Dassault Mirage F1EQ: Some fireworks to end this so-so year.

The Iraq operated a sizeable bunch (more than a hundred) of F1’s. In fact, at the time the Dassault’s fighter was their most advanced asset in service. They had some fancy weaponry and gizmos, one of them the Super Matra 530 being fired here.

A stupendous artwork of Daniel Bechennec.

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Junkers Ju 187: Mueve la colita.

One of the lesson learned by the Germans of Battle of Britain was the vulnerability of the Ju 87 to enemy fighters and the need of a replacement. It was soon obvious that something better than a cleaned out up-powered Ju 87 was needed. The daring Ju 187 was Junkers’ answer. While keeping the basic Ju 87 shape -gull-wing included-, Junkers added to their design a remote control defensive turret, a retractable landing gear and, the best for last, a rotating vertical tail to improve the gunner field of fire.
As we can see in this somehow funny GIF, the Ju 187 would have looked quite weird. Anyway, the whole project was cancelled by the RLM in 1943: its performances didn’t seem to offer a real advantage over its fixed-undercarriage predecessor.

Couzinet RC.360: Daddy Cool (XI).

René Couzinet was without doubt one of aviation greats, and also a bit of an enfant terrible. In the early 1950s, after a troublesome and peripatetic professional life (Brazil included), Couzinet began to considered the possibilities of a VTOL flying saucer design…,under the spell of the UFO era, no doubt. After filling some patents, he produced a 3/5th-scale Aerodyne engineering model which was presented to the press the fall of 1955. Sadly, after some initial interest in his “soucoupe volante” the project soon died down. The horrid thing is that, disillusioned by that lack of interest in his work, Couzinet and his wife committed suicide at the very end of 1956.

Magnificent Maurice Jarnoux’s portrait, part of a “Paris Match”  1955 article. The engineer is seen here gazing at the gorgeous wooden scale model of his RC.360. This model represented his proposed flying model. An aerodyne equipped with six Lycoming piston engines to drive the two contra-rotating discs which provide the VTOL performances (it had fifty adjustable vanes) and an AS Viper jet engine (in the nacelle above the body) to provide forward propulsion. Utterly “Couzinet” all.

“Martin XRV”: Save your backpacks for the EVA transfer.

Last night I took the time to watch again 1969 “Marooned” movie. Inspired in Martin Caidin’s book, this movie it’s not one of those I revisit often (dull acting and so-so story), but some of its props had real charm.
The jewel of the crown to me was its “XRV”, a lifting body (LB) shape inspired in the Martin SV-5. This USAF-sponsored LB aircraft was tested in space in the middle-late 1960’s as the sub-scale X-23 PRIME and later in earth atmosphere, as the full-scale X-24A, in the early 1970’s.  A design which has merits; NASA applied later the concept to its now cancelled X-38 rescue vehicle. By the way, the Martin Marietta company had a crystal ball in 1965.
I’m not going to start relating its technical goofs, but the rude way that Sikorsky CH-3C deposited the “XRV” on the lorry couldn’t have done any good to its thermal protection.

Not at Kubrick’s “2001” level, yet the “XRV” cockpit had style and some really convincing gadgetry. The movie’s spacesuits, not being superb, were decent enough.

Austin-Ball A.F.B.1: The too ugly duckling.

The Austin-Ball as its name implies was designed in 1916-17 by the Austin Motor Co. following the operation/technical inputs from the irrepressible Albert Ball. A very clumsy-looking design, its ugliness did not transferred to its performances. The A.F.B.1 demonstrated real potential from its first flown in Jul, 1917, being as fast as the S.E.5a (a plane not well-loved by Ball) and a better climber. Regrettably, the Austin-Ball came to a world already full of decent British fighters (both the S.E.5a and the Camel) so there was no point in introducing a new design. If that was not enough Ball’s death just before its first flight left it without its champion.

The only prototype built. Hard to make a swan outta of that.