Radar Man: A Personal History of Stealth

Radar Man: A Personal History of Stealth

by Edward Lovick Jr
Radar Man: A Personal History of Stealth

Radar Man: A Personal History of Stealth

by Edward Lovick Jr

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Overview

During the 1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union teetered on the brink of nuclear devastation. America's hope for national security relied solely upon aerial reconnaissance. Radar Man is the fascinating memoir of a physicist who, with his colleagues, developed the stealth technology that eventually created radar-invisible aircraft. Edward Lovick shares a compelling story from the perspective of an enthusiastic scientist that highlights his pioneering experiences in an innovative, secret world as he helped create stealth aircraft such as the A-12 OXCART, SR-71 Blackbird, and F-117 Nighthawk. From the moment in 1957 when Lockheed's famous aircraft designer Clarence L. 'Kelly' Johnson invited Lovick to join his "Skunk Works," Lovick details how he helped the CIA eventually perform vital, covert reconnaissance flights over Soviet-held territory during the Cold War, saved Lockheed ADP's A-12 from cancellation, and provided key design input to the SR-71 and F-117. Lovick's autobiography describing his career as an engineering physicist in the Skunk Works not only draws attention to the insurmountable challenges that accompanied the task of developing radar-invisible aircraft, but also the importance of the monumental task these young scientists fulfilled-all with the hope of creating a secure future for their beloved country.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781450248020
Publisher: iUniverse, Incorporated
Publication date: 10/05/2010
Pages: 300
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

RADAR MAN

A Personal History of Stealth
By Edward Lovick, Jr.

iUniverse, Inc.

Copyright © 2010 Edward Lovick, Jr.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4502-4802-0


Chapter One

Curious Beginnings

A Glimpse into the Future

It was late in the afternoon of a gray and gloomy day in 1958. The sky was featureless and light, but very wet snow spattered the windshields of our twin-engined aircraft as we began our entry over the Atomic Energy Commission's bomb-cratered territory on our way to "Paradise Ranch," a secret CIA base in Area 51, north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Pilot Bobby Schumacher in the left seat called for clearance and identified us as "Broken Bow."

The voice from the ground sounded like a high fidelity broadcasting station—not like ordinary aircraft radio. I wondered about what would happen if we had called in as "Ho Bo"!

As we approached a notch in the terrain, the snow increased in intensity, and the sky seemed darker. We experienced moderate turbulence as we cleared the gap, and I, in the co-pilot seat, got a glimpse of our destination.

The snow on our windshield seemed to swirl counterclockwise as Bobby entered a gentle descending right-hand turn toward Watertown's runway in Area 51. We aligned with the runway center line while the wipers scrubbed the snow from our view. The wheels rumbled softly as he made his usual perfect landing.

We taxied into the hangar area, shut down, checked in, and he closed our flight plan. After attending a briefing about our coming night's testing activities, I had early dinner in the small mess hall.

While under the soothing influence of a hot chocolate drink, my thoughts drifted to my seemingly long and somewhat erratic journey through time to this place.

I was born in 1919 in the small town of California, Missouri. While that was not much of an event for the locals, it allows me to say, with tongue in cheek, that I am a native of California. Some twenty-two years later I became a long-time resident of the state of California. I began employment in California in 1941, retired there in 1990, and still live in California.

My father and his parents emigrated from England and arrived in the United States from Canada. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States and was proud of that fact.

My mother was descended from several generations of American citizens. She was proud of her membership in The Daughters of the American Revolution.

While she was a young lady working as a bank teller in the village of Thebes, Illinois, my mother met my father, who was working as a heavy machine operator for a railroad. After their marriage, they were moved from place to place as my father's job assignments required.

My mother seemed to have considerable business mathematics skill, and she was a very accomplished pianist. She also had a sense of humor and occasionally said, "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the best of men."

On the other hand, my father seemed much more interested in mechanical activities—designing, building, and repairing things. I believe that I inherited a wee bit of each of their characteristics.

My brother, Robert, two years my junior, also shared similar genes. Our two sisters, Virginia and Hazel, had very different interests and abilities.

While I was a child, I always was inquisitive and frequently was building and trying things. "Curiosity" may have killed a cat, but it did not get me!

In the 1920s, our family settled into Falls City, Nebraska, a small town in the Midwest where my father was based at a major railroad maintenance facility. The population was about five thousands during the time that we lived there.

I am the in the exact center of my schoolroom photograph, taken when I was about ten years old.

I never was fond of winter weather, but my mother made me laugh when she'd say, "The wind blew and the snow snew."

When the 1929 market crash occurred, although my family had little money, we were not impacted severely.

My father, I believe, was grateful to have a job even though being an occasional train wreck investigator was, at times, gruesome and stressful. My parents had no investments in that stock market, so, in that sense, we were fortunate. All the time that I was dependent upon my father and his livelihood, he had a job, and as far as I know, we never were in danger of being without food or clothing.

My parents never owned the homes we lived in because my father always expected to be relocated, but we always had a good place to live. We knew there were many people suffering for lack of food and a lack of income.

Sheltered from these hardships, I was free to enjoy my boyhood interests.

When I was about ten years old, I wanted very much to become a Boy Scout. As soon as I could, after I became twelve years old, I joined and was made a member of the Beaver Patrol. My father took the job of scoutmaster and our troop settled into a real log cabin on the shore of Stanton's "Lake" that actually was a small pond formed by damming a small stream. Some parts of it were barely a foot deep.

During my scouting experience I learned a great deal about being able to take care of myself and others. My favorite merit badge was for First Aid. I learned to do very intricate bandaging, and I thought that was a great accomplishment. Also, I incinerated many mud-encased potatoes in camp fires!

Sometime while I was earning advancements in the Scouts, I decided to build a canoe. Our father bought a large collection of wooden barrel parts and some canvas and gave them to Bob and me. We used halves of barrel ends to form the ends of the canoe. The ribs were made from the wooden rings that held barrel staves together. After we covered the frame with canvas, we painted it white to waterproof it.

Bob and I built the canoe in the basement of our home. We had to carry it to Stanton's Lake to row around in it.

The municipal swimming pool was adjacent to Stanton's Lake. It was called Crystal Beach. There were no crystals or beaches near it as far as I could see! It was a conventional large rectangular concrete bowl.

I decided to make a diving helmet to go down in the deep end of the pool. My brother helped me convert a steel pail (we called it a bucket) into the helmet. We cut a large hole in the side of the bucket and installed a glass window. We installed an automobile tire valve in the bottom that allowed an air hose to be attached. As my younger brother, Bob was "volunteered" by me to pump the air in by using a bicycle tire pump while I did the test dive.

When we finished it we took it to the Crystal Beach pool, and I tried a dive. The dive actually was more of a slow sinking, but it did not progress very far. Almost as soon as I sank below the surface, the tar holding the window gave way and great leaks appeared, nearly filling the helmet before I could get out. We considered that a failure and abandoned the project.

Our Boy Scout careers ended rather abruptly when a company bought the land upon which the Scout cabin was built. As nearly as I can remember, the company's name was Sonken and Galamba.

Every Boy Scout aspires to attain the Eagle rank. Because of the loss of our cabin and the breakup of our troop, Bob and I did not become Eagle Scouts. Although we were disappointed, it did not affect our lives significantly because already we had experienced most of the benefits.

There were several adults, other than my parents, who influenced my adult life and to whom I am most grateful.

One was a medical doctor neighbor who took me at about age twelve to see a movie of the dissection of a cadaver. Later in life, I took several medical school classes for a while because of the interest I acquired as a boy. However, I decided that I liked being a physicist/engineer better. I still have my medical class notes and library, and I like to read medical material as a hobby.

Chapter Two

Airplanes—an Early Love

Sometime in the mid-1970s preliminary design engineer Dick Scherrer came into my office in Bldg. 311 to discuss a problem. He had been trying to design an aircraft that would be nearly impossible for certain radars to detect. He described the requirements that he hoped to satisfy and some of the difficulties he encountered. At that time, the computer program at Lockheed could not calculate radar energy reflections from curved or warped surfaces correctly, so it seemed best to avoid them.

I showed him some charts of backscattering from triangular metal cylinders that we had recorded in 1958. They revealed that if the flat surfaces were large compared to wavelength and tilted, almost all the energy would be reflected away and not return toward the radar. That information helped him solve his problem.

The next time I saw Dick, he had a drawing of a large test fixture that could be used to validate the calculated RCS predictions of his aircraft design. Aircraft preliminary design engineer Ed Baldwin, who was well known for his sense of humor, nicknamed the test fixture design "The Hopeless Diamond." He said that he doubted that it could be made to fly.

As young boys, our major interests were minor sports, Boy Scout activities, and carving, then building model airplanes. Robert and I whittled many pieces of scrap wood into what we thought were reasonable facsimiles of real aircraft whose pictures we saw while browsing magazines in a local drug store.

Our first house in Falls City was near the lower end of a fairly long sloping area. A large building at the upper end served as a garage and my father's workshop. He had a good supply of wood scraps and boards that Bob and I were allowed to use for our pleasure. We were privileged to use some of his tools—if we put them back where they belonged.

Bob and I decided to make a biplane using the family coaster wagon. We used wooden boards to support sheets of corrugated box paper wings.

I tried to fly it down the concrete sidewalk next to our yard. As I gained speed, the wind in my face distracted me so that I had difficulty steering to avoid the fence along my left side and the drainage ditch along my right. The cardboard upper wings collapsed and fell on my head, and pieces continued to be shed as I wobbled from side to side. It did not fly, but it was fun! I do not remember who picked up all of the pieces along the flight path.

After I was about twelve years old, I became involved with building model airplanes. Both my brother and I built kits of various kinds that we could buy cheaply. Some of the aircraft we built supposedly were models of real aircraft. Actually they were very simple and had rather crude, angular airfoils.

Later on, in the middle 1970s, when I saw the first sketches of the aircraft that finally became the F-117 Nighthawk, I knew that rather crude airfoils could be made to fly.

As soon as we were able to get more money together, Robert and I bought better kits to build more accurate models of aircraft.

I remember one particular model very well. I spent my entire savings for a kit to build a flying scaled model of a "GEE BEE Sportster." I had seen a photograph of the plane in a catalog of the Cleveland Model Airplane and Supply Company, in an unusual yellow and black paint scheme. I liked it because it looked like a hornet.

The Granville Brothers built several different racing airplanes during the 1930s. They were very dangerous things. They were high speed, extremely high-powered, very radical shapes. They truly were not only very different, they were very unstable. Possibly it was because their center of gravity shifted too far aft of the center of lift of the wings as their fuel was burned, a very dangerous condition. They responded extremely quickly to their controls. Only the most skillful pilots could fly them. Jimmy Doolittle, who later led the carrier-launched B-25 raid on Tokyo, won the 1932 Thompson Air Race trophy flying a Gee Bee. At least three pilots who tried to fly them were killed. They seem to have been rather deadly airplanes.

After I had spent considerable time carefully building my GB Sportster model, I tried to make it fly. It was powered by twisted rubber bands inside the body and was supposed to "Rise Off Ground" (ROG) and fly, but it never did. It always would just taxi around and flutter, and not do anything significant. We referred to it in less than terms of endearment as "the ruptured duck." Finally, I decided that I would try to fly it at least once.

We had moved to a different house that was across the street from a large school ground. The town water tower, that may have been a hundred feet tall, stood on one corner of the schoolyard. It was equipped with an enclosed ladder that went up to a catwalk near the top. The lower ten feet or more of the ladder was folded up so I could not use it.

Since I could not get onto the ladder to go up, I took my model in hand and climbed up the bracing structure, which was a difficult thing to do with the airplane in one hand. When I was partway up the structure, a bee got into my hair and buzzed around quite a bit. Finally I swatted it, but it stung me on my head. Fortunately, I did not let go of my airplane or the structure. I decided to go up onto the catwalk.

Finally, when I got to the catwalk level, I wound up the rubber band motor. The fuselage creaked alarmingly as I put all the tension in the rubber bands that I dared to. Then, after I satisfied myself that it would not stand any more, I reached over the ledge of the protective railing around the catwalk and launched the airplane.

It went forward for a short distance, pitched straight up, reversed direction in a "hammer-head" stall, and then went straight down to the ground and smashed to bits. All my savings went with it!

In 2004, Sherre and I visited Falls City and attended the Falls City High School reunion. There were a number of representatives from the classes, ranging from the 1930s up to some of last year's graduates.

Three of the four homes I had lived in still were there. The water tower had been removed. But at its remaining foundations was a scaled model and memorial of the tower that had inspired the American artist John Phillip Falter to create his unique bird's-eye view of the world from the catwalk.

John Phillip Falter, local Falls City boy and cousin of my boyhood friend John Charles Falter, was a contemporary and rival to Norman Rockwell. He depicted Falls City's business shopping area (with some artistic license) on the cover of the December 21, 1946, Saturday Evening Post magazine.

First Flight in an Aircraft

Our parents were very supportive of our young interest in airplanes. In those days "barnstorming" pilots would fly about the country, land in open fields near small towns to the great excitement of the local children, and sell brief rides. The first real aircraft that I saw—and touched the lower starboard wing of—was a Curtiss JN-4D, a World War I "Jenny" trainer.

I do not know how they were able to provide the money, but my parents treated my brother Bob and me to a ride in a Ford Tri-Motor. That convinced me that I wanted more to do with airplanes.

I rode again in a Ford Tri-Motor aircraft, together with my wife Sherre, in 2003 during the Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) event, more than seventy years later. She rode in the co-pilot seat.

My First Rocket Experience

When I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, two of my neighborhood friends, Bob Goldsmith and Bob Kimmel, helped me to perform my first rocket experiment.

Has anyone noticed that I seemed to have been surrounded by Bobs? I actually knew "Tom" Davies and "Dick" Richard Gist, but it was much later that I finally met Harry. ("Every Tom, Dick, and Harry" was a common expression meaning "almost every man.")

I decided to make a small rocket. I soldered a metal cone made from a tin can onto another can to make the rocket body. My soldering "iron" was borrowed from my father. It was a large slug of copper about three inches long and one inch in diameter mounted on a long shaft of steel, with a wooden handle. I heated it by using a gasoline-fueled blowtorch.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from RADAR MAN by Edward Lovick, Jr. Copyright © 2010 by Edward Lovick, Jr.. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Contents

Preface....................xi
Acknowledgments....................xvii
Introduction....................xix
Curious Beginnings....................1
Airplanes—an Early Love....................7
First Flight in an Aircraft....................10
My First Rocket Experience....................10
Early Radio Experiments....................13
Formation of Young Engineers....................17
Lockheed at Last!....................25
Radio and Radar Installation....................27
B-17 Bomber Aircraft....................29
Electronic Test Equipment Group....................31
Crash Investigation at NOTS....................34
Naval Ordnance Test Station, Inyokern....................37
In the Navy....................43
University of Illinois....................47
Return to Lockheed....................53
Antenna Testing....................56
Antenna Radiation Patterns....................61
Modern Antenna Laboratory....................65
Scale Model Antenna Testing....................71
P-2V Antennas Field Testing....................73
Dr. Tetsu Morita....................75
The Bornholm Incident....................76
AWACS and Kelly Johnson....................79
Into the Skunk Works—the U-2....................83
The Big Rumbling Cart....................88
Small Scale Model Testing....................92
U-2 Infrared Sensor Calibration....................96
Early Anechoic Chamber Testing....................98
The "Six String Hang"....................102
Security Breach....................106
U-2 Low Frequency Design and Testing....................107
Testing U-2s at Daggett....................110
Pole Testing at Indian Springs AFB....................111
The A-12—Competition Stealth and Speed....................115
Kelly Johnson's All-plastic Plane....................118
Arrow Design Series RCS Testing....................120
That Fateful Meeting....................125
A-12 RCS Full-scale Demonstration....................127
Visit to a German Laboratory....................128
Building the Full-scale Mockup....................128
Groom Lake Facility....................132
RCS Testing....................133
The A-12 OXCART....................137
Chines....................139
Magnetic Materials....................141
Antennas....................145
Engine Inlets....................146
Engine Exhaust Outlets....................152
Static RCS Tests....................156
The A-12 Aircraft in Flight....................156
Anti-Radar Flight Tests....................157
A-12 Antennas Refinement....................158
Lightning Tests....................162
LMSC Missile and Satellite Testing....................167
Anechoic Chamber Evolution....................171
Derivatives and Developments....................175
The D-21 "Little Whizzer"....................175
YF-12....................177
R-12 Aircraft....................177
SR-71 Aircraft....................177
SR-71 Flight Suits....................178
Eglin AFB Over-water Tests....................178
Active Cancellation....................179
Gary Powers....................180
Gaseous Radar Wave Attenuators....................181
U-2s and the Jungle Environment....................182
Early RCS Prediction Code Development....................183
The F-117—Doing It with Mirrors....................185
Have Blue RCS Test Competition....................190
Alan Brown....................197
Denys Overholser....................198
James Reichert....................199
Lightning Tests....................199
Windshield Optical Tests....................200
Have Blue Prototype Flights....................200
Cancellation Tests at Grey Butte....................201
Medical Classes....................202
I Declined Management—Again....................202
ADP Preliminary Design Group Activities....................205
The Stealth Bomber....................205
The Stealthy Submarine Boat....................206
Helicopters....................209
The Sea Shadow....................211
Dr Nicholas Damaskos....................212
Sherre Love and Windows....................212
Stellar Engineers Incognito and Influential People....................221
Mike Ash....................221
Jim Herron....................224
Dr Allen Atkins....................225
Dr Robert Elliott....................226
Dr Thomas T Taylor....................226
Afterword....................227
Appendix A: Smith Charts and Z-Theta Charts....................231
Appendix B: Analogies and Graphical Aids....................235
Appendix C: EIC Antenna Directivity....................239
Appendix D: Military Radar Frequency Bands....................243
Appendix E: Outside U-2 Historical Studies....................245
Appendix F: Salisbury Screen Design....................247
Appendix G: Magic Tee....................253
Appendix H: Resistivity Measurements....................257
Index....................267
References....................273
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