Lockheed R6V Constitution: A giant with tiny muscles.

The Galaxy‘s anniversary the other day reminded me Lockheed’s unsuccessful prequel of the 1940s. Started in 1942, the Constitution was conceived by request of the US. Navy and the Pan Am company both looking a giant leap in range and load capacities. The design chosen employed a huge double-deck fuselage aircraft powered by four P & W R-4360 Wasp Majors, the more powerful engines available. It was not enough. First flown in 1946, the R6V turned out to be seriously underpowered even when re-engined with a more powerful variant of the Wasp Major. Worse, the engines also suffered cooling issues. Due to those problems, just two prototypes were produced and they only saw a brief service with the US. Navy until 1953. Pan Am’s interest had evaporated long before.

Ship No.1 (BuNo 85163) was employed in testing RATO (rocket assisted take-off) operations. It sure needed it at max gross weight. Those minute-looking engines on such an humongous aircraft….

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Sud-Est SE.161.P7 Languedoc: Just Because (XXXII).

Supreme photograph of one of the Air France re-engined Languedocs. Its American Pratt & Whitney R-1830 SIC-3-G engines not only gave these SE-161s more power and safety, they also improved their beauty with these gorgeous engine nacelles.

EKW C-3605 Schlepp: “It was an aircraft stuck to a nose,…”

The original EKW C-36 was a late 1930s/early 1940s single-engined maid-of-all-trades combat aircraft design conceived to replace the Fokker C.Vs variants in service with the Swiss AF. They entered service in 1942, despite being born already obsolete both conceptually and technologically. Gladly, that was not a problem in the very neutral Switzerland so the various C-36 produced stayed in the front line use until the early 1950s and a few converted into target tugs (Schlepp) were still operated in the late 1980s.

The very alive example of the Fliegermuseum Dübendorf is one of twenty-four former C-3603-1 converted into target tugs. The conversion entailed the replacement of its Hispano-Suiza 12 Y-51 piston engine by a Lycoming T53 turboprop. To preserve the centrage, the lighter T53 was place in this somehow hilariously lengthened nose. It has always amused me.

CASA C-202A Halcón: Do not call self-sufficiency what is just misery.

This dumpy aircraft was another product of General Franco’s autarky postwar policy. This program started in the last part of the 1940s as a refinement of the Previous Alcotán, designed both by Pedro Huarte-Mendicoa. Contrary to the Alcotán, it had tricycle landing gear an its unpressurized cabin could accommodate fourteen-eighteen passengers. Following the autarky policy it was intended to be powered by a pair of indigenous 775hp EMMASA Beta B.4 radial engines. The lack of development of the latter forced the first prototype to be powered with a bizarre sort of mongrel engine which combined parts old 840hp Wright Cyclone taken from Iberia retired DC-2’s and parts of B.4. Its maiden flight on 1952 (60 years ago yesterday) proved the good qualities of the airframe and the dubious ones of the power plants. The second prototype flew two years later with the intended Betas, but it soon became obvious the troublesome Spanish engines had no future. An order (20) was placed anyway by the Spanish AF, but in the end only the two prototypes were produced. The 1st prototype was later reengined and aerodynamically cleaned out thanks to the interest of an American company; no orders followed.

We could see the lines of the later Azor in this neat photo of the 1st prototype taken at Getafe (Madrid) just after being roll out of it assembly hangar. The pair of wheels units in front landing gear were provided by another aircraft; the Halcón employed a single wheel, which was still not available….

Miles Master Mk.II: Black was Black.

Despite all its virtues the original Miles Master was born with a defect, of sorts: its Kestrel was an ancient engine and its production was coming to end. No problem. Nothing that a new Master variant equipped with a trusty 870hp radial Bristol Mercury XX radial engine couldn’t take care. First flown in Oct. 1939, the M.19 Master Mk.II saw both an extensive production (1,748) and a truly useful service life.

Four “kaffirs” under the supervision of a very white officer. Disturbing, yet gloriously beautiful Kodachrome photo of a South African AF Master Mk.II being cleaned at the Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria in 1943. Boy, that proudly black Rotol propeller.

NAA FJ-3 Fury: Gimme the Power.

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Not twotally happy with the FJ-2, and while its development was not yet completed,the US. Navy instigated the conception of more powerful variant sharing the same basic airframe. The resultant FJ-3 was powered by the Wright J65. That license-built version of the British Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire turbojet offered one fifth more power that the FJ-2’s GE J47.
In spite of serious initial problems with the J65 engine, the US. Navy found in the FJ-3 a very useful asset, specially in view of their previous experiences with the FJ-2. The FJ-3 started its operational life in 1955 and around half thousand of them served until the early 1960s.

Beautifully posed photo of an early FJ-3 (with its slatted wing) of the VF-173 in its superb overall Glossy Sea Blue livery taken on the deck of the USS Bennington (CVA-20). The H-3 or H-4 of its aviator is a golden plus.