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hovercraft

hovercraft (air-cushion vehicle) Fast, usually amphibious craft. A horizontal fan produces a cushion of air supporting the craft just above the ground or water. Vertical fans propel the craft. Most hovercraft are powered by gas turbine or diesel engines. Hovercraft travel at speeds up to c.160km/h (100mph). Christopher Cockerell built the first hovercraft in 1959. They are used as marine ferries and as military vehicles.

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hovercraft

hov·er·craft / ˈhəvərˌkraft/ • n. (pl. same) a vehicle or craft that travels over land or water on a cushion of air provided by a downward blast. A design was first patented by Christopher Cockerell (1910– ) in 1955.

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Hovercraft

Hovercraft: see air-cushion vehicle.

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hovercraft

hovercraft •Taft •abaft, aft, craft, daft, draft, draught, engraft, graft, haft, kraft, raft, shaft, understaffed, unstaffed, waft •backdraft • handcraft • aircraft •stagecraft • spacecraft • statecraft •needlecraft • priestcraft • witchcraft •kingcraft • handicraft • woodcraft •Wollstonecraft • bushcraft •watercraft • hovercraft • crankshaft •camshaft • layshaft • driveshaft •turboshaft • countershaft •bereft, cleft, deft, eft, heft, klepht, left, reft, theft, weft •adrift, drift, gift, grift, lift, rift, shift, shrift, sift, squiffed, swift, thrift, uplift •airlift, chairlift, stairlift •facelift • skilift • shoplift • Festschrift •spendthrift • spindrift • snowdrift •makeshift • downshift • upshift •aloft, croft, loft, oft, soft, toft •hayloft • Ashcroft • Cockcroft •undercroft • Lowestoft •tuft, unstuffed •Delft

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Hovercraft

Hovercraft

Resources

A hovercraft is a vehicle or craft that can be used to journey over water and land. Unlike a boat, which floats on the water, a hovercraft is suspended above the water on a cushion of air that is ejected downwards against a surface below it. This ability also allows a hovercraft to move over relatively level land and float over small depressions such as a ditch or over waves. A powerful and specially designed fan creates the air cushion that is part of the hovercraft. For this reason a hovercraft is also called an air cushion vehicle or ACV.

The first vehicle that could be called a hovercraft was created on paper, but never actually built, in 1716 by Swedish designer and inventor Emanuael Swedenborg. One hundred and fifty years later, British engineer Sir John Isaac Thorncroft built several models that used air between the boats hull and the water to reduce drag on the craft. In the 1930s, Soviet engineer Vladimir Levkov build air-cushion boats on an experimental basis. In the 1940s, during World War II, U.S. reservist Charles J. Fletcher designed a Glidemobile that trapped air under a surface. The U.S. military confiscated Fletchers design for the war effort.

English engineer and inventor Sir Christopher Sydney Cockerell (19101999) finally invented a working hovercraft in 1956. For this accomplishment and his other efforts, which included being part of the research team that developed radar (RAdar Detection And Ranging), he was later knighted in 1969.

Cockerells main idea involved a vehicle designed to that float on a cushion of air, with another power source that would move the vehicle horizontally over the surface. The feasibility of the idea was tested initially using tin cans and the nozzle end of a vacuum cleaner. Initially, cans of different sizes were modified so that air could be blown down through the sealed end. Cockerell found that single cans did not produce sufficient air pressure. However, positioning one can inside another and forcing the air through the narrow cylinder of space between the two cans created a zone of high air pressure created in the region between these cans. It was this basic design that was used for the first commercial hovercraft in 1959, the Saunders Roe Nautical One (SRN1), and for subsequent versions of the hovercraft.

In the SRN1 and other models of hovercraft, the narrow cylindrical space between the tin can test system is referred to as a plenum chamber. The word plenum is from the Latin word meaning full. Large fans, which are analogous to the vacuum cleaner nozzle on Cockeralls tabletop developmental model, blow air down through the plenum chamber.

The fan used on hovercraft differs from the standard propeller type of fan. Propeller blades generate backpressure as they rotate. In hovercraft, backpressure would decrease the efficiency of the air cushion.

The fan of a hovercraft is called a centrifugal lift fan. The fan appears as an inverted funnel positioned inside a donut-like chamber that has angled slats around the outside edge of the chamber. When the funnel shaped assembly rotates at high speed, air is sucked into the chamber and is expelled out through the slats. This design creates a more powerful airflow than does a conventional propeller.

The airflow must be constant and powerful in order to compensate for air that escapes from the edge of the hovercraft. The airflow must also be even around the edge of the hovercraft, to prevent one region of the hovercraft from lifting higher off the surface of the ground or water than other parts of the hovercraft.

The edge of a hovercraft contains a flexible curtain of material. This material, which is known as a skirt, helps prevent the escape of air from the plenum chamber, which in turn lessens the mount of energy that is needed to generate the suspending airflow. The skirt must be durable and flexible to accommodate the different heights of terrain or waves that the hovercraft passes over. Additionally, the skirt must be light in weight, yet resistant to flapping. Origin-zally, a skirt was a single piece of material; now it is typically made of rubber. When one region of the old-design skirt wore out, the entire skirt had to be replaced. The cost of this replacement, often in the millions of dollars, prompted a redesign. Nowadays, damaged rubber portions of a skirt can be removed and replaced without the necessity of replacing the entire structure.

As a hovercraft operates, the rubber skirt is inflated outward by the air pressure generated by the centrifugal lift fan. This effect produces an air cushion that is about 10 ft (3 m) in depth beneath the hovercraft. Propellers that blow air out horizontally provide the power that moves the hovercraft over the surface of the ground or water. The blades of these propellers can be moved or pitched to control the speed of the hovercraft. When the propellers have a zero pitch, the hovercraft is not moving. Positive pitch moves a hovercraft forward and negative pitch is the braking system that slows the hovercraft down.

The hovercraft has proven to be useful for applications where passengers or cargo are transported over water and where the loading and unloading can be done on land. For example, hovercraft have been used for decades to ferry people back and forth across the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France.

See also Ocean.

Resources

OTHER

Flexitech LLC. How a Hovercraft Works. <http://www.hovercraftmodels.com/How_a_Hovercraft_works.htm> (accessed October 11, 2006).

Hoverline AB. In 1965 Sweden become the pioneers of commercial hovercraft services. <http://www.hoverline.se/english/pioneer-classic.html> (accessed October 11, 2006).

Military Parade Publishing House. Levkovs Hovercraft. March-April 1999. <http://milparade.udm.ru/32/062.htm> (accessed October 11, 2006).

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Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

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Notes:
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Hovercraft

Hovercraft

A hovercraft is a vehicle that can be used to journey over water and land. Unlike a boat, which floats on the water, a hovercraft is suspended above the water on a cushion of air. This also allows a hovercraft to move over land and float over small depressions such as a ditch or over waves. A powerful and specially designed fan creates the air cushion that is part of the hovercraft. For this reason a hovercraft is also called an Air Cushion Vehicle or ACV.

Englishman Christopher Cockerell invented the hovercraft in 1956. For this accomplishment and his other efforts, which included being part of the research team that developed the radar , he was later knighted in 1969.

Cockerell's main idea involved a vehicle designed to that float on a cushion of air, with another power source that would move the vehicle horizontally over the surface. The feasibility of the idea was tested initially using tin cans and the nozzle end of a vacuum cleaner. Initially, cans of different sizes were modified so that air could be blown down through the sealed end. Cockerell found that single cans did not produce sufficient air pressure . However, positioning one can inside another and forcing the air through the narrow cylinder of space between the two cans created a zone of high air pressure created in the region between these cans. It was this basic design that was used for the first commercial hovercraft in 1959, the Saunders Roe Nautical One (SRN1), and for subsequent versions of the hovercraft.

In the SRN1 and other models of hovercraft, the narrow cylindrical space between the tin can test system is referred to as a plenum chamber. The word plenum is from the Latin word meaning full. Large fans, which are analogous to the vacuum cleaner nozzle on Cockerall's tabletop developmental model, blow air down through the plenum chamber.

The fan used on hovercraft differs from the standard propeller type of fan. Propeller blades generate back-pressure as they rotate. In hovercraft, backpressure would decrease the efficiency of the air cushion.

The fan of a hovercraft is called a centrifugal lift fan. The fan appears like an inverted funnel positioned inside a donut-like chamber that has angled slats around the outside edge of the chamber. When the funnel shaped assembly rotates at high speed, air is sucked into the chamber and is expelled out through the slats. This design creates a more powerful airflow than does a conventional propeller.

The airflow must be constant and powerful in order to compensate for air that escapes from the edge of the hovercraft. The airflow must also be even around the edge of the hovercraft, to prevent one region of the hovercraft from lifting higher off the surface of the ground or water than other parts of the hovercraft.

The edge of a hovercraft contains a flexible curtain of material. This material, which is known as a skirt, helps prevent the escape of air from the plenum chamber, which in turn lessens the mount of energy that is needed to generate the suspending airflow. The skirt must be durable and flexible to accommodate the different heights of terrain or waves that the hovercraft passes over. Additionally, the skirt must be light , yet resistant to flapping. Originally, a skirt was a single piece of material; now it is typically made of rubber. When one region of the old-design skirt wore out, the entire skirt had to be replaced. The cost of this replacement, often in the millions of dollars, prompted a redesign. Nowadays, damaged rubber portions of a skirt can be removed and replaced without the necessity of replacing the entire structure.

As a hovercraft operates, the rubber skirt is inflated outward by the air pressure generated by the centrifugal lift fan. This effect produces an air cushion that is about 3 meters in depth beneath the hovercraft. Propellers that blow air out horizontally provide the power that moves the hovercraft over the surface of the ground or water. The blades of these propellers can be moved, or pitched, to control the speed of the hovercraft. When the propellers have a zero pitch, the hovercraft is not moving. Positive pitch moves a hovercraft forward and negative pitch is the braking system that slows the hovercraft down.

The hovercraft has proven to be useful for applications where passengers or cargo are transported over water and where the loading and unloading can be done on land. For example, hovercraft have been used for decades to ferry people back and forth across the English Channel between the United Kingdom and France.

See also Ocean.


Resources

books

Amyot, J.R. Hovercraft Technology, Economics and Applications (Studies in Mechanical Engineering, No 11). New York: Elsevier Science Ltd., 1990.

other

Flexitech LLC, PO Box 412, Germantown, MD 20875-0412. April 10, 2002 [cited November 3, 2002]. <http://www. hovercraftmodels.com/How_ a_Hovercraft_works.htm >.

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Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

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Notes:
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