“MiG-31” Firefox: “Думайте на русском языке”.

I usually like to take time in the summers to watch old movies. The latest to suffer this treatment has been Clint Eastwood’s (1982) Firefox. The first time I saw it was in a double session cinema when I was a kid….. Boy!!, I still remember how thrilled I went home. Later, in my very pedantic twenties, the movie lost a huge number of points in my esteem. Older now -but not a lot wiser-, Firefox appears to me like a flawed yet quite enjoyable movie. All in all, Clint must feel happy enough.

Very different from the original, its “MiG-31” design was certainly astonishing in the early 1980’s and has aged decently. The choice of flight gear style is a plus in this movie. Worn very tight and with that. interesting selection of colours : black for our hero / white and orange international for its foe. The helmet as usual is the icing on the cake. In this case a very literal interpretation of the USAF HGU-15/P –USN HGU-20/P — NASA LEH  “Clam Shell”.

“Think in Russian”, my friends.

Boulton Paul P.103B: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

At first sight, apart of those contra-rotating props, this neat sketch looks like an Allied early interpretation of the German Fw 190A. In fact, this Bristol Centaurus-powered  “clone” was one of the two Boulton Paul’s proposals (the P.103A was a RR Griffon-engined version) to fulfill the Royal Navy N.7/43 fighter specification. That requirement was conceived to supply, at last, the Fleet Air Arm with an up-to-date all-British carrier fighter after years of barely satisfactory landplane conversions (Sea Hurricanes & Seafires) and American types. In the end, after a tortuous path, it was the Sea Fury the one which answered the “Senior Service” prayers…., but only after the war ended.

Ah, that cockpit canopy.

Bell Rocket Belt: Rocketeer vs Lotus.

We’ve seen lately one of those periodic resurgences of extreme individual flying gizmos. Time to go back the one of the oldest, most spectacular and certainly the most famous by far: the late 1950’s hydrogen peroxide-fuelled marvel of the Bell company.

Nostalgic GIF taken from a Pathé’s Documentary of 1966. The circuit is the classic Brands Hatch and the race car looks like a Formula 3 Lotus. It sure was a short race….that Rocket Belt maximum endurance was only a little more than 21 seconds.

AW Albemarde Mk I: Second-best at best.

Late in the 1930’s the British Air Ministry grew concerned that, if there was a war, the possible supply shortage of aircraft light alloy materials could became a problem. One of the product of that concern was the RAF specification B.9/38 for a bomber built with alternative materials -the Albemarde was the answer. With its already dated steel tube, wood and fabric construction, the Albemarde proved to be both overweight and low on performance compared to up-to-date designs. Obviously, its bomber role was soon forgotten replaced early on by general recon duties. In the end it was as transports and gliders tugs where these unloving and unloved things earned their keep.

Gorgeous cutaway of this aircraft which its chief designer John Lloyd defined as “.. an aircraft that could be built by the tinker, tailor and candlestick maker outside the industry”.