Armstrong Whitworth F.K.8: A-verage W-inner.

Nicknamed “Big Ack”, this clumsy looking general purpose biplane was designed by a Dutch maverick, the aircraft designer Frederick Koolhoven. Both F.K.8 and the RAF R.E.8 entered service in early 1917 as a long overdue replacements for the “bloody” B.E.2. Of the two Koolhoven’s F.K.8 was the less-known, but not because of its qualities. Compared to its partner it was more rugged and handled better, yet it was even less sprightly than the already passable R.E.8. One thing both had in common, they shared the deadly inbuilt stability of the B.E.2. Notwithstanding the certain lacklustreness,  the F.K.8’s were well-received by their crews who appreciated they sturdiness, reliability and versatility.

A somehow dour F.K.8’s crew next to the lovely ultra-hideous nose of our protagonist. Ugliness apart, both the inverted V radiator and the V-shaped oleo-undercarriage suffered teething problems. That “A-W” logo is a touch I’ve always found really neat.

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Mikoyan MiG-21F-13: From Iraq with Love.

In August 16, 1966 an Iraqi MiG-21F-13, the then ultimate fighter in the various Arab air forces, landed at Hatzor (Israel). Flown by a defector, Munir Redfa, this fighter was acquired by the Israeli through the elaborate “Operation Diamond” carried out by the famous Mossad, the national intelligence agency. The MiG was thoroughly evaluated by its happy new owners and the lessons learned were rapidly distributed. The Israel AF crews made good use of that data during next year (1967) Six-Days War. Later, in 1968, this very aircraft was lent to the USAF and was evaluated in the remote Nevada.

Seen here next to the MiG-21F-13 “007”, a truly appropriate number, is the renowned pilot Danny Shapira. Shapira was the test pilot who undertook the bulk of the tests.

Fairchild C-82A Packet: Open the Door !!!

This is one of the unlucky Packets used by the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) for a plane crash fire research program they undertook during 1949-50. From this dramatic tests NACA developed some quite efficient fire inerting systems. To no avail, at that time the airlines were not interested….too heavy and costly. Gladly, these spectacular tests sure opened the door; the succeeding aircraft designs began to be conceived with the lessons learned in them.

Bloch MB.300 “Pacifique”: Prettiness doesn’t always pay.

This elegant French all-metal trimotor airliner was conceived for Air France in the early-middle 1930’s. First flown in 1935, the prototype was all but a success being too heavy, vastly underpowered and inestable. With Air France’s technical policies changing to the acquisition of four-engined airliners, the future of this questionable trimotor became sealed. Anyway, after modifications, the French company took reluctantly the unique prototype in 1938. It whereabouts soon afterwards are obscure; some said it ended in Spain.