SNECMA C.450 Coléoptère: Just Because (XXXI).

“Magnificent” is the adjetive for this incredible Coléoptère‘s cutaway. The sheer awesomeness of the whole concept in a nutshell here.

Artist: Jean Perard.


Dassault Mirage 5F: A worth the money rhinoplastie.

On this day, but 51 years ago (May 19, 1967), the Mirage 5 prototype took its first flight piloted by Hervé Leprince-Ringuet at Melun-Villaroche, France. The Mirage 5 was born due to an Israeli AF’s request for a cheaper simpler “Mirage III”, an aircraft they successfully operated. The weather in the Middle East is usually sunny most of the year and for certain missions the sophistication of the Mirage III (mainly its troublesome Cyrano radar) seemed unnecessary. As a plus the resultant fighter promised to be easier to operate and longer-legged.
The Israelis placed an order for 50 in 1966 of the resultant Mirage V; aircraft the Israelis never received due to an arms embargo enacted in 1967. The French AF took them as their Mirage 5Fs. The Israelis? No problem, they just produced their own 5’s copy: the Nesher. Interestingly, some sources claim the Neshers are in fact real Mirage 5s…., being Israel and France not an impossibility. Anyway, the Mirage 5 model did sell around the world like hot cookies.

The sleek slender radar-less nose of this 5F of the EC 3/13 Auvergne. The place of the Cyrano was used to relocate some avionics which liberated, at the same time, space for additional fuel.

NAA F-86F Sabre: Silver twice over.

One of the twenty-eight Sabres bought by Argentine in 1959. These second-hand F-86Fs were turned into F-40 standard with the replacement of their wings. Operated from El Plumerillo, Mendoza, they served well into the early 1980, undertaking even CAP missions over Argentina’s mainland during the Malvinas War. As an aside, this Sabre purchase regrettably sealed the destiny of the local Pulqui II.

Curiously C-103 was the first Sabre lost, in 1961, by the Fuerza Aérea Argentina (FAA) so it only wore this very Argentine Silver livery.

Rocheville (EMSCO) Arctic Tern: Aeroplanum inexploratus.

In the decades before WW2 Arctic exploration took a new impulse thanks to aviation. This chumsy-looking aircraft was one of the rarest airplanes designed specially for that purpose. This one-off “Frankenstein’s Monster” was designed by Charles Rocheville in answer to a Shell Oil Co. request for their Alaskan survey explorations. Built in 1932, this three-seat mid-wing monoplane amphibian had a certain Lockheed’s touch; it was created using a Sirius’ wing and a Vega’s tail. The pilot enjoyed the pleasure of a open cockpit atop the small nacelle while the crew was cosily placed in the ugly cabins above each float/pontoon. It was powered either by a 300 hp Wasp Junior or a 450hp Wasp. During tests the Arctic Tern displayed wholly satisfactory performances, but, sadly, the aircraft was lost in 1933 in an accident caused by fuel starvation and Rocheville suffered serious injuries.

Such a peculiar shape, a pity it couldn’t enjoy its metier. Photo: Smithsonian Institution.

McDonnell F-4M(FV)S Phantom II: Spooky stillborn mutant.

In 1966 McDonnell company in view of the lack of future General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B fleet defense fighter program put forward an unsolicited proposal for a variable-geometry version of their world-beating Phantom. The idea was to produce a faster and less expensive alternative to a clean sheet design like the one eventually procured by the US. Navy, the F-14A Tomcat. While they were at it, McDonnell people decided to evolve two versions: the original F-4J(FV)S based on the F-4J for the US. Navy, and with the British market in mind, the F-4M(FV)S based on the F-4M for the Royal Air Force. Later even bolder re-engined configurations were studied. To no avail, neither the US. Navy nor the RAF saw potential in the variable-geometry Phantom to compete agaisnt brand new designs.

Not a hard thing to do, but it sure looked cleaner than the original. The design sadly(?) lost in the transformation its characteristic anhedral horizontal stabilizer.