Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Mountains of Madness Project Update

Here's the current version of the blueprint for the modified Dornier Wal aircraft used by the Miskatonic antarctic expedition. You can click through on the picture below for a slightly larger version, or head over here to download an 11" by 14.7" PDF. The odd size is caused by scaling down the 18" by 24" original to keep the file size reasonable.

In the upper left you'll find the rundown of the plane's electrical system. That information is based on the stock Wal's 24 volt configuration, modified by the addition of two heavy duty batteries and a backup two-stroke gasoline generator. In flight the craft can function perfectly well with the current from the airstream generator on the top deck. The secondary generator is used primarily to power the engine warming gear when the plane is on the ground.

The engine specs in the middle left are based on the ones used by Wolfgang von Gronau on his around the world flight. This is the one place where I engage in a bit of handwaving. Although the engines are close to stock I've assumed that the Miskatonic expedition used aviation gas with an octane rating of 93 or above. Fuel of that quality would be commonplace by WW II, powering the high compression engines of cutting edge fighters, but it was available within the timeframe of the story.

There are a few modifications to the stock airframe that aren't noticeable on casual examination. I've shortened the body and assumed that some of the steel frame has been replaced by machined aluminum, cutting the weight of the plane. Extending the lifting surface of the main wing helped generate more lift and significantly dropped the overall wing loading.

The blueprint is 98% complete and just needs a few more technical details, including the radio set. I've been able to find all kinds of information about period aviation transmitters and receivers used by military planes, but tracking down civilian models has been a little more difficult. Once I have that the blueprint should be finalized.

As always, your feedback is appreciated.


Handgrenadealien said...

This is fabulous. At the Mountains of Madness was the first Lovecraft story I read and material like this really helps fix the context in my mind.
Regards HGA.

Propnomicon said...

@ Handgrenadealien

Thank you for the very kind words.

Raven said...

Although centuries of technology separate them, what this gives me is the same delight I felt when first looking through blueprints of the starship Enterprise. Suddenly the fictitious craft seems very solid and real; you could walk into and around it, feel the rivets with your hands... which means, by association, the adventures seem more real as well.

Oh, well done.

CoastConFan said...

24 volt DC is pretty much the standard early on through WWII for aircraft. I suggest you find information on the type radio Amelia Earhart used for her semi-around the world trip. She used a wire antenna that was extended behind the plane to ensure radio contact with remote receivers. There is a book published about her radio silence called Amelia Earhart’s Radio, Why She Disappeared by Paul Rafford, Jr. at , which I haven’t read yet.

Yes, you are going to need more lift at higher altitude, that’s for sure. What is the new service ceiling and standard payload of the modified Wal vs the stock version? I really appreciate your efforts with this Wal conversion.

Alex Kaeda said...

what are the chances that an unreasonably large sized file that was 18" by 24" will be released (its recently come to my attention that Costco can do large-size prints - my neighbor got a photo turned into a poster for ten bucks there).

also, excellent work!

Propnomicon said...

@ Raven

The old Enterprise set is the exact same thing that hooked me on faux blueprints. I've never been a huge Star Trek fan, but I've always loved all the technical manuals based on the show.


The stock Wal could hit 3500m. While I'm obviously not an aeronautical engineer, I think the uprated engine and fuel will increase power output around 40%. With the extra lift from the enhanced wing and a 15% cut in base weight I think the expedition version can hit the 7000m ceiling the story requires.

Again, I admit there's some handwaving involved in the engine output.

@ Alex Kaeda

I'll release the full 18 x 24 version when it's finalized, but it should be cheaper to purchase it as part of the ATMOM prop set.

Phil said...

Well, all I can say is, Wal done!


Anonymous said...

I check *DAILY* looking to see if the prop set has gone live on Kickstarter yet ;-) Still upset I missed out on the last few.

Alex Kaeda said...

Oh sir, I'll be purchasing the set....

....I just couldn't help but think of how neat it could be to have a poster-sized blueprint hanging on the wall.