Apollo CM Block 1: Hindsight is always 20-20.

Pensive portrait of Command Module Pilot (CMP) Walter Cunningham. He is wearing a David Clark A1-C space suit so this photo may have been taken when he and his partners (Walter Schirra and Donn Eisele) were the Apollo 1‘s back-up crew.
The A1-C was essentially identical to the company Gemini G4-C spacesuit  but had a visor cover of Cycolac (an ABS resin) attached to protect the visor from scratches and for getting struck inside the more roomy CM. This spacesuit was acquired by NASA as a interim asset useful while waiting for the revolutionary, hard to develop ILC A7L.

The Block 1 CM had a plethora of problems, and it shows.


Consolidated PB2Y-3R Coronado: Not quite crowned.

Dec 17, apart of being the day of Wright Brothers first flight, had enjoyed around the years a fair share of aircraft maiden flights. One of them was, 80 years ago (1937), the Coronado flying boat. This large patrol bomber was designed by Consolidated with the knowledge acquired with their famous Catalina. Unlike the Catalina, from the very beginning the Coronado showed serious stability problems which took time and extensive design changes to solve. Even more its performances (specially its lack of range) didn’t turn to be up to the task. So Coronados saw very modest combat as bombers and anti-submarine mainly at the Pacific. Most of the around two hundred built served as transport and hospital aircraft.

One of those magnificent crash scene photos. In this case one of the PB2Y-3R’s transport variant converted  by the Rohr Aircraft Corp and its archetypical wingtip retractable floats inherited from the Catalina.

Polikarpov I-16: Vivement Dimanche !!

At first sight it seems a curious choice to employ a Soviet fighter to publicize an aviation competition of French extraction. Well, in fact  the Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe was all about speed and there was nothing compare to the I-16 fighter when it first appeared in the middle 1930’s. The first cantilever monoplane retractable undercarriage fighter to enter series production.
That the I-16 looked a lot like one of those American air racer of the era also helped.

Or maybe…

IMAM Ro.57bis: Too little, way too late.

The Ro.57 was a pretty neat twin-engined, single-seat monoplane fighter/interceptor and dive-bomber produced by the Industrie Meccaniche e Aeronautiche Meridionali (IMAM) for the Italian  Regia Aeronautica. Based originally on a concept almost similar to American Lightning or the British Whirlwind , this late 1930’s design suffered a protracted development. First flown in 1939, the Ro.57 did not go into production until 1943. This delay was produced mainly for the decision to switch its role; from heavy fighter into a ground attack-dive bomber. That costed deathly. By the time it entered service it was already obsolete. Only around 50 were produced.

Superb profile cutaway of the Ro.57bis, the  dive bombing variant taken form its official instruction manual. Neat and purposeful it was.

Fiat G.91Y: Sorry, no dice.


The G.91Y was Gina‘s ultimate souped up variant. An almost brand new aircraft design, in fact.
This FIAT poster exposed the various qualities of the product and hopes of a promising future. To no effect. In the end, only the Italian Air Force bit the bate and just barely…, just 67 G.91Y’s were produced.

Beriev Be-12P: A fair reflection.

The Be-12 turboprop amphibian was designed by the Beriev bureau as a successor to the their household Be-6 flying boat. For its predecessor the Be-12 inherited just the gull-wind configuration and tail feathers, being in fact a totally different aircraft. First flown in 1960, the duties envisaged for the Be-12 were mainly anti-submarine (ASW) and maritime patrol aircraft. Built in moderate numbers, in service these amphibians have proved to be both rugged and adaptable. A handful of them are still, barely, in service in Russia and Ukraine.

Magnificent photo taken at the Irkutsk Aviation Repair Plant 403 factory airfield in 2001. The well-worn RA-00041 is one of the just four Be-12’s converted into fire fighting “water-bombers”.

Photo: Richard Vandervord.