NAA FJ-3 Fury: Gimme the Power.

Not totally happy with the FJ-2, and while its development was not yet completed,the US. Navy instigated the conception of more powerful variant sharing the same basic airframe. The resultant FJ-3 was powered by the Wright J65. That license-built version of the British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet offered one fifth more power that the FJ-2’s GE J47.
In spite of serious initial problems with the J65 engine, the US. Navy found in the FJ-3 a very useful asset, specially in view of their previous experiences with the FJ-2. The FJ-3 started its operational life in 1955 and around half thousand of them served until the early 1960s.

Beautifully posed photo of an early FJ-3 (with its slatted wing) of the VF-173 in its superb overall Glossy Sea Blue livery taken on the deck of the USS Bennington (CVA-20). The H-3 or H-4 of its aviator is a golden plus.


Macchi M.C.72: With a little help of the opponent.

We have here a gorgeous contemporary cutaway drawing of fastest piston-engined seaplane in the world today, its speed record, 441 mph, still stands today after it was set in 1934. The M.C.72 was the ultimate Italian contender for the Schneider Trophy. An aircraft of superlatives, its main feature was its power plant: a highly modified FIAT AS.6 supercharged engine (two coupled AS.5, in fact) capable of around 2,500-3,100hp. It used a pair of contra-rotating propellers and huge surface radiators covered the upper wings and a large part of the floats.
Designed by the peerless Mario Castoldi and built for the 1931 contest, engine problems, prevented the M.C.72’s to compete. The British took the trophy home for good with their S.6B. Despite that disappointing situation, the M.C.72’s obvious potential soon found employ as a possible record breaker. In the process serious technical problems were overcome and, sadly, two test pilots died. In the end the records were achieved only after British engineer “Rod” Banks -of S.6B’s fame- solved the chronic backfiring problems with his magic fuel concoction.

Consolidated B-24J Liberator: Only lacks a lace gift wrap.

The Liberator was more advanced, faster and longer ranged than the Flying Fortress, so it wasn’t strange that it became the most-produced American aircraft of World War II.  That said, the Liberator doesn’t stand a chance in a beauty contest, specially against the alluring B-17. In fact, there was a joke  -a B-17’s crews joke-  which said that the B-24 was the box the B-17 came in. I used to play a lot with my toys boxes when I was a kid.

Superb portrait of “Witchcraft”, the Collings Foundation’s Liberator again.

Photo: Kedar Karmarkar.

Pashinin I-21: It was worth a try.

This pleasant-looking fighter was the handiwork of Mikhail M. Pashinin, a former Polikarpov‘s deputy. It was intended to replace the obsolescent I-16 in view of the lesson learned during the Spanish Guerra Civil. Conceived in 1939, the I-21 was of classic Russian mixed construction (welded steel tube and wooden monocoque) and its intended engine was a Klimov M-107. Due to the lack of development of the latter, all the I-21’s were powered by M-105P. The first prototype made its maiden flight in May of 1941 and  from the beginning displayed severe stability problems. Two further prototypes were built with extensive modifications, mainly on their wings. To no avail, the modified I-21s were also disliked by their test pilots who still preferred the “safer” I-16; the program was cancelled in the Spring of 1941.

A pair of neat photos of the 3rd prototype taken at Factory Nº 21. The last prototype’s tapered wing platform is clearly evident in the shadow. As a point of interest, this elegant fighter was equipped with one of the first “all-around” vision canopies.

NAA XB-70A Valkyrie: A really quick view.

Take a look inside the surviving Valkyrie. The first prototype AV-1 (62-0001) rests majestically at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Dayton, Ohio. After just 83 flights, a mere 160 hours and 16 minutes of flying time, it’s almost brand new…., just two owners.

The view is provided by Tyler Rogoway.

de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide: Held Up?

You had to act really quick to take advantage of the services promised by this really ephemeral airline; British Continental Airways only lasted a total of one year (1935-36). Due to a certain duplication of services this airline was drove by the British government to merge with the bigger British Airways.

Pretty neat artwork here, easy with a subject so hard to beat in elegance.

Joy JX: “Brevity is the soul of wit.”

This Manta ray-line aircraft was the brainchild of Mr. Sidney Monastes. Built in 1935 and nicknamed the “Flying Flapjack” for obvious reasons, the Joy JX was powered by a pair of French 40hp Salmson AD-9 placed in its draggy landing gear lattice work. Sadly, Monastes’ only flight with his creation ended in the barbed-wire fence that enclosed the airfield. He was lucky to be unhurt, but his pride and joy was demolished. There weren’t any more.