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  Help identifying unknown aerospace nose cone

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Author Topic:   Help identifying unknown aerospace nose cone
letterman7
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posted 11-23-2012 08:56 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have acquired a nosecone that has yet to be identified. I have contacted more than a few branches of NASA and heard back from Glenn Research Center (GRC, who recommended this site) and a gentleman from Dryden who is quite perplexed by the object.

At first, GRC thought it might be X-15 in origin, but my contact at Dryden doesn't think so as it does not match anything he has on record for the aircraft.

Myself and another colleague thought it may have been an LES cone but the measurements don't quite match. My last guess was a cone from the old Hermes II program and you'll see why in the photos, but I have no good close-ups of the different Hermes configurations.

So, I'm putting it out there for the community to chew on and make some educated guesses. I'm not even sure what the metal is — I'm guessing titanium, Dryden was opining it may even be inconel but I have no way of (inexpensively) testing the metal. Anyway, the specs are:

The cone measures 29.75" tall with a base of 21.75" wide. It weighs approximately 23 pounds. There is light corrosion on the rivets straddling the two openings — one on either side equidistant apart, but I don't know if that is pertinent or not. On the inside edge of the ports is a shoulder with some self-adhesive rubber strips, though they aren't in the best condition.

In the photos you'll see what appear to be wires in the very tip of the cone. They are, in fact, heavy non-stranded wires that are tack-welded to the skin. There are appearances of these welds throughout the rest of the inside of the unit as well, though the wires are not there. The cone thickness varies; from the rivet line to the tip the metal is about 3/8" thick; the lower shroud is roughly 3/32".














There are no stamped numbers or markings of any kind anywhere on the inside or out. There are two hand-written numbers that are barely visible inside, looking like they were written with a 6H pencil. On the rim under one of the openings is the number 225, on the internal ring where the two components are riveted it reads either 15° or 17°... it's worn partially.

This may not even be US made, hence the effort in finding it's origins. Note that the openings themselves do not have matching corresponding bolt holes - one opening has two holes on the body of the cone outside the flange area, the other does not.

So... go to it, community! Let's see what you can come up with. If more photos or specific angles are needed, please let me know! Thank you — Rick

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-23-2012 10:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think the inquiry is directed towards the wrong group... this appears to be an aircraft cowling.

letterman7
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posted 11-24-2012 09:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well, since it's an unknown I thought I'd start here. This board was recommended by the folks at GRC. It isn't a spinner; much too heavy and wrong configuration.

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-24-2012 09:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Or from a drop tank.

letterman7
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posted 11-24-2012 10:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Possibly, but I wouldn't think drop tanks would be built this heavily. After all, they were meant to be expendable.

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-24-2012 10:09 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am with Scott it appears to be an aircraft type part. For me it could be a tail cone or a bullet fairing for the top of a Vertical Stabilizer.

The two cut outs could be for the required strobe/navigational lights and the end hole for assembly ventilation and pressure equalization.

Because there is no epoxy primer or fraying surface sealant, on the inside for long term corrosion protection as well as the lack of identification, I am assuming it is for general aviation. Just my thoughts.

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-24-2012 10:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by letterman7:
...I wouldn't think drop tanks would be built this heavily. After all, they were meant to be expendable.

I worked on CF104 drop tanks back in the 1980s (boy I'm getting old), they were very beefy assemblies due to the dynamics of carrying fuel and the possible pressures the fuel system could impose.

letterman7
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posted 11-24-2012 11:13 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ok.. assuming it is military or even civilian, wouldn't there be some sort of stamped identification number?

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-24-2012 03:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by letterman7:
Ok.. assuming it is military or even civilian, wouldn't there be some sort of stamped identification number?

You would think, however, depending on the assembly this may only a part of a bigger piece. It may have been the bigger piece that had the data plate or identification you are wondering about.

This is more typical in general aviation as well.

letterman7
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posted 11-24-2012 03:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ahh.. makes sense. The way that the edge is constructed it looks like it was a slip fit into something else, be it aircraft or something else. I'll start looking into some military aircraft forums to see if there is one out there that may be able to identify this thing!

drummond93
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posted 11-28-2012 04:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for drummond93   Click Here to Email drummond93     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm familiar with Air Force items, and this looks like a portion of the nosecone fairing to a LGM-30 Minuteman III missile (note, the nosecone provides an aerodynamic shell fairing for the internal warheads- this is from the missile, not the warhead).

Here's an official 1989 image from the Air Force of a Minuteman III in it's silo.

One other note: The nosecone fairing is only needed for launch of the Minuteman III into a ballistic trajectory- not re-entry- thus no thermal shielding. The nosecone is ejected away from the warhead (s) after burnout and is allowed to burn-up as it re-enters the atmosphere.

Your piece is actually just the top two sections of the nosecone — there are a couple more sections below this that mate to the body of the missile.

letterman7
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posted 11-28-2012 06:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for letterman7   Click Here to Email letterman7     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sweet! I knew someone would figure it out! Thank you very much! Any idea what it's made from?

GACspaceguy
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posted 11-28-2012 07:16 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for GACspaceguy   Click Here to Email GACspaceguy     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I am so glad this one is solved. Great find!

SpaceAholic
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posted 11-28-2012 08:02 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAholic   Click Here to Email SpaceAholic     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Agreed... congrats on the ID Drummond93.

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