Percival Proctor I: Proctuka’s failed Angriff.

The fiftieth anniversary of “The Battle of Britain” is approaching; the movie, I mean. For the Stuka scenes the great Hamish Mahaddie tried at first to restore to flight the only genuine Stuka in UK. When that proved to be belong the economic reach of the production a smart alternative “flying actor” was produced. None other than Percival Proctors heavily modified by Vivian Bellamy to look convincingly as the real thing, cranked wings included. Sadly, the prototype proved to be an awful flier so in the end they were not used in the film; very realistic radio-controlled models were employed instead.

Astonishingly German-looking, the only minus that two-blade prop.

Photo: Jean-Michel Goyat Collection.


Curtiss A-25A Shrike: One dive too many.

The A-25A Shrike was a land-based variant of the Curtiss Helldiver procured in quantity (around 900) by the USAAF. In the end an almost utter wastage of a decent warplane. The USAAF had never been found of the dive bomber concept in reality, and they never found an use from their maybe “too-US. Navy” Shrikes. They served as trainers and target tugs with the USAAF and almost half of the production even reverted somehow to their naval heritage when transferred to the US. Marines for the same duties. No war record with the Marines either.

Neat propaganda poster. I kinda like the Curtiss’ family tree at the bottom; the original Shrike included.

Salyut 7 (2017 movie): “Stop that music…, stop that infernal din.”

Just finished this movie, a wildly free adaptation of Soyuz T 13 (Vladimir Dzhanibekov-Viktor Savinykh) rescue mission. My opinion? I kinda like it. The story line is a big too Hollywoodised for my taste, but it’s sure a worthy addition to the always interesting Russian space-related filmography. Two personal complains though. One minor, the Shuttle and its astronauts brief technical depiction and one major, the bombastic and LOUD original soundtrack.

The best part of the movie to me. Their interpretation of the T 13 mission docking; the first time a spacecraft had docked with a “dead” (inert) space station. The movie’s computer-generated special-effects are truly magnificent.

Lockheed P-38 Lightning: Way Up High.

The drugs use in wars has been universal since the beginning of times. Each war has one and World War Two was the war of amphetamines; both sides used them in various combinations. Benzedrine (the Bennies) was the brand used mainly by the US.

Hilarious and gloriously fake propaganda poster. The real one has nothing to do with that kind of “Speed.”

Project Mercury: How-To-Do-It.

Originally known as Project Astronaut, the NASA first manned program was officially approved on October 7, 1958 and publicly announced on December 17. Mechanix Illustrated had their own idea of the eventual configuration. They were quite close; here it is one of NASA’s initial configuration studies. The David Clark MC-2 pressure suit was a neat and obvious choice.

Fifty-seven years ago today (May 5, 1961) Alan Sheppard became the…, second man in Space, and only barely. “Don’t Cry Too Much, José.”