seen any first hand accounts or yet, or actual evidence. It's entirely possible that it happened, but also possible that it's an urban myth in this case. (I'll hedge my bets on a definitive answer, really!) Until somebody sits down and writes a complete history paper or research project on WWI pilots and their intestinal distress, it will likely remain unanswered conclusively one way or the other. But the scarves did certainly serve the purpose of wiping away the film of it generated from the engine in flight - and would have been necessary regardless to keep out the cold.

It also reminds me of the hazards of just being behind those engines in general - such as pilots unfortunate enough to be seated behind a water-cooled engine that took some enemy fire or suffered a leak.

Now, to the second part. Castor oil was a perfect solution to the unique propulsion provided by the rotary engines favoured by many WWI aircraft. It didn't break down, and the thin walls of the rotary engine's cylinders were prone to distortion - so a lubricant needed to be exceptional and to reduce friction as much as possible. In simplest terms, it could stand the heat and the centrifugal force where other materials couldn't.

Granted, given everything we've said here, if you're flying a rotary, I'd suggest a modern synthetic. Just in case.
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Hagar » Thu Apr 20, 2017 2:31 am

Steve M wrote:Hello Charles, I have a question about aircraft fuel in WW1. Castor Oil. A few years back I posed a question saying did the exhaust from castor oil give pilots the "runs". If I remember right Doug (Hagar) explained that that was the reason those open cockpit pilots wore scarfs in order to avoid ingesting that stuff. ( If I remember correctly ). What was the reason they used castor oil when ground vehicles (engines) were already using gasoline?
I only have a three hour window to reply each evening so please excuse.

If I remember correctly the main reason for fighter pilots wearing silk scarves is to avoid chafing their necks while constantly looking around for enemy aircraft. They might also have been useful for pilots of WWI rotary engined aircraft wiping their goggles & faces but would not prevent them ingesting the stuff.

The Castor oil is not a fuel but a lubricant. WWI type rotary engines are similar to two-strokes where the lubricant is added to the fuel. The main advantage is that being a vegetable oil the castor oil does not mix with the fuel. One disadvantage is that this is a total loss system & the castor oil is constantly expelled via the open exhausts straight into the face of the pilot which was very unpleasant. I read that the the first thing many pilots of rotary engined aircraft did after landing from a mission was to visit the toilet.

This fuel combination is still used in rotary engined aircraft today during regular displays of WWI types at places like Old Warden & Old Rhinebeck. The distinctive smell is not unpleasant.
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby papituwall » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:24 am

Good to see you.

In spite of being an old page I have some notes to your description of the Polikarpov I-15 /I-153.

Those planes were used in combat for the first time in the Spanish civil war (Republican Airforce) from october 1936.
Believeing the Nationalists that were american planes they were named "Curtis" (only one "s"...). Same happened with the twin engined Tupolev SB2, initially named "Martin bomber" (Spain had licence to build the Martin bomber, not done because of the war).
The republican name was (as you write) Chato (I-15) and Superchato (I-15bis). Chato is "flat nosed" in spanish but nothing german here.

During this war this plane had to be replaced as main fighter by the Polikarpov I-16 because the entry in combat of german Heinkel 112/Me 109E and italian Fiat G50.
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Jean Loup » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:39 pm

Hagar wrote:[...I read that the the first thing many pilots of rotary engined aircraft did after landing from a mission was to visit the toilet.

This fuel combination is still used in rotary engined aircraft today during regular displays of WWI types at places like Old Warden & Old Rhinebeck. The distinctive smell is not unpleasant.

When I flew Control Line aircraft (from .045 to .35 glow plug model engines, 1960´s vintage) the lubricant was castor oil. We inhaled it all day long during flight weekends and it was not unpleasant, as you say Hagar. But we never visited the toilet (only ocasional pissing in the Woods, because of beer ingestion to prevent the dehidration provoked by the Mexican Sun).
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby Steve M » Thu Apr 20, 2017 4:15 pm

Thank you for the replies Charles and Doug. Much appreciated!
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Re: Old Simviation Contributor & Historian - Ask Me Anything

Postby planecanadian » Fri Apr 21, 2017 7:50 pm

You're very welcome! I'm hopeful for many more questions!
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