Jack E. Hammond
(AVSIG Member)
07/26/09 01:09 AM
The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Folks,

In the late 1970s the USAF decided to develop and purchase a new trainer which would combine all of the T-37 part and most of the T-38 training regime. Unlike the T-37 it would have a much higher transit speed and even more important the altitude it would train the pilot at: 47,000 feet. And it a lot less fuel and hours per hour costs.

But then something happened. The USAF was never clear about why they canceled the only new trainer being developed in the US since before the Vietnam War. All other trainers were developed from over seas designs. Some say the T-46A was canceled to prove that the Reagan administration could cancel some weapons projects. And the T-46A was one of the only two "major" weapons canceled by the Reagan administration.

Below are two pages from a aviation publication in 1984 on the T-46A. I am probably wrong, but I think what ever the short comings or problems were they could have been worked out and given the USAF the trainer they needed for the next three to five decades. And in my opinion Fairchild was not the type of company that would design a dog.

Any opinions or comments appreciated. And when I find the info that Fairchild sent me, I will post it.

Jack E. Hammond


Click Photos for full size photo


Page 1 ----




Page 2 ----



.


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/26/09 11:44 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Beside the facts that it was underpowered, had poor handling and spin characteristics, poor engine performance, the program was badly managed and the program quickly escalated from a $3.2 Billion program to a $3.4 billion in one year (5%)

The engine was a poor performer and the USAF was already considering an engine upgrade. nd the Navy, smelling a real wet dog, had absolutely NO interest in the -46A.

Then too, some choked on the name "Eaglet".

And when the Air Force killed the Eaglet, it was the end of Fairchild Republic.


Jack E. Hammond
(AVSIG Member)
07/26/09 03:24 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Dear John,

How did a famous company like Fairchild design such a dawg? And while I can "maybe" understand the bad flying characteristics, how does a simple trainer design require $3.4 billion! I mean almost all trainer designs are a private funded development -- ie with the idea that if we can not sell it to our government we can sell it to some other government.

Jack E. Hammond

.


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/26/09 04:09 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Originally it was argued the T-46 program would cost LESS than any upgrade to the -37 and would offer a longer life with lower operating costs. It was supposed to be a win-win.

According to some reports, some mods included new engines for the -37 (none specified) and extending the service life. Of course, at some point in time someone was going to have to address the fact that the final turn for landing in the -37 put the pilot outside the ejection seat envelope. The -37 seat was NOT a zero-zero seat and the normal sink rate on final placed the pilot in jeopardy.

Jane's reports in Mar86 that the CBO said the USAF could extend the -37s for $1.2 billion less than acquiring the -46A which by then had taken on the nickname, the "Thunder-piglet" in line with Republic aircraft being named thunder-something.

Like Beech, Fairchild Republic had Rutan build a 62% aircraft and the numbers looked good. But poor engine perf, bad cost over-runs, poor management of the program doomed the little pig.


Stephanie Belser
(Top Gun APC)
07/27/09 12:01 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

How did a famous company like Fairchild design such a dawg?




Not original, by any means:

"If they ever build a runway that goes around the world, Fairchild will build an airplane that uses every inch of it."


rheisner
(Public Guest)
07/27/09 01:57 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

How did a famous company like Fairchild design such a dawg?
.



Tell me one company that hasn't?


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/27/09 02:06 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Dear John,

How did a famous company like Fairchild design such a dawg?

.




The same can be said for Consolidated Vultee and the B-32. They had the -24 design locked down. Interesting wing, good performance but with some problems. Then they get the default position for backup on the B-29 when Lockheed and Douglas back out of the competition.

The -32 comes up like a bunch of rookies with NO experience designed it. Take the cowl flaps for instance. There were controls for the UPPER and LOWER cowl flaps.. 8 switches. ?? The pilot's seat was also screwed up. Raise the seat to see outside the cockpit and you had virtually no scan inside for instruments. Lower the seat to see the instruments and you could not see out. ??? The pressurization sys was so bad they junked it and went with an unpressurized airplane, especially after LeMay decided to take the -29s in low. And on and on and on.

And performance was atrocious when it came to range, speed and altitude. None were met as I remember. One has to wonder if taking them all to Walnut Ridge soon after the war was a routine reduction or revenge. At any rate, the entire fleet was quickly chopped up including some that were mostly brand new with very few hours on engines or airframes.


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
07/27/09 02:34 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

There were controls for the UPPER and LOWER cowl flaps.. 8 switches. ??




Considering the cooling problems they had with the R-3350's, I'd think that could come in handy.

Quote:

The pressurization sys was so bad they junked it and went with an unpressurized airplane, especially after LeMay decided to take the -29s in low.




I thought that decision was made as soon as the B-29 was selected as primary, as a low-tech fallback in case the B-29's pressurization and remote turrets didn't work out.


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/27/09 04:31 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Considering the cooling problems they had with the R-3350's, I'd think that could come in handy.




Too complex and a single switch worked better. The crews found it a problem in flight test.

Quote:

I thought that decision was made as soon as the B-29 was selected as primary, as a low-tech fallback in case the B-29's pressurization and remote turrets didn't work out.




In a way you are correct but the ORIGINAL airplane was to have pressurization just like the -29. And as you have noted, they decided after the -29 experience that the -32 didn't need the complex remote turrets.

The -32, as most here know, is unique in many ways. The last combat sortie in the Pacific, last aerial engagement with 2 Japanese fighters claimed, the last airman killed in the Pacific and one of the few airplanes where NONE are left. ALL cut up and destroyed.


Mase Taylor
(Top Gun)
07/27/09 05:58 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?




http://www.daveswarbirds.com/usplanes/aircraft/dominatr.htm


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/27/09 09:08 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:




http://www.daveswarbirds.com/usplanes/aircraft/dominatr.htm




This is the one with the single tail. That was the third, if I have it correct, bird. The first two came with twin tails like the -24.

I went and got my notes from the Air and Space library along with the B-32 flight manual. (Yes I know.. who else would pay for that stuff.. sick and can't help it.. a syndrome no doubt)

I had forgotten the trim for the elevator and ailerons worked in the opposite direction of other airplanes. On the mixture, full forward was CUT-OFF and full aft was AUTO-RICH. The flaps switch was three position (up, off and down) and there were two switches, one for inboard and one for outboard flaps. The switch moved left right instead of up-down. ?? also, to raise the gear, you pushed a button which released a lock which allowed you to raise the gear with another handle and then another switch closed the gear doors. ?? 3 steps for raising/lowering the gear. Huh???


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
07/27/09 09:14 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Kinky...;-)

Jack E. Hammond
(AVSIG Member)
07/27/09 09:39 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Dear John,

My father-in-law was with a b-32 unit as a belly gunner that was preparing to fly to the Pacific when the A-bombs were dropped.

Jack E. Hammond

.


Jack E. Hammond
(AVSIG Member)
07/27/09 09:43 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Dear John,

It would have seem the problem with the ejection seats could have been handle fairly easy -- ie new ejection seats. But the problem of the pressurization to operate at 47,000 feet and a higher transit speed is a different issue.

Finally, why did Fairchild design a totally new plane and just not contact Saab and co develop a version of the SAAB-105, which is the T-46A looks and awful lot alike. <GRIN> The SAAB-105 is one of the better jet trainers, only came to late and from the wrong country.

Jack E. Hammond

.


Ray Tackett
(Top Gun)
07/28/09 05:34 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Re the gear, you've probably flown a DC-3/C-47/R4D, and that's with no gear
doors at all.

That mixture deal sounds really dangerous, though.


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/28/09 09:20 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Dear John,

It would have seem the problem with the ejection seats could have been handle fairly easy -- ie new ejection seats. But the problem of the pressurization to operate at 47,000 feet and a higher transit speed is a different issue.




I don't think the T-46 would have gone to 47k. The highest I ever got the -38 was in the low/mid 50s and that was a zoom climb that left me with a glider until I got back into the mid 20s.

And retrofitting a seat would not be easy or without considerable costs. The -37s ejection seat was a 37mm shell which kicked your *ss.

Quote:

Finally, why did Fairchild design a totally new plane and just not contact Saab and co develop a version of the SAAB-105, which is the T-46A looks and awful lot alike. <GRIN> The SAAB-105 is one of the better jet trainers, only came to late and from the wrong country.

Jack E. Hammond

.




I got to fly the -105 in Sweden with one of the Saab pilots. (wish it had been the one made in Farmingdale but this one was made in Linkoping). Anyway, it was a very docile and sweet handling little bird. We went on a low level cross country with us going in the back door and out the front door of some of the red topped Swedish homes in the country. We were down in the dirt. The Swedes pride themselves on their low level flying and from my short flight, I can see why.

We did a number of patterns before calling it a day and it was an enjoyable flight. I still have the gold squadron scarf they gave me as a token of the flight. Thanks for reminding me of that time, Jack. Thanks...


J. Wiley
(Aviation Researcher)
07/28/09 09:28 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Re the gear, you've probably flown a DC-3/C-47/R4D, and that's with no gear doors at all.

That mixture deal sounds really dangerous, though.




You just have to wonder what they were thinking. It was not like they were newbies to building airplanes but there were SO many things wrong.

And no doubt, you know that prior to tactile coding and some standardization of what was where, pilots transitioning from one airplane to another would often revert to old habits... another airplane lost.

For example, let's take this page at my old UPT base, Webb at Big Spring. Just check out the wad of metal (and wood) they were making.

http://www.accident-report.com/world/namerica/slist/bigspring.html


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
07/28/09 09:41 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

prior to tactile coding and some standardization of what was where




I understand the B-29 FE position could get interesting in that regard -- aft facing, pull the throttles for power.


Chris Fostel
(Public Guest)
08/05/14 03:52 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

It was interesting to see all the 'flaws' that people think caused the end of the T-46 program. That wasn't what it was all about.

I was a project manager at Fairchild during those days. A requirement of the T-46 contract was to install and use an earned value tracking system for the first time in Fairchild's history, The first report from the new system declared that the T-46 program had a schedule variance equal to about one month's effort and a cost variance to match.

The Bethpage plant general manager declared that the data was faulty and ordered the project control folks to edit the reports to show no variance. Rather than risk their careers on the data from a new system, the reports were edited.

This continued for the next three years. The EVMS showed the project slipping further and further behind. The plant manager kept insisting that the reports be edited.

The day of the roll out came. The project was 10 months behind schedule, the plant manager allowed the roll out to go ahead as scheduled.

The Air Force was either tipped off, or smelled a rat from the reports that showed no variances. They came to the roll out with screwdrivers and wrenches. They removed maintenance access panels and discovered wooden mockups of avionics boxes and fly-by-wire controllers that were critical to the operation of the T-46.

The commanding general met with the plant manager and told him that there were two options. The plant manager could personally take the plane up and demonstrate its flight worthiness, or Fairchild Republic could make it flight worthy. But, since the official reports said the plane was complete at roll out, there would be no progress payments until the T-46 flew. If the T-46 did not fly, the plant manager and project control group would all go to jail and the company would be disbarred from future government contracts.

Three T-46 test aircraft were eventually produced, but the expense of funding 10 months of effort with no income drained Fairchild. The company defaulted on commercial loans and on a contract with Saab. Saab and the banks forced Fairchild Republic to liquidate its assets to pay damages to Saab and satisfy the bond holders.

No more Fairchild Republic; no more T-46. You can quote me on that.


Tom Charlton
(Top Gun)
08/05/14 04:15 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Chris Fostel wrote:
I was a project manager at Fairchild during those days.


Hi Chris,
Welcome to Avsig. I see you’re registered as (Public Guest) Join up, be a regular, and share what you know with us. Lot’a fine people hang out here on the longest, continuously running internet forum. I know that over the years we’ve all learned a lot from each other.

Regards,
Tom Charlton


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
08/05/14 04:55 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Chris--

What Tom said...you clearly have a lot to offer this forum. I'm an engineering prof and open all my courses with a presentation on "Ethics and Competence in Engineering" -- I think your T-46 narrative will fit nicely into it.

Be advised: John Wiley, whom you were replying to, passed away about three years ago. Quite a loss to us.


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
08/05/14 06:43 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

That mixture deal sounds really dangerous, though.




Mmmmmhm? All our DC-3s and every Wright 1820 powered Diesel 3 were also that way. And also the B-29.

best, randy


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
08/05/14 06:44 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

Wiley, whom you were replying to, passed away about three years ago. Quite a loss




Concur!

best, randy


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
08/05/14 06:51 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

B-29.....pull the throttles for power.




Unh, unh - "sorry Charlie, no cigar". Not so. BUT, all the switches are backwards, 4-3-2-1.

best, randy


Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
08/05/14 06:53 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

I know that over the years we’ve all learned a lot from each other




Concur!

best, randy


Ralph Jones
(Top Gun)
08/05/14 07:23 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

OK, must have misunderstood what I read on that. So the pilot's throttles and FE's throttles move in opposite directions relative to the airplane?

Randy Sohn
(Gradn Exlated Ordre of teh Fyling Fingres)
08/05/14 09:03 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Quote:

So the pilot's throttles and FE's throttles move in opposite directions relative




Unh, yeah, push forward to increase the MP, conventional. Strange tho is that the throttles for the pilot and the co-pilot are on their outboards (under the side windows). Vic told me that by the time they'd built just a couple of airplanes they already knew that they'd screwed up by having the F/E facing backward - but by then it was it was already too late to change. The F/E's controls are backward from what we're used to, they wanted them to be sorta coupled/connected/indicative to the engines seen out the window (4-3-2-1). That's why I've never favored checking out pilots as the F/Es, better in my mind to have engineers who don't have a preconceived thought of 1-2-3-4. Also the mixture full rich by pulling it all the way towards you, I did get a F/E's series of prop switches for the prop controls, the production airplanes did not have that, the prop step head switches only on the pilots's console panel. Vic gave me low lights (about 1100 RPM) on short final once when I'd called for high lights and I barely kept the airplane from scuttling off to the side of the runway at HRL with Axel Wars flying it. Good ole days! <g>

Also, that reminded me of those T-6s from the movie Tora-Tora that Jerry Weeks had donated to us in the CAF and that ultimately formed the CAF Tora-Tora deal. French types (NOW I know) with the throttle quadrant stuff reversed. I tried and tried to keep one running when I put the mixture in RICH at West Memphis and couldn't, quit every time, I went inside the FBO and called Rolling Fork and got either "Buck" Rodgers or Dudley Johnston at South Delta Dusters and told him it wouldn't keep running. He listened and then told me to "just put the d--- mixture in the middle position, they run too d--- rich anyhow and get those d---ed things out'a there quick before he changes his mind".

best, randy


Geoff Sjostrom - Chicago
(Top Gun)
08/08/14 12:29 PM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

A fascinating (if sad) story.

There are pictures of the prototypes in flight. Do you know if the aircraft met its specifications?


Terry Carraway
(Top Gun)
08/09/14 06:54 AM
Re: The Fairchild T-46A - What Happened?

Did they ever fly the full sized aircraft? I remember seeing the part sizes version built by Scaled Composites (Burt Rutan).

One of the airframes is at the USAF Museum, but you have to take the Restoration Tour to see it.



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