Potez 452: Punched above its weight.

The Potez 452 was a shipboard reconnaissance flying boat conceived to operate from the French capital ships. The first prototype, the type 45, first flew in 1935. After its flight trials proved to be successful an order of 16 was soon passed.  First delivered at the end of 1935, the 452’s served in battleships, cruisers and lesser ships (avisos). At the beginning of WW2 they saw action in the Mediterranean mainly and served well into 1944; of note the part some took in the conflict with Siam of 1940. Precisely a 452 based at Bien Hoa (French Indochina) was the last one in operational service.

The Nº 2 built in its handling trolley. Not one of the prettiest thing around, but with its a quite neat hull and that wing-mounted 350hp Hispano-Suiza 9Qd engine, the 452 had a certain charm.

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Valmet Vihuri: Severe Wind.

The Vihuri (Gale) became the main advanced single-engined trainer aircraft of the Finish AF during the 1950’s. Designed to replace the VL Pyry, the Vihuri prototype made its first flight in 1951 and the model was soon ordered into production. Around 50 were produced. All weren’t roses though. Several accidents -one of them even took the life of the prime minister’s son- and the safety concerns associated grounded for good the Vihuri in 1959. As an aside, a number of Vihuri’s cockpit canopies were salvaged to be employed as….roof windows in the recycling plant. They are still there.

Not a success story, but they were neat looking aircraft anyway. A balanced and clean design with a lovely Bristol Mercury engine as a plus. The shiny first prototype (VH-1) in the usual snowy Suomi airfield.

Pilatus P-2: German Nose.

This sturdy tandem two-seat basic trainer was designed in the early 1940’s to be easily operated from the high-altitude alpine airfields. The situation of Switzerland at that time, in the middle of WW2, determined its characteristics: mixed construction, German engines and the use of previous models parts. First flown in the Spring of 1945, the P-2’s only served with their home country air force and only around 50 were built, some of them armed. The Swiss operated them until 1981, a good testimony of the P-2’s qualities. Their main claim of fame is their later use on movies as “Luftwaffe” aircraft.

A magnificent surviving specimen here. Prominent the characteristic nose affair of the German Argus As 410 cowling and the finned spinner of the Argus “autopich” aircrew. The landing gear design is clearly taken from the Bf 109. Obvious why it didn’t looked out of place with Balkenkreuzs.

Photo: Pavel Vanka.

Fairchild-Hiller FH-1100: First in something.

The little-known FH-1100 started by Hiller as one of the competitors in the early 1960’s US Army’s Light Observation Helicopter program. It lost. A good basic aircraft anyway, these neat single-engined (the ubiquitous Allison 205 turboshaft) light helicopters were produced for the civilian market where they’ve enjoyed a reasonably successful life (+250 built). A company acquired in 2000 its type certificate yet no further news have been produced since then.

Can’t fault its style, certainly a pretty slick aircraft. Here one of the two Arizona Highway Patrol FH-1100’s with its spit & polish crew. The first (1969) air ambulances of that state