Douglas A-1H “Spad”: Ol’ Trusty.

The Skyraiders didn’t only wears Southeast Asia camo in Vietnam with the South Vietnamese Air Force (VNAF). The Spads were also used by US. Air Force. One of those rare cases of US. Navy designed aircraft which saw service with them. Their primary mission was interdiction along the Ho Chi Minh Trail and close air support missions for U.S. and Vietnamese ground forces. But they were best remembered by the “Sandy” role, when they flew cover for helicopters engaged in pilot rescue missions inside “Indian Country”.

A Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) based A-1H of the 1st Special Operations Squadron (SOS) flying along the Mekong River. Really mean-looking with its mighty oil spitting Wright Duplex-Cyclone, a plethora of weaponry and that old times open cockpit canopy. A real “Firebird”.

Baker MB-1 “Delta Kitten”: Puuuuuuuuur…..

This lovely little thing was built by Marion Baker of Akron, Ohio, in the late 1950’s. The basic design owns a lot to Lippish DM.1 and, maybe, the Payenne Katy. To build his dream Baker took some parts of a wrecked Cessna 140 (the an 85 hp Continental engine, prop and wheels). The result was this rare, then, all-metal homebuilt first flown in 1960. A decent, no-nonsense flyer it achieved a very descent maximum speed of 135 mph. Baker made the plans available for homebuilt construction. There were not takers, if my sources are right.

It’s delta day, it seems.

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 V18/U1: Such a Knockout.

It was soon obvious what was the main shortcoming of the Fw 190: lack of real high altitude performance. As early as 1941, various solution were studied to solve it featuring mainly new power plants with better superchargers and even the use of turbochargers. The C-series was conceived to follow the later approach. A bunch of prototypes were built, but in the end they proved too complicated and finicky. The D-series, with liquid cooled Jumo 312, proved to be the best option.

The Fw 190 V18/U1, the first real C-series prototype, in all its glorious splendour. This prototype was powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 603G engine. That not very refined ventral “pouch” fairing housed the DVL TK 11 turbocharger installation.  Easy to understand why it was nicknamed the Kanguruh (Kangaroo).

By the way, this is my favourite Würger.

Loire 70: Tous les goûts sont dans la nature.

Developed during the early 1930’s to fulfil a 1932 Aéronavale long-range maritime reconnaissance flying boat requirement, the little known Loire 70 couldn’t be more French. A real tour de force: squarish, with a very “nautical”  flight deck, draggy with its three definitive 500 hp  Gnome et Rhône 9Kbr  pylon-mounted (two tractors and a pusher, bien sûre), …. well, utterly lovely in a bizarre way. Four long years passed from its first flight in 1933 until the very handful (just seven production aircraft plus the prototype) entered service due to technical problems and initial low powered engines. They saw peace & war service in the Mediterranean with Escadrille E.7 until the early summer of 1940, when the Italian destroyed the bulk of those still in service in an air raid.

Anyway, a beast with character, maybe even charisma. Another superb head on view; it must be the day.

Yakovlev Yak-141: Fork-Tailed Beast.

The Yakovlev company has the honour of being the producer of the second Vertical Take-off and Landing (VTOL) fighter. Even worse, their Yak-38 was an interim second-best effort and they knew it. So when the time came, in the middle 1970’s, to create a replacement they attacked it with a vengeance. The supersonic Yak-141 (originally it was called Yak-41M) was anything the Yak-38 wasn’t: powerful, well-armed, well-equipped and gorgeously nasty-looking. Sadly, it was born (first flight in 1987) when the USSR was on its way to the history books. When the State funding dried Yakovlev tried to save their brainchild with a collaboration with the Lockheed company, but in the end all came to nothing. Only four were built.

Fires in the holes while its hovers at the 1992 Farnborough Airshow  (my guess). Such an amazing photo. With its twin pod tail (to put the main engine nozzle in its appropriate place to the centre of gravity) the Yak-141 was an aircraft with character….and those MNPK Soyuz R-79V-300  main engine and two RKBM RD-41 lift engines. Brutally magnificent.

Grumman YA2F-1 Intruder: Nothing is perfect.

Not one of the prettiest things, but I’ve always found the tadpole shape of the Intruder really alluring. Appearances apart, there’s one technical feature in this ultra-sophisticated aircraft not pursued in production I really love: its swivelling jet nozzles. As originally designed those nozzles swivel downwards to shorten both take-offs and landings. Tests soon showed that results were negligible compared to the cost, complication and extra weight they entailed. Sadly only the prototypes used them.