Air refueling
Air refueling

Refueling in the air. What happens?


With the advent of extensive use of airplanes, their creators set about trying to expand their capabilities by refueling in the air. The first attempts to transfer fuel cans from one aircraft to the second date back to 1912 d. Since this method of fuel delivery was rather dangerous due to the complexity of the maneuvers, it did not develop.  

in-flight refueling

For the first time attempts to move fuel through a hose from one seaplane to a second were carried out in 1917 by naval pilots. However, the first successful attempt of such transfer was fixed only in 1920 years. The principle of the process was based on the combination of two slowly flying aircraft with a hose; While the fuel flowed into the refueling machine under the influence of gravity. A little later in this direction the modifications were made and the system was equipped with pumps forcing pressure, which accelerated the process. In 1942, German designers have developed a mechanism for refueling the strategic bomber Me.264 in the air to achieve inter-unitary flight range. During the military operations, the first refueling was used by the United States during the Korean War.


in-flight refueling


The meaning and application:

Today, aerial refueling used only for refueling of military and military-transport aircrafts.

  • Due to flight refueling can be substantially increased stay device in flight, and in some cases - to provide him unlimited range.
  • Because the maximum take-off weight of the aircraft below the weight that the aircraft can theoretically raise the use of in-flight refueling machine allows you to fly with a maximum load of soluble to the detriment of the weight of fuel, and then, after a sufficient height and speed to refuel the fuel required to proceed to overcome the distance.


in-flight refueling


Types of air refueling systems:

1. Hose.

During filling of the system tanker aircraft staffed by one or more refueling hanging plants, which are located at a maximum distance from one another. Usually one service station is located in the rear fuselage, and two - under the wing pods. The composition of each of them includes a flexible hose whose length reaches several tens of meters. At the end of the hose is placed t. N. buoy or cone that resembles a shuttlecock with a valve at the bottom. The role of the latter - to lock the lumen of the hose.

Air refueling hose


Aircraft being inserted in the first place should be equipped with a reception bar, which is appropriate to make a retractable into the body for the best aerodynamic performance machine.


Refueling occurs according to the following algorithm. The tanker unwinds the hose, during which the cone from the folded position goes into the working configuration. This must be done at a constant height and speed. The airplane that runs, should keep a little lower and further from the tanker. After the equation of speed and height, the pilot leading the refueled aircraft must conduct a series of successful maneuvers to get the fuel rod into the uncontrolled cone. Having done this, the connection is strengthened by an electromagnetic lock. Having completed the connection setup, the filling operator includes a pumping system, at which fuel under high pressure moves to the fuel tanks of the refueled aircraft. Having completed the refueling, the pilot of the refueled vehicle reduces the speed, the disconnection of the bar from the cone will occur immediately after the tension force becomes stronger than the force of the electromagnet.

Refueling Mig-31 air video.

To simplify navigation, docking and charging control as tanker and refillable aircraft equipped with radio-technical navigation systems, lights and lighting petrol filling elements.


Also, such a system is not only permissible refueling aircraft, and helicopters. Thanks to its compact size as tanker units can be used for small size plane. Baud fuel hose with approximately 1500 l / min.

2. Rod.

A method of filling called "boom" is performed with the help of refueling aircraft, which are equipped with refueling booms. This element is a telescopic tube, the length of which is 20 meters. It is assembled in the rear tanker. The bar is equipped with small wings that adjust the alignment of the aircraft after its release, and help it move in space.

Air refueling boom


The principle of charging a lot like filling with a hose, but there are some fundamental differences. Planes go on and equalize the speed of convergence. Refillable plane located below and behind the tanker. Next, the operator of the filling station directs the post into the filler neck to interface, then the pressure is performed in the fuel supply tanks refueling aircraft.


This process can be carried out even in the dark thanks to the illumination area under the tanker also a place that takes the aircraft in need of refueling. Thus, the pilot does not have to enter the light when driving tanker.

in-flight refueling

Since the bar has a large size, it is only installed on a large tanker aircraft. In this manner, fuel can be pumped with velocity 4500 l / min. Such a high speed filling ideal for filling not only light aircraft and bombers, military transport aircraft, and others.

3. Wing - the wing.

Technology refueling "wing-wing" offered Soviet test pilot I. Shelest and VS Vasyanin. State tests of the system were carried out by Tu-4 and successfully completed, after which it had adopted.

Air refueling wing


The principle of its work was as follows. Aircraft must fly wing to wing, not being in the stream of one alone. From the wingtips of the tanker aircraft, a cable equipped with a stabilizing parachute is released. The bomber conducts maneuvers in such a way that on the cable to put the rod, extended from the end of his wing. When the cable slides along the bomber's boom, it catches the flexible rod, for which it pulls the hose out of the wing. After that, the cable is pulled up by the tanker, and the bomber releases the hose. When the hose reaches the refueling wing, it will dock with the filling line, and the process of pumping high-pressure fuel begins. After completing the transfer, the process goes in the opposite direction: the bomber pulls in the hose, the tanker releases the cable. After removing the hose and releasing the cable, the tanker can be used to refuel another aircraft. 


Tu-16 received several schema changes refueling. The difference is that during the sliding hose from the wing of a bomber caught his hook and fed to the filler neck.


Visually see diagram refueling Tu-4 и Tu-16 It can be in the series "Red Stars" and the movie "The case of the square 36-80».