CANT Z.506B Airone: Behold !!!

The middle/late 1930’s Z.506 is considered one of the best seaplane of its era, its 10 world records bear witness of that. Conceived originally as a transport/mail seaplane for the Ala Littoria company, the design soon saw potential as a military aircraft. The “B” was the main military variant and contrary to other simular cases this was happy adaptation. The Airone (Heron) proved to be a real asset during WW2 being fast, tough and very seaworthy despite its classically delicate Italian all-wood construction. The more than three hundred built served with distinction through all the war and belong. Some examples even continued to serve in Search and Rescue (SAR) until 1960.

Magnificent bird, this gorgeous photo speaks for itself.

Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV): How the mighty have fallen.

Miss Kentucky (year?) about to step out of one of the 1-gravity trainer LRV used in happier times to give the Apollo astronauts instruction in the operation and driving practice of the real rover. The helper is wearing a definitely tired Command Module pilot (CMP) A7L space suit topped with a very rare early red Lunar Extravehicular Visor Assembly (LEVA).

Photo taken at the Space and Rocket Center Museum, Huntsville, Al (thanks, Alan). A Saturn rocket lying on the dirt and this. All very sad.

Sage Type 2 Scout: As cute as it could be.

The Type 2 of the Frederick Sage & Co wooden company was one of the loveliest try to produce an sort fighter aircraft before the availability of an effective, and safe, gun synchronising gear. Powered by the classic 100 hp Gnôme Monosoupape rotary, the main feature and attraction of the Sage Scout was that both its pilot and gunner sat in an fully glazed enclosed cabin placed between the fuselage and upper wing. A porthole placed in the upper wing was employed by the gunner handle his Lewis MG. Pretty neat all, but already too late. By the time of its first flight, in the summer of 1916, the synchronising gear was already there. Sadly too, the unique prototype was lost just before the end of that summer.

Lovingly “Hergé-esque” drawing. It was that pretty.

Hughes Rotor/Wing: “Simple answer to a tough problem”.

Pursuing the same “Holy Grail” the V-22 Osprey is beginning to fulfil nowadays, the always innovative Hughes company played in the 1960-70’s with the elegant, yet complicated, rotor/wing concept. In it, essentially, you used your rotor for vertical/slow flight and stop it to form a sort of wing for forward flight. Cool, isn’t it?. They were not alone.

Superb artwork of the Hughes’ Rotor Wing brochure. Sadly, just a paper dream.

Lockheed 10B Electra: Little Big Progenitor.

The Electra was Lockheed’s different answer to the challenge set by the Boeing 247 and Douglas DC-2 in the middle 1930’s. The company chose to follow a smaller -almost half in size compared to its competitors- yet faster approach and was rewarded with a modest success, less than 150 in total. At first sight nothing to brag about, but the basic design proved to be very adaptable and was both scale-up (14 Super Electra and 18 Lodestar) and scale-down (12 Electra Junior). Various military derivatives of the 14/18 also exponentially upped the number of “Electras” in the skies. All in all, not a bad bargain for Lockheed in the end.

Sumptuous Kodachrome photo of a Delta Air Lines Electra, Spring 1940. When war was still other people business. Those amazingly outrageous hats…..(further data when you click on the photo).

Bisnovat SK-1: So K-ool.


This utterly slick thing was Matus Bisnovat’s OKB contribution to the plethora of stunning high-speed aircraft made around the world at the end of the 1930’s-early 1940’s. His SK-1 all-metal research aircraft was conceived following the classic formula of the smallest airframe possible powered by the more powerful engine at hand -a 1050hp Klimov M-105 in this case. The SK-1 took the skies in January 1939 and soon demonstrated its superb qualities in both speed and handling. So good it was that a fighter derivative was soon developed from it, the SK-2.

Such a racy thing. In search of aerodynamic efficiency  just a small low-drag radiator installation was employed due to its pressurised coolant system. It had also a incredibly cool flush cockpit equipped with a hydraulically raised pilot seat and canopy roof , the latter became a “windshield” during landings.

Cristòfol Juandó’s aircraft: El Geni Mecànic.

The very “Jules Verne-sque” central nacelle of the Juandó’s “Multíptero” or “Flugilarillo seen here in his “El Genio Mecánico” factory, Modolell de Sant Gervasi street (Barcelona). The inventor is the one pointing.

The little known Catalan inventor and industrialist Cristòfol Juandó i Rafecas (1848-1917) also took a chance with the nascent aviation fever of the turn of the century. He even created a company, the “Compañía Universal de Navegación Aérea”, to promote his project. Sadly, little has survived of his efforts of 1901-02. About his aircraft, Juandó described it bizarrely as a “..sort of rotative wing equipped with blades which open and close at the right moments…”. The intended engine was a 24 hp 4-cylinder Buchet. Some sources say he did build a full-sized aircraft, but without given further data. Anyway, lacking the financial resources necessary, Juandó tried to interest the always lethargic Spanish government. He persevered unsuccessfully in that endeavour until the early 1910’s and after that obscurity.

This add gives us a certain idea, or not, of what was going on in Juandó’s brainchild. It looked like small size model of the real thing. Unairworthy at first sight(?).