Installed at the upper right of the B-17’s copilot instrument panel just above the aircraft’s 4 x Position Oil Tank Indicator the B-17's Free Air or Outside Air Temperature (OAT) gauge alerted the pilot to the outside air temperature.
Knowing the outside air temperature does not on the face of it, seem all that important but to a pilot, it provides the information necessary to make true airspeed and altitude density calculations essential to flight planning and aircraft fuel consumption.
The OAT gauge also serves as a critical early warning to potential icing conditions. Changes in altitude and passing through cloud or precipitation can cause the rapid formation of ice on the wing surfaces that can have dramatic effect on flight surfaces and aircraft stability.
At outside temperatures of between zero and minus 10 C the pilot is likely to encounter ‘clear icing’ where a glossy, thin and transparent layer of ice forms slowly over the wing surfaces reducing clean airflow over the wing increasing drag and reducing lift.
As OAT falls further, Rime ice can form which is a rougher and faster forming ice trapping air pockets which reduce air flow and further increases drag. At higher altitudes in extreme conditions, rough Mixed ice can also form which will dangerously impact the aircraft’s aerodynamics.
For larger and more modern aircraft like the B-17, De-icing systems could be switched on to reduce the impact of ice formation on the aircraft’s flight surfaces but for older and smaller aircraft, the only alternative was to either dramatically reduce altitude or exit cloud/rain formations if flight performance was being affected.
As ice formation is difficult for the pilot to see from the cockpit, its often called the silent creeper in aviation circles and without keeping an eye on the OAT, the first thing a pilot might experience is significant loss of wing lift resulting in a sudden stall which may be difficult to recover from.
The B-17 could cruise at a height of over 35,000ft where temperatures often dropped to well below freezing, requiring air crews to wear thick, electrically-heated flying suits, gloves and helmets.
Ice build up on wing and flight surfaces were an ever-present problem and required constant monitoring by the copilot and engineer. Later B-17’s featured Black Rubber De-Icing Boots which were overlaid along the aircraft's leading wing and tailplane edges.
Small bladders were distributed under the boots which enabled the crew to inflate and deflate the boots to break off any accumulated wing ice through a series of small tubes beneath the B-17’s metal skin.
The upper illustration shows a leading edge boot as it is held against the leading edge contour (normal in-flight condition). The lower illustration shows a leading edge boot in an inflated condition; the boot is typically in this position only for a short time to remove an accumulation of ice.
Across bomber crews there were mixed opinions as to the effectiveness of the rubber boots with concerns raised that quite often flak damage would dislodge the boots, creating even worse airflow than the ice they were designed to avoid. Some crews removed them completely.
Manufactured by Weston Electric Inst Corp this 115412 T-52H, this Free Air Temperature Gauge comes complete with Manufacture’s plate and would look fantastic with its highly detailed 1/72 scale B-17 model perched atop its 100yr old Mango Wood stand. What a great original one-of-a-kind gift for any aviation enthusiast or budding, active or retired pilot!
This B-17 Flying Fortress Instrument comes complete with detailed Scale Model, Mango Wood Stand & Plaque plus Printed Fact Sheet featuring photo of instrument in aircraft cockpit.
Return to B-17 Flying Fortress MAIN PAGE
Your B-17 Flying Fortress, Free Air Temperature gauge, Original Recovery Curios Warbird Collectable includes:
- Original Warbird Collectable
- Highly detailed, hand-built and airbrushed 1/72 plastic scale model of the aircraft.
- Hand-crafted and beautifully finished 100yr, Far North Queensland Mango Wood display stand
- Detailed, 2-sided, printed and laminated Instrument Fact Sheet detailing aircraft and instrument
- Removable Magnetic Display Arm
The 1/72 scale model is available with wheels & flaps ‘up or down’ and ‘Bomb bay open or closed'
Your complete Recovery Curios Original Instrument Collectable is securely packed and delivery normally takes between 4 - 6 weeks approx.
Did you fly, crew or maintain a B-17 Flying Fortress or have a friend, colleague or family member who did? Check out our PERSONALISED ORIGINAL INSTRUMENT COLLECTABLE OPTION here.