Republic XP-47J “Superbolt”: On a diet.

The “Jugs”, despite being the biggest and heaviest single seat fighters to see service in WW2 were renowned by their outstanding performances. So, what could happen if you lighten them a little bit? That’s precisely what the people of Republic had in mind with this prototype. They took a newly built airframe and reduced its armament to the American 6x.50 MG standard instead of the P-47’s eight and supped it up with various combinations of water-injected R2800 engines, props and turbosuperchargers. First flown in late 1943, the performance displayed by the unique prototype built (43-46952) was superb achieving a max speed of just over 500 mph, hence its “Superbolt” nickname. Regrettably, Republic’s almost contemporary XP-72 looked more promising. Add to that the advent of jet propulsion which meant the end… of both projects.

The Superbolt returning with elan to its nest (Republic Farmingdale factory, maybe). It was a really hot -and really ugly- potato. That shortened and reconfigured engine cowling couldn’t hardly be less graceful.

Douglas DF: Northern Exposure.

This elegant and advanced  flying-boat was conceived to be operated by Pan Am. First flown September 1936, the DF met all its expected performances, yet it was still not adopted by Pan Am. Neither did Douglas found other takers in the home market so luck was tried overseas. The results proved to be meagre. Only four (prototype included) were produced: two went to Japan and two to the USSR.

In the USSR they were operated in the Siberian regions by the GU SMP (Main Administration of the Northern Sea Route) for both passenger and freight transport services. This interesting photo says a lot about their harsh life there…. a long way from Pan Am’s usual idyllic operations places.

Lockheed F-94C Starfire: From the ground up.

The F-94C Starfire shared with its F-94 forerunners almost only the name. The original F-94’s were in essence fast and dirty T-33 airframes conversions produced as interim all-weather fighters. The result was satisfactory, but just so. Lockheed though they could do better. The Starfire had also same T-33 roots, but with its new wing, tail feathers, J48 engine with afterburner, radar and rocket armament was a totally different kettle of fish. In the end the USAF bought that fish and it proved to be a very decent Sabre Dog and Scorpion‘s second-best partner.

Superb Lockheed poster from 1952, the Cold War at its very best. The Duke abides.

Other things.

Yakovlev UT-1: Resting Places (XII).

The ultra cute UT-1 was a decently aerobatic advanced single-seat trainer operated, mainly, by the Soviet AF’s VVS during the late 1930’s-early 1940’s period. Well-liked and sturdy, some of them even were hastily armed at the start of WW2, but that was only a temporary measure. The total of 1,241 produced were mainly employed as “military pilot makers”.

A suitably all-red painted example exhibited inside the incredible Vadim Zadorozhny’s Museum of Equipment, Arkhangelskoye (Moscow).

SNECMA C400 P2: The very French Atar Volant.

This VTOL proof of concept test bed was the most spectacular “aircraft” at the 22e Salon International d’Aéronautique (1957). The two existing “Atar Volants” prototypes were present: the remote controlled C400 P1 as a static exhibit and the ejection seat-equipped P2 as a flier. This crude thing was piloted by Auguste Morel, the same test pilot who took the P2 on its first flight just a few days before in May 14, 1957.

Candid Kodachrome photo taken by Nicholas Gauthier. Very appropriate that French flag there; those were glorious times for French aviation.

“MiG-31” Firefox: “Думайте на русском языке”.

I usually like to take time in the summers to watch old movies. The latest to suffer this treatment has been Clint Eastwood’s (1982) Firefox. The first time I saw it was in a double session cinema when I was a kid….. Boy!!, I still remember how thrilled I went home. Later, in my very pedantic twenties, the movie lost a huge number of points in my esteem. Older now -but not a lot wiser-, Firefox appears to me like a flawed yet quite enjoyable movie. All in all, Clint must feel happy enough.

Very different from the original, its “MiG-31” design was certainly astonishing in the early 1980’s and has aged decently. The choice of flight gear style is a plus in this movie. Worn very tight and with that interesting selection of colours : black for our hero / white and orange international for its foe. The helmet as usual is the icing on the cake. In this case a very literal interpretation of the USAF HGU-15/P –USN HGU-20/P — NASA LEH  “Clam Shell”.

“Think in Russian”, my friends.