Madam Satan (1930): Electrifying !!!

Madam Satan is a long forgotten film directed by Cecil B. DeMille at the dawn of the “talkies”. Nothing noticeable in this movie. Its screenplay and structure were, at best, pure hilarity. Well, nothing until a character decided to organize a monumental masquerade party aboard a zeppelin… the Great Depression wasn’t still in full bloom.

Let’s hope that zeppelin used Helium.


Hansa-Brandenburg D.I: Ill-starred.

Also known as the KD (Kampf Doppeldecker), this German fighter was the brainchild of Ernst Heinkel. The principal peculiarity of this not very graceful aircraft was its distinctive “star-strutter” biplane interplane structure. First flown in 1916 the D.I showed from the beginning poor handling qualities and dubious lateral stability. Despite its poor performances they were produced in serie for the always wanting Austro-Hungarian AF. Around two hundred in total were produced; a few of them were still in service at the end of the war.

Short and angular, the KD was certainly not the definition of classic beauty. And this photo does it a favor. Our KD lacks the over wing huge boxy fairing which covered a Schwarzlose MG. That Austrian machine gun had always difficulties in synchronising with the engine so it was usually placed firing over the propeller.

Nord 600/6000: Very Heavy-Paper Aircraft.

The 1960s USAF CX-LHS (Cargo Experimental Heavy Logistics System) requirement -and the eventual winner, the 100t C-5 Galaxy- created a little commotion in the aviation industry. To keep abreast of the new technological arena, aircraft design teams around the world became involved in studies of giant cargo aircraft. The Nord Aviation company was one of them. Their 1965 original Nord 600 was conceived as a horizontal bilobe fuselage airliner soon developed into different heavy cargo airlifters. With the Nord 6000 they just went ballistic. Only a “style exercise”, in fact, under the Nord 6000 designation a plethora variables were considered. One of them a sixteen-engined, 120m long/113m wingspan cargo behemoth which leaves the 84m long Antonov An-224 in tatters.

Drew by Fernand Rajau, this is an original design (nº 04-51) of one of the various Nord 600 iterations.  It gives us an idea of the whole concept. Of note its bilobe fuselage section, tiny human-reference figures and one of its four magnificent engine nacelle. No high specific thrust turbofans here. Each individual nacelle was intended to house four jet engines, a total sixteen. And remember, the 600 was tiny in comparison with the 6000.

Fairey Barracuda Mk II: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.

The Fairey Barracuda was designed in the late 1930s to answer a 1937 “TSR”(Torpedo-Spotter-Reconnaissance) aircraft requirement. Basically an up-to-date monoplane to replace a pair of venerable biplanes: the Albacores and Swordfish. The Barracuda didn’t enter service until 1943 due to its technical complexity, engine choice doubts and their resultant protracted development. Built in substantial number (2,600), they soon became a worthy mainstay of the Fleet Air Arm (FAA)…..with some reservations. During service the type “earned” a questionable reputation. The fact that the FAA felt (true in most cases) they usually received second class equipment didn’t help. It was also hard to replace an aircraft of Swordfish’s legendary status, specially with such a demanding and, at times, downright dangerous machine.

The weird anatomy of the Barracuda splendidly portrayed by Charles E. Brown. With its high wing equipped with its idiosyncratic Fairey-Youngman flaps and awkward strutted horizontal stabilizer it was hard to confuse The Barracuda with any other aircraft. It’s an old favorite of mine.

Ilyushin Il-62: A less than committed Kamerad.

The Il-62 and its similarity with to the British VC-10 stands out in this superb piece of ad art. Despite that the Il-62 was a totally original design. Its final configuration was dictated by studies of Central Aero-hydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) and a careful development which took care of the various glitches.

Another piece of advertisement art of the Polish airline LOT.

Artist: Janusz Grabianski.