Picture this: a chicken carcass flying out of an eight-inch naval gun at more than 700 miles per hour and into a glass canopy like the ones found on fighter jets. As strange as the image seems, it played out more than 1,000 times at Arnold Air Force Base, Tennessee, home of the S-3 Bird Impact Range, better known as the ‘chicken gun.’
First fired 50 years ago this fall, the chicken gun at Arnold has been used to test glass canopies, windshields, and other materials for some of the most famous U.S military aircraft.
The Air Force wanted to mitigate the damage caused by bird strikes, but simulating a bird hitting an aircraft at high speed in a controlled environment is a tough challenge. The Aeronautical Systems Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Ohio teamed up with ballistic range experts at Arnold to build a chicken gun from scratch, including an 8-inch naval gun that Arnold Air Force Base happened to have on hand, the press release explained.
The chicken gun’s 60-foot barrel had a 10-cubic foot chamber at one end that could be filled with pressurized air, the press release said. The chicken carcass would then be loaded into a type of wooden case called a sabot, which was then loaded into the barrel. Separating the barrel from the pressurized air chamber was a thin plastic diaphragm. When it was time to launch the chicken, the diaphragm would be ruptured, letting air enter the barrel and push the sabot down and out the other end.
When you hear about the details of this thing, it'll blow your mind with the things it can do. I cant believe I've never heard of it before. You wont have that problem now.