Douglas XB-19: Size doesn’t always matter.

Known originally as the XBLR-2, the XB-19 was like the Boeing’s previous XBLR-1, an experimental long-range bomber produced just before Pearl Harbor. And just like Boeing’s aircraft an obsolete design by the time it took its maiden flight. Even Douglas acknowledged the fact when they asked for its cancellation the prototype still uncompleted, but that was denied by the Army Air Corp. So the constructor lost a fair amount of money, and the USAAC won an unique bomber prototype they employed as a transport.

Its gargantuan tail feathers getting a wash on this lovely colorized photo, March Field, 1941. The XB-19’s main claim of fame was being the largest US aircraft, a record it held until 1946.

Vickers Vimy: “The Dependable Spirit”.

Lovely Shell advertisement of 1920. The November/December of the previous year the Australian brothers Ross and Keith Smith accompanied by Sergeant “Jim” Bennett and Sergeant “Wally” Shiers flew from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome to Darwin. The first England to Australia raid took 28 days and their Vimy drank Shell Motor Spirit.

Photo: The National Motor Museum Trust.

THK-13: Turkish Nurflügel Delight.

This astonishing glider was conceived by the Turkish Aeronautical Association in the late-1940s. Out of the Blue they produced this neat wood and fabric tail-less marvel, an aircraft “in tone” with Horten and Northrop, in a very modest way. First flown in 1948, the unique example had a hazardous short life punctuated by various accidents. Some aerodynamic problems surfaces and changes were made to its rudders. The Turkish were so proud of it they took the prototype to the 1949 Paris Air Show. Sadly, interests soon went elsewhere.

Handsome it was. No cockpit canopy was installed to aid in case of emergency exit.

Antarctic Snow Cruiser: Daddy Cool (XXIX).

Admiral Byrd’s 1939-41 Antarctic expedition included, among other gadgets, a humongous vehicle known as the “Snow Cruiser” designed to traverse through the Antarctic surface. One of its features was the sleek D17A Staggerwing it could carry on its back during the extended overland explorations. That was the dream. In reality the “Snow Cruiser” proved to be quite useless when it arrived to Antarctica in 1940. Due to its weak engine powerplant and lack of traction on the snow, the vehicle was soon turned into a stationary crew quarters. Its longest trek was 92 miles, all driven in reverse. It was barely able that way. The vehicle remains there, somewhere.

The proud father of the “Snow Cruiser”, Dr. Thomas Poulter, with a gorgeous model of the creature.

PZL M-15 Belphegor: A sorry looking demon.

This weird jet biplane -the only one produced, if I’m not very mistaken- was built in Poland to replace the agricultural versions of the classic An-2. The design had to be jet-powered per requirement and that proved to be its demise. First flown in 1975, the M-15 was found to be both too expensive and too complicated for its rustic duties; worse than the plane it was intended to replace. Anyway, it couldn’t fail; prestige was at play. A short production (circa 175) was undertaken. Much, much less than the thousands envisaged.

It was an inane creature, and I adore it.