Lockheed CC-130 Hercules: Looking for some Hot Stuff.

Hercules‘ crew/passengers nattily dressed for “Operation Morning Light.” That name was given to the first phase of the search for Космос(Cosmos) 954, a nuclear-powered Soviet satellite that made an uncontrolled Earth’s atmosphere reentry over northern Canada on 24 January 1978. Regrettably, not much was recovered but they sure did what they could.

This cold miserable weather and my neighbors’ stinking cooking. Subliminal post, I guess.

Curtiss Kingbird D-2: Holy Grail’s Quest little success.

The little-know, and not very numerous, Kingbird was a 1930s seven-passenger twin-engined airliner produced by the Curtiss taking as a basis their previous single-engined Thrust. Curtiss just replaced the nose mounted engine of the Thrust by a pair of Wright J6s on strut mounted nacelles at each side of the fuselage. They also “dirtied” somehow the tail adding extra vertical and horizontal stabilizers, specially in the main production D-2 model.

Nineteen were produced and Eastern Air Transport was the Kingbird’s main operator with fourteen in service. One of them here in front of Eastern’s terminal at the Jacksonville Municipal Airport.  More than evident in this photo the Kingbird’s unique blunt nose design which allowed its engines to be placed really close to its centerline. A feature intended to improve the aircraft behaviour in case of engine failure.

Photo: Jack King’s archives.

Yakovlev Yak-15: The Toss Loser.

Just before the end of the “Patriotic War”, the Council of People’s Commissars in view of technological breakthrough of German jet propulsion put in charge the Yakovlev OKB on the development of a jet fighter ASAP. Yakovlev simply took one of their latest Yak-3 and grafted into it a captured German Jumo 004 engine. As we can see in this photo of a production model, the Jumo (or RD-10) was placed underneath the forward fuselage which acquired in the process a “pod-and-boom” configuration. A steel heat shield was added to its bottom for obvious reasons. Not one of the cleanest designs, the Yak-3-Jumo proved to be nevertheless both workable and expeditious. The production model became the Yak-15, with the MiG-9, the first two operational USSR jet fighters.

The crudeness of the design in all its Soviet splendor at the Savacheika air base.

Blériot V Canard: Wrong direction.

In 1907  Louis Blériot continued his usual trial and error formula. The V was his first monoplane, and what a first. As a Canard (duck), the V had its small elevator and rudder placed on the forward end of the tiny fuselage. Its wings were cambered and elegantly  swept-back and the lateral control was exercised through wing-warping. Powered by the ubiquitous Antoinette (24hp) at the back, the V made some 2 (others say 4) very, very brief flights. Blériot wrecked it in the last attempt.

Blériot looking the wrong way and that pair of side by side cycle wheels. It sure was an hilarious aircraft.

Boeing B-17G: “Any landing that you can walk away,…”

Talking of nothing in particular with a friend a few hours ago Steven Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories” came to our conversation. I must confess I’ve almost forgotten this TV series when all the sudden I remembered this little gem. I was around thirteen years old when I first saw “The Mission” and tonight has been the second one. Spielberg’s bubble-gum style, anachronisms and some B-17‘s technical/props licenses apart, it had aged quite decently. Not a bad way to spend a Friday night….., when alone.

This photo is a painful “spoiler,” I know, but I can’t help it. A truly magic moment when I saw it as a kid.