Blériot-Spad S.510: Le dernier Hurrah.

The S.510 like all the “last fighter biplanes” which entered service in the mid/late 1930s was born almost obsolescent. As in other nations there were strong groups who still believed that biplanes would prove better fighters than monoplanes because of their agility, the S.510 was acquired as a sort of safeguard.
First flown in early 1933, the prototype proved to be a really delicious acrobatic machine. An order of sixty was placed in 1935. They entered service in 1936 when the Dewoitine D.500 was already demonstrating its qualities. In service, the S.510s were viewed as a sort of half step transition fighter: neither a total waste nor a real war asset. Really enjoyable though. They saw the start WW2 in reserve squadrons but not the action.

Obsolete or not, with their pugnacious Hispano-Suiza 12Xbrs engine and elegant fuselage, they were very handsome machines as we can observe in this photo of the first prototype.

CASA C-201 Alcotán: Going backwards, badly.

And with the Alcotán (Kestrel) we arrived at the end -from the beginning- of Spanish’s Franco transport aircraft autarchy dreams. This design was conceived in the mid/late-1940s as a sort of light multirole twin-engined military aircraft. First flown in early 1949, the Alcotán was basically a mid-1930s aircraft which arrived fifteen years too late. During the test flights the design also proved to be less than startling. Anyway, those were the lesser of its problems. It was the poor state of development of the Spanish aviation ancillary industry, mainly props and engines, the cause of Alcotán’s demise. Notwithstanding that a production of almost a hundred airframes(!) was completed in 1955. Of them only a pre-serie of twelve were fully completed and flew with various engines, both local and foreign. The debacle ended mercifully in the early 1960s when the government monetary compensated CASA and then scrapped the poor Alcotanes.

One of the flying dozen was evaluated by the Escuela de Paracaidistas (Paratroopers School)…. they didn’t like it even before this happened. Poor little thing.

NAA F-86D Sabre Dog: “That high goes your fun factor.”

A gorgeously smart Sabre Dog of the 526th Fighter Interceptor Group, 86th Fighter Interceptor Wing based at Landstuhl (then West Germany) photographed in 1959 next to a sumptuous Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. A lot of those European sporty wheels ended in the hands of Dollar-packed US military personnel during the Cold War.

Hard to make a choice.

Dassault Mirage F1EE: Rainbow Warriors.

Two of the twenty-two F1EEs acquired in the early 1980s by the Ejército del Aire (Spanish AF). These quite advanced fighters with their characteristic “Azul Marino” air superiority livery were used to equip the 462 esquadrón based at Gando, in the paradisiacal “Islas Afortunadas”, the Canary Islands. Summer time mood, my friends.

Gorgeous pilot’s Gueneau Type 316G helmet, with its neat Ulmer Type 82M oxygen mask.

Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.7: Big Ass Bird.

This awkward-looking light bomber/recon biplane appeared at the Western front at the middle of 1916. Conceived as a two-seat derivative from the barely successful R.E.5 single seat, the R.E.7 proved to be in service a barely useful bomber for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). But not thanks to its low speed or its cumbersome crew configuration in which the hapless observer/gunner manned his machine guns from the forward cockpit under the upper wing with the pilot seated aft. A fair amount of the around 230 produced saw a mere seven months of front line service.

As we can observe in this 150hp RAF 4a powered specimen, the main characteristic of this ungainly biplane was its huge, but somehow elegant tail feathers; a feature dictated by the relatively short moment arm of its fuselage. Some also had a sort airbrakes in their fuselages. I kinda love it.

Kawasaki Ki-28: Apples & Oranges Dilemma.

The Ki-28 fighter was conceived in answer to a mid-1930s Imperial Japanese Army Air Force (IJAAF) requirement to replace their Ki-10 biplanes. Faced against Nakajima and Mitsubishi prototypes, the Ki-28 made its maiden flight in 1936 as a neat cantilever monoplane powered by 800hp Kawasaki Ha 9-II-Ko liquid-cooled engine. During tests and trials it proved to be the fastest of the bunch and a match to the nimble Nakajima Ki-27 prototype, the other main contender. In the end, the IJAAF followed their usual preferences and chose the most maneuverable Nakajima. Only one, or maybe two Ki-28 were ever produced.

Sleek and fast at first sight. Pretty artwork on the box of an AZ Model plastic kit.