Dassault Mirage IIIDBR: As intense as ever.

The fastest tasting another kind of speed. Formula 1 legend Ayrton Senna in the rear seat of a two-seat F-103D (Brazilian denomination) in April 29, 1989. Utterly proud of his country, Senna said after this flight: “Se todos tivessem a oportunidade de sentir a mesma emoção, teriam mais amor a pátria” / “If all Brazilians would have the opportunity to feel this same emotion, they would love more our country”. No nonsense man.

Senna is wearing the standard Brazilian AF headgear of the era: a single visor HGU-26/P helmet with a MBU-5/P oxygen mask……, but in magnificent “samba” colors.

Such a gorgeous inflight portrait. Two of my addictions nicely joined here.

Snecma Atar 8-9: La Grandeur…. de les Boches.

This French engine family success story owed more than a little to the former enemies. As the Atelier technique aéronautique de Rickenbach (ATAR), BMW engineer Hermann Östrich and other members of the Bavarian engine company were the real progenitors of that family. All started the former Dornier factory at Lindau, within the French Occupation Zone of Germany, when this group of genii took their wartime BMW 018 design and almost literally enabled the postwar renaissance of French aviation with their various Atar iterations.  Remember: “no Atars, no Mirages“.

Superbe affiche publicitaire.

Lioré-et-Olivier LeO 451: “Show me what you got”.

The French LeO 451 was the fastest bomber in service at the beginning of WW2. With the slick and extremely clean LeO 451, at last, the French left behind ugliness and mediocrity in their bomber designs. Sadly, only few were in service when it really mattered, at the 1940 Battle of France. Anyway, such a valuable asset could not wasted; they continued to be manufactured in the Vichy France. They enjoyed an interesting operational life in both sides: Vichy, Free France, Germany, Italy and some even by the USAAF. The end of the war didn’t put an end to these peripatetic aircraft either; the French Air Force didn’t retire their last ones until the late 1950’s.
The fastest and one with the largest “sting”. The defensive armament carried by the LeO 451 is of particular interest, being among the very few which carried a 20mm cannon at that time. The dorsal defensive position seen here was fitted with a Hispano HS 404 mounted on an electro-hydraulically powered SAMM Type 170Bis gun carriage. Some punch no doubt, but disappointing. The field of fire was limited and its hefty 30-round magazine proved to be cumbersome to change. Add to that the rest of its uninspiring rifle-caliber defensive armament…., they needed the speed.

In this photo one of those garishly dressed Vichy France “Armée de l’Air de l’Armistice” aircraft. A LeO 451 of the 2eme Escadrille of GB 1/25 while operated from El Aouina (Tunis), 1941. This unit took part later in the Syrian campaign against the Allies and of their 18 Leo 451’s, 12 were lost.

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde: …et Progres.

In crucial times in France history let’s fly back for a while.
One the poster used in the presidential election of 15 June 1969 by the then Prime Ministre of France Georges Pompidou. The Concorde as a symbol of dynamism, future and renovation for that old school conservative. In the end he won… and the Concorde, well, the Concorde promise remained largely unfulfilled.

Nothing revolutionary in this plain vanilla style poster, the Concorde’s ogival wing design apart.

Nieuport 11: Bleu Horizon.

That very French blue, Adrian helmet and the idiosyncratic Level rifle. You can’t almost hear the staccato of the 11‘s Le Rhône rotary. From the “Le pilote à l’edelweiss” comic series. The superbly detailed style of the great Romain Hugault, without his overused pin-up girls here….., thanks god.