Lockheed L-1649A Starliner: Magic Carpet Drive.

The Starliner was the ultimate evolution of the beautiful Connie designed in response to the Douglas’ moneymaking DC-7C “Seven Seas”. In the end the Douglas outsold widely the Lockheed: the latter had longer legs but was also more expensive. Anyway, both were the las hurrah of piston-engined airliners before the arrival of the jet era.

It was this good while it lasted.

Valmet Vihuri: Severe Wind.

The Vihuri (Gale) became the main advanced single-engined trainer aircraft of the Finish AF during the 1950’s. Designed to replace the VL Pyry, the Vihuri prototype made its first flight in 1951 and the model was soon ordered into production. Around 50 were produced. All weren’t roses though. Several accidents -one of them even took the life of the prime minister’s son- and the safety concerns associated grounded for good the Vihuri in 1959. As an aside, a number of Vihuri’s cockpit canopies were salvaged to be employed as….roof windows in the recycling plant. They are still there.

Not a success story, but they were neat looking aircraft anyway. A balanced and clean design with a lovely Bristol Mercury engine as a plus. The shiny first prototype (VH-1) in the usual snowy Suomi airfield.

Pilatus P-2: German Nose.

This sturdy tandem two-seat basic trainer was designed in the early 1940’s to be easily operated from the high-altitude alpine airfields. The situation of Switzerland at that time, in the middle of WW2, determined its characteristics: mixed construction, German engines and the use of previous models parts. First flown in the Spring of 1945, the P-2’s only served with their home country air force and only around 50 were built, some of them armed. The Swiss operated them until 1981, a good testimony of the P-2’s qualities. Their main claim of fame is their later use on movies as “Luftwaffe” aircraft.

A magnificent surviving specimen here. Prominent the characteristic nose affair of the German Argus As 410 cowling and the finned spinner of the Argus “autopich” aircrew. The landing gear design is clearly taken from the Bf 109. Obvious why it didn’t looked out of place with Balkenkreuzs.

Photo: Pavel Vanka.