Potez-CAMS 161: Didn’t run very far.

The CAMS 161, like the Latécoère 631, was a magnificent six-engined flying boat designed to operate on the prestigious North Atlantic routes; the jewel of the crown in the aviation of the late 1930s. Sadly, only a prototype was built after its configuration was tested by a proof-of-concept aircraft. First flown at the end of 1939, the CAMS 161 story is quite obscure. Taken by the Germans it undertook some flying under their colours. It was destroyed in an unclear place near the end of WW2.

Balkenkreuz-equipped. Not as clean as the 631, but mighty in its own way.

Savoia-Marchetti S.84: Look twice.

A DC-3, right? Well, this almost forgotten prototype was in fact a twin-engined development of the classic S.73. First flown in 1936, this handsome 18 passenger airliner has left almost no trace. So much so that Savoia-Marchetti reused its number in their also pretty, but not very good SM.84.

Magnificent photo taken at Dusseldorf. Only those struts on the tail betrayed its origins.

Douglas A-20G Havoc: “She’s slick….., and beautiful”.

Not maybe one of the great forgotten ones of WW2, yet the Boston/Havoc family with it circa 7,500 produced deserves to be better remembered. Originally designed by the Douglas’ El Segundo as a private venture bomber, the basic design soon grew into fast, sturdy and very able aircraft. Its many variants satisfied many users, in many war theatres and in a considerable number of roles.

Magnificent Kodakchrome photo of some brand new Havocs en route (Alaska, methinks) to the Soviet Union. Notice the clever customising of the American star into a provisional red one for the transit. With almost 3,000 delivered, the USSR was the major operator of the Boston/Havoc. They adored them.

Cleopatra.

Piaggio P.111: Ben oltre la bellezza.

This beauty was conceived in 1939 purely as a high-altitude research aircraft. In particular, to investigate cabin pressurization in line with the development of the company P108C airliner. First flown in the spring of 1941, this relatively small bimotor monoplane was powered by a pair of 1000hp Piaggio P.XII R.C.l00/2v two-stage supercharged radial engines which allow it to achieve a ceiling of about 39,000 feet. An active test career followed which concluded with its unceremonious scrapping before the Italian armistice.

The sparkling brand new prototype at Villanova d’Albenga (Savona), 1941.