Fokker D.VII: Men are from Mars (IV).

Like all wars, the first war in the air greatly accelerates the technological developments -that’s the way we humans are. The flimsy artifacts powered by sputtering engines rapidly evolved into strong, powerful and feisty warmachines. The aircrew personal equipment also suffered drastic transformations. Gone were the devil-might-care era of the pioneers with their hat turned backwards to be supplanted by seriously professional gear.

By 1917 things looked like this. The oustanding Fokker D.VII with its advanced thick wing profile, clever no-nonsense construction methods and highly-compresed engine and a perfectly attired “rider”. Outside the gorgeously checkered D.VII fuselage we can observe an experimental installation of the Ahrendt & Heylandt liquid oxygen apparatus with its protected flask and rebreathing bag. The pilot uses a simple pipestern-type mouthpiece and a handy nose clip to prevent him from inhaling outside air. I simple adore the pilot huge stopwatch.

Photo: National Archives.

Hughes GAR-1: Pioneering & Dreaming.

“Idyllic” scenario for the Hughes GAR-1 (not named AIM-4 until 1962). These Hughes artifacts were USAF’s first operational air-to-air guided missile.

Superb artwork, specially those very imaginative “Red” jet bombers. Pure fantasy, in service the various Hughes “GAR’s” left a lot to be desired. It’s always hard to be the first.

Bristol 138A: Under Pressure.

The 138A was a large research monoplane specially conceived in the early 1930s to explore high altitude flight and, eventually, to capture the record. A very neat design well suited for the task, it had a low wing load of only 9.57 pounds per square foot its engine, a 460hp Bristol Pegasus, was fitted with a two-speed supercharger.
Sqn Ldr F.R.D. Swain being helped out of the Bristol Type 138A (K4879) Farnborough, Sept 1936. To protect the pilot a a RAF designed pressure suit was employed. Swain captured the record with an altitude of 49.967 feet in 28 Sept 1936. A failure of this pressure suit during the descent seriously impaired Swain visibility and caused even more serious breathing problems. He was forced to cut the suit visor open with a knife in order to maintain consciousness. All ended well.

Reid & Sigrist R.S.3 Desford: Reliable & Suitable.

Originally the Desford was conceived by the well-known instrument manufacturer company Reid & Sigrist as a two-seat intermediate/advanced trainer. First flown in Jul. 1945, by the time this technically successful design took the air, sadly, the Royal Air Force had lost interest in the concept; well, war was almost over anyway. The prototype soon found a new career drastically modified as prone-pilot research aircraft. Under the very appropriate designation R.S.4 Bobsleigh it was employed by the RAE Farnborough. Not happy with that, this tiny survivor entered later the civilian register modified again; this time as a photographic aircraft.

No-nonsense publicity poster. They could be really proud of their offspring.

Rolls-Royce Engines: Subconscious Games?

Gorgeously elegant advertisement art employed by the peerless Rolls Royce company for its aviation engine products. Very alluring aircraft, the artist chose to employ an allegorical design; it could have been either a twin-engined Spitfire or, horror, an early Heinkel He 111 model with Dornier Do 17’s tail feathers.
Curiously, Rolls Royce bought in the middle 1930’s a He 111 forebear, Heinkel He 70, as a high-speed testbed for their Kestrel engines. It had been said the He 70’s elliptical wing was a primordial source of “inspiration” for the one of the Supermarine Spitfire….an opinion not shared by all.

Marshall Thompson: The sunny side of life.

Precious 1936 British Airways (BA) poster by Marshall Thompson.┬áThe author drew a very up-to-date monoplane (very “Lockheed 10 Electra”) instead of the DH.89 and DH.86 biplanes used at that time by the British Airways company for their┬áLondon to Paris route. He knew something though: in March 1937, BA purchased its first Electras…