Boeing 2707-100: Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

The 2707 was the winner of the American late 1960s SST competition. With its swing-wing, it was a bold and innovative design which won over the more orthodox fixed-wing Lockheed L-2000.
The -100 the coolest stage of the Boeing design with its four engines placed below the horizontal stabilizer. From there the project went downwards. Weight became soon a problem and range suffered accordingly so in the end, the capital sin: they scrapped the whole wing design to one similar to the Lockheed L-2000(!!) but equipped with a tail. Riddled with technical and political problems cancellation was the obvious conclusion.

The superlative mock-up and its gorgeous canary livery.


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….

Beriev KOR-1: Against all its odds.

The KOR-1 was a successful unsuccessful ship-borne reconnaissance seaplane designed and built for the Soviet Navy in the years before WW2. Yep, no mistakes in my previous sentence. This neat looking floatplane suffered from its very inception unresolved handling and structural deficiencies plus engine problems. It also displayed poor catapult performance. Notwithstanding those defects the design was placed into production: there was no other alternative. The dozen produced saw little ship service and they were used at shore-based units until 1942.

Lovely in a Polikarpov’s way. KOR-1’s barely more successful successor was even prettier.

Sikorsky XSS-2: Winner of my heart (V).

The neat contraction took part on 1933 in an US. Navy competition for a carrier-borne and/or catapult-launched amphibian scout aircraft. As originally designed the XSS-1 was to be powered by a P&W R-985, but early on due to that engine lack of power the design was altered to employ a P&W R-1340-D1 instead. Renamed XSS-2, it made its first flight on the spring 1933. Obvious handling problems were soon discovered and the US. Navy sent the XSS-2 back to Sikorsky for modifications. No longer interested in their own design, Sikorsky declined the offer and the prototype was scrapped before the end of 1933.

With a neat foldable gull-wing and my beloved pylon-mounted engine nacelle configuration.

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….

Boeing B-52F “BUFF”: Here we go again, and again, and again,…

Let’s employ the formula that has worked so “damn well” in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. What could possibly go wrong?

The sleek B-52F “Mekong Express” (454th Bomb Squadron, 320th Bomb Wing) delivering some candies during the “Arc Light” operations, South Vietnam, 1965.  No more free-falling dumb weapons nowadays, we are dumb enough.

Avia 51: Like father unlike son.

In 1929 the chief designer of the Avia company, Richard Nebesář was sent to the USA (to the Martin and Lockheed companies) to gain experience in the latest aeronautical techniques. Back in Czechoslovakia in 1931, Nebesář began to work in two projects to apply his new knowledge. The first (the Avia 50) was soon cancelled, the second became the six-passenger transport Avia 51. Nebesář’s three 200hp Avia RK.12 powered all-metal monoplane (with fabric covered wings) displayed unmistakable Lockheed Vega‘s roots.
First flown in 1933, the prototype proved unstable to fly and subject to flutter. Despite those serious defects the Czech national airlines CLS acquired three of them in 1934. According to one source they were soon retired for service because they were uneconomical to operate; another source claims their pilots refused to fly them. The Spanish Civil War came to the rescue. All three were bought in 1937 by the Republicans. Only one was operated briefly by the FARE, the other two were lost at sea when the freighter was sunk.