Thursday, September 24, 2015

The 6,000 Pound Dog Whistle

Back in 1952 the Air Force sent out an open memo that said, 'We need a new jet trainer'.

Cessna received the memo, rang up the Air Force and told 'em, 'We can do that'.

The Air Force was thrilled and asked, 'Can you make it annoyingly loud?'

Cessna was like, 'Hell yeah... how many decibels we talkin'?'.

And the rest, as they say, is history...

Okay, so perhaps things didn't transpire exactly as described above. But the basic gist is the same; the USAF wanted a new, lightweight, 2-seat, jet-powered basic trainer and Cessna came up the winner with a design that has become a true classic over the course of its half-century service life...

...the Cessna Model 318, USAF designation, 'T-37'.

The first prototype, XT-37 serial number 54-716, which was destroyed during spin testing.

Project 914 Archives

And yeah, it was loud... freakin' loud. The rush of air through the intakes made a godawful high-pitched whistling noise. Combined with the not inconsiderable sound generated by the engines themselves, this piercing whistle was enough to give one an instant headache, and ear protection was mandatory for anyone working with the aircraft. The USAF even went so far as to install sound-proofing in the buildings at bases from which the T-37 was regularly operated.

T-37B 67-14745 served from the late 1960s until it was sent to the boneyard in 2003.

Project 914 Archives

And there you have the origins of the T-37's plethora of nicknames... some of which were, 'Screaming Mimi', 'The 6,000 Pound Dog Whistle', and its semi-sorta official nickname, 'Tweety Bird' which was often shortened to just 'Tweet'. But your blogmeister's favorite is 'The Converter'... meaning that the bird took fuel and air and converted it into noise and smoke.

We don't plan on running a long series on the T-37 and its trouble-making brother, the A-37, but keep an eye out for more of both in the future!

Fade to Black...

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