Robey-Peters Gun-Carrier: “Looks Ma, no fear!!”.

This three-seater armed tractor biplane was constructed by Robey and Co under the design of J.A. Peters to carry the Admiralty-sponsored Davis recoiless gun. The more remarkable feature of this 240 hp Roll-Royce powered aircraft was its crew members disposition. The two gunners were located each in a nacelle faired into the upper wings where they manned their Davis guns, while the pilot was placed bizarrely in a cockpit towards the very rear of the fuselage just ahead of the fin. Two examples were ordered by the Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) in May 1916, but in the end all came to naught when the first prototype crashed in its very first flight in May 1917.

Lavochkin La-7: “Too Much Love Will Kill You”.

The radial-engined Lavochkin’s were, with the liquid-cooled Yakovlev’s, the fighters that allowed the Soviet AF to face in battle the Luftwaffe finest on a more or less equal footing. Somehow crude and certainly not refined maybe, but sturdy, fast and built in quantity. In good hands the Lavochkin’s gave a good account of themselves…. the top Soviet ace of the war, Ivan Kozhedub (62 victories), ended the war at the controls of one of them.

NPO Lavochkin company is obviously proud of their more famous product. One of the only three survivors is presented this way near their place at Khimki, Moscow. They should take instead a better care of it: a replica would do just as well, it is my humble opinion.

Arado Ar 231: Der Kinder Surprise.

The smart Ar 231 was an ultra light-weight floatplane conceived in the early WW2 years to be carried and operated from submarines. Its main unusual feature was an offset wing design to enable its two wing panels to fold aft flat in its watertight stowage tube without interfering with each other, the inner section was designed on a slant so the right wing was in fact lower than the left. Tested thoroughly during 1940, the design couldn’t get over its inherent fragility, lack of power and awful air/seaworthiness qualities. Only a bunch of prototypes were built.

At any rate, a superbly elegant failure with some clever engineering behind it.

Stanley Aviation “escape capsule”: The good old days of above & beyond.

How the incredible Hustler‘s escape capsule works. As we see in this “time capsule” GIF, in case of an emergency a protective clamshell would enclose the whole seat, the control stick included in case of the pilot. “Turted up” in such way the pilot could still continue to fly the Hustler or in case of a more dire situation undertake an immediate egress. The capsule would float and even be used as a life raft.

The “pilot” wears an Aviators Equipment Corporation MB-3 helmet with a MS22001 oxygen mask. That peculiar “soft” helmet with its detachable bill was used by the Strategic Air Command in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s for crew positions not requiring the use of a rigid helmet. The Hustler, with its escape capsule, was ideal. Hardware porn, my friends.

Dassault Mirage IIIEE & Aeroplano Olivert-Brunet: Caged.

The two very different aircraft exposed inside the Principe Felipe Science Museum (City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia). With the biplane named after him Juan Olivert Serra undertook the first motorised flight in Spain in Sep 5. 1909 (Paterna, Valencia). The other name carrier by this pioneer biplane was the one of its designer: Gaspar Brunet Viadera.
The Mirage IIIEE (C.11-7/111-4) has a long experience in this matters. Severely burned years ago, without loss of life thankfully, this Mirage was cosmetically repaired and placed on a pylon, close to an old Sabre (this one) in a prominent place at the Manises Air Base. After the Manises AB closure it “flew” to its actual placement. Poor little things…., not a fan of Calatrava’s “cloned things”.

By the way, this just “out of the oven” awful photo is mine. Be merciful.

Short S.B.3: THE Shame.

As I commented in my previous Short Sturgeon post, the Short company found themselves with a promising airframe in search of a role to fulfil. This hideous contraption was conceived for the M.6/49 light anti-submarine aircraft requirement -it was in fact the only contender. Short reengined their Sturgeon with two 1,147 hp AS Mamba turboprops and, horror of horrors, a monstrous nose affair with the radar in its “chin” and a pair of radar operator above. The first of the two prototypes took flight in Dec. 1950 and proved that it wasn’t only ugly in appearance: its Mamba engined jet exhauts made the S.B.3 highly unstable. The project was soon cancelled.

Well, at least it became as ugly as its fishy namesake.