Curtiss A-1 “Triad”: Past & Future.

This little aircraft had the honor of opening the history of the US Navy aviation when it was ordered in May 8th, 1911. The A-1 was a “Model E”, in essence a bigger refined variant of the previous “Model D”. As an amphibian its nickname “Triad” was quite appropriate: the A-1 operated through air, land and sea. The US Navy employed this handy aircraft, and a few of its siblings, for operational tests and training. A long way was still ahead.

The beauty of this photo is beyond me. Spellbinding, hypnotizing, mesmerizing, entrancing, …….. all very “-ing”.

Ryan NYP (replica): No coaching needed.

Just revisited again -I’ve lost count of the times- Billy Wilder’s 1957 “The Spirit of St. Louis” movie. Still bizarre to watch the then almost 50 years old James Stewart as a 25 years old Charles Lindbergh…. Anyway, the attention to the technical details in this superb movie is just mouthwatering. One thing that also gave credibility to the movie was that James Steward was an accomplished pilot and it shows.

Just look at their NYP cockpit. Skilled hands at work.

Polikarpov I-17 (TsKB-15): Art Deco in Red.

After his epoch-making I-16, Polikarpov was decided to achieve higher speeds with its next fighter project. In order to do that he chose the slicker water-cooled inline engine instead of the I-16 trusty air-cooled radial. The basic I-17 platform was similar to his previous rotund fighter, but thanks to the inline engine the fuselage cross-section was reduced to the minimum; quite similar to some “speed-seekers” of that era. First flown in September 1934, the design proved to be fast yet not promising enough. Only 3 prototypes were produce plus a few variants studies. Curiously this pretty things were though to be in service with the Soviet AF in early WW2 and were “shot down” in huge numbers by the Germans…

Magnificent 3-view drawing of the 1st prototype, the TsKB-15. With its imported 760hp Hispano-Suiza 12 Ybrs it attained a maximum speed of 455km/h.

Heinkel He 177 A-5 Greif: Cursed from the cradle.

“The He 177 was to be developed simultaneously as a four-engined heavy bomber and a dive-bomber. But I never thought anything of that! Only one of this attributes could be fulfilled, and because of that the entire development was drawn out uselessly for several years”.   Adolf Hitler.
In essence that was the main problem of the Grief, but aggravated by personal rivalries; over complex and trouble-prone coupled engines; sheer lack of raw materials; stubbornness facing the obvious solutions, etc, etc.
“Henschel Hs 293A-1’s-toting” Griefs ready for some action. Magnificent artwork of Roy Cross for an old Airfix model.

BAC One-Eleven: High-altitude Sauciness.

The always “unique” Braniff airline hired between 1965-74 the Italian designer Emilio Pucci to fashion the uniforms for their flight crew and ground crews. One of his most bizarre -and also very sixties- collections was a sort of inter-changeable wardrobe, the “AirStrip”. This utterly politically incorrect collection involved the flight attendants taking off parts of the uniform as the flight progressed……

The “space” helmet was mandatory in the 1960’s.