Sud-Est LeO H-470: Plowshares into swords.

One of the fastest, and prettiest, flying boats of the 1930’s. The H-470 resulted from a 1934 Ministère de l’Air specification for a commercial mail carrier/airliner suitable for use over the South Atlantic, the Dakar-Natal route. Exceptional care was taken in its development in order to obtain the highest possible aerodynamic efficiency and it showed. The prototype maiden flight took place in the summer of 1936 and proved particularly successful. This prototype was lost soon after, but not before it proved the soundness of the design. Five production H-470’s were ordered by Air France. The World situation then interfered and the five were impressed by the French Navy. Armed by the Navy, they turned into long-range maritime recon aircraft. They served in that role until 1943 when problems with spare supplies condemned the survivors to the scrape yard.

They sure were mighty sleek things, even with the addition of military draggy equipment. Of note its characteristic 4 tandem mounted Hispano-Suiza 12Y engines and the cooling radiators placed in nacelles under them.

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SIPA S.121: From nose to tail.

The S.10/S.11/S.12 family was the French versions of the Arado Ar 396 advanced trainer. The Société Industrielle Pour l’Aéronautique (SIPA) had been producing under licence the previous Ar 96 for the Luftwaffe during WW2, being it successor, the Ar 396 was the logical next step. At the end of the war it became the French company’s first post-war product.
The S.12 was an all-metal production variant produced after the “composite-built” S.10/S.11’s. The S.121 that followed being a light-weight development of the S.12 in which the steel centre fuselage was supplanted by one of light alloy.

The SIPA’s cried out loud their German (and Arado) heritage. In this photo the garishly painted S.121 (F-BLKH / F-WLKH) operated by the Salis Collection. Regrettably, it crashed in 1978 and only some sad remains still stand in the Deutche Technikmuseum.

Bristol Brabazon: The Greatest Flop.


The magnificent aircraft in this neat Qantas poster looks like the predecessor of the Bristol Brabazon. Bristol proposed in 1942 a “100-Ton” bomber which was turned down by the RAF who preferred then their war-proved Lancasters and Halifaxes. The work already done was not lost because Bristol based its proposal to the Brabazon Committee’s Type I airliner in it.

The aircraft concept depicted here shows the pusher engines and gorgeous V-tail (direct for the “100-Ton” bomber) early considered yet also displays the wing platform adopted in the end by the actual Brabazon airliner built.

Vought XTBU-1 Sea Wolf: US Industrial might at work.

The XTBU-1 was the XTBF-1 (Avenger‘s prototype) “losing” rival for the US Navy 1940 torpedo bomber contract. Even though the Sea Wolf came second in the contest, Vought design showed such performances and potential the Navy ordered its further development. The company by then with their hands full with their troublesome Corsair fighters decided to sell their TBU design to Consolidated. In the end only 189 would be produced due to technical and production problems which caused huge delays. Designated TBY-2, only two mere squadrons were in the process of preparation to deploy overseas when “V-J Day” came.

Gorgeous profile photo of the Sea Wolf’s first prototype. To say it was purposeful-looking aircraft is a serious understatement. I do love its long, long greenhouse cockpit canopy.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress: Flight of Fancy (III).

The other day thinking about the now two airworthy B-29’s all the sudden I remembered a childhood all-favorite of mine, Disney’s 1980 “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark” movie. The Superfortress featured in the flying sequences was “Fertile Myrtle” (45-21787 / BuNo 84029). A famous aircraft, “Fertile Myrtle”, was employed from 1951 to 1956 by the US Navy/NACA to launch the iconic Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. Owned nowadays by Kermit Weeks, its nose is currently on display in the International Sport Aviation Museum (Lakeland, Florida). The rest of the aircraft is stored. As an aside, four other B-29’s wrecks were acquired also from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center for diverse non-flying duties in the movie.

The movie is utterly naive, but in a good way. Pure nostalgia.

Sud Aviation Caravelle III: The rounding of a triangle.

The truly distinctive “rounded off” triangular passenger windows of the iconic Caravelle. The idea behind this peculiar design was that aircraft passengers generally look down most of the time from the cabin windows. So why not give them only what they want? Not a question of stinginess: the reduced area of metal removed from the fuselage to accommodate the window aided in preserving the strength of the pressurised body….., shades of the DH Comet disaster.

A SAS Caravelle from an idem, I guess.