Charpentier C1: Tailess & Flightless..,almost.

Conceived in the early 1930’s, the little-known Charpentier C1 was an experimental flying wing trimotor (3 x 100CV Hispano-Suiza 6Pa). The unique prototype was built by the Société des Avions Caudron under a contract from Jean Charpentier. C1’s first steps in 1933 ended badly when it was damaged during high speed rolling test. Rebuilt later, it tried again in 1935… to be destroyed during its first flight attempt. After that the whole project disolved in the wind.

The top photo gives only a poor idea of the sheer beauty of this aircraft, but gladly model maker Stéphane Guerrero’s recreated it in this wonderful model.

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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.

Bloch MB.300 “Pacifique”: Prettiness doesn’t always pay.

This elegant French all-metal trimotor airliner was conceived for Air France in the early-middle 1930’s. First flown in 1935, the prototype was all but a success being too heavy, vastly underpowered and inestable. With Air France’s technical policies changing to the acquisition of four-engined airliners, the future of this questionable trimotor became sealed. Anyway, after modifications, the French company took reluctantly the unique prototype in 1938. It whereabouts soon afterwards are obscure; some said it ended in Spain.

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.

Heinkel He 177 A-5 Greif: Cursed from the cradle.

“The He 177 was to be developed simultaneously as a four-engined heavy bomber and a dive-bomber. But I never thought anything of that! Only one of this attributes could be fulfilled, and because of that the entire development was drawn out uselessly for several years”.   Adolf Hitler.
In essence that was the main problem of the Grief, but aggravated by personal rivalries; over complex and trouble-prone coupled engines; sheer lack of raw materials; stubbornness facing the obvious solutions, etc, etc.
“Henschel Hs 293A-1’s-toting” Griefs ready for some action. Magnificent artwork of Roy Cross for an old Airfix model.