Category Archives: Correcting the Internet…

*Fortunate* Motorcyclist survives driving off cliff

My comments to CNN:

Cliff-diving motorcyclist Matthew Murray, 27, passes a “25 MPH” advisory sign in the 12th second of CNN’s video clip. This is in the 2nd run through of the crash video. In the 15th second he’s going 68 MPH as he starts to lean into the turn. He’s still going more than 50 MPH as he slides off the pavement and onto the dirt. Text on the screen says something to the effect that he “was following the turn when he thinks his steering locked up”. The video shows no such thing. He was going too fast, and could not turn sharply enough to follow the turn. He started at more than 2.5 times the advised speed. He left the pavement at 2 times the advised speed. His speed “locked” his path, not his steering.

Get the an accurate map of the curve, the size and tread pattern of the motorcycle tires and a description of the motorcycle (make, model, horsepower, brakes,weight-as-crashed) and rider (weight). Give to “Mythbusters”. Have them duplicate the failure, during deceleration, then do a binary search for the steady speed at which a motorcycle on those tires, at that weight, could follow that turn. Braking uses traction, does that change maximum speed?. Find the entry speed, before braking, that would allow the bike to make the turn. Put a GoPro on the bike for comparison pictures, and a second one showing where the front tire touches the road.

Colors & materials for Apollo 11 CM, SM & LM. What the hardware looked like. For the Dragon kit.

Thanks to my beloved wife Jean, I got a Dragon Apollo 11 on the Moon kit, for Christmas! 1/72 scale, new tooling (same as their die-cast metal collectable?)

The short form on real, as-flown-in-1969, surfaces and finishes:

Command Module.

The actual Apollo Command module was covered with strips of mirror finish aluminized plastic micrometeoroid shield and thermal insulation, on the visible surfaces. The ablative heat shield, not visible until the CM and SM are separated, is said to have been painted a light gray color. During re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere, the mylar was mostly burned off and a light-gray painted structure under it became visible. Below that paint appears to have been a composite honeycomb material. I think it is unlikely that the actual pressure vessel that the crew lived in touched the outside surface except at the hatch edges.

In pictures of the remaining, unused, Apollo CSM (the emergency rescue vehicle for Skylab), you can see the stripe pattern of the plastic tape on the CM exterior, but in contemporary photographs, it looks like one piece of mirror polished aluminum. Like an American Airline’s jet airliner.

The fold-flat handles on the outside of the CSM, for astronaut Extra-Vehicular Activities (EVAs) were painted a glossy yellow, like the similar hand-rails on the the Hubble Space Telescope.

The docking capture and latch mechanism mounted on the outside of the tunnel, above the front hatch of the CM, is primarily titanium-looking metal, with a chromed, presumably retractable or spring loaded or damped, shaft.  There are darkened metal handles in the mechanism, probably painted or anodized a dark blue dark gray or black.

The inside of the tunnel itself, behind the docking capture mechanism, is light gray with 12 blue-anodized cylinder-topped arms at the top, some black and some other colors of boxes, and wires,

Service module:

The Service module exterior was  painted with an aluminum paint, except for radiator areas fore and aft which were white, two “ram’s horn” antennas that were white or light gray, and 24 narrow stripes (about 25%) on panels under the RCS thrusters. The area under “United States” may or may not have been light gray, and many labels on the exterior appear to be black text on light gray background.

The main engine exhaust bell is complex, but a bluish gray for the biggest, lower, part, outside, and reddish gray for the upper part, outside, is a good start. The top of the bell joins the reddish part at a flange, with bright bare metal fasteners by the dozen. The top of the bell, the last part visible beyond (below) the Inconel heat shield, is wrapped in the mylar and-or “H-film” ( aka “Kapton”) insulation and micrometeoroid shield. The back of the CM is mostly covered by 4 stamped quadrants what looks like thin Inconel nickel-copper high temp metal. The furthest outer edge of the end of the Service Module is painted with aluminum paint just like the sides.

Lunar Module:

The Lunar Module has two very different areas of finish: The descent (lower) stage is primarily wrapped in thermal insulation / micromedeoroid protection, a multilayer collection of  Kapton (“H film”) and Mylar, and other, exotic, things, with metal evaporated/ plated on them for protection. A lot of what looks ‘black’ is actually a black-finished foil or mylar.

The descent engine has a medium gray exterior and nestles in an Inconel-lined cavity in the descent stage.

The ascent (upper) stage of the Lunar Module is about half black-finished and half anodized Aluminum. Yes, the Aluminum looks like its dark, like Titanium, or has a distinct gray-beige-green tone. All true, many have remarked on the hard-to-describe colors. Grumman’s construction documents for the whole thing, facet by facet, are on line, and they specify Phosphoric acid and Sulfuric Acid anodizing of the various aluminum alloy pieces.  Some Mylar or “H film” wrapping is on the the outside of the ascent module. The ascent engine has a semi-gloss white exterior, with a textile-like “wrapped” texture. This may be thermal insulation, similar to the thick batts of insulation wrapped around the F1 engines of the Saturn V first stage.

There are two dish antennae on the ascent stage, Both have white-painted dishes and are generally black otherwise. The antenna directly above the lunar egress hatch and the front windows has black foil everywhere except the inside of the dish. The signal radiator in the center of the dish is white.

The antenna off on the starboard side of the ascent stage has a semi-gloss black mechanism and flat black on the back on the dish. Black, also, on the 4 legs and the forward reflector in front of the dish.

In more detail:

Command Module.

The Reaction Control System (RCS) engine nozzles on the CM have an oxidized copper color in their throats, and a slightly corrugated texture. Photos of post-re-entry CMs show a ring of the same oxidized copper color outside the nozzles, but the aluminized mylar covers these rings up to the edges of the RCS engine bells.

The forward and side windows for the two outside crew stations have black anti-glare finish around the windows, and red-orange silicone seals at every layer of the windows.

Below or behind the port side windows and the crossed RCS nozzles are a pair of drain valves, white 5/8 spheres with gold-toned dots at the outside. A very similar purge valve is installed on the starboard side of the side hatch.

On both sides, below windows, RCS nozzles, etc and the edge of the ablative re-entry shield, there are translucent white dots. Under the Mylar there are black partial circles around these two translucent circles,. On the Service Module, there are matching white partial circles painted on the fairing at the top edge of the SM

A minor (very minor) mystery is what kind of plastic the reflective stuff on the CM is. The expected temperature range in the space environment was wider than NASA was comfortable using Mylar, generally, uncovered, in the thermal insulation blankets covering the LM Descent Stage. Therefore, the outer layer of those blankets is always Kapton (“H film”), which is usable over the expected temperature range.  Of course, a blanket of up to 25 layers of plastic, using microthicknesses of vacuum deposited metal for insulation, is fundamentally different from a pressurized honeycomb structure wrapped with a layer of glued-on plastic tape. Maybe the thermal mass and inertia of the CM (and the slow-rolling passive thermal control regime) kept conditions on the outside of the CM suitable for Mylar, Maybe the CM plastic has the metal side “out”, unlike the majority of LM applications which are generally plastic side out (hence the gold-amber color: its not gold foil, its aluminized Kapton with the metal in and the plastic out.

Service module:

Inside the main engine exhaust bell is complex. At the bottom, inside the bluish gray outside, are 16 dark metal petals with strong textures. Inside the reddish-gray part of the bell are a set of 6 petals and then a solid ring- all a glossy dark color.  Above the dark, solid, ring, is a white metal ring, something like aluminum colored. Above that is an orangey brown and then at the peak of the engine is a light, metallic-finished plate with 5 stamped spokes and a central cap.

Lunar Module:

How I plan to reproduce these colors:

Command Module:

The glued-flat aluminized mylar on the real thing doesn’t look like any paint, even mirror polished aluminum. It looks like mylar, darker than polished aluminum. I have seen photos on-line of Apollo CMs finished in Bare Metal Foil, in the correct striped pattern. But I don’t see the stripes unless I look very closely in the 1960s photos- they’re easy to see in flash photos taken today, on the leftover CSM lifeboat for Skylab that never flew. But not in pictures of Apollo 11, or 15, or any of the other hardware that was flown.

Sooooo: Bare Metal Foil remains possible, or very thin aluminum foil, polished and clear-coated. “Chrome” spray paint would not be a bad choice. Having the kit part polished and then vacuum coated with aluminum would be very close to the real thing. Brush-painting Testor’s Chrome Silver oil-based paint or another similar non-water-based product is also a thought – the occasional brushmark could be said to represent the stripes of the Mylar…

“Chrome” spray paint or Metalizer Buffable Aluminum rattle can are the top two contenders at the moment. I’m going to do a study with each and see which I like more  watch this space.

Service Module:

Polly-scale Reefer White (that’s as in Refrigerator White, the rail-road color) is my call for the white paint on the lower and upper ring radiators, the two ‘tabs’ containing the ram’s horn antennas, and the white areas near the RCS boxes. My own mix for Boeing Aircraft Company #707 Gray is my first choice for the Light Gray RCS boxes, unless they’re white too, have to check again before I commit myself. The Inconel heat shield could be Polly Scale Stainless Steel, maybe with a bit of yellow added to bring out the nickel ‘color’… Inconel is a copper-nickel alloy and its attraction is that it holds its strength at high temperatures, not that its intrinsically tough stuff like titanium. It actually cuts and polishes pretty readily, but the important thing is that its clearly NOT aluminum. Completely different color. Not unlike stainless steel, which is, itself, not like steel OR aluminum.

Lunar Module:

Corrected captions for the Denver Post’s Plog of WWII in the Pacific.

Have a look at the well chosen pictures at the Denver Post’s Photo Blog or Plog.

Sadly, the captions seem to have been either the intentionally uninformative wartime stuff, or edited to reduce meaning. I ended up with strong feelings about a bunch of the captions and sent them back the following suggestions. You may snicker knowingly if you please. I stopped after photo #19, and I tried to hit the meaningful stuff, and wound up sending them the following as comments. In each case I’ve put the photo caption and then my comment:

“2: December 7, 1941: This picture, taken by a Japanese photographer, shows how American ships are clustered together before the surprise Japanese aerial attack on Pear Harbor, Hawaii, on Sunday morning, Dec. 7, 1941. Minutes later the full impact of the assault was felt and Pearl Harbor became a flaming target. (AP Photo)”

Not to quibble but shore installations (Hickam Field) are already aflame, bombs have clearly gone off in the water of the harbor, torpedo tracks are visible and an explosion appears to be illuminating the third ship from the left, front row, the USS West Virginia. This photo is seconds, not minutes, from the full impact being felt. It is credited “Photo #: NH 50931” by the National Archives.

“4: December 7, 1941: The battleship USS Arizona belches smoke as it topples over into the sea during a Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The ship sank with more than 80 percent of its 1,500-man crew. The attack, which left 2,343 Americans dead and 916 missing, broke the backbone of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and forced America out of a policy of isolationism. President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that it was “a date which will live in infamy” and Congress declared war on Japan the morning after. (AP Photo)”

The battleship USS Arizona had already sunk, on an even keel, as she still lies today, before this photograph was taken. Note the forward main gun turret and gun barrel, in the lower left. The forward mast collapsed, as shown, into the void left by the explosion of the forward magazine, which sank the ship. The flames are from burning fuel oil. The fires were not extinguished until December 8, so this picture may have been taken on the Day of Infamy, of the day after. Compare to official U. S. Navy photo Photo #: 80-G-1021538, taken on the 9th of December, after the fires were out, showing the forward mast in the same shape.

“9: April 18, 1942: A B-25 Mitchell bomber takes off from the USS Hornet’s flight deck for the initial air raid on Tokyo, Japan, a secret military mission U.S. President Roosevelt referred to as Shangri-La. (AP Photo)”

When asked where the US bombers that struck Japan on April 18, 1942 had flown from, President Roosevelt replied (humorously) “Shangra La”, an imaginary paradise invented by novelist James Hilton. He showed shrewd tactical sense, the imaginary location was placed on the Asian mainland, opposite the direction the B-25s had actually came from. The U. S. Navy later had an air craft carrier named the “USS Shangra-la”, making it the only US ship named after an imaginary place, work of fiction, or a presidential joke, your choice.

(not shared with the Denver Post – I built a model of one of the Doolittle raiders and posted this writeup about it:…olittle-raider/)

“10: June 1942: The USS Lexington, U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, explodes after being bombed by Japanese planes in the Battle of the Coral Sea in the South Pacific during World War II. (AP Photo)”

The Battle of the Coral Sea is usually dated May 4–8, 1942, not June, 1942. This photograph must have been taken after 1500 (3:00pm) on May 8, and may be seconds after the “great explosion” recorded at 1727, 5:27pm. It is Official U. S. Navy Photo #: 80-G-16651. The USS Lexington was scuttled by US destroyer torpedos and sank about 2000, 8pm, that day.

“17: June 1942: Crewmen picking their way along the sloping flight deck of the aircraft carrier Yorktown as the ship listed, head for damaged sections to see if they can patch up the crippled ship. Later, they had to abandon the carrier and two strikes from a Japanese submarine’s torpedoes sent the ship down to the sea floor after the battle of Midway. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy)”

Belongs directly after Photo 11, showing the damaged and listing USS Yorktown. The two photos were taken the same day, after the second Japanese air attack on the Yorktown, after noon, June 4, 1942. This is official US Navy Photograph #: 80-G-14384.

“18: Oct. 29, 1942: U.S. Marines man a .75 MM gun on Guadalcanal Island in the Solomon Islands during World War II. (AP Photo)”

75mm gun, not .75 (100 times bigger!). 75mm is slightly less than 3 inches. .75 would be slightly less than .030 inches, 1/10 the size of a “30 caliber” aka 0.30″ rife bullet. Given the short barrel, light construction and high elevation, its probably a howitzer and not a gun. “Artillery piece” might be more constructively ambiguous.

“19: October 16, 1942: Six U.S. Navy scout planes are seen in flight above their carrier.”

SB2U Vindicators were withdrawn from all carriers by September, 1942. Marine SB2U-3s operated until September, 1943, but only from land. The photo may have been released or dated October 16, 1942, but is unlikely to have been taken on that date.

(I’ve edited the original captions in for reference here – what I sent didn’t quote the captions, except for #18. I rebel at mumbojumbo like .75mm or .20mm, conflating the common “.(something)” inch dimensions for inch dimension ammunition with the dimension “mm”.

Generally “0.(something)” is the recommended format for dimensions, but “50 caliber”, “.50 caliber”, “.45-“, “30-” etc., clearly intersect with 75mm, 20mm or 9mm and produce a muddle in the mind of writers and editors…)

If the NRA really cared about educating people, they’d work on this issue.