Flight Deck Layout
I must state for the record that at the beginning of this saga, I never intended to let things get this
complicated. Along about 1989, I thought it might be nice to have a single rack in the shack to support an
ART-13 and BC-348, similar to the rack in Flak Bait (the National Air & Space Museum's Martin B-26B),
that has a BC-348 and an SCR-274N command set installed. The intent was simply to construct something that
resembled original installations in WWII aircraft, using dimensions and aluminum materials that led to easy
assembly. As things developed, I added a 45 degree corner to it simply "to use the space a little better".
Then of course I needed "just one more" wide bay - to hold a few more acquisitions and provide visual
symmetry. By now you should see where all this is going...
Just to provide some scale, each of the wide rectangular bays is three feet wide by two feet deep
by about five feet tall. The three foot by two foot dimension allowed economical use of plywood from the
home stores, and approximated the actual dimensions of those in avionics suites (especially countermeasures)
in period aircraft. The use of varnished 3/4" plywood has an impressive number of precedents in aircraft, but I chose to
additionally sheath the top of each piece in .032" aluminum sheet, primarily to assist in solving the grounding problem
that accompanies the use of WWII aircraft radios in a radio amateur environment. Anyone contemplating replication
should be aware that this material dents rather easily from carelessly dropped items, so consideration might also be
given to thin stainless sheet if available at a reasonable price - at least for the main shelf. The corner bays have a
two foot wide front, but of course fan out toward the rear so there is some room at the back corners for
peripherals that do not require controls. All the vertical members, as well as the edging around each piece of plywood,
is 1" x 1" x 1/8" extruded aluminum angle. This is approximately the same size as that used in WWII, but of course those
were made on large sheet metal brakes, not extruded. The edging is mitered at each corner of the shelf in a 45 degree angle.
The plywood shelves are held onto these angles with 3/4" stainless
sheet metal screws on 4" centers. The shelves are then fastened to the vertical support members with #6-32 x 1/2" stainless
screws, using tapped holes in the shelf edging. Four screws are used at each attachment point, staggered at a 45 degree angle so
that they do not run into each other in the plywood. The fabrication sequence is to make all the shelves first. You then use picture
frame clamps to
attach the four legs to one shelf and drill/assemble that, then add the other shelves one at a time. I use a variable speed
electric drill to both drill and tap during this assembly operation, then disassemble the shelves from the vertical members and
enlarge the tapped holes in the vertical legs for "through" clearance so that I get a good clamp upon reassembly. It's harder to
describe than it is to actually do, and is a nice Saturday afternoon project once you have all the pieces cut to size. My final
step is to bond each rack to its neighbors once it is moved into its final place so that I have a solid ground plane all around the octagon.
One thing that this type of construction facilitates is the grounding aspect
that drives so many folks to drink during operation of these sets. There are tuned ground effects that are particularly
puzzling to operating the sets on the ham bands, partly because almost all WWII HF sets are simple MOPA designs, and as
such are easily detuned by simply putting a hand on a part of the set. Grounding and bonding goes a long way toward
eliminating these effects, and what better way to do it than to replicate the interior of an aircraft?
General Layout (not to scale) All equipment is from the WWII era with the exception of a new bay on the
backside of the VHF sets, which will primarily house the mid-1930s progenitors to several of the WWII backbone sets,
as well as an aluminum finish SCR-274N set that formed the foundation of USAAF HF command capabilities.
As you can see in the diagram, each of the bays is loosely dedicated to a particular theme, though the
theme may be tenuous at times, or have discontinuities. The labels represent the primary radio set (or sets)
that defines the position, but others are squeezed in as well. Starting at the upper right hand corner and
proceeding counterclockwise, the links to each of the fourteen bays are as follows:
Early (1942) ECM Surveillance Equipment
Mid to late war ECM Surveillance Equipment
Miscellaneous ECM and antenna switching corner
Mainstay WWII jammers
Super rare WWII jammers
Mostly VHF sets
Miscellaneous Bendix sets, ARC-5 Tunable VHF suite
and in the center of the octagon, the
Finishing off the octagon (I sincerely hope) is the new bay mentioned above (under construction), a late addition to provide a
home for some otherwise storage-cabinet-confined sets of significant historical significance prior to WWII -
The flight deck is one of those endeavors that never has an end, it seems. Things are constantly changing, and future
improvements include a new varnished plywood floor similar to that in the Enola Gay (see the
Weird stuff page) and mounting of
the aircraft chairs in front of the positions on adjustable seat rails.