Project Pluto: “Good old American know-how and insanity.”

Nicknamed the “Flying Crowbar”, Project Pluto was an attempt during the 1950-60s to create a Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM) powered by a nuclear ramjet. And what an attempt. In addition to the multiple nuclear warheads carried, this “creature” was conceived to spend weeks flying over populated areas at low altitude after its payload was expended, its engine irradiating all around in the process. Not to mention the killing properties of the tremendous shockwave wherever it flew over. If all that was not enough, add the extra radiation released when it crashed. Gladly the sheer horrific qualities of this monster, the possibility of emulation by the Soviets and the availability of the cheaper ICBMs put an end to all this incredible idea.

Lovely -what a word choice- cutaway of the ultimate LTV design. This 1959 GD-Convair “The Big Stick” video gives us an oversight of the concept, its goriness apart.

Blackburn Firebrand TF.5: Madly in Love.

Behold the awesomeness of this beastly flop. From the Centaurus to that huge tail feathers, through the lovely teardrop cockpit canopy, the torpedo and its characteristic wing shape. Can’t help it, I told you.

Artist: Leslie Cresswell.

Dornier Do 215 V1: Das Kampflugzeug.

The Do 215 was Dornier answer to the foreign interest in the Do 17Z generated at the 1937 Zürich International Flying Meeting. At first just a name change, the Do 215 soon became a “powered up” version of the original design. Equipped originally with Gnome Rhône 14N engines (Do 215 V2) and when these proved to be not enough with DB 601As. The marked increase in performance achieved opened the door to its mass production. But the start of WW2 meant the end for substantial foreign sales. The ones produced were employed by the Luftwaffe mainly as fast photo-recon aircraft and even as night fighters until 1942.

Very descriptive -lovely cockpit cutaway included- Dornier ad in the Adler magazine (Italian edition). The very first V1 “prototype” (D-AIIB); in fact just a rebranded Do 17Z-0.

Savoia-Marchetti SM.92: Out of time already.

Savoia-Marchetti’s heavy-fighter design tour de force. Retaining basically the same engines, wing and tail surfaces of the SM.91, the SM.92 got rid of that clumsy crew nacelle. The crew was placed instead in the port boom, balanced by fuel tanks in the starboard. Achieving considerable saving in weight and drag in the process. The sole prototype produced was flown for the first time in Nov. 1943. Regrettably too late for the Italians and under German supervision. Damaged during one of it tests in a blue-on-blue incident, the prototype was destroyed in 1944 during an Allied bombing. The design saw no further development.

A cutaway worthy of the startling SM.92. Among its heavy armament layout was a superb rear-firing remote-controlled barbette equipped with a 12.7 mm Breda-SAFAT machine gun.

Caproni Ca.113: Centotredici ragioni per amarla.

The pretty (and) conventional Ca.113 was an advanced training/aerobatic biplane conceived at Caproni early in the 1930s to complement their Ca.100 basic trainers. A modest production was undertaken both in its native Italy and under licence in Bulgaria. Gladly, one of them survives in Italy.

This could have some teeth too. Granted, just a tiny bomb and the ubiquitous Lewis. Precious partial cutaway taken from the book “Gli Aeroplani Capron. Studi-Progetti-Realizzazioni dal 1908 al 1935” by Gianni Caproni.

Avro Tudor I: Flights of Fancy (V).

First flown just after the end of WW2, the Tudor was developed for the company Lancaster/Lincoln line of long-range bombers. Originally intended for operation by BOAC, the Tudor suffered numerous technical set-backs, among them the prototype crash which took the life of its designer, Roy Chadwick. The design was born obsolete anyway and it had few takers; a whole variety of versions were produced with more or less lack of fortune.

Gorgeous cutaway of the basic model. Intended to be used on the important North Atlantic route, the Tudor I proved to be old-fashioned, unstable and incapable. BOAC rejected the few ordered.