Bell RP-63G “Pinball”: DING, DING, DING !!!!

The P-63 Kingcobra was the ultimate iteration of the, not very loved, Airacobra formula. These very decent fighters were mass produced,for various reasons, even if they were already other better and easily available fighter; read P-51’s. So what do you when you have such an unwanted, but usable fighter and, at the same time, you need to improve bomber gunner marksmanship? The answer was “manned targets”, one of the most bizarre use of an aircraft during WW2. The RP-63G was the most highly modified of the “Pinball” models. The RP-63G pilot was protected by its airframe provided with a thicker duraluminium skin, some armour and a flush dorsal inlet. The real icing of the cake on these “livin’ targets” was the special frangible bullets (lead-bakelite) used. As we can see in this model kit self-explanatory artwork, every time the aircraft was hit, a red light flashed to indicate an impact.

Pretty neat, methinks, but definitely not for the faint-hearted.

Avro Vulcan B.2: Tin Manta Ray.

Vulcan B2 (XM571) of No 35 Squadron gorgeously portrayed during a level training sortie, Dec. 1978. This photo was taken by another Vulcan (XM603) using its vertical F95 camera.

Superb, and very effective, winter camo. It sure looks here like that sea creature….., with the snow permission.

Photo: © Crown Copyright.

Buran Space Shuttle: Reclaimed by nature.

The sad state of the Buran’s wind tunnel wooden model (1:3 scale) forgotten on a corner of the Zhukovsky airfield. This model reproduced the OK-GLI shape;  Buran aerodynamic “analogue” test vehicle configuration. The Buran Analog BST-02  was constructed in 1984 and employed in a role similar to NASA Enterprise. Unlike the American, this proof-of-concept  aircraft didn’t need a mothership thanks to its four rear mounted AL-31 jet engines.

Nothing compares to Russia when you’re looking for pretty wrecks.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress: The Lady Awaits.

Owned by the “Commemorative Air Force”, “Fifi” (44-62070) is a surviving B-29, and not for a long time, the only one currently flying. A second B-29, “Doc” (44-69972), has recenctly received its FAA Airworthiness Certificate (May 20th, 2016) and it’s getting ready for its post-restoration first flight.

Just imagine, to see  Fifi & Doc flying close together.

Photo: Bill Crump.

George White’s Ornithopter: Just like a Cuckoo.

A quarter of century has passed in 1927-28 since the Orville Wright’s first flight yet aviator and inventor George R.White still thought his wing-beating, and foot-propelled, ornithopter could be the answer to the human flight. Trial flights conducted at St. Augustine Beach (Florida) soon proved him wrong…., he persevered, of course.

Sheer poetry his bird.

Tupolev SB-2 “Katiuska”: The Power of Passion.

The SB-2 and the Polikarpov I-16 were the most advanced Russian aircraft to see service in the Spanish Guerra Civil. They both have also another thing in common:  a Català called José Ramón Bellaubi and his team. Bellaubi is an incredibly crafty man which after building his own I-16 replica from scratch is now in the middle of his “Katy” dream.

Saab 35XD Draken: “Pretty little girl with the red dress on”.

Utterly impressive photo taken at Karup (Denmark) days before Xmas 1991. 41 of the 43 surviving Danish F-35 Drakens of the Eskadrille 725 and 729 together. The 725 was disbanded shortly afterwards, followed two years later by the 729. The red one, “Lisbon 725” (named after the ESK 725 radio callsign), had been painted in that stunning colour without official permission to celebrate the unit 40th anniversary. The authorities allowed them to retain the livery, with some code and national insignia modification, for the rest of the year. She was plainly irresistible.

Photo: Flyvevåbnet.