Convair CV880: Takin’ Care of Business.

The CJ805-3 engine and its incredibly cool “hush kit” (noise-suppressing nozzle). Those early jet airliners sure needed them.
This civilian version of the superb General Electric J79, like its CV880 carrier, never really took off.


Folland Fo.108 (43/37): Only the Brave (VI).

The Fo.108 was the answer to a RAF requirement (43/37) for a purpose-built engine testbed aircraft. Folland’s winner was this humongous single-engined monoplane. Crewed by a pilot and two “boffins” there was nothing fancy or advanced in its conception when the prototype took the skies for the first time in 1940, just a no-nonsense platform to perform a vital duty.
An obvious question came to my mind: why single-engined knowing the potential trouble of an untried engined as the only motive power? The operational story of the 12 produced Fo.108 answered it….,five of them were lost in crashes. You don’t get the nickname “Frightful” for nothing.

Those Follands’  humonguousness in all it splendor. The quite massive Napier Sabre model being tested here looks almost as a little tiny joke.

SNCASE SE.2410 Grognard I: The Hunchback of the South East.

The Grognard I was conceived in the late 1940s as a single-seat ground attack aircraft. Its design embodied several novel and quite radical features, specially at the time of its appearance.Two of them took the Grognard I apart, namely its drastic 47˚ swept wing design and its engine configuration: two RR Nene jet engines, staggered one above the other, in the rear of a very bulky fuselage. The Grognard I flew for the first time on April, 1950. The concept was evolved further into a vastly modified second prototype, the Grognard II. Neither of the two had any luck; both had their development stopped due to some technical problems and changes on Armée de l’Air operational policies. After that they served as armament testbeds.

This photo does real justice to this French fantasy. That nose affair with its “birdcage” cockpit does the trick to me.

SNCASE S.E.2010 Armagnac: Orgueil et Rentabilité.

Flown for the first time on January, 1949, the Armagnac was designed for the Air France company as a large long range four-engined airliner. France, like other countries, harbored after WW2  the understandable dream of a French airliner flagship. Sadly, tests soon showed its serious technical shortcomings: disappointing performance, overweight and lack range. In view of those problems, the French national carrier refused to accept them. The first production aircraft was completed in Dec, 1950, but without its prime customer, only 8 (plus the prototype) of the proposed 15 machines were completed. They were operated for a brief time by a pair of second-line French carriers.

The Armagnac’s four American 3,500hp P&W R4360 Wasp Majors engines must have hurt the French pride badly; there were no indigenous engines of that power available. They look also quite tiny here -they sure weren’t- compared with the Armagnac’s generous fuselage size. Its roomy passenger cabin was one the main selling ppints of the design and a prelude of the things to come. Very pretty things they were, in my humble opinion.

Nungesser Hydravion-Canard: Crazy Wild Duck.

In his superbly chaotic life Great War ace Charles Nungesser found time even to try his hand at aircraft design. His seaplane was a sort of derivative of his unrealised “Oeuf Volant” (flying egg) racer design conceived to take part in the 1922 Henry Deutsch de la Meurthe race. Nungesser’ unorthodox creature was a hideous looking boxy seaplane canard “thing” monoplane. An amphibian gear was also planned. Power came, at first, from a ridiculous 60hp engine later replaced by a barely less ridiculous 95hp Anzani radial. Completed in March 1923, the prototype undertook a few not very convincing flights before vanishing into oblivion.

Magnificent photo of the “hydravion-canard” with Nungesser at the helm taken at the Melan-Les Mureaux lake during its test. The engine used here is the more powerful 95hp seven cylinder Anzani.

Un air de famille.

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.