Praga E.114: Baby, I love your way.

This adorable little two-seat monoplane was the brainchild of czech designer Jaroslav Šlechta. of all-wooden construction the prototype made its maiden flight in 1934. The design was powered by and heretoclite variety of engines ranging in power from 40-74hp. The “Air Baby” saw extensive production, both before and after WW2. It was also built under licence in UK by F. Hills & Sons which produced 40 of the circa 270 manufactured. Production ended in 1948.

Cute as the E.114 this neat cutaway. The lower-powered of the bunch (40hp Praga B) and its kinda cool its raised centre leading edge cockpit access.

Caudron C.81: Spécialement équipé pour le vol de nuit.

The mid-1920s C.81 was a scaled-up powered-up version of Caudron’s previous C.61. The series production model was interesting because it employed two very different engines. A 400hp Lorraine-Dietrich V-12 engine was mounted in the central position and, at the wings, there were a pair of 280hp Salmson water-cooled radials. Curiously, considering its increase in power, the C.81 carried the same number (seven) passengers the C.61 carried. They traveled inside a cousy closed cabin, the pilots faced the elements in the open.

Five of them were employed by the French-Romanian Company for Air Transport. Magnificent cutaway of the accommodation waiting for you if you chose their services.

Heinkel He 177A-5 Grief: Tail End Günther.

A Grief tail gunner climbing into his cousy office. The A-5’s Heckstand (tail position) was equipped with a very convincing 20mm MG 151/20 cannon. Our subject is wearing the electrically heated two-piece “Channel” flying suit; 10-30 B-2 Schwimmwester (life preserver); Ruckenfallschirm (back parachute) and a neat LKp S101 flying helmet.

Photo: Bundesarchiv.

Vought SB2U-3 Vindicator: Its swan song.

The Vindicator was conceived in answer to a mid-1930s US. Navy’s carried-based scout/dive bomber requirement. One of the first monoplanes operated from carriers, this transitional aircraft was on its way to obsolescence before World War II broke out. Their baptism of fire with in 1940 with the french Aéronavale proved their evident vulnerability. Slow and badly defended, they still remained in first line service with the US. Navy/Marines until mid-1942. Other more capable platforms relegated the Vindicators to less hazardous duties soon afterwards.

The USS Ranger (CV-4) band rehearsing. That two-blade prop looks definitely out of place by 1942. The year Paul Sample created this nice piece of work, part of his “Naval Aviation” collection for the LIFE magazine.

Panavia Tornado GR.1: Tonka’s Mighty Fin-ale.

The “Tonka” will be permanently retired from RAF active service next month. I must confess this mighty aircraft has never been one of my favorites. It has a very special place in my aviation addicted heart nevertheless: the Tonka was the first aviation subject of which I read something comprehensive about…, way, way back in my early teens.

An early GR.1 of the Tri-National Tornado Training Establishment, (RAF Cottesmore) displaying its aggressive squat shape and pretty elegant camo in 1994.