Helpful Hints to Make the Most of AirCorps Library
Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about AirCorps Library. With a basic understanding of how the website works, finding the information you need becomes incredibly simple - here goes!
How is the site organized and how do I navigate the site?
Once you are logged into the site, you will notice the homepage is divided into several broad categories, Airframes, Components, Engines, etc. When you click into any of these categories, you will see that they are further divided into what we call “units” of information. For example, the Airframes unit contains about 50 different sub-units, each dedicated to a specific aircraft.
You will notice that some units contain engineering drawings, and manuals, while others contain only manuals. I am constantly adding information to the site, and our goal is to someday have drawings and manuals for every aircraft on the website.
The units of information on the site are organized using the structure of the military's document numbering system (also called the Tech Order System). This system groups like topics together, and makes finding information easier.
You will also notice as you click into specific units, that your path is tracked using what we call “breadcrumbs” at the top of the page. These breadcrumbs tell you which unit you are in, and allow you to click back one or more levels to quickly navigate the site.
How are engineering drawings organized on the site?
When you open a unit that contains engineering drawings you will notice a flowchart. This chart is what I call the “drawing tree”, and is how we organize the drawings into groups that make sense. If a manufacturer used a part numbering system, then I utilize this system to organize the drawings for a specific aircraft. If a manufacturer did not have a part numbering system, the drawings are grouped together in numerically similar batches.
The drawing tree consists of black “buckets”. Each bucket on the tree lists the group of drawings it contains with a numerical value, a description (if available), and a smaller grey box that tells you the number of drawings that is contained within the bucket. You can click on any bucket to view all the drawings contained there.
North American Aviation (NAA) is an example of a manufacturer who had a very comprehensive part numbering system (read more about that by clicking here). If you open any NAA manufactured aircraft, you will notice that the drawing trees have descriptive labels on each drawing bucket telling you about the drawings that are contained within. Other manufacturers such as Lockheed and Douglas, who did not have part numbering systems, have simple numerical ranges listed on the drawing tree buckets.
When you click a thumbnail image of any drawing, that drawing will open in our custom built drawing viewer. Similar to the manual viewer, this viewer allows you to zoom in and out, print, rotate drawings, purchase a digital download of the drawing, and more. If a drawing contains more than one page, use the left or right arrows on either side of the viewer to navigate between drawings, or open the thumbnail view to manually view a different page.
Each engineering drawing has a part number and a description, which can be found in the title block. AirCorps Library members have the ability to enter these drawing descriptions while looking at a drawing in the viewer. Descriptions should be entered exactly the way they are shown on the drawing, while following the guidelines listed in the hints section.
To enter a description, click the pencil icon in the yellow header. All descriptions are reviewed before they are made live to the public. Once a description has been entered for a drawing, any word in the description can now be used as a keyword to find that drawing in a search!
Members of AirCorps Library have the ability to purchase a digital download of any drawing on the website, for $6.99 each. This charge is per slide, not per part number, so if a member wishes to purchase a drawing that has 5 pages (slides), the cost would be $6.99 x 5. Once purchased, the digital files are stored in the “My Downloads” section of the members account, and can be accessed at any time.
Manuals for any subject are located below the drawing tree (if there is one), simply scroll down the page to view a complete list of manuals on any topic. You will see that each manual contains a thumbnail image, title, document number and latest revision date when applicable. Information related to who donated the manual to the website can also be found to the right of the listing.
To open a manual in our custom manual viewer, simply click the thumbnail image, or manual title. The manual viewer is very similar to the drawing viewer, with several additional features, that include the ability to re-center a page after zooming in or out and more. My personal favorite is the ability to drag the centerline left or right to create a larger viewing area for any page. This feature is a huge help when viewing foldout or rotated pages.
Almost 100% of the manuals available on the AirCorps Library website are available for purchase and download. However, unlike purchasing drawings, there is a small percentage of manuals that are not for sale. All of the manuals on the website have been donated to us by either private individuals or organizations. When they contributed documents, these individuals were given the opportunity to choose whether their materials would be available for purchase. Only a handful of individuals chose to not sell their materials - if you notice that a specific manual does not display the “Purchase Download” button, you will know that this manual falls into the “not for sale” category.
We are appreciative of our members' contributions, and recognize that the website would not be where it is today without these generous donations. We respect the wishes of each donor with regard to selling their materials, and hope that you also understand our reasoning behind this choice.
If you are already viewing information within a specific unit, you can utilize the search bar directly above the drawing tree. This method will only populate results within the unit you are currently viewing.
If you would like to search the site more broadly, click the search button in the header bar. This will take you to the search page. Utilize the right drop down menu to specify a topic to search within, or choose “in all subscribed units” to search the entire site.
Searching by Keyword
Searching by keyword is an effective way to find information in either drawings or manuals. Keep keywords short, and avoid using sentence-type phrases.
For example, searching for the term “aileron” and specifying that you only want to see results related to the P-51 mustang in the right drop down menu, is much more effective than searching the entire site for “P-51 mustang aileron”.
Searching by Part Number
Because every engineering drawing available on the AirCorps Library site is identified by its part number, searching for drawings by part number is incredibly easy. Similar to keyword searches, you can utilize either the search bar within a unit, or the main search page to find a drawing by its part number.
How do I find the part number I am looking for?
The easiest way to find a part number is to start by looking in the appropriate parts catalog. Don't know what the part number is for the cylinder assembly for the P-47 Thunderbolt landing gear cowl flap? Open a parts catalog for the P-47, find the landing gear section in the table of contents, and go to that section to find detailed part number lists!
Parts catalogs contain detailed assembly breakdowns meant for this specific purpose. Once you've found the part number you're looking for, simply head to the search page and enter that part number to find the correct drawing - it's that easy!
How to use next assembly numbers to find what you need
Often, information such as dimensions are not listed on the drawing you think it should be. In cases like this, knowing how to use next assembly numbers is an important step to finding information. Next assembly part numbers are often found in the title block of a drawing, and will show you how the part you are currently looking at fits into a larger assembly or component. For more detailed information about next assembly drawings, and how to use them, check out the “Reading a Basic North American Part Drawing” blog.
The account settings page is found by clicking on the red “My Account” button located in the upper right corner of the screen when you are logged in to your account. From this Account Settings page, you can manage details about your account, such as; your downloads, updating payment and contact information, resetting your password, and cancelling your account.