Curtiss SOC: Shockproof elan.

The tough and ready Curtiss SOC Seagull was a scout/recon floatplane employed by the US Navy in their catapult-equipped battleships and cruisers from 1935 until, in some cases, well into 1945. The cause of its commendable front line longevity was the failure of its intended replacement: Curtiss’ other Seagull, the SO3C. They also saw service with the US Coast Guard. Produced both by Curtiss and by the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) as the SON-1, around 320 of them were produced.

Jumping over the heavy waves and don’t giving a damn. Pure poetry this photo.


Aviatik (Berg) 30.40: Above reproach.

This pretty parasol monoplane was developed in Austria-Hungary during the late part of WW1 as a high altitude fighter to be employed mainly over the Italian front. Not a clean sheet design, this monoplane took as a basis the previous Aviatik 30.27 biplane, in fact, it was also powered by a 160hp Steyr-built Le Rhône rotary engine. Only this prototype was built. First flown the summer of 1918, it arrived already too late.

Superb looking machine, in my humble opinion.

Ikarus IK-2: Labor of love.

The IK-2 was born in curious circumstances. In the late 1920s Royal Yugoslav AF in order to improve the technical knowledge of the indigenous industry send to France a number of young aeronautical engineers. Two of them, Ljubomir Ilić and Kosta Sivčev, went back full of ideas, but found themselves in no position to exploit them. No problem. In 1931 they simply decided to design their dream at their spare time and with their own funds.
By 1933 they were noticed at last by some officials and the project reached the prototype stage with the IK-1. Like the later IK-2, a stunning gull-winged metal monoplane powered by one of those Hispano-Suiza “Moteur Canon” engines. The prototype took its maiden flight in 1935 and proved its potential despite its lost during the third flight due to wing fabric detachment.
Modified with metal-covered wings, the resulting IK-2 was tested successfully starting in 1936. After overcoming some opinion differences rooted on the IK-1’s crash, a dozen production model were ordered. Regrettably by then the various delays in development had caught the design and by 1939, the IK-2 was obsolescent. The dozen saw service in WW2 against the Germans and they conducted themselves quite honorably. Around a third even survived to serve with the pro-German Croatian AF.

Splendidly French-looking (their interwar fighters were quite handsome) and fast for a fixed-undercarriage fighter. An old favorite of mine.

I.Ae. 34M Clen Antú: There’s no love like the first.

Continuing with Reimar Horten’s Argentine adventures, the I.Ae. Clen Antú (“Sun Ray” in an indigenous language) supposed a return to his origins: high-performance gliders. Not as pure as his late-war high aspect ratio Nurflügel aircraft though, the first Clen Antú made its maiden flight in 1949. The cleanliness of the design was “marred” by a cockpit nacelle for its two pilots’ conventional seats. Six of them were produced, two of which, like this one, were built as single-seat I.Ae. 34Ms. Those two took part unsuccessfully in the 2nd International Glider Competition (Madrid, 1952) being obviously obsolete by the standards of the day.

Gorgeously restored and wearing proudly the Argentine colors, this single-seater rests at the Museo de la Industria de Córdoba. This particular example is notorious for its crossing flight of the Andes. It deserves a neater sun protection than those tarps….

Kellner-Béchereau 28VD: Pas de grandes phrases… Quel Dommage!!

The 28VD was a racing aircraft designed by the great Louis Béchereau to take part in the classic 1933 Coupe Deutsch de la Meurthe. The result, as we can observe, was a truly thing of beauty gorgeously streamlined with a short low aspect ratio wing and retractable undercarriage. Pretty inside too: the contest specified the use of engines of less than 8 litres so Béchereau chose a little 7.95 V-12 jewel from the Delage company. That engine and its troublesome propeller were the cause of the 28VD demise while the aircraft was preparing it qualifications for the race. The 28VD was severely damaged in a crash, gladly with no lost of life, and that meant the end of its story.

Wing skin radiators included. What’s not to like?

Arrow Active 2: ….very, very Active.

The Arrow was the only product of the eponymous Arrow Aircraft (Leeds) Limited, and just two of them were produced. This gorgeous small aerobatic/sport biplane was originally conceived in the very early 1930s with the military in mind. It was not to be. The Active 2 was the more powerful of the two and the one still alive today.

With its compact size and muscled Gipsy Major IC engine this cute biplane is quite lively. Taking-off full elan here.

Photo: Stephen Blee.