Kawanishi E11K: Colour me beautiful.

The E11K was a late 1930s night reconnaissance/spotter seaplane designed to be operated from cruiser class ships. This utterly elegant gull-winged cantilever monoplane was powered by a single pusher Hiro Type 91 engine strut mounted above the fuselage (an old favorite of mine) that drove a four-bladed propeller. Curiously for such a stylish aircraft, and in order to improve the cooling effects, its engine radiator was placed in a quite hideous fairing over the rear fuselage just behind the prop. Only 2 were ever built and they ended their days serving as transports.

Lovely coloured pic. Not a fan of this kind of “retouch”, but…..

Mil Mi-6A: Deep in the Zone.

April 26th, 1986.

The time has stopped from this pair of Mil Mi-6’s employed during the Chernobyl nuclear plant disaster. Three decades today after the nuclear accident, many of these heavily contaminated vehicles used in the dangerous clean-up operations still remain at the Rassorva graveyards inside the vast exclusion zone around the reactor.

Eerier than the already very creepy “Stalker” of Andrei Tarkovsky.

Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat: Not fading away.

Not pretty or fancy in the classic way, the Hellcat was nevertheless the finest overall fighter of the Pacific war.

Super photo of the former Fighter Collection’s Hellcat. This war veteran was assigned during WW2 to the VF-6 “Felix” squadron (USS Intrepid) where she became the mount of Lt Alex Vraciu. Vraciu was the fourth most successful US Navy fighter pilot, with 19 aerial victories…., 9 of those victories achieved with this very F6F-3. It,  obviously, proudly wears its original war colours.

Northrop (CASA) SRF-5A Freedom Fighter: Without a shadow of a doubt.

Manises (Valencia), summer 1992.

The very busy platform of my beloved Manises AB. In the background the Mirage IIIEEs in their twilight service year; an almost brand new Ala 12 Hornet; some Police and public service helicopters and a Canadair CL-215 more than ready for the “fire season”. Quite obsolete by then, this SRF-5 “Bicicleta” (“Bike”) was used as target tug aircraft equipped with the dramatic looking dart target.

I love this pic.

New York Central’s M-497: Cold War Surplus “Hot Rod”.

Nicknamed “Black Beetle”, the New York Central’s M-497 was a jet-powered train tested during 1966. Powered by a J47-GE-19 jet pod taken from a retired Convair B-36H, this train exceeded in its day more than 183 mph, still a U.S record today.

Burnin’ “coal” between Butler, Indiana and Stryker, Ohio. Certainly a very mean-looking beast.

Grumman F-14A Tomcat: No Problemo.

This incredible photo depicts what the Grumman company did in response to US. Navy concerns regarding a possible asymmetrical wing swept situation on the F-14. Flying the 3rd pre-production example, the company’s Chief Test Pilot Chuck Sewell conducted several flight trials from Dec. 1985 to Feb. 1986 with the right wing locked at 20º  and the left at various swept angles (35º, 50º, 60º and 68º). Tests showed 60º was the maximum swept age suitable for landings. Sewell found the aircraft in this extreme configuration to be capable enough to achieve safe carrier landings… well, at least he could do it.