De Schelde S.21: Tadpole sting.

With its pusher engine, twin boom tail feathers and hugely glassed cockpit canopy, the S.21 looked right out of a pulp aviation comic of its era. This late 1930s/early 1940s Dutch single-seat fighter design was the brainchild of T. E. Slot, the former chief designer of Pander & Son. Of all-metal construction and powered by a German 1050hp DB 600Ga, as conceived, the S.21 was heavily armed with four fixed light machine guns and a curious 23mm Madsen cannon which could be directly handled by its pilot.
The construction of the prototype was initiated in the early 1939, and it was still uncompleted when the German invaded the Nederlands in May 1940. Seized by the conquerors, the prototype, still unfinished and unflown, was destroyed by them during some terminal structural tests.

Magnificently done contemporary cutaway.

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Fokker T.V: In the genes.

This boxy and inelegant aircraft was Fokker answer to a Netherlands Army Air Force’s dubious late 1930s requirement: the Luchtkruiser (aerial cruiser). An aircraft with a primary role of enemy bombers heavy interceptor with could be used also as a bomber itself. The product Fokker presented was quite modern at first sight but not structurally though, being of Fokker’s usual mixed-construction. First flown in 1937, the T.V proved to be decent enough during its tests. Anyway, by then sane minds prevailed and the few T.Vs produced (around 15) were purchased as mere medium bombers. Beset with engine problems, during the German invasion of 1940 the T.Vs performed more than decently mainly as bombers. Curiously, in their first combat the T.Vs shot down, by chance, two German bombers. Luchtkruisers they were, after all. To no avail, the German steamroller was unstoppable.

This precious classic style cutaway uncovers the obsolescence under the T.V.s skin.

Project Mercury: How-To-Do-It.

Originally known as Project Astronaut, the NASA first manned program was officially approved on October 7, 1958 and publicly announced on December 17. Mechanix Illustrated had their own idea of the eventual configuration. They were quite close; here it is one of NASA’s initial configuration studies. The David Clark MC-2 pressure suit was a neat and obvious choice.

Fifty-seven years ago today (May 5, 1961) Alan Sheppard became the…, second man in Space, and only barely. “Don’t Cry Too Much, José.”