Stroop SP-7: Incom T-65’s prequel.

This amazing idea was Robert C. Stroop’s brainchild, an obscure American designer of the Depression era. Stroop proposed his aircraft concept  to the USAAC in 1935 as a way to convine high maximum speed with decent low landing speeds. As we can observe in this drawing, it was a beautiful idea for a convertible aircraft. In cruising flight the machine worked just as any conventional monoplane of the era. The SP-7 wing was split in two halves in flight for take-off and landing, the upper part went upwards while the lower part downwards to form a sort of “X” biplane. The project was, maybe, too bold and was rejected by the USAAC. It seems it never left the Stroop’s drawing board.

By the way, SP-7 had a flying predecesor: the SP-6. More “X-winged” than the SP-7, the SP-6 was mentioned in Stroop’s USAAC letter, photos included. Glorious, my friends.


Folland Fo.108 (43/37): Only the Brave (VI).

The Fo.108 was the answer to a RAF requirement (43/37) for a purpose-built engine testbed aircraft. Folland’s winner was this humongous single-engined monoplane. Crewed by a pilot and two “boffins” there was nothing fancy or advanced in its conception when the prototype took the skies for the first time in 1940, just a no-nonsense platform to perform a vital duty.
An obvious question came to my mind: why single-engined knowing the potential trouble of an untried engined as the only motive power? The operational story of the 12 produced Fo.108 answered it….,five of them were lost in crashes. You don’t get the nickname “Frightful” for nothing.

Those Follands’  humonguousness in all it splendor. The quite massive Napier Sabre model being tested here looks almost as a little tiny joke.

Nungesser Hydravion-Canard: Crazy Wild Duck.

In his superbly chaotic life Great War ace Charles Nungesser found time even to try his hand at aircraft design. His seaplane was a sort of derivative of his unrealised “Oeuf Volant” (flying egg) racer design conceived to take part in the 1922 Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe race. Nungesser’ unorthodox creature was a hideous looking boxy seaplane canard “thing” monoplane. An amphibian gear was also planned. Power came, at first, from a ridiculous 60hp engine later replaced by a barely less ridiculous 95hp Anzani radial. Completed in March 1923, the prototype undertook a few not very convincing flights before vanishing into oblivion.

Magnificent photo of the “hydravion-canard” with Nungesser at the helm taken at the Melan-Les Mureaux lake during its test. The engine used here is the more powerful 95hp seven cylinder Anzani.

Un air de famille.

Mikoyan MiG-21F-13: From Iraq with Love.

In August 16, 1966 an Iraqi MiG-21F-13, the then ultimate fighter in the various Arab air forces, landed at Hatzor (Israel). Flown by a defector, Munir Redfa, this fighter was acquired by the Israeli through the elaborate “Operation Diamond” carried out by the famous Mossad, the national intelligence agency. The MiG was thoroughly evaluated by its happy new owners and the lessons learned were rapidly distributed. The Israel AF crews made good use of that data during next year (1967) Six-Days War. Later, in 1968, this very aircraft was lent to the USAF and was evaluated in the remote Nevada.

Seen here next to the MiG-21F-13 “007”, a truly appropriate number, is the renowned pilot Danny Shapira. Shapira was the test pilot who undertook the bulk of the tests.

Fairchild C-82A Packet: Open the Door !!!

This is one of the unlucky Packets used by the NACA (National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics) for a plane crash fire research program they undertook during 1949-50. From this dramatic tests NACA developed some quite efficient fire inerting systems. To no avail, at that time the airlines were not interested….too heavy and costly. Gladly, these spectacular tests sure opened the door; the succeeding aircraft designs began to be conceived with the lessons learned in them.

Zimmerman’s Flying Apparatus: “Here I come to save the day….”

Behind this somehow comic-looking patent was the mind of Charles Horton Zimmerman. The young Zimmerman was at that time interested in what he called “kinesthetic control”: to achieve control through the use of the pilot body in small flying vehicles….a sort of flying gyro scooter, sans gyro.  This patent was materialized later in a more pedestrian prototype that was tested at the Hiller company factory. It flew, but not very high; it showed serious stability and control problems.

Ah, and those “mice ears”?  They had no control functions. They were there to support the pilot head and lesser the his/her neck fatigue during the horizontal flight.