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If you were a crew chief in the Macross universe.......


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Which Variable Fighter you would love to maintain and which Variable Fighter you would not like to maintain? For me, I would be happy with maintaining the VF-25 Messiah family because the linear actuators used in the design would help reduce wear and tear of the transformation mechanisms. I will loathe maintaining the SV-262 Draken III family because of the way it transforms.

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Love:  YF-21/VF-22 - even 20 or so years after its debut (in universe), it's still cutting edge.

Loath:  VF-4 - nevermind that it has 3 times as many engines to maintain and  the transformation mechanism is rather obnoxiously complex, the kicker is the shoulders: pilots are probably going to be hammering the shoulder joints hard as they're used to other Valkyries that have a full range of movement on the shoulders!!

I wonder if the VF-4's airframe eventually develops the Valkyrie equivalent of "back pain" due to the postures need to get the arms "overhead".  :lol:

 


I also think the VB-6 would be a pain to work on.  Every time it fires its guns, I'm sure the maintenance crew has to check each and every bolt and fastener to confirm that they haven't rattled loose! :lol:

Edited by sketchley
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15 hours ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

Which Variable Fighter you would love to maintain and which Variable Fighter you would not like to maintain? 

Hmm... as someone who used to be in charge of maintaining and updating a fleet of over 150 prototype vehicles for a government project, being a crew chief would be my personal hell.

Love:  General Galaxy VF-171 Nightmare Plus.  It's known to be a highly robust machine with performance that doesn't put excessive amounts of stress on its systems or its airframe, it'd be a nice and easy machine to maintain.

Loathe:  General Galaxy VF-9 Cutlass.  The "origami Valkyrie" has an excessively complex transformation that would be an absolute nightmare to maintain the actuators on, and the -E variant has an acknowledged disquieting tendency to spontaneously explode.

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19 minutes ago, sketchley said:

Love:  YF-21/VF-22 - even 20 or so years after its debut (in universe), it's still cutting edge.

Loath:  VF-4 - nevermind that it has 3 times as many engines to maintain and  the transformation mechanism is rather obnoxiously complex, the kicker is the shoulders: pilots are probably going to be hammering the shoulder joints hard as they're used to other Valkyries that have a full range of movement on the shoulders!!

I wonder if the VF-4's airframe eventually develops the Valkyrie equivalent of "back pain" due to the postures need to get the arms "overhead".  :lol:

 


I also think the VB-6 would be a pain to work on.  Every time it fires its guns, I'm sure the maintenance crew has to check each and every bolt and fastener to confirm that they haven't rattled loose! :lol:

Not just that, I used to work as flight deck electician on a LPH, so I am sure the flight deck crew would have to do a FOD check after every shot that takes place on deck.

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  • 1 month later...
On 8/17/2020 at 7:56 PM, Seto Kaiba said:

Hmm... as someone who used to be in charge of maintaining and updating a fleet of over 150 prototype vehicles for a government project, being a crew chief would be my personal hell.

I was going to say this is going to be directly proportional to how easily it can be disassembled and reassembled.

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17 hours ago, Mommar said:

I was going to say this is going to be directly proportional to how easily it can be disassembled and reassembled.

Oh, that's just the tip of the iceberg... you also have to consider a bunch of other aspects of maintenance:

  • How much disassembly and reassembly stands between you and the parts that are most likely to fail, need the most periodic maintenance, and/or require the most frequent update/replacement.
  • How readily periodic maintenance on different systems can be timed to coincide with each other to minimize trips to the "shop".
  • How frequently the manufacturer is releasing software/hardware updates for stability enhancements, issue fixes, and quality of life improvements.
  • How readily available repair/replacement parts are, and whether they can be fabricated onsite or have to be shipped in from a supplier.
  • How high the failure rate of newly introduced technologies is.
  • How consistent the manufacturing process is, i.e. how many units with manufacturer-induced or repair-induced "eccentricities" will end up in your lap.

I can safely say that being fleet maintenance lead for even a small fleet of relatively low-complexity hybrid electric vehicles was enough to take years off my life for the above-listed reasons.

 

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1 hour ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Oh, that's just the tip of the iceberg... you also have to consider a bunch of other aspects of maintenance:

  • How much disassembly and reassembly stands between you and the parts that are most likely to fail, need the most periodic maintenance, and/or require the most frequent update/replacement.
  • How readily periodic maintenance on different systems can be timed to coincide with each other to minimize trips to the "shop".
  • How frequently the manufacturer is releasing software/hardware updates for stability enhancements, issue fixes, and quality of life improvements.
  • How readily available repair/replacement parts are, and whether they can be fabricated onsite or have to be shipped in from a supplier.
  • How high the failure rate of newly introduced technologies is.
  • How consistent the manufacturing process is, i.e. how many units with manufacturer-induced or repair-induced "eccentricities" will end up in your lap.

I can safely say that being fleet maintenance lead for even a small fleet of relatively low-complexity hybrid electric vehicles was enough to take years off my life for the above-listed reasons.

I can echo his ending sentiment and the entire point as a former Air Force jet engine mechanic who had to deal with a lot of this and I also knew actual aircraft crew chiefs (we often worked together) and let me tell you, the job is rarely fun (still fulfilling though, but I wouldn't go back to it lol).

4 years of it turned me from an idealistic engineer-to-be to something of a pragmatic engineer cause I often think about how this stuff factors a lot more than engineering colleagues in the same age or position as me. I also tend to ignore the more flowery rhetoric tossed around for designers when I know it doesn't often help for the people who actually have to work on the end product.

In short it could be the best designed vehicle ever with an amazing legacy, but if it is hell to work on and keep working, is not as great as the poster claims, it just looks good when it needs to.

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53 minutes ago, Master Dex said:

4 years of it turned me from an idealistic engineer-to-be to something of a pragmatic engineer cause I often think about how this stuff factors a lot more than engineering colleagues in the same age or position as me. I also tend to ignore the more flowery rhetoric tossed around for designers when I know it doesn't often help for the people who actually have to work on the end product.

In short it could be the best designed vehicle ever with an amazing legacy, but if it is hell to work on and keep working, is not as great as the poster claims, it just looks good when it needs to.

My Grandpa was a Chief Master Sargent and retired from the Air Force in the early 70's after being an F4 specialist.  He used to RAIL against engineers who were supposedly so smart they could design some fancy flying contraption but didn't have the intelligence to figure out how to make anything accessible.

Fascinating stories about driving out into Nazi controlled North African desert to salvage parts from downed planes so they could maintain flying the P-38's doing bombing runs on Southern Italy.

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14 minutes ago, Mommar said:

My Grandpa was a Chief Master Sargent and retired from the Air Force in the early 70's after being an F4 specialist.  He used to RAIL against engineers who were supposedly so smart they could design some fancy flying contraption but didn't have the intelligence to figure out how to make anything accessible.

Yeah, and I heard this a lot, and eventually saw it for myself. It was a good check on my expectations and why sometimes the things you don't consider really matter. I'm trying to carry it forward into my engineering career but until you're in charge of things there are limits.

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  • 1 month later...
On 9/25/2020 at 11:13 PM, Mommar said:

My Grandpa was a Chief Master Sargent and retired from the Air Force in the early 70's after being an F4 specialist.  He used to RAIL against engineers who were supposedly so smart they could design some fancy flying contraption but didn't have the intelligence to figure out how to make anything accessible.

Fascinating stories about driving out into Nazi controlled North African desert to salvage parts from downed planes so they could maintain flying the P-38's doing bombing runs on Southern Italy.

To quote the designer of the PPSH SMG, "It is very easy to do complex things, but to keep things simple, that's very difficult."  I sometimes appreciate the engineering genius of Russian military hardware because they make their stuff easy to repair with easily accessible compartments.

Speaking of which and back to the topic of VF and maintaining them, I wonder if the VF-19 is loathed by crew chiefs and their ground crews. That high performance has a tendency to wear down parts faster.

 

 

Edited by cheemingwan1234
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8 hours ago, cheemingwan1234 said:

Speaking of which and back to the topic of VF and maintaining them, I wonder if the VF-19 is loathed by crew chiefs and their ground crews. That high performance has a tendency to wear down parts faster.

Well, the VF-19 is noted to have had both a high initial cost and a high average cost of operation... though it's not clear how much of that was the cost of replacement parts for the high-spec hardware and how much was the frequency of its required maintenance.

It's not something most crew chiefs ever had to worry about, though.  A combination of factors including rising tensions between the central New UN Government and its emigrant governments, Isamu's little stunt in Macross Plus, and the unacceptably high rate of training accidents early in its rollout that were directly attributed to its high performance led the New UN Government and New UN Forces to pull the plug on plans for its widespread adoption AND slap various export restrictions on the design and its technology that prevented emigrant governments from fielding them in significant numbers and reduced their performance.  (This led to the development and adoption of the VF-171 as the 4th Gen main VF of the New UN Forces in the mid-2040s.)

The few crews who had to deal with them were either those early crews who spent a fair amount of their time cleaning up the crashed aircraft after loss of control accidents during that initial problematic period of model conversion training and the crews servicing Special Forces aircraft who were used to the greater maintenance demands from their previous experience with Special Forces VFs like the VF-17.

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Yeah, lots of engineers and designers do not give enough though to access for maintenance.  It is getting better, but it depends on the item.  You may have awesome product, but it takes way too long to turn around it really does you no good.  If 60% of the fleet is in various stages of maintenance, you only have 40% of your fleet available and lots of maintenance staff tied up.

So this is a bit morbid, but I recently watched a documentary where they interviewed people that worked salvage and repair of WW2 Sherman Tanks.  They have high rates of PTSD.  You don't think about having to remove the bodies and body parts and clean out the tank to rebuild or strip for parts.

Thus I will crew chief whatever Ghost fighter/drone of the current era.  I have a extremely difficult time unseeing things.  :shok:

I will dislike being the crew chief on any mainline fighter.  :cray:

 

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6 hours ago, Bolt said:

Good point. Wouldn't have wanted to clean out the YF-21..if it had survived.

That had the luxury of blowing up.

Messer's plane in the Delta series now... Yuck... 

Atleast he stepped out of it in the movie, though he still bled everywhere... Then again Windermere took the plane from there for a bit so.. Guess they cleaned it when they added the Lil Drakkons?

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43 minutes ago, Master Dex said:

That had the luxury of blowing up.

Depends on which version of Plus you're watching... in the movie, the YF-21 is badly damaged but still technically intact in what looks to be a low orbit.  Hopefully Guld's flight suit contained the consequences of his ultra-high-g maneuvering.

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As retired Air Force with crew chief friends while in service and being a crew chief for static display aircraft, I pick the VF-1! All the newer aircraft are more maintenance intense. Stealth coatings complicate things for example. It takes 2 hours just to change a wingtip navigation light on an F-22! You can maintain almost anything on an '68 Mustang, but you need special tools and a computer to work on the new Mustangs.

Volunteering with a Navy aviation museum, we actually helped with designing mock-ups to help budding engineers learn to design for maintainers. They made them connect/disconnect cables in tight spaces (a box) where they couldn't see it -just like on actual aircraft. Of course they all complained it was impossible! Senior maintainers walk new engineers through aircraft showing them how difficult their previous designers made it to maintain them. Some of the newer aircraft reflect good changes in some areas, but are still lacking in others. - MT

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2 hours ago, MechTech said:

Volunteering with a Navy aviation museum, we actually helped with designing mock-ups to help budding engineers learn to design for maintainers. They made them connect/disconnect cables in tight spaces (a box) where they couldn't see it -just like on actual aircraft. Of course they all complained it was impossible! Senior maintainers walk new engineers through aircraft showing them how difficult their previous designers made it to maintain them. Some of the newer aircraft reflect good changes in some areas, but are still lacking in others. - MT

Teaching engineers that someone has to work on their creations? You're doing god's work.

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7 hours ago, JB0 said:

Teaching engineers that someone has to work on their creations? You're doing god's work.

I love it! It is sad how difficult it is to do simple things on some airframes. Another good example was hearing maintainers complain about seeing the pressure gauge for the F-18's nose strut. You need a mirror to see it and then you are still not looking straight at it, it's from an angle. Guessing and supersonic aircraft don't go together. - MT

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Thinking about all this (and everything all the folks here have said): I designed and built two transformable fighter models. It makes me wonder just how much hell they would be for a "real-life crew" to maintain and repair. Just the arm transform alone on the first one would probably give most crews ample reason to take early retirement!! As mentioned, making something so complex that you need to disassemble half the craft to replace a part is enough to "take years off" the life of said crew chiefs.

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You're right. One of many reasons we retired the Harriers (besides being old). You have to pull the whole wing off to get into parts of the engine and other systems. - MT

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6 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

Thinking about all this (and everything all the folks here have said): I designed and built two transformable fighter models. It makes me wonder just how much hell they would be for a "real-life crew" to maintain and repair. Just the arm transform alone on the first one would probably give most crews ample reason to take early retirement!! As mentioned, making something so complex that you need to disassemble half the craft to replace a part is enough to "take years off" the life of said crew chiefs.

It probably helps that VFs are made from materials much more durable than anything available today thanks to the reverse-engineered OTM advancements in material science.  From the sound of it, a lot of the articulations outside of the hands are fairly simple stuff that doesn't require a lot of attention.

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33 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

It probably helps that VFs are made from materials much more durable than anything available today thanks to the reverse-engineered OTM advancements in material science.  From the sound of it, a lot of the articulations outside of the hands are fairly simple stuff that doesn't require a lot of attention.

That's also a good point; not to mention that the Valkyries look like they are largely modular and that parts are made to be taken apart a bit more easily, due to the need for maintenance. I had noticed the vernier thrusters almost looked like "turn handles" that could rotate and unlock sections of the mech.

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15 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

Thinking about all this (and everything all the folks here have said): I designed and built two transformable fighter models. It makes me wonder just how much hell they would be for a "real-life crew" to maintain and repair. Just the arm transform alone on the first one would probably give most crews ample reason to take early retirement!! As mentioned, making something so complex that you need to disassemble half the craft to replace a part is enough to "take years off" the life of said crew chiefs.

On the other hand... they might be easier to get access to.  Sure, there may be small access panels that the crews have to reach into, but just imagine how much more accessible things are when you pause mid-transformation, and all the various components are floppy and separate from each other.

As someone mentioned about having to take the wing off to gain access on the Harrier, the equivalent on a Valkyrie would be transforming the components apart, so the wing is no longer in the way.

... not to mention that because the Valkyries transform into humanoid robots, it's logical that major components like the legs and arms can be easily removed and worked on in a more convenient location, position, or what have you.

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12 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

That's also a good point; not to mention that the Valkyries look like they are largely modular and that parts are made to be taken apart a bit more easily, due to the need for maintenance.

Yeah, it wouldn't take much to just detach the entire section you need to work on and leave the rest of the aircraft in place.

We've seen a few cases, esp. in Macross Frontier, where aircraft in hangars were shown missing parts as if in the middle of a service visit or overhaul.

 

12 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

I had noticed the vernier thrusters almost looked like "turn handles" that could rotate and unlock sections of the mech.

They do rotate... but not for that reason.

Put simply, they're thrust-vectoring nozzles for the verniers.

 

4 hours ago, sketchley said:

On the other hand... they might be easier to get access to.  Sure, there may be small access panels that the crews have to reach into, but just imagine how much more accessible things are when you pause mid-transformation, and all the various components are floppy and separate from each other.

As someone mentioned about having to take the wing off to gain access on the Harrier, the equivalent on a Valkyrie would be transforming the components apart, so the wing is no longer in the way.

I'd lay odds there are probably specific commands that can be sent to a VF's transformation system using a diagnostic test stand tool to only move a particular set of transformation joints for easier maintenance access.

 

4 hours ago, sketchley said:

... not to mention that because the Valkyries transform into humanoid robots, it's logical that major components like the legs and arms can be easily removed and worked on in a more convenient location, position, or what have you.

Yeah, we do have a few scenes in Macross Plus and Macross Frontier of them being serviced while in Battroid mode instead of just in Fighter mode.

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7 hours ago, sketchley said:

On the other hand... they might be easier to get access to.  Sure, there may be small access panels that the crews have to reach into, but just imagine how much more accessible things are when you pause mid-transformation, and all the various components are floppy and separate from each other.

As someone mentioned about having to take the wing off to gain access on the Harrier, the equivalent on a Valkyrie would be transforming the components apart, so the wing is no longer in the way.

... not to mention that because the Valkyries transform into humanoid robots, it's logical that major components like the legs and arms can be easily removed and worked on in a more convenient location, position, or what have you.

I imagine they would have "assembly jigs" and specialized worktables/areas for that to hold components for work and rotate them as needed.

 

2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Yeah, it wouldn't take much to just detach the entire section you need to work on and leave the rest of the aircraft in place.

We've seen a few cases, esp. in Macross Frontier, where aircraft in hangars were shown missing parts as if in the middle of a service visit or overhaul.

Since I have a factory diorama with some mechs being serviced, I'll have to work that in! :D

 

2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

They do rotate... but not for that reason.

Put simply, they're thrust-vectoring nozzles for the verniers.

Yeah, I got that down after reading what they were for elsewhere; just thought it would have been a handy secondary function.

On a side note: I wonder if any crew techs accidentally blew themselves across the shop floor hitting the controls for the verniers by mistake during maintenance?

 

2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

I'd lay odds there are probably specific commands that can be sent to a VF's transformation system using a diagnostic test stand tool to only move a particular set of transformation joints for easier maintenance access.

A manual diagnostic transformation tool to expose components and parts? interesting...even more ideas for the diorama.

 

2 hours ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Yeah, we do have a few scenes in Macross Plus and Macross Frontier of them being serviced while in Battroid mode instead of just in Fighter mode.

I remember in M+ seeing them working on the YF-19's head, with all the covers off.

 

Edited by pengbuzz
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2 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

On a side note: I wonder if any crew techs accidentally blew themselves across the shop floor hitting the controls for the verniers by mistake during maintenance?

I'm a former Air Force jet engine maintainer (not wholly unrelated to the work the crew chief above did but I was more focused on the engines than the whole plane) and I've seen stuff like that sadly... It's a big deal for QA and such if safety was so bad something like that happened. Ideally the system is fully safed properly so there is no danger but mistakes do happened. I'd be more worried what they were hit with lol. Cause of it is anything like hydrozine.. they might be dead heh.

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1 hour ago, Master Dex said:

I'm a former Air Force jet engine maintainer (not wholly unrelated to the work the crew chief above did but I was more focused on the engines than the whole plane) and I've seen stuff like that sadly... It's a big deal for QA and such if safety was so bad something like that happened. Ideally the system is fully safed properly so there is no danger but mistakes do happened. I'd be more worried what they were hit with lol. Cause of it is anything like hydrozine.. they might be dead heh.

Yeah... to say the least:

https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Hydrazine

Edited by pengbuzz
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4 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

On a side note: I wonder if any crew techs accidentally blew themselves across the shop floor hitting the controls for the verniers by mistake during maintenance?

Well... if they work anything like their description in Variable Fighter Master File, then probably not.

Both the high-thrust verniers used for braking and roll control and the low thrust verniers used for minor attitude control are described by Master File as thermal rockets.  They rely on power from the compact thermonuclear reactors and the high-energy capacitors elsewhere in the airframe to power lasers or high-voltage electrical arcs that heat propellant to produce thrust.  Without that power, the propellant is inert and comes out at much lower pressure.  It might knock you on your butt or frost your eyebrows, but it's unlikely to toss you across the room unless you're foolish enough to be standing in front of a vernier that's being tested under power.  Someone unwise enough to be standing directly in front of one of those verniers being tested under power will have more immediate concerns like being hot exhaust gas akin to a blowtorch setting them on fire.

(While fire retardant coveralls are almost certainly standard issue, nobody really wants to be the one to test just how fireproof they really are.)

 

4 hours ago, pengbuzz said:

A manual diagnostic transformation tool to expose components and parts? interesting...even more ideas for the diorama.

Given that automotive diagnostic tools can do everything from clear fault codes to manually actuate everything capable of moving without direct connection to the engine... it'd be something more or less guaranteed to exist.

 

1 hour ago, Master Dex said:

I'm a former Air Force jet engine maintainer (not wholly unrelated to the work the crew chief above did but I was more focused on the engines than the whole plane) and I've seen stuff like that sadly... It's a big deal for QA and such if safety was so bad something like that happened. Ideally the system is fully safed properly so there is no danger but mistakes do happened. I'd be more worried what they were hit with lol. Cause of it is anything like hydrozine.. they might be dead heh.

Luckily, it's not hydrazine.  Survey says it's probably gaseous hydrogen.

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1 hour ago, pengbuzz said:

When I worked on F-16 engines, there was a procedure to make sure the jet was safe to be near before going to it to do work on the engine or even to download data from the engine computer. One of the steps was checking a small window near the emergency power unit which uses hydrazine. If it is orange you're good, if it is black, then there was a leak and you've already been exposed... Surprise!

 

2 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Luckily, it's not hydrazine.  Survey says it's probably gaseous hydrogen.

Luckily for that, though as you noted prior the reasons for safe handling are very important lol.

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Yeah, the bad part of F-16 crashes. #1 Did the pilot get out OK? #2 Is the hydrazine contained?

Ejection seats are another example of equipment that has to be made safe for crews. In Afghanistan we had a guy sit in an abandoned Soviet fighter. He discovered the ejection seat still worked - while sitting in it. That was one reason they didn't allow us to go through the Soviet boneyard. - MT

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5 minutes ago, MechTech said:

Yeah, the bad part of F-16 crashes. #1 Did the pilot get out OK? #2 Is the hydrazine contained?

Ejection seats are another example of equipment that has to be made safe for crews. In Afghanistan we had a guy sit in an abandoned Soviet fighter. He discovered the ejection seat still worked - while sitting in it. That was one reason they didn't allow us to go through the Soviet boneyard. - MT

THAT must have given new meaning to the term "up up and away!" lol

12 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Well... if they work anything like their description in Variable Fighter Master File, then probably not.

Both the high-thrust verniers used for braking and roll control and the low thrust verniers used for minor attitude control are described by Master File as thermal rockets.  They rely on power from the compact thermonuclear reactors and the high-energy capacitors elsewhere in the airframe to power lasers or high-voltage electrical arcs that heat propellant to produce thrust.  Without that power, the propellant is inert and comes out at much lower pressure.  It might knock you on your butt or frost your eyebrows, but it's unlikely to toss you across the room unless you're foolish enough to be standing in front of a vernier that's being tested under power.  Someone unwise enough to be standing directly in front of one of those verniers being tested under power will have more immediate concerns like being hot exhaust gas akin to a blowtorch setting them on fire.

(While fire retardant coveralls are almost certainly standard issue, nobody really wants to be the one to test just how fireproof they really are.)

 Hmm...I wonder how long it has before the propellant runs out? That would utterly suck being in a dogfight and you lost maneuvering over that? They probably keep it topped up between battles though.

As for the hot version: I almost want to draw a cartoon of two techs using a live vernier thruster to roast hot dogs :P

 

12 minutes ago, Seto Kaiba said:

Given that automotive diagnostic tools can do everything from clear fault codes to manually actuate everything capable of moving without direct connection to the engine... it'd be something more or less guaranteed to exist.

Cool.

12 minutes ago, Master Dex said:

When I worked on F-16 engines, there was a procedure to make sure the jet was safe to be near before going to it to do work on the engine or even to download data from the engine computer. One of the steps was checking a small window near the emergency power unit which uses hydrazine. If it is orange you're good, if it is black, then there was a leak and you've already been exposed... Surprise!

Hmm...you'd think they would want to warn you before exposure happened! lol

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4 minutes ago, pengbuzz said:

Hmm...you'd think they would want to warn you before exposure happened! lol

That is the warning lol. Though orange smoke is another tell. Though if it's already reacting there are other concerns too... Explosive ones.

16 minutes ago, MechTech said:

Ejection seats are another example of equipment that has to be made safe for crews. In Afghanistan we had a guy sit in an abandoned Soviet fighter. He discovered the ejection seat still worked - while sitting in it. That was one reason they didn't allow us to go through the Soviet boneyard. - MT

Oh yeah, Egress is a big deal. I feel sorry for that guy for sure. Media never talks about how damaging ejection seats are on the body either. It varies from plane and service but if I recall AF pilots could only eject three times before the damage to their spine from it disqualified them from flying again.

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