SNCASE SE.2410 Grognard I: The Hunchback of the South East.

The Grognard I was conceived in the late 1940s as a single-seat ground attack aircraft. Its design embodied several novel and quite radical features, specially at the time of its appearance.Two of them took the Grognard I apart, namely its drastic 47˚ swept wing design and its engine configuration: two RR Nene jet engines, staggered one above the other, in the rear of a very bulky fuselage. The Grognard I flew for the first time on April, 1950. The concept was evolved further into a vastly modified second prototype, the Grognard II. Neither of the two had any luck; both had their development stopped due to some technical problems and changes on Armée de l’Air operational policies. After that they served as armament testbeds.

This photo does real justice to this French fantasy. That nose affair with its “birdcage” cockpit does the trick to me.


Douglas A3D-2 Skywarrior: Windy take-offs.

Nicknamed the “Whale” due to its almost cetacean size, when the Skywarrior entered service it was the heaviest aircraft ever to operate regularly from aircraft carrier. The A-3 was also the second of the only two strategic (nuclear)  bombers -it replaced the previous NAA Aj Savage- to enter service with the US Navy.
Designed by the peerless Ed Heinemann and his team, the prototype (XA3D-1) made its maiden flight in the fall of 1952. The model entered service with the US Navy in March 1956. With the Navy the A-3’s saw a plethora of employs; from their original strategic bomber role to aerial refuelling while becoming also useful in ECM, COMINT, test platforms…, you name it. A handful were still at work during the first Gulf War in 1991.

An A3D-2 Skywarrior of the VAH-1 just off from its floating nest, the Forrestal-Class USS Independence in the late 1950’s. A serious flaw in this superb design was the lack of ejection seats for any of its crew. As a morbid joke the A3D was referred as the “All 3 Dead” early in its service. Note the open escape hatch on the top of the cockpit. That hatch remained always open on take-off and landings. Better than nothing, I guess.

Photo: LIFE magazine.

Lockheed F-104G Starfighter: Einfach Wunderbar !!!

Utterly innovative and original display of the German Luftwaffe F-104G (20+90) Martin-Baker Mk. GQ-7(A) ejection seat “in action” at the Deutches Museum.  I kinda love his French Gueneau type 316 flying helmet.
Germans and their love/hate relation with the Starfighter. They used some of these seats indeed.

Marine too, at ease. 

Ryan NYP (replica): No coaching needed.

Just revisited again -I’ve lost count of the times- Billy Wilder’s 1957 “The Spirit of St. Louis” movie. Still bizarre to watch the then almost 50 years old James Stewart as a 25 years old Charles Lindbergh…. Anyway, the attention to the technical details in this superb movie is just mouthwatering. One thing that also gave credibility to the movie was that James Steward was an accomplished pilot and it shows.

Just look at their NYP cockpit. Skilled hands at work.

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”.