Back Kaman K-16
1962

Kaman K-16

In order to possess a Tilt-Wing project of its own, the Navy, after being involved with the X-18 program, decided to go its own way with a Tilt-Wing program. To that end, the service contracted the Kaman Aviation Corporation to design and build a tilt-wing VTOL vehicle, the program being given the company designation of K-16B.

Like the X-18 program, Kaman turned to existing parts and pieces for the construction of the prototype. It was decided that the fuselage of the Grumman JRF "Goose", a flying boat configuration, would exactly serve the purpose for this application, along with the fact that it was already available and wouldn't have to be fabricated from scratch.

The tilting wing, though, would have to be fabricated, which was done in-house. The wing carried a 10.4m span, but unlike other such Tilt-Wing designs which rotated to the full 90 degrees, the Kaman design would only move to a maximum 50-degree position. However, the lifting effect was enhanced since the wing contained large trailing edge flaps that enhanced the downward force effect of the wing when it was in the partially tilted attitude.

Small controllable flaps on the propeller/rotors gave the pilot control of the aircraft at speeds up to 80km/h when the conventional control surfaces were not yet effective. Above 80km/h, the flap control phased out automatically and the conventional controls took over.

The flaps were operated by a cyclic control system so that the propellers could effectively be operated as rotors. The longitudinal cyclic pitch was used to control yaw, while roll was controlled by changes in propeller pitch.

Power was adequate with a pair of General Electric T58-GE-2A turboprops, each driving giant 4.5m diameter propellers, with a projected horizontal speed of up to 480km/h.

When you really think about it, the K-16B really embodied two different VTOL concepts besides the obvious Tilt-Wing arrangement. There was also some contribution from the Deflected Slipstream technique as there was a lift enhancement from the large flaps.

As promising as this aircraft appeared, it would never take to the air. It was, however, tested In the NASA Ames wind tunnel during 1962. The reason it didn't move into a powered flight test stage is not known. Undoubtedly, the number of promising VTOL programs of the time has to play heavily in the decision.

S.Markman & B.Holder "Straight Up: A History of Vertical Flight", 2000

Kaman K-16

Kaman K-16, click here to enlarge

Comments 
oceanicfinance, e-mail, 13.11.2017

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Henry Lapa, e-mail, 24.10.2017

hull401@yahoo.comI did the original restoration work for the NEAM on this airplane. The condition was stripped out, missing engines, prop parts scattered to several indeterminate locations housing other items of the museum collection. The paint was stripped and there was damage done to the modified area of the fuselage because the wing was dropped a bit during assembly of the aircraft when first transferred. I did sheet metal work, wood work (fuselage hatches), cleanout and stripping the interior, and painting. (My paint has done very well for being in the weather around 40 years.) The original tail landing gear was cleaned up and installed to replace the towbar that was in its place. The tail tire was the archetypal T-6/P-51 type. There were still wool tufts taped to control surfaces on the tail, but they were removed for the painting. Fabric is still original to Kaman days and only ever needed minor repair. One of the elevator counterbalances is a dummy as only one original could be located. Rotor-props were assembled and reinstalled after chemical treatment. The "control surface" on the blades was quite large relatively speaking, not "small" as described above. Laminated wood, sheet stainless steel and fibreglas. The spinners were not located for years, long after I had left to serve in thee Navy. I was torn during the painting process over whether or not the red stripe was present in the national insignia. Study of photos convinced me that it was not and also had not simply faded away as you will see on many weathered aircraft. I would love to know for sure one way or the other. The Goose upon this was built was originally a JRF-5, BuNo 04351. It was notable for being involved in a water collision and damaged at Argentia NF at one point of its early career. I also found no evidence of a civil registration while being a K-16B. Does that mean that it was "on the books" under its original BuNo? If so, I have seen no evidence of the usual application with the paint scheme. Maybe it was "off" the books until such time as it would be ready for free flight. (I think it's only flight was in tethered tests.) The actuator struts which keep the floats level while the wing tilts are dummies with no motor or sliding components. The heavy, round side-bracing struts to the floats are heavy steel tube! I remember the fibreglas tips of the blades were multi-colored with red, white, yellow on each rotor. This obviously was to assist blade tracking. The planning surfaces of hull and floats are painted dark engine gray although I had only photographic evidence to help me guess. Very strong sunlight from nearly above may have only made it look that way in the photos. My brother and I (both teens) were featured in stories in the paper and on tv for our unusual "hobby." There were Kaman art renditions of a projected much more developed aircraft, modern and streamlined. Also, it is my belief that the "K-16A" may have referred to an earlier configuration with the original recips that was dropped early in the intellectual development phase. That info may have been in some early paperwork for the Navy if my guess is right.

Anderson Morris, e-mail, 16.09.2017

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mike, e-mail, 12.09.2014

the air-o-doodle

Derek, e-mail, 25.11.2013

My father had an 5x7 framed black and white photo of the K-16. He was the project engineer on the program.
I was going through “stuff” in our basement and I found “Report B-27” dated September 1961. The report’s introduction states, “At the request of the Bureau of Naval Weapons, this report has been prepared to briefly describe the Kaman Model K-16B V/STOL research aircraft, and to summarize the research program that is being carried out under Bureau of Naval Weapons Contract NOa (s) 56-549c.”
Dad told me that the K-16 was discontinued because helicopters were approaching the speeds that the Navy was looking for.

Glenn, e-mail, 28.09.2013

I wonder how much Vodka it took to design it?

Mr Arnoid Weman, e-mail, 21.08.2013

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Derek, e-mail, 20.08.2013

#Guy It is a shame He didn`t see it fly! I have seen this plane, It is at the New England Air Museum. It needs more restoration work but still fun to see.

guy, e-mail, 13.02.2013

my father was the project manager and lead engineer

soccer, e-mail, 15.06.2011

ll ideas are this nuts but the ones which work eventually seem commonplace and mundane to us

Rex, 21.04.2010

As if being a plane and boat wasn't enough, it just had to be a helicopter too....

rudager, e-mail, 28.12.2009

God engineers are crazy.

I wonder if all ideas are this nuts but the ones which work eventually seem commonplace and mundane to us?

Jacob, 08.08.2008

thats pretty cool

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