Aquarelle du carreidas 160 de vol 714 pour sidney. (watercolor)
A significant piece of fictional technology that occupies nearly a third of the album, the Carreidas 160 is a prototype supersonic business jet. The aircraft was designed by Roger Leloup, at the time an assistant at Studios Herge. Leloup had previously produced detailed sketches of aircraft in a previous Tintin album, The Black Island.
The Carreidas 160 is a synthesis of late 1960s/early 1970s aircraft design technology, borrowing features from a large number of different contemporary aircraft, both military and civil. At the time of the book's writing, the Concorde was taking shape, and so a supersonic business jet, while fanciful, could not be viewed as implausible. The resulting design is mature, elegant, and not outrageous in any significant way. The following are noteworthy design features of the Carreidas 160, and where appropriate, source aircraft for a feature is identified:
Supersonic: It is stated to be able to achieve speeds faster than the speed of sound, with a maximum speed of Mach 2.
Variable geometry: The Carreidas 160 has swing-wing capabilities. The clean, swinging wings most closely resemble those of the Dassault Mirage G supersonic fighter prototype, in that they are not coupled to a pressure-point control system (e.g. canards, vanes nor glove root spoilers) seen on contemporary American military aircraft.
Undercarriage: The Carreidas 160 sports an unusual undercarriage, almost identical to the undercarriage of the real-life SAAB 37 Viggen family of combat aircraft, with tandem two-wheel main bogies, and a twin-wheeled nose bogie. It is seen in some detail during the landing sequence in the middle of the book.
Engines: In keeping with the contemporary theme, the Carreidas 160 has three afterburning turbojet engines. Intakes for the engines have sharp, squared off lips for breaking down shock waves during supersonic flight. The third engine is fed by two half-width intakes mounted inboard of the outer engine splitters, where the fuselage acts as the supersonic shockwave breakdown surface.
T-tail: The sharply swept T-tail of the Carreidas 160 is a design feature which found much favour with designers in the 1960s, as it allowed a smaller, more highly flying surface at the rear of the aircraft, which then was only interacting with "clean air", in comparison with more conventional tail planes which are often interacting with air that has been disturbed by the preceding main wing. In addition, a T-tail configuration allows designers to mount the propulsive engines behind the passenger cabin on the fuselage, permitting a much quieter cabin. Contemporary airliner designs, such as the Boeing 727, Douglas DC-9, Yakovlev Yak-40, BAC 1-11, and Vickers VC-10, as well as most business jets, such as the Learjet, Sabreliner, and Falcon series, all possess this configuration. The Carreidas 160 fits within latter class of aircraft very well, thanks to this design feature.
Cabin: Passengers of the Carreidas 160 are able to stand when inside the cabin, a feature very few private jets provided. The Carreidas 160 was therefore designed to be a competitor with the best in the sky at the time.
Galley: The Carreidas 160 also has a galley at the rear of the cabin. At the time, this was the height of luxury, making the Carreidas 160 a direct competitor with the most expensive and luxurious private jets of the period: The North American/Rockwell Sabreliner, and the Lockheed Jetstar.
Air conditioning: Contemporary business jets do have air conditioning, though theirs were never as good as that of the Carreidas 160, whose system resembles that of the Boeing 707, even down to the inclusion of integrated lighting clusters.
Boarding stair: The Carreidas 160 has a boarding staircase built into the passenger door. This most closely resembles the system of the Gates Learjet.
Complete design drawings of the Carreidas 160 were published in Tintin magazine at the time of the serialisation of Flight 714, and digitised copies may be found on the Internet. The design's practicality has been demonstrated in the form of fan-built free-flight and radio-control electric ducted-fan models, all of which demonstrate that it possesses remarkably mature, docile flight characteristics.
Some Tintin fan sites note on their artist's mistakes section that the plane does not appear to have any immediately visible air intake for its third jet engine, though consultation of the blueprints and cartoon panels reveals that there are two half-width intakes inboard of the outer jet engine intakes, which feed into the third engine by a convergent duct. The ducts do not require a splitter plate, as the fuselage acts as a laminar-flow surface for air entering the intake pair.
The Carreidas 160 is an expansion aircraft in the very accurate X-Plane flight simulator. And there is a very good version of the Carreidas 160 made for the freeware and open source flight simulator FlightGear.
January 15th, 2015
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