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.

Fairey Gordon Mk.I: Tiggerty-boo !!

The robust Gordon was essentially a Fairey IIIF with a radial 525hp AS Panther IIa engine in place of the IIIF’s slightly higher powered -but heavier, dated and more complicated- Napier Lion. First flown in 1931, a few were converted from IIIF’s while the main bulk were new production. They soldiered well into WW2, in fact, in the Spring of 1941 some Gordons used for training were hastily converted back into bombers in Iraq where they took part in the defence of Habbaniya against Iraqi forces. The RAF got their money worth with their Gordons.

This lavish photograph shows the Gordons of the 35 Sqn and 207 Sqn smartly presented for some unidentified event. Michael Thornton-Jones’s archives.

Caudron P.V. 200: Le Bossu de Guyancourt.

The ugly ducking was a touring amphibian conceived in the early 1930’s. Hard to find something more clumsy. Don’t know why its designer,  l’ingénieur Pierre de Viscaya, didn’t choose a boat-shaped fuselage instead of floats: its high mounted wing and 100 hp Renault 4 Pci  pusher engine should have allowed easily that configuration. The P.V.200 appeared in the Paris Air Salon of 1932, but not surprisingly, It never turned into a swan. Only this prototype was produced.

Charming in its own very particular way. Don’t you thing so?

Saro A.21 Windhover: “The luck of the ugly one,….” (II).

The Cutty Sark-Windhover-Cloud family of amphibious aircraft was the more commercially successful aircraft produced by the Saunders Roe company ever. Nothing to set the world on fire though keeping in mind that, in total, only 36 were produced. The three models main difference was in their size. Introduced like its “brothers” in 1930, the Windhover was the intermediate one. It was also the least successful with only two produced.

Gorgeous photo of the first Windhover (A.21/1 ZK-ABW) soaring low over the Solent, late 1930. As we can see here a quite pretty thing, maybe the prettier one of the family. Well, they were pretty until a sort of “embryonic” auxiliary winglet was fitted over the engines to cure an engine-on and -off handling anomaly.