Lockheed F-104A Starfighter: Pyrrhic victory.

Not happy with the F-104 light-weight fighter concept, the USAF demanded Lockheed that it must be able to carry and launch the AIR-2A Genie nuclear armed air-to-air missile. They thought the F-104 being a bare minimum design would not fulfil that challenging demand, and hence justify a production curtail. Kelly Johnson and Lockheed took the bull by the horns and came up with a superb retractable trapeze placed on the centre fuselage hard-point which allowed the F-104 to carry and launch of such a large and heavy missile. A series of launches were undertaken, one of them at Mach 1.7 and 56,000 ft.  A valiant effort in vain: the USAF, in the end, used the Starfighter’s limited range as the excuse they needed.

Astonishing gif of the very alive ground test of this startling combo.

Yakovlev Yak-23: “Tanto se estira la cuerda que al final se rompe”.

At the end of WW2 the arrival of jet engine opened a whole new arena for innovation. Yet there were some who found hard to break with tradition. One of them was Alexander Yakovlev OKB. That philosophy proved to be good enough in producing their successful “pod-and-boom” Yak-15/17 stopgap so, why not? The Yak-23 was the ultimate evolution of that formula refined aerodynamically, powered by a RR Derwent knock-off and equipped with a tricycle landing gear. First flown in 1947, this neat tiny fighter displayed decent performances…., for a straight-wing jet fighter. Production soon followed, but just a short one because against the MiG-15 it had not a chance.

“The rope is stretched so much that it finally breaks”. Such a slick design anyway.

LTV XC-142A: Transitions are hard to do.

The stubby XC-142A was a 1960s four-engined experimental tilt-wing cargo convertiplane developed jointly by Vought, Ryan and Hiller for the American three main military services . Conventional in appearance at first sight -those kinda distorted proportions apart- to allow VTOL performances, the XC-142A’s entire wing with its four GE T64 turboprops was designed to rotate in conjunction with the horizontal tail. A tail rotor provided low speed control and trim. First flown in 1964, the five aircraft built worked pretty well, certainly up to the tasks envisaged. Despite all that, the design was nevertheless not placed in production: it was too complex and helicopters were more economical.

The XC-142A in a nutshell in this descriptive photo montage.

Photo: Peter M. Bowers Collection.

Seversky EP1-106: Just Because (LXII).

The P-35 was chosen by the Royal Swedish AF to modernise its fighter component in the late 1930s. A hundred and twenty already obsolescent P-35A (EP1-106) were ordered in total, but only half of them entered service. By 1941 ominous signs were in the horizon and the United States found themselves in need of fighters, any fighter. They took the last sixty Swedish Severskys; they were that desperate. Forty-five were later consumed in the Philippine bonfire.

As this superb colour photo shows the J9 (its local designation) had a lengthened fuselage compared to the P-35. It was better armed too, with an additional pair of underwing .50 HMGs. Operated by the 8 Fighter Wing, these pair wear the “Italian” Sand and Spinach camo adopted during 1943. The same their Italian “cousins” had, which the Swedish also operated. The smart looking 1st Lieutenant Arne Frykholm rides a neat German DKW NZ-350 motorcycle.