Le Rhône 9C: Collateral Damage.

Artistic close-up view of a well-worn Le Rhône 9C, also known as the Le Rhône 80hp, showing its characteristic copper induction pipes and single push-pull rods.
Not all was poetry though. Those rotary engine used castor oil as a lubricant which produced a nauseating smell when burned. Even worse, castor oil is a potent laxative; let’s say constipation was not an issue for this kind of engine operators, pilots included.


Riout 102T Alérion: “Sur un nénuphar éphémère,..”

Designed by René Riout, the Riout 102T Alérion was without doubt one of the most advanced ornithopters ever built. Built in 1937, its sophistication was a wasted effort; like almost all aircraft of this type, the Alérion was a non-flyer. Luckily, this superb contraction is still with us today, lovingly preserved at the Musée Régional de l’Air d’Angers.

Four wings and four wheels. Jolie Libelulle, n’est ce pas? 

SFCA Maillet 21: Quel bizarre effort.

This strange aeroplane was the product of the little known Société Francaise de Constructions Aéronautiques (SFCA). That French company had inherited a design called the Maillet-Nening MN-A from its recently deceased designer: André Maillet. From it they developed their first product, the Maillet 20 in 1935. Only two of this all-wooden three-seat monoplane tourer were produced, but the Armée de l’Air saw something in the design and bought 30 examples of an improved trainer version under the name Maillet 201.
The Maillet 21 was sort of prototype made rebuilding the still unbuilt second Maillet 20. The main peculiarity of this model was its cockpit disposition: the pilot was placed at the rear on araised seat yet the forward glazing was lowered to lay flush with the forward fuselage. From this prototype SFCA manufactured a short production serie equipped with a retractable undercarriage under the name of Maillet-Lignel 20.

The Maillet 21 in all its eccentric splendor. Photo taken at the 1935 Hélène Boucher Cup race, a race for female pilots. The 21 was no slouch; Claire Roman finished second at its helm. The Spanish Republicans bought this monoplane later and it was devoured by the Spanish Guerra Civil cauldron.

Nord 600/6000: Very Heavy-Paper Aircraft.

The 1960s USAF CX-LHS (Cargo Experimental Heavy Logistics System) requirement -and the eventual winner, the 100t C-5 Galaxy- created a little commotion in the aviation industry. To keep abreast of the new technological arena, aircraft design teams around the world became involved in studies of giant cargo aircraft. The Nord Aviation company was one of them. Their 1965 original Nord 600 was conceived as a horizontal bilobe fuselage airliner soon developed into different heavy cargo airlifters. With the Nord 6000 they just went ballistic. Only a “style exercise”, in fact, under the Nord 6000 designation a plethora variables were considered. One of them a sixteen-engined, 120m long/113m wingspan cargo behemoth which leaves the 84m long Antonov An-224 in tatters.

Drew by Fernand Rajau, this is an original design (nº 04-51) of one of the various Nord 600 iterations.  It gives us an idea of the whole concept. Of note its bilobe fuselage section, tiny human-reference figures and one of its four magnificent engine nacelle. No high specific thrust turbofans here. Each individual nacelle was intended to house four jet engines, a total sixteen. And remember, the 600 was tiny in comparison with the 6000.

“de Havilland Mosquito VI”: La petite Merveille en Bois.

This very convincing 3/4 scale Mosquito was the labor of love of l’Association de Luçon RRAA (Reconstructions & Répliques Avions Anciens). First flown on 23rd April 2011, as you may observe, the “Lil’ Mossie” looks remarkably similar to the real deal, a tribute to the 33,000 hours and 17 years of work. The livery chosen was the one of 143 Sqn RAF piloted by the French Wing Commander Max Guedj (with Flight Lieutenant Langley as Navigator), an aircraft lost on 15th January 1945 in Norway.
Sadly, this aircraft was severely damaged in an accident in 2015. Its restoration is envisaged; that was the last news available about this cute “Wooden Wonder”.

Concise and charming video about its creation, “music” apart.

Michel Loup’s Monoplane: Pas de Problème.

In 1853 Michel Loup published a short book “Solution Du Problème De La Locomotion Aérienne” book. In that work Loup proposed this quaint bird-form aircraft design propelled by two winged-shaped propellers. He stated “his plan of gliding through the air on four revolving wings”.

Detail of a drawing taken from Phillip Jarrett’s classic “Pioneer Aircraft: Early Aviation Before 1914”.