Cunliffe-Owen OA-1: The harsh reality.

The British little known Scottish Aircraft & Engineering Ltd. company purchased in the middle-late 1930’s the licence rights to produce Vicent Burnelli‘s UB-14 lifting fuselage. Called by them OA-1, the prototype took flight in 1939,.. the year of the invasion of Poland. With the country at war, the by then renamed Cunliffe-Owen company, turned its back to the Burnelli and soon switched their capabilities to produce parts for other aircraft companies. So this unique prototype remained the one and only “British Burnelli” produced. It worked for a living though; serving with both the RAF and latter with the Free French AF (de Gaulle included) until its extinction.

Lovely publicity artwork with a neat cutaway depicting the main features of Burnelli’s idea.

Fokker F.10: We are all the same, but not equal.

The American-built Fokker F.10 was an larger more powerful version of the classic Fokker F.VII airliner built in the late 1920’s. Like their forebear they were quite prolific (more than 60 built) and turned out to be real money-makers until that fateful day. On March 31, 1931, the wooden-wing of a Transcontinental and Western Fokker F.10 failed catastrophically and it crashed in the Kansas prairie, killing, among others, a popular football hero of the era: Knute Rockne. That accident, and the huge publicity it produced, meant the end of wooden airliners in the United States and also brought radical changes in the regulations and operations of the airlines. The American commercial aviation technology supremacy achieved from the middle 1930’s was the result.

Gorgeous machines they were. We can no deny the splendor of that era.

Erickson Aircraft Collection’s “Bf 109G-10”: Enough?

Few, if any, aircraft designs can treasure the assortment of engines the Bf 109 have carried through its various iterations:
– RR Kestrel in the first V1 prototype.
– Junkers Jumo 210 in the first series.
– DB 600 for the “pre-Emil”.
DB 601 and DB 605 for the main wartime variants.
– P&W Twin Wasp.
– BMW 801. Used, like the Twin Wasp, to test the possible radial conversion.
– RR Merlin in the Spanish Buchones.
– Junkers Jumo 211 in the awful Avia 199.
– Hispano-Suiza HS-89 for the early Spanish-built Messers.
– and last, but not the least, the Allison V-1710.

The Erickson Aircraft Collection’s airworthy “Bf 109G-10” seems at first sight to be the real deal or at least a DB-engined Buchón. Well, in fact it is indeed a Buchón, but in order to convert it to more closely resemble Bf 109G without the expense of a the original German engine they came to a brilliant idea. They decided to use an ubiquitous Allison V-1710 engine instead. To make this upright V12 engine looks like a inverted V12 both the engine mount and exhaust system have been specially designed so the cowlings almost mimic that of a late Bf 109G model. The result is quite convincing…and sure cheaper.

Never enough to me.

Zaunkönig LF.1: Mighty little King.

The tiny Zaunkönig (Wren) was a single-seat very light monoplane designed by Prof. Dr. Ing Hermann Winter in just before the start of WW2. It was conceived as a Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) aircraft capable of being flown with almost no instruction at all. The all-wood monoplane was originally to have had a 16º variable-incidence wing, but in the end that configuration was abandoned in favour of a complex wing equipped with full-span fixed slots, semi-span slotted flaps and drooping slotted ailerons. The first of the two built by the Technical University of Brunswick during WW2 took flight in 1940. Curiously, two further examples were built later during the middle 1950’s. It must have been definitely a desirable artifact.

Excellent photo of the second wartime example built , the V2, seen here in British hands after the war. During the last days of the war, in desperation, the V2 was employed to test its possible air-to-ground weaponry capabilities, Panzerfaust included. Gladly, this cute little thing is preserved nowadays at the Deutsches Museum.

Piaggio P.23M: “Uomo avvisato, mezzo salvato”.

The middle 1930’s P.23M was the prototype of a commercial airliner/transport specifically designed to operate above the North Atlantic. A really cool feature of this outstanding push-pull tandem four-engined  (900hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI’s) monoplane was its fuselage; shaped like a boat hull to allow it to ditch at sea in case of emergency. As conceived the P.23M was really an ambitious project: 400 km/h maximum speed and a maximum range of 5,100 km while flying at 300 km/h.
All very promising, but first flown in 1935 the aircraft never ever saw the Atlantic Ocean. Besides, no real data is available about its performance or potential. It was soon forgotten.