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.

Dornier Delphin III (L3): Grace wasn’t in the equation.

The peculiar Delphin were produced Dornier in the 1920’s as single-engined a small commercial flying boat to compliment their larger tandem-engined Wals. With those iconic Wals the Delphin shared the squared low-aspect ratio wing surfaces and the household stummels. Three basic models were produced with each one characterised by its increased in power and payload. The Delphin III was the most powerful of them and could take 10 passengers. They had few takers.

With its BMW VI perched above the “nautical” cabin, these were a strange kind of dolphins. Anyway, that engine configuration again.

BAC One-Eleven: High-altitude Sauciness.

The always “unique” Braniff airline hired between 1965-74 the Italian designer Emilio Pucci to fashion the uniforms for their flight crew and ground crews. One of his most bizarre -and also very sixties- collections was a sort of inter-changeable wardrobe, the “AirStrip”. This utterly politically incorrect collection involved the flight attendants taking off parts of the uniform as the flight progressed……

The “space” helmet was mandatory in the 1960’s.

Avro Canada TS-140 proposal: Double take that !!

This incredible tandem, or canard, winged fighter was a design presented by Avro Canada to meet the US Navy TS-140 Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) fighter Specification of 1956. Conceived to be powered by four Bristol Orpheus placed in swiveling nacelles in each of its wing tips, The Avro Canada design lost against the Bell D-188A proposal. A meagre victory: the D-188A was later cancelled too.

Pretty interpretation of what might have been. A very conventional looking big carrier for a such VTOL creature.

Nakajima B4N1: Incom T-65’s Ojiisan.

The B4N1 was an unsuccessful Nakajima entry in an Imperial Japanese navy (IJN) 1932 carrier attack bomber contest. The IJN wanted the usual biplane, and Nakajima produced this stunning aircraft characterised by its drum-shaped welded steel tube fuselage and a bizarre backwards folding wooden “X-wing” structures. Two prototypes appeared in 1933. Their performance proved to be poor, thanks to their asthmatic and troublesome Hikari II engines, and they also suffered stability problems produced, it seems,  by the straight  outer sections in the lower pair fo wings. In the end neither the B4N1 nor its Mitsubishi competitor gained acceptance into service.

It was really something, don’t  you think so?

MD-160 “Lun-Class” Ekranoplan: Resting Places (XI).

Weird scenes inside the USSR. The MD-160 Lun (Harrier in Russian) was an ekranoplan launched in the early 1980’s. With a load capacity of 91 metric tons, its main mission was anti-ship warfare. For that purpose the Lun mounted on its back six P-270 Moskit (SS-N-22 Sunburn) missiles. This massive aircraft ended as the only one of its kind, since the fall of the USSR and the budget cuts forced the program to be suspended in the middle 1990’s. Powered by eight Kuznetsov NK-87 turbofans, placed on its forward canards, the Lun was the fastest ekranoplan of its time with a maximum speed of 550 km/h. It surely wasn’t the prettiest…in conventional ways.

The unique MD-160 built rotting nicely in Kaspiysk, Russia. Look at the complexity of its bow lines. Trident included.

Convair B-58 Hustler: Bitch, Please !!

In fact, the B-58’s form of pre-recorded female voice warning system provided by Nortronics Division of Northrop Corporation was recorded by actress and singer Joan Elms, not by Gina Drazin. The crew referred to that voice as “Sexy Sally” or as “The (Old) Bitch”…. since she always brought bad tidings.

Photo taken from the July 1962 issue “Popular Science”.