Convair XB-36 Peacemaker: Hyperbolic.

The original B-36’s 110-inch landing gear wheels are the largest aircraft tyres ever produced. Those gargantual tyres were only employed on the XB-36, YB-36 and XC-99. Technical and, mainly, operational issues condemmed their operation: their balancing was difficult; the replacement was labor intensive; a single failure scenario was critical……and an airfield survey discovered early on (spring 1944) that only three -yeah, 3!- US airfields could endure the massive stress exerted on their runways by these wheels.
Improvements in brake technology and a multi-wheel undercarriage design solved the problem.

Grace Purcelly playfully poses with the gigant wrench used on the Goodyear’ tyre single lug.

Blackburn Roc: The Roc-Bottom.

The Roc was the less fortunate example of the failed British bomber-destroyer “turret fighter” concept of the 1930s. The Roc was in essence just the very, very modest Blackburn Skua equipped with a Boulton-Paul turret. It didn’t have a chance; Roc’s performances were a joke and by the time they were available in number it was obvious those turreted fighters were easy meat against conventional fighters. Only a few of them were put reluctantly in their intended role by the Fleet Air Arm in late 1939. Soon enough other less hazardous duties were found for them.

Marginal and not pretty things, but those Blackburns sure had something…., at least for me.

SNCASE SE.161.P7 Languedoc: Better than nothing….

After years of occupation and technical stagnation, France faced a difficult situation at the end of WW2 in aviation matters; specially in the civilian sector. It was only with the superlative Caravelle that the French industry produced something vendible. Meanwhile it had to do with hastily converted and inadequate wartime designs and, worst, even prewar developments. The Languedoc was one of the latter. A Bloch MB.160’s offspring, this design was absolutely obsolete and was ordered just for national prestige. They were employed mainly by Air France and the French military, the later in some bold test flights. With its very dated tailwheel landing gear and powered, at first, by asthmatic and questionable Gnome-Rhône 14N’s they proved to be uneconomical, noisy and dangerous. Anyway, the Languedocs “barged” anyway until they’ were deservedly replaced by more profitable designs.
Some ex-Air France were later operated by the Spanish Aviaco company. The typical Spanish “gracejo” (wit) worked overtime with them: EC-AMH became “M-e H-undo” (I’m sinkin’); EC-ANP “N-o P-uedo” (I can’t); EC-ANS “N-o S-ubo” (I don’t climb); EC-ANR “N-o R-ulo” (I don’t work)….

The Languedocs were nevertheless majestic looking artifacts. In this case a SE.161 of the SAMAR at BA 142 base (Boufarik) during 1958/59.

© Photo Jean Berniau.

Grumman TBF Tarpon: Gremlin’s sheer joy.

Mischievous portrait taken at Quonset Point, RI. It was there where “Senior Service” crews became acquainted with the superb Tarpon… later known by its real name, the Avenger torpedo bomber.
Not an uniform type, but this smiling Fleet Air Arm subject seems to wear a very “US Navy summer unifom” to me. The headgear is 100% US Navy; canvas summer flight helmet (a M450, methinks) and the ubiquitous AN-6510 goggles.

Nakajima B5N1: At the, brief, top.

First flown in 1937, the B5N was at the start of WW2 the best, by a wide margin, torpedo bomber in service anywhere. Both fast and able, the B5N’s were also equiped with the deadliest torpedo. An invaluable asset to the Japanese Naval Air Force (JNAF). One of the three main characters of that day at Pearl Harbour, the B5N didn’t enjoy its laurels for long. As usual when you reach the top the only way is down; by 1941-42 and despite the successes its obsolescence was evident. Nevermind, like other Japanese aircrafts these slick beauties soldiered on suffering gruesome loses until the very end.

Magnificent photo of an early B5N model with a conveniently placed Hinomaru.