Martin XB-26H Marauder: War-surplus baby walker.

Martin chose the always wise “walk before you run” approach with their innovative XB-48‘s bicycle landing gear. They used a household TB-26G-25-MA with its original tricycle landing gear replaced by a pair of tandem retractable wheels placed in the fuselage and small outrigger wheels installed in the engine gondolas. Nicknamed the “Middle River Stump Jumper”, this Marauder opened the door, not only to the obscure XB-48, but also to the seminal B-47 and B-52.

Still a beauty, even with its somehow makeshift undercarriage and generous external stiffening. Certainly prettier than the plain horrible XB-48.

Vickers Vanguard: … something.

Ironic, with 20/20 hindsight, the name chosen by the Vickers company for their Viscount’s successor. By the 1950s, Vickers was in the crest of the wave with their bestseller short/medium range turboprop airliner. The Viscount design formula still seemed to them as good as ever, so they just tried to built bigger and more modern. Put in service during the early 1960s, the Vanguard proved to be economically efficient assets, but found few takers. People by then only had eyes for those sleek and very noisy prop-less jets. Not all was wasted, the around 40 built soon got jobs in the humbler cargo business.

Patrician looking boss, dynamic young executive and a pretty subservient secretary…., the 1950s.

AISA GN: All too Spanish (II).

This is the story of how a small, but full-blown aviation company couldn’t design something that some “amateurs” do almost blindfolded.
The Autogyro is one of the few, very few significant Spanish aviation technology contributions. With that in mind, no doubt, Aeronáutica Industrial S.A (AISA) conceived in the late 1960s/early 1970s their GN four-seat civilian autogiro (in Spanish, of course). A decade had to pass before the GN made its one and only flight in 1982….it crashed. Soon after the project was cancelled.

Golden!!, there wasn’t another colour….I know, we spaniards are our worst enemy.

Nakajima A6M2-N: Irony of ironies.

Idyllic photo of the Suisen 2’s in their natural environment. These “Zeroes” on floats were the only really successful floatplane fighters ever employed during WW2,…and only barely and for a very short time.
Ironic certainly the fact that a proud and technically prosperous aircraft company did have to build a product of the “arch enemy” competitor.

Mitsubishi 1MT: Unsuitable at first sight.

The 1MT was a clear example of early interwar Japanese aviation technologies policy: importing foreign products, knowdelge and talents. With a clearly British (Sopwith) lineage, this awkward triplane was designed by Sopwith’s famous designer Herbert Smith. First flown in 1922, it was conceived as a single-seat carrier-borne torpedo bomber. With very questionable flying qualities, this triplane was nevertheless produced in a very short series (around 20). In their very ephemeral service they proved to be definitely useless -capital sin: they were unable to lift their intended torpedoes when operated from a carrier!!.
Hard to imagine this ungainly beast with its huge and clumsy triplane wings -almost sails- operating from one of those windy carrier decks. Poor mechanic, not one of the most enviable jobs.
By the way and if I’m not very mistaken, the 1MT was the only Japanese triplane ever built.

1910 Henri Farman biplane: “And the winner was….”

Magnificent carte postale of the Semaine d’aviation de Lyon (May 7-15, 1910). These and other event where part the ephimeral Âge d’or of the French aviation started by Wilbur Wright with his stunning flights of late 1908-early 1909. The eventful Lyon air meeting was won by the relatively unknown Charles Van den Born with his pedestrian and trusty Farman biplane.
A real point of interest in this carte postale is the despiction of the “sémaphore” next to the control tower. That device kept spectators informed by signals hoisted in an elaborated mast.


NAA P-51B Mustang: The Unwanted.

Fighter ace William J. Hovde (then a captain) of the 358th FS, 355th FG 8th AF and his colorful P-51B. Of note the white cross under the swastikas: that stencil signified that Hovde’s Mustang was equiped with a fuselage fuel tank… extra fuel that turned the Mustang into a legend.
The Mustang was the aircraft that “saved” the Mighty Eight…even against the USAAF chauvinistic desires. Unwanted basically because it was a “not conceived here” aircraft, the P-51/RR Merlin combo was just too good to be ignored.

All surfaces in this very welcome book. Rough -maybe even raw- readin’, but the amount of interesting facts unearthed are definitely very, very worthy.