Re: Convair CV990 "Coronado"

Date:         22 Jul 99 23:30:11 
From:         James Matthew Weber <>
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At 02:33 AM 7/10/99 +0000, you wrote:
>Recently I read that, until the advent of the Concorde, the Convair CV990
>was the fastest civil aeroplane. I am now curious and looking for any
>information on the type - performance and specifications, production
>numbers, dates etc. Were the strange fairings on the upper surface of the
>wings used to break up shock waves created by flying at high subsonic
>speeds - or did they serve some other purpose?

The funny fairings are a direct result of the speed of the 990. It was
close enough to supersonic that the Whitcomb area rule had significant
impact. In very simple terms, sudden changes in the effective  cross
section of the airframe  greatly increase transonic and supersonic drag.
This leads to the more familiar 'coke bottle' or wasp waist appearance
of many fighters of the 1950's and 1960's. The fuselage will be thinner
at the wing roots and thicker before and after to reduce the suddenness
of the cross section changes. The big ugly fairings on the trailing
surfaces of the wings are referred to as speed bullets and provide a
transitional cross section. Without the speed bullets the 990 could not
achieve the speeds promised. In fact the 990 had a lot of trouble
meeting the contractual specifications.

The 990 was a commercial disaster for Convair. There weren't all that
many made, and I suspect Convair management forgot that when you enter
into a commercial contract, if you have cost overruns, the customer
isn't going to eat them, you are. I don't know if there is an official
figure of not, but my recollection the 990 program ran up losses of
several hundred million dollars. It marked Convair's exit from the ranks
of commercial aircraft manufacturers. They continue to make parts of
aircraft (like the D10 fuselage), but not complete aircraft.

In addition, the wing of the 990 infringed on some patents, and Convair
ultimately had to pay still more millions in the Patent infringement
suit which followed...

James Matthew Weber   (623) 587 7514 .  Fax  (480) 638 1316