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.

Fairchild-Hiller FH-1100: First in something.

The little-known FH-1100 started by Hiller as one of the competitors in the early 1960’s US Army’s Light Observation Helicopter program. It lost. A good basic aircraft anyway, these neat single-engined (the ubiquitous Allison 205 turboshaft) light helicopters were produced for the civilian market where they’ve enjoyed a reasonably successful life (+250 built). A company acquired in 2000 its type certificate yet no further news have been produced since then.

Can’t fault its style, certainly a pretty slick aircraft. Here one of the two Arizona Highway Patrol FH-1100’s with its spit & polish crew. The first (1969) air ambulances of that state

Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster: Dreams Processor.

The Mixmaster was originated by Douglas as a private venture attack bomber early in 1943. Curiously the USAF saw it as a potential, and inexpensive, substitute for the Boeing B-29(!!). Nothing was cheap or dull in the Mixmaster though. A twin-engined pusher aircraft with its two 1800hp Allison V-1710 engines placed beside each other behind the cockpit; their power reach the contra-rotating props via a pair of P-39’s drive shafts. The defensive armament was also unusual too: a pair of .50 HMG in each wing trailing edge fired through remotely controlled by the co-pilot.
First flown in the Spring of 1944, its performances were astonishing with a top speed in excess of 450mph. The fastest American bomber of its time, on one flight the XB-42 even set a transcontinental speed record with an average speed of 433mph. All weren’t rose though: vibration,stability and cooling problems were present. Anyway, as in other cases, WW2 ended and with it the pressing need of new bombing assets. Just two prototype were built. Jet propulsion was also clearly the future, and Douglas explored that with 2 further developments of this formula.

Spellbinding photo of XB-42 (43-50224) at Palm Springs, California -my guess. Clearly displayed here its original twin bubble canopies, one of the not so clever idea of this design. This cockpits layout hindered badly communications between the crew and soon replaced by a single bubble canopy. A less cooler option, that’s for sure.