Bristol Blenheim Mk.IV: Numbers count…., in absence of something better.

The Blenheim was only for a really short time that “Britain’s Strength in the Sky”. By the time the long-nosed Mk.IV appeared the only strength these aircraft could offer was the quantitative one.

The Bristol Aviation Company people seem to have recognised their Blenheim’s strenghts & weaknesses…., they put a lot of them in this poster.

SNCASE S.E.2010 Armagnac: Orgueil et Rentabilité.

Flown for the first time on January, 1949, the Armagnac was designed for the Air France company as a large long range four-engined airliner. France, like other countries, harbored after WW2  the understandable dream of a French airliner flagship. Sadly, tests soon showed its serious technical shortcomings: disappointing performance, overweight and lack range. In view of those problems, the French national carrier refused to accept them. The first production aircraft was completed in Dec, 1950, but without its prime customer, only 8 (plus the prototype) of the proposed 15 machines were completed. They were operated for a brief time by a pair of second-line French carriers.

The Armagnac’s four American 3,500hp P&W R4360 Wasp Majors engines must have hurt the French pride badly; there were no indigenous engines of that power available. They look also quite tiny here -they sure weren’t- compared with the Armagnac’s generous fuselage size. Its roomy passenger cabin was one the main selling ppints of the design and a prelude of the things to come. Very pretty things they were, in my humble opinion.

Mikoyan-Gurevich “MiG-19”: A Russian from Bremen.

The utterly magnificent Aurora Model’s MIG-19 model box cover circa 1955. Such was the lack of information about the first Soviet supersonic fighter the people of Aurora had to use their imagination quite wildly. Their “MiG-19” was only transonic and very German, a sort of Ta 183 spin-off. Granted, the Russians, and many others, used and abused of German technological know-how, but to use an almost carbon copy of a ten years old design pretending to pass it as the latest most advanced enemy fighter….

By the way, I have a sister called Aurora.

General Dynamics LEM: Do you read me, HAL?

A wonderfully convincing view of the General Dynamics’ Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) proposal mock-up/simulator. They sure tried hard, but in the end Grumman won the laurels.
The Commander and the LEM Pilot at that early stage of the LEM development still enjoyed the luxury of a seat. The “LEM pilot” here is wearing the ubiquitous BF Goodrich MK.IV pressure suit while he plays “docking” in the simulator. This US Navy full-pressure suit were usually employed in those days for this kind of work. In fact, the Mercury space suit was developed from it.

Destination Clavius?.

Photo: San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives.

Nungesser Hydravion-Canard: Crazy Wild Duck.

In his superbly chaotic life Great War ace Charles Nungesser found time even to try his hand at aircraft design. His seaplane was a sort of derivative of his unrealised “Oeuf Volant” (flying egg) racer design conceived to take part in the 1922 Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe race. Nungesser’ unorthodox creature was a hideous looking boxy seaplane canard “thing” monoplane. An amphibian gear was also planned. Power came, at first, from a ridiculous 60hp engine later replaced by a barely less ridiculous 95hp Anzani radial. Completed in March 1923, the prototype undertook a few not very convincing flights before vanishing into oblivion.

Magnificent photo of the “hydravion-canard” with Nungesser at the helm taken at the Melan-Les Mureaux lake during its test. The engine used here is the more powerful 95hp seven cylinder Anzani.

Un air de famille.

Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior: Windy take-offs.

Nicknamed the “Whale” due to its almost cetacean size, when the Skywarrior entered service it was the heaviest aircraft ever to operate regularly from aircraft carrier. The A-3 was also the second of the only two strategic (nuclear)  bombers -it replaced the previous NAA Aj Savage- to enter service with the US Navy.
Designed by the peerless Ed Heinemann and his team, the prototype (XA3D-1) made its maiden flight in the fall of 1952. The model entered service with the US Navy in March 1956. With the Navy the A-3’s saw a plethora of employs; from their original strategic bomber role to aerial refuelling while becoming also useful in ECM, COMINT, test platforms…, you name it. A handful were still at work during the first Gulf War in 1991.

An A3D-2 Skywarrior of the VAH-1 just off from its floating nest, the Forrestal-Class USS Independence in the late 1950’s. A serious flaw in this superb design was the lack of ejection seats for any of its crew. As a morbid joke the A3D was referred as the “All 3 Dead” early in its service. Note the open escape hatch on the top of the cockpit. That hatch remained always open on take-off and landings. Better than nothing, I guess.

Photo: LIFE magazine.