Lockheed F-104CCV: The icing on the cake (II).

This strange “thing” was a test vehicle employed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) to validate the fly-by-wire control systems intended for the future generation of fighters. With the help of ballast to change the centre of gravity CoG, this Fokker-built F-104 was transformed from a conventional naturally stable aircraft into a unstable platform. Equipped with a triple.redundant fly-by-wire system, this Control Configured Vehicle (CCV) testbed took the skies in 1977. Not having enough, in 1980 a sort of vestigial F-104’s tailplane was added on the forward spine also for aerodynamic destabilizing purposes. The very profitable data acquired during its tests helped in the design of both the X-31 and the EFA.

That extra tail sure did the trick. More and More.

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.

Messerschmitt Bf 109G-2/Trop: Thank you, Sir.

Just heard the sad news of Russ Snadden’s demise. Snadden was the mastermind behind the epic restoration of that old favourite of mine, the iconic “Black 6”. I still remember how incredible was, back then, to see a real Bf 109 back in its element. His book recounting the whole process is simply mesmerizing,… to read and reread.

Glorious portrait of “she” with the equally legendary Flt Lt Charlie Brown at the controls.  I love its “tropical” air filter.

Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet (Replica): Herrlich Rote !!

This striking Me 163B flying replica was created by Joseph Kurtz between 1994 and 1996. Kurtz was, in fact, a Luftwaffe pilot who trained to fly the Komet, but who never saw combat with it. The aircraft was acquired and operated later by EADS. Not a true clone, this engineless replica has nevertheless proven to be an excellent flyer. According to what I’ve read it’s grounded nowadays…., it should be flying.

In action here (thankfully with no shitty music).

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 V18/U1: Such a Knockout.

It was soon obvious what was the main shortcoming of the Fw 190: lack of real high altitude performance. As early as 1941, various solution were studied to solve it featuring mainly new power plants with better superchargers and even the use of turbochargers. The C-series was conceived to follow the later approach. A bunch of prototypes were built, but in the end they proved too complicated and finicky. The D-series, with liquid cooled Jumo 312, proved to be the best option.

The Fw 190 V18/U1, the first real C-series prototype, in all its glorious splendour. This prototype was powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 603G engine. That not very refined ventral “pouch” fairing housed the DVL TK 11 turbocharger installation.  Easy to understand why it was nicknamed the Kanguruh (Kangaroo).

By the way, this is my favourite Würger.

Arado Ar 231: Der Kinder Surprise.

The smart Ar 231 was an ultra light-weight floatplane conceived in the early WW2 years to be carried and operated from submarines. Its main unusual feature was an offset wing design to enable its two wing panels to fold aft flat in its watertight stowage tube without interfering with each other, the inner section was designed on a slant so the right wing was in fact lower than the left. Tested thoroughly during 1940, the design couldn’t get over its inherent fragility, lack of power and awful air/seaworthiness qualities. Only a bunch of prototypes were built.

At any rate, a superbly elegant failure with some clever engineering behind it.