La Gloriosa: “Today more than ever,….”

1938. “Hoy más que nunca, VICTORIA”

Magnificent Josep Renau’s propaganda poster of the Spanish Guerra Civil. Born in my city, Renau was a committed Communist and it shows.
The Republicans lost that war, but the propaganda “style contest prize” went to them.

La Gloriosa and the other side of the trenches.

Avro Lancaster Mk.III & Mk. X: When the Commonwealth was still the Empire.

A scene not seen since the 60s. The Lancaster Mk.III “Thumper”, which is part of the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and the Mk.X “Vera” from the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in Hamilton, Ontario on their element.
“Vera” came last year to visit her relative.

They are the last airworthy and they look just great.

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-8 Utka: Tufted duck.

The MiG-8 was an experimental aircraft built just after the end of WW2 to explore the stability and handling of the canard configuration combined with swept wings and its aplication to future jet fighter designs.
The Utka (canard/duck) was powered by the Soviet ubiquitous 110hp Shvetsov M-11F radial, and mainly of classic wood/fabric construction. So gentle and likeable it was this Duck that when its test duties were completed, it became a sort of liasion aircraft to the MiG OKB for many years.
Ironically, in my opinion, the weirdest thing ever produced by the MiG OKB was this humble aircraft.

Stupendous document of the Utka in its second configuration (vertical tail surfaces in the middle of the wings) being tuft-tested; The classic way to visually ascertain the airflow behaviour.

Lockheed C-60A Lodestar: Born under a Wandering Star.

The Lockheed company faced the American airliner revolution at their own pace. At first they tried with their small Model 10 Electra to find a niche not in direct competition with the Boeing 247 and the peerless DC-2/3. With their “appetite opened”, they evolved the 10 design into the bigger Model 14 Super Electra, it was not enough -good as it was, the 14 operated in an uneconomical limbo. First flown in Sept. 1939, The Lodestar was born to rectify that. The solution was relatively easy; lengthen the fuselage of the 14 to allow 18 passenger instead of the Super Electra’s 10–14 passengers. The result was a quite hot airliner with a comparable cost per available seat mile (CASM) to that of the DC-3.
Regretably for the Lockheed company the market was saturated by DC-3’s and sales were quite parsimonious. Anyway, WW2 changed the rules of the game. The civilian Lodestars were soon impressed into service and specific military models were built both for cargo and for more warlike duties (The Ventura).

This shiny example is one of those military transport Lodestars: Mid America Flight Museum’s C-60A. (Photo: Mid America Flight Museum)

Por Ventura.

Zeppelin LZ 37 vs. Morane-Saulnier L: Lady Fortune’s capriciousness.

Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) R.A.J. Warneford piloting his French Morane Saulnier L (no. 3253) became the first “fighter” pilot to shot down a Zeppelin (LZ 37) over the north of Ostend in Jun. 1915.
It was quite a feat; Warneford had to “play” first close and personal with the LZ 37’s defensive armament in order to drop his bombs – yeah, he bombarded the Zepp. The explosion overturned his Morane stopping the engine. Flying then behind enemy lines, Warneford had to land. Nonplussed he employed about 35 min on engine repairs and returned to his base. He deservely received the Victoria Cross.

Sadly, two nuns died when the LZ 37 crashed into a convent school. Luckier was Alfred Mühler, a LZ 37 crew member that miraculously survived almost unhurt when he fell from the Zeppelin’s forward gondola….. he landed on a bed.

Artist: Frederick Gordon Crosby (IWM).

Lockheed F-104A & GM Firebird III: Chrome following Function.

Two of my childhood “sweet dreams” together in this colourful GM brochure. The 50s were the era of extravagant concept cars with jet aircraft/rocket/nuclear “atributes”. The drastic F-104 had, obviously, some fans at Detroit; the shape similarity of the two is quite stunning.
As an everyday car the GM Firebird III was evidently impractical at first sight –about the usefulness of the “Zip”, well, let’s say that opinions are not unanimous.

Piggott Monoplane: Dreams & Realities.

Magnificent monoplane exhibited at the Olympia Aero Show of 1911. As seen here this monoplane had an stunning fuselage that enclosed not only the engine, but its pilot and passangers. A pair of cute oval portholes provided the inadecuate front view for its pilot. The 80hp Vivinus engine was placed well back into the fuselage driving the lovely streamlined propeller through a extension shaft. The dark shape just above and behind the propeller is the engine’s water radiator.
Stunning as it was, it was obvious the pilot’s vision was inadecuate so before its maiden flight the monoplane was provided with an open cockpit for its pilot. Test flown in Hendon, it managed to fly but crashed at landing. Repaired later, its development was nevertheless abandoned.

Sweet dreams.

Consolidated PBY Catalina: The Naked Samaritan.

Rabaul, 1944. Photo taken after this PBY’s blister gunner have rescued a shot down airman from the water. That fellow airman was temporarily blinded and quite unable to help himself during the rescue. To further complicate things, the Japanese were quite uncooperative, shooting from the shore. So this brave man stripped off his clothes -you swim better that way, of course- and jumped in to bring him aboard. Just after our hero brought the airman abroad they took off in a hurry. Knowing his duties, the blister gunner then went ASAP to his post….the dressing could wait.
This photo has achieved somehow an iconic status because of the subject’s beauty -it sure means a lot more than just that.

Nice the detail of the enemy ships identification poster close to the gunner’s butt. Do you notice it?

Photo: Horace Bristol.

Hispano Aviación HA-500 Alacrán: “….guarde su aguijón”.

Neat Spanish light ground-attack/close support aircraft design of the late 60s. The Alacrán (scorpion) was a Hispano Aviación company private venture project designed without any official requirement. A sort of “Lil’ A-10” prequel, the Alacrán shared with the “Warthog” a quite similar configuration, but it was definitely more modest in weight, armament, capacities, etc ….Spain back then, wasn’t the US after all.
With 20/20 hindsight the project had no future. The Ejército del Aire (Spanish AF) had just decided to purchase CASA license-built Northrop F-5’s, a cheaper more “glamorous” option. The Ha-500 design was offered later unsuccessfully to Argentina.

Only the design plans and this little -of course- model/diorama were produced. Yeah, it was designed to be launched from a sort of monorail catapult. A sort of “carrier landing” system was also envisaged.

Mitsubishi G4M1 “Hamaki”: Art & Nature (II).

Peaceful reminiscence of a long gone past, this remarkably well-preserved “Betty” -and a few others- remains at Balalae, one of the Solomon Islands.

The G4M was the Japanese Naval Air Force (JNAF) main bomber during WW2.Fast and long-legged the G4M was nicknamed by crews “Hamaki” (cigar) due to its fuselage shape…..ironically it proved to be also a “flamer” later under fire because of their lack of armour plating and self-sealing fuel tanks.

“Romancing the Stone” movie shades to me. How bizarre my mind usually works.

A & N: