Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21MF: Just Because (XXIV).

“7701 Grey” of the Czech Air Force with its startling winter “Splinter” camo, 1997. Hard to get any cooler.

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).