Boulton-Paul Defiant: Limited Aircraft.

Getting closer to the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I think it’s time to pay some homage, starting with this winner’s failure. The Defiant was the highest exponent of the very British bomber-destroyer “turret fighter” concept of the 1930s. The mere idea of shooting at bombers like on naval warfare… Well, the Defiant proved initially moderately successful, until the initial surprise was overcome. All was not lost though. They proved to be more than decently efficient stopgap night fighters and, in the long term, able target tow workers.

It was a neat looking aircraft nevertheless. A cross between the shape of the Hurricane and the construction of the Spitfire.

Albatros Dr.I: It didn’t add up.

The Dr.I was the very pragmatic way the Albatros Flugzeugwerke tested the qualities of the Triplane configuration in the middle of the craziness. They just took one of their D.V and replaced its two wings with three and compared it with the standard D.V. That’s it. The results were negligible; no production followed.

What an awfully uninspired wing structure. A real sin.

English Electric M3 Ayr: Not in her element.

This Ayr was conceived to meet an Air Ministry 1921 requirement for a three-seat coastal patrol single-engined flying boat. Two prototypes were ordered powered by a 450 hp Napier Lion IIB and with a hull that employed the slick Linton Hope streamlined monocoque principle. Quite orthodox so far. Its most unusual feature was its peculiar sesquiplane configuration in which the lower wings were designed to as a sort of sponsons. Completed on early 1925, during trials the first prototype tended to rock from side to side and unintentionally veered off course at low speed. At higher speeds the Ayr’s wings/sponsons submerged and the aircraft nosed down making flight impossible. With no solution in sight this pretty flop was cancelled unflown.

The sole completed Ayr testing, and not liking, the waters at Lytham.

Breda 75: Un’aria di famiglia.

This shoulder-wing monoplane bears a definitive family resemblance with the previous smaller Breda 65. The 75 was a large two-seat ground attack and recon prototype built in the late 1930s powered by a 900 hp Isotta-Fraschini K.14. With the recon mission in mind, the 75’s fuselage was provided with a considerable number of observation windows on its belly. Tested unsuccessfully in 1939, it was soon forgotten.

Very Lockheed Vega or even Consolidated 17 Fleetster. That fixed undercarriage looked both anachronistic and ultra cool.

Convair XFY Pogo: STAY AT HOME !!!

Learning to walk before you run. The Pogo getting ready for its indoors tests inside the humongous dirigible hangar at Moffett Field, California (June, 1954). The aircraft was suspended from a tough cable which was attached to the propellers hub. Other cables were attached to the wings and fins to stabilise the prototype. The whole idea proved to be a failure; the XFY’s props generated too much turbulence and the tests continued outdoors.

….., but you are not a Pogo. Keep Safe.

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.

Convair YF2Y-1 Sea Dart: A punch in the air.

Superlative recruiting poster by the Convair company. Sadly, their Sea Darts never proved themselves able to deliver any punch. In the background, Sea Dart (BuNo 135762) looking for trouble. Regrettably, that very aircraft disintegrated in mid-air over San Diego Bay, California (USA) during a demonstration flight (4 Nov. 1954) killing Convair test pilot Charles E. Richbourg; he inadvertently exceeded the design limitations.

Anyway, the people of Convair knew how to design stunning cockpit canopies.

Curtiss XP-46: Coolness in a cool day.

The XP-46 was conceived by Don R. Berlin as a replacement of Curtiss household P-40 taking in consideration the lessons learned at the start of WW2. A dismal failure, the XP-46 was one of those rare cases when the replacement proved to be worse than the aircraft it was intended to replace. Only two prototypes were produced.

That pretty flop taking-off on a freezing day at Buffalo(?) in glorious Kodachrome. There is a distinct lack of pilot’s head protection here.

Winter has come with a vengeance.