DLA Aerospace DL-51 "Musketeer"
by _dan
uploaded 2024-02-26
82 downloads /
14
points
SPH
stock+DLC aircraft
#dlaerospace #airliner #stock #crewed #4engine

The Musketeer: DLA’s First Commercial Endeavour

Details

  • Type: SPH
  • Class: aircraft
  • Part Count: 156
  • Pure Stock
  • KSP: 1.12.5

Speed and Luxury for the Masses

Early Concepts

The DL-51 was a concept that was in background development at DLA Aerospace for quite a while, with engineers hypothesising over a large, long-range subsonic airliner for Kerbin’s commercial market. The largely military-based corporation was fairly low on funding and wanted a different segment apart from it’s constant flow of development contracts from the Air Force and other military partners, and DLA’s management jumped on the opportunity. At the time Kerbin’s airline industry was quite underdeveloped and jetliners where still in their infancy, being noisy, uncomfortable and having relatively short range. In fact, some areas where still using piston-engined airliners as they believed that jet technology was still too new and unsafe for commercial use. DLA’s project management chose to develop in the long-range travel class to cash in on an entirely new generation of jetliners. The project’s funding went through the roof thanks to a fairly aggressive advertisement campaign and work began on what was to become the corporation’s most complicated, advanced and luxurious aircraft up to date.

Development

DLA’s project management system wasn’t prepared for the massive influx of resources that where required to start development of such a large aircraft, and only having experience in rocket construction and small, lightweight fighter aircraft (the infamous XF-114 project was being developed in parallel with the DL-51 at the time) the corporation struggled to organize the campaign. Eventually the project fell into order and wind tunnel models, full-scale mockups and drawings where produced. Satisfied with the project’s progress, DLA’s management pushed towards getting a flying prototype within 1 year. The goal was met, but just barely, with the design team finishing construction just 2 weeks before the deadline.

Taking Flight

The first prototype, named the YDL-51, first took from the KSC’s runway a week after its completion and stress tests. The test pilots noted how easily the aircraft pitched up after V1, indicating a well-placed landing gear arrangement. The four Wheesley engines roared at full takeoff thrust as the airliner lumbered clumsily into the sky and as it did the pilots felt just how terribly underpowered the thing was. Even with the 4 engines at max power the plane was struggling to climb, so the gear and flaps where promptly raised to reduce drag and get the plane a safe margin above its stall speed, which resided at about 60 m/s. After climbing to 3km and performing the necessary tests, the YDL-51’s wheels squeaked back onto the runway after about 10 minutes of flight time. The test pilots clambered out of the cockpit after shutting down the engines and APU, completely exhausted. One of them famously quoted after the experience: The thing felt like a runaway freight train going downhill, I had to brace my feet onto the control panel at points to keep the stick back. I told the engineers to find out what the hell is wrong and fix it.

Performance Headaches

The prototype’s performance was extremely disappointing with its top speed barely managing Mach 0.5 and being unable to climb past 3000 meters. These issues were very difficult to solve and gave the project’s designers major headaches during the aircraft’s development, and drastic redesigns had to be implemented. Due to computers at the time being quite crude and unreliable, the engineers used a cut-and-try method of implementing changes, which worked, but was notoriously inefficient and costly. Firstly, an entire passenger module was chopped out from the tail and replace with a cargo bay to reduce weight, as well as reducing the passenger capacity from 64 to 48. Second, the wings’ incidence was adjusted to create a better profile that would give a more optimal lift/drag ratio and improve performance, as well as adding small winglets. Finally, the propulsion sector at C7 Aerospace managed to create an upgraded compressor for the J-33, which almost doubled the engine’s thrust, at the expense of fuel efficiency, but DLA accepted the new engine and installed them on the prototype, aiming for them to be used on production models. These issues took nearly another year to resolve, but by then DLA had completed the implementation of these changes to the production lines and as the company went public, orders from airlines started to trickle in and the design team was ready to officially release the first production variant, the DL-51 Musketeer.

In Service

As it was the company’s first ever entry into the commercial market, the Musketeer wasn’t an immediate hit. It received a dozen orders from major airlines across Kerbin, and as the plane started appearing at airports for the first time, the airline’s customers where pleasantly surprised. A far cry from earlier jetliners, the Musketeer’s cabin was lavish, with comfortable, modern-styled seating in a spacious cabin with lots of room for passengers, and for the first time, Kerbals could finally sleep on a flight without being deafened by the loud whining of earlier jet engines, thanks to the Musketeer’s improved insulation and quieter turbines. Aviation enthusiasts and magazines adored its sleek looks, smooth lines and charismatic 4 wing-mounted engines, calling it The prettiest aircraft in Kerbin’s skies. The top speed was now a blistering Mach 0.85 at a comfortable cruising altitude of 7000 meters with a very long range to match, and as the compliments continued, the sales grew, and DLA’s reputation in the airline industry was cemented as a producer of luxurious and reliable aircraft.

Conclusion

Whoo, that was a lot of lore! Writing all of that was actually quite fun. Anyway, I’m very pleased with the final result of my first airliner release on KerbalX! And the lore doesn’t lie, this thing was actually very hard to get flying right, but it worked out in the end. This is easily my most complex and detailed aircraft build to date, and I love all of the tiny features it packs. It’s got navigation lights, strobe lights, landing lights, spoilers, flaps and even a little Juno APU in the tail (I find I use the APU quite often for its intended purpose, which is to generate electricity and recharge the plane’s two fuel cell banks). The 707 aesthetic of this plane is really nice in my opinion and even being an airliner it’s extremely addictive to fly and especially land. A fine conclusion to a big project! If anyone wants to work on something with me, I’m open for KerbalX collabs whenever!

Happy Landings!

A stock aircraft called DLA Aerospace DL-51 Musketeer. Built with 156 of the finest parts, its root part is mk3Cockpit.Shuttle.

Built in the SPH in KSP version 1.12.5.

A Musketeer landing at the Desert Airfield after a routine hour long flight.

Banking left, showing off its graceful lines.

Kerbin’s desert landscapes from a cruise altitude of 7000 meters.

Flying over an interesting historic artefact.

Top view of the Musketeer.

_dantherocketman

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