Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

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historygeek2021
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Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by historygeek2021 » 27 Dec 2021 01:18

I've seen anecdotal information on various websites claiming that Germany used heavy presses to forge magnesium components for their aircraft. These magnesium forgings were used to attach the engine to the airframe and took the Allies far longer to manufacture because only Germany had heavy presses that could forge them.

Does anyone have any reliable sources of information about this?

MikeMeech
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by MikeMeech » 02 Jan 2022 13:27

historygeek2021 wrote:
27 Dec 2021 01:18
I've seen anecdotal information on various websites claiming that Germany used heavy presses to forge magnesium components for their aircraft. These magnesium forgings were used to attach the engine to the airframe and took the Allies far longer to manufacture because only Germany had heavy presses that could forge them.

Does anyone have any reliable sources of information about this?
Hi

This may not directly answer your question but the information might help to judge the industrial situation in Germany. First source 'German Aircraft Industry and Production 1933-1945', by Vajda & Dancey, reference Magnesium, page 127:
WW2RAFsqnest059.jpg
Page 128-129 on Machine Tools:
WW2RAFsqnest060.jpg
WW2RAFsqnest061.jpg
Second source NID's 'Germany Volume III, Economic Geography', November 1944 edition, show the pre-war Magnesium situation:
WW2RAFsqnest062.jpg
And the Machine Tool industry:
WW2RAFsqnest063.jpg
Considering German Machine Tools were more 'general purpose' than the USA I would expect the USA, at least, would be able to produce similar equipment, as probably could the British, if required.

Mike
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historygeek2021
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by historygeek2021 » 02 Jan 2022 22:30

Thanks Mike. Very helpful.

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by Peter89 » 04 Jan 2022 17:17

What we call aluminium was actually duraluminium thus containing Mg and Cu as well. Using "pure Mg" was rather rare or even dangerous. Most metals keenly oxidize or even prone to high intensity ignition.

Ferenc Vajda's book is full of infos, but they are not really accurate and could rarely be traced back to the source. For example, he gives wrong numbers for aluminium production / useage, ie. confusing primary and total production. But this is hard work to cross-check.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by T. A. Gardner » 04 Jan 2022 21:52

In the US, magnesium was used widely in some aircraft manufacturing to include large portions of the airframe and skin. Northrup in particular, used magnesium in aircraft they built for such purposes.

Pratt & Whitney used magnesium castings--I don't know if they used forgings or not though--in various components of their engines like the gear casings to lighten the weight too.

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by Peter89 » 06 Jan 2022 07:53

T. A. Gardner wrote:
04 Jan 2022 21:52
In the US, magnesium was used widely in some aircraft manufacturing to include large portions of the airframe and skin. Northrup in particular, used magnesium in aircraft they built for such purposes.

Pratt & Whitney used magnesium castings--I don't know if they used forgings or not though--in various components of their engines like the gear casings to lighten the weight too.
Pure magnesium, and not alloys?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by Seppo Koivisto » 06 Jan 2022 12:22

The AS21 alloy used for VW Beetle engine blocks was 96.7% magnesium.

The magnesium engine bearers and the engine reduction casing of this Bf 109 found in a lake had dissolved in the water. https://www.key.aero/article/messerschmitt-bf-109g

The Soviets took German presses and the US had to make their own. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... nt/308886/

Image
https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/rdwoz86

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by T. A. Gardner » 06 Jan 2022 15:59

Peter89 wrote:
06 Jan 2022 07:53
T. A. Gardner wrote:
04 Jan 2022 21:52
In the US, magnesium was used widely in some aircraft manufacturing to include large portions of the airframe and skin. Northrup in particular, used magnesium in aircraft they built for such purposes.

Pratt & Whitney used magnesium castings--I don't know if they used forgings or not though--in various components of their engines like the gear casings to lighten the weight too.
Pure magnesium, and not alloys?
Alloys. Northrup made virtually whole airframes from magnesium alloys. Both the XP-56 (Black Bullet) and XP-79 airframes were made almost entirely from magnesium alloys. On the XP-79 plate up to as much as a quarter inch or more was used in some areas doubling as armor.

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by Peter89 » 06 Jan 2022 20:29

T. A. Gardner wrote:
06 Jan 2022 15:59
Peter89 wrote:
06 Jan 2022 07:53
T. A. Gardner wrote:
04 Jan 2022 21:52
In the US, magnesium was used widely in some aircraft manufacturing to include large portions of the airframe and skin. Northrup in particular, used magnesium in aircraft they built for such purposes.

Pratt & Whitney used magnesium castings--I don't know if they used forgings or not though--in various components of their engines like the gear casings to lighten the weight too.
Pure magnesium, and not alloys?
Alloys. Northrup made virtually whole airframes from magnesium alloys. Both the XP-56 (Black Bullet) and XP-79 airframes were made almost entirely from magnesium alloys. On the XP-79 plate up to as much as a quarter inch or more was used in some areas doubling as armor.
Nice infos, thanks!
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by T. A. Gardner » 06 Jan 2022 22:30

Northrup also invented and perfected a means of welding magnesium alloy metals in 1944 called the Heliarc process. Today it's commonly referred to as TIG welding. Engineer Russell Meredith was the inventor. This variant of arc welding allowed Northrup to build an airframe that was welded together rather than riveted, saving production time and weight in the final airframe.

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by MikeMeech » 06 Jan 2022 22:50

T. A. Gardner wrote:
06 Jan 2022 22:30
Northrup also invented and perfected a means of welding magnesium alloy metals in 1944 called the Heliarc process. Today it's commonly referred to as TIG welding. Engineer Russell Meredith was the inventor. This variant of arc welding allowed Northrup to build an airframe that was welded together rather than riveted, saving production time and weight in the final airframe.
Hi

The 1943 book 'Airframe Construction and Repair' by John T Henshaw, Pitman & Sons, mentions the casting and welding of Magnesium Alloy:
WW2RAFsqnest064.jpg
Another wartime book 'Aeronautical Engineering, A practical guide for everyone connected with the Aircraft Industry', edited by R A Beaumont, Odhams Press Limited, has mention of the pre-war D.H. 'Gipsy-Twelve' engine using a magnesium alloy casting:
WW2RAFsqnest041.jpg
The book 'Internal Combustion Engines Illustrated', Odhams Press Limited reprinted 1947, mentions the use of magnesium alloys in engines:
WW2RAFsqnest040.jpg
I hope that is of interest.

Mike
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by MikeMeech » 07 Jan 2022 08:32

Hi
The 1937 book 'Metal Aircraft Construction' by M Langley, Pitman & Sons Ltd, has a bit of information on the use of Magnesium:
WW2RAFsqnest065.jpg
WW2RAFsqnest066.jpg
WW2RAFsqnest067.jpg
I hope that is useful.

Mike
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by MikeMeech » 07 Jan 2022 21:11

Hi

The 1935 book, 'Complete Book of Aviation' compiled by Sqn-Ldr C G Burge, Pitman & Sons, Ltd, has mention of the (potential) use of Magnesium alloys:
WW2RAFsqnest070.jpg
Also from the late 1930s (part work) 'Aero Engineering, Volume II Production' editor Sqn-Ldr H Nelson, George Newnes Limited, has some mention:
WW2RAFsqnest069.jpg
Also use in the DH 'Gypsy Six' crankcase and top cover DTD 281:
WW2RAFsqnest068.jpg
Mike
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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by Peter89 » 08 Jan 2022 10:50

MikeMeech wrote:
07 Jan 2022 21:11
Hi
Extremely nice infos, thanks!

So far I have been able to conclude that magnesium alloys were used only in specific instances where its low specific gravity was required to a great extent. However, producing 1 kg of magnesium required about cca. 90 kWh of energy while producing 1 kg of aluminium required cca. 20 kWh.
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Heavy press magnesium forgings for Luftwaffe aircraft

Post by historygeek2021 » 09 Jan 2022 05:48

Seppo Koivisto wrote:
06 Jan 2022 12:22
The AS21 alloy used for VW Beetle engine blocks was 96.7% magnesium.

The magnesium engine bearers and the engine reduction casing of this Bf 109 found in a lake had dissolved in the water. https://www.key.aero/article/messerschmitt-bf-109g

The Soviets took German presses and the US had to make their own. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/ar ... nt/308886/

Image
https://digital.sciencehistory.org/works/rdwoz86
Thanks. This is what I was interested in. It's mentioned briefly at 0:40 in this video, which says that Germany could quickly forge magnesium components for their aircraft with their heavy presses, whereas the allies had to spend more man hours machining the same parts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpgK51w6uhk

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