Boeing “Turbo B-17”: Hot-Fortress.

The ephemeral “Turbo B-17” was a TB-17F (42-6107/N1340N) air tanker owned by Aero-Flite of Cody, Wyoming. This Fortress was re-engined in 1970 with four slender RR Dart 510 turboprops. It barely had time to demonstrate it potential though. Sadly, it crashed only a few moths after it’s first flight, in Aug. 1970.

They managed to place those slick Darts on the B-17 big engine nacelle quite nicely. I don’t know you, but it looks not totally sacrilegious to me. Imposing certainly.

Ford 5-AT-B: Perlée-finished & Corrugated.

The Tin Goose preserved in pristine condition at the San Diego Air & Space Museum. NC9637 wears the livery of its first employer, the iconic Pan American. This veteran was retired in the 1970s; it last job was with the Grand Canyon Airlines.

Bristol 188: Flaming Pencil, not literally.

Built mainly in stainless steel, Type 188 was conceived for high-speed research flight. In particular to study the kinetic heating on an aircraft during extended sustained flight. Powered by a pair of de Havilland Gyron Juniors, the first of the two very, very expensive prototypes made its first flight in 1962. Disappointment followed. The design proved to be a dismal failure in its intended role because the high fuel consumption of the engines didn’t allow any sustained heating. The project was cancelled after only less than two years of flight operations.

A pretty impressive and convincing beast it was. Those Good Year tyres had a tough job: the 188 had an almost insane take-off speed. Shades of the Blunt Dagger.

Bell X-2: “Enough power to drive a Navy cruiser.”

“Fastest Man Alive” by Mike Machat. Frank “Pete” Everest on his way to Mach 2.8706 gloriously powered by the mighty and cantankerous Curtiss-Wright XLR25 twin chamber rocket engine. This is another aftereffect of my “Towards the Unknown” revisit. Yesterday I felt the urge to take a look at Henry Matthews’ “The Saga of the Bell X-2” book; this artwork is its exciting cover. The book is decent enough although quite bone dry and incomplete. Mind you, it’s a commendable effort, but the “definitive” X-2 book is still waiting.

By the way, Everest went to the movie’s premiere.

IAI Kfir C.7: Once a fighter…..

The Israeli Lion Cub (Kfir) started as an improved version of the IAI Nesher, specially a more powerful one. Re-engined with an American GE J79 (the same their own F-4E used) and with neat canards, the Kfir evolved into a very capable asset. First as fighters and later mainly as strike fighters, the IDF used them extensively and, as usual, in anger. They didn’t let them down. The Kfir has also achieved a fair amount of export orders, despite the American friend’s lack of enthusiasm.

The early 1980s C.7 was an upgraded version of the basic C.2 version. Its still further enhanced performance and avionics made this model more suitable for the fighter-bomber role the type was involved by then. Its fighter blood was not totally betrayed as this four Sidewinder configuration denotes.

Photo: Esaias Baitel.

Caproni Sauro-1: Pretty yet with character.

Produced by Caproni, this charming light/touring monoplane was not a company product, but a design by Emmanuele Trigona. That was a Caproni’s usual practice at the time. First flown in 1933, the Sauro-1 (Sorrel) had a wood and chrome structure and was powered by a cute 130 hp Farina T.58 engine.  Sadly, the Sauro-1 didn’t pass the prototype stage, despite its good handling qualities and speed.

Nicely finished, equipped with a W-wing and trousered undercarriage plus those separated cockpits.  Some aircraft it was.