Saturn IB (Skylab 2): On the milkstool of Titans.

And forty-five years ago the Skylab program continued unabated. This Space Station had its origins in the Apollo Application Program (AAP) as a way to find further use from the Apollo program hardware developing science-oriented manned missions. The somehow make do roots of the AAP program shows from the ground up. The first Saturn IB rockets had been launched from either LC-34 or 37 launch complexes. By the time of the Skylab missions both were inactive, so the manned Apollo crew were launched utilizing LC-39B instead. But that complex was configured for Saturn Vs. In order to enable the launch of IBs, the LC-39B’s Platform No. 1 was modified by adding a clever elevated pedestal known as the “milkstool” to accommodate the height differential between the Saturn IB and the much larger Saturn V in order to employ the later service facilities.

The second manned Skylab mission rocket (SA-206) ready to “Rock & Roll” next to the Mobile Service Structure. Those were the times.


Curtiss SOC: Shockproof elan.

The tough and ready Curtiss SOC Seagull was a scout/recon floatplane employed by the US Navy in their catapult-equipped battleships and cruisers from 1935 until, in some cases, well into 1945. The cause of its commendable front line longevity was the failure of its intended replacement: Curtiss’ other Seagull, the SO3C. They also saw service with the US Coast Guard. Produced both by Curtiss and by the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) as the SON-1, around 320 of them were produced.

Jumping over the heavy waves and don’t giving a damn. Pure poetry this photo.

De Schelde S.21: Tadpole sting.

With its pusher engine, twin boom tail feathers and hugely glassed cockpit canopy, the S.21 looked right out of a pulp aviation comic of its era. This late 1930s/early 1940s Dutch single-seat fighter design was the brainchild of T. E. Slot, the former chief designer of Pander & Son. Of all-metal construction and powered by a German 1050hp DB 600Ga, as conceived, the S.21 was heavily armed with four fixed light machine guns and a curious 23mm Madsen cannon which could be directly handled by its pilot.
The construction of the prototype was initiated in the early 1939, and it was still uncompleted when the German invaded the Nederlands in May 1940. Seized by the conquerors, the prototype, still unfinished and unflown, was destroyed by them during some terminal structural tests.

Magnificently done contemporary cutaway.

Percival Proctor I: Proctuka’s failed Angriff.

The fiftieth anniversary of “The Battle of Britain” is approaching; the movie, I mean. For the Stuka scenes the great Hamish Mahaddie tried at first to restore to flight the only genuine Stuka in UK. When that proved to be belong the economic reach of the production a smart alternative “flying actor” was produced. None other than Percival Proctors heavily modified by Vivian Bellamy to look convincingly as the real thing, cranked wings included. Sadly, the prototype proved to be an awful flier so in the end they were not used in the film; very realistic radio-controlled models were employed instead.

Astonishingly German-looking, the only minus that two-blade prop.

Photo: Jean-Michel Goyat Collection.

Aviatik (Berg) 30.40: Above reproach.

This pretty parasol monoplane was developed in Austria-Hungary during the late part of WW1 as a high altitude fighter to be employed mainly over the Italian front. Not a clean sheet design, this monoplane took as a basis the previous Aviatik 30.27 biplane, in fact, it was also powered by a 160hp Steyr-built Le Rhône rotary engine. Only this prototype was built. First flown the summer of 1918, it arrived already too late.

Superb looking machine, in my humble opinion.

USAAF A-2 Jacket: Oversexed, overpaid and over here.

The sheer elegance of the iconic A-2 jacket as usually “tarnished” by its owners. In this case, “Der Grossarschvogel” (The Big Butt Bird) was listed as the name of a B-17G of the 8th AF 401st BG.

To many of the stoic Europeans the average American soldier appeared to act like a not yet totally grown-up teen. Don’t know why.