“Ryan LM”: Roger. You’re looking real good.

Astronauts taking down a Lunar Module (LM) on its one and only Moon landing. Superb Robert Watts’ concept art for the Ryan Aeronautical company, 1960s. Drawn quite late in the conception stage of the LM according to those standing astronauts and the lack of seats.

The future was then.

Auster B.4: No happy ending for this Ugly Duckling.

Built as a private venture, the B.4 made its first flight in Sept. 1951 and was intended to be useful for both military and civil roles. The Auster company tried with this peculiar aircraft to create a light cargo variant of their rugged light aircraft family. What took apart the B.4 was its rear pod-shaped fuselage equipped with clamshell doors to ease cargo operations and that funny “quadricycle” undercarriage.
After some modification to the vertical tail surfaces the unique example built appeared at the 1953 Farnborough SBAC Show and was evaluated by the British Army. It had no takers.

Funny looking with the clamshell doors, it was hilarious without them.

Lockheed XP-49: “Appearances are a glimpse of the unseen.”

With their brand new P-38 design showing its ample potential, the people of Lockheed didn’t feel the need to explore new venues when the USAAC Material Division demanded the development of a newer updated interceptor in the Spring of 1939. This proposal was basically an almost “2/3 P-38” airframe, pressurised and matted to two of the new “Hyper Engines”, the P & W X-1800s. Ordered into prototype stage, the XP-49 soon entered into problems with its intended engine choice; the barely less troublesome Continental XI-1430-1s was chosen as a substitutes.  First flown in late 1942, the unique XP-49 prototype didn’t impress with its performances specially compared to its forebear. That situation plus its questionable powerplant situation put an end to further development.

With those stupendously streamlined engine nacelles it sure looked like a total winner. This is the sad end of this deceitfully beauty: used in drop tests to investigate the result of hard landings at Wright Field.

Lioré et Olivier LéO 213: Pure Gold.

The LéO 21 series was a French 12-airliner design derived for the Lioré et Olivier company’s very successful LéO 20 bomber. Longer and with a bigger wingspan than the prototype and powered by a pair of 450hp Renault 12Ja engines, the LéO 231 was the main production version with eleven produced in total. The Air Union employed the whole LéO 213 production on their Paris-London, Paris-Lyon-Marseille and Paris-Genève routes before they passed to Air France in 1933. Soon after that the survivors, modified as military transports, ended their days with the l’Armée de l’Air.

Alluring photo of one of those elegant “Rayons d’Or” taken at the Croydon airport. “Rayon d’Or”/”Golden Ray” (the english name was painted on the port side) was the name Air Union gave to their LéOs.

IAR.81C: “Down to earth” in the DNA

During the middle 1930s Industria Aeronautică Română (IAR) company had been competing unsuccessfully against the Polish PZL company in providing the Romanian AF with fighters. Quite tired of the whole matter, IAR ate crow somehow and decided to evaluate the Polish winners (mainly the P.24) and chose the best features them for their next challenger.
First flown just before the start of WW2, the IAR.80 looked a lot like a P.24 -specially its fuselage- equipped with a svelte low wing instead of the “Polish Wing.” All went well during its trials and the IAR.80 was ordered and became the main fighter of the Romanian AF during WW2 with around 350 produced. Decent performers at the time of its operational debut, the IAR.80-81s suffered during their operational life of the lack of real power on their licence-built Mistral Majors engines. They could hold their own against the Soviet fighters early on, but later they proved to be both underpowered and a bit underarmed, specially against the American heavy bombers.

Magnificent take-off photo of an example of the latest variant, the heavily armed IAR.81C. To say those IARs were sleek is a serious understatement.