Boulton Paul P.103B: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

At first sight, apart of those contra-rotating props, this neat sketch looks like an Allied early interpretation of the German Fw 190A. In fact, this Bristol Centaurus-powered  “clone” was one of the two Boulton Paul’s proposals (the P.103A was a RR Griffon-engined version) to fulfill the Royal Navy N.7/43 fighter specification. That requirement was conceived to supply, at last, the Fleet Air Arm with an up-to-date all-British carrier fighter after years of barely satisfactory landplane conversions (Sea Hurricanes & Seafires) and American types. In the end, after a tortuous path, it was the Sea Fury the one which answered the “Senior Service” prayers…., but only after the war ended.

Ah, that cockpit canopy.

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Bell Rocket Belt: Rocketeer vs Lotus.

We’ve seen lately one of those periodic resurgences of extreme individual flying gizmos. Time to go back the one of the oldest, most spectacular and certainly the most famous by far: the late 1950’s hydrogen peroxide-fuelled marvel of the Bell company.

Nostalgic GIF taken from a Pathé’s Documentary of 1966. The circuit is the classic Brands Hatch and the race car looks like a Formula 3 Lotus. It sure was a short race….that Rocket Belt maximum endurance was only a little more than 21 seconds.

AW Albemarde Mk I: Second-best at best.

Late in the 1930’s the British Air Ministry grew concerned that, if there was a war, the possible supply shortage of aircraft light alloy materials could became a problem. One of the product of that concern was the RAF specification B.9/38 for a bomber built with alternative materials -the Albemarde was the answer. With its already dated steel tube, wood and fabric construction, the Albemarde proved to be both overweight and low on performance compared to up-to-date designs. Obviously, its bomber role was soon forgotten replaced early on by general recon duties. In the end it was as transports and gliders tugs where these unloving and unloved things earned their keep.

Gorgeous cutaway of this aircraft which its chief designer John Lloyd defined as “.. an aircraft that could be built by the tinker, tailor and candlestick maker outside the industry”.

Vought F-8H Crusader: The Last of the Gunslingers.

LT Jerry Pearson of the VF-24 (USS Hancock) displaying proudly the Crusader‘s “archaic” weaponry over the Gulf of Tonkin, 1969. After the F-8 guns were on their way out in American fighter aircraft inventory…., a serious and hated mistake. They came back.

Of note that little hatch under the fuselage that opened each time the Mk.12 cannons were fired to vent the dangerous explosive gases.

Dornier Delphin III (L3): Grace wasn’t in the equation.

The peculiar Delphin were produced Dornier in the 1920’s as single-engined a small commercial flying boat to compliment their larger tandem-engined Wals. With those iconic Wals the Delphin shared the squared low-aspect ratio wing surfaces and the household stummels. Three basic models were produced with each one characterised by its increased in power and payload. The Delphin III was the most powerful of them and could take 10 passengers. They had few takers.

With its BMW VI perched above the “nautical” cabin, these were a strange kind of dolphins. Anyway, that engine configuration again.