USS Akron (ZRS-4): Dinosaurs to be.

By the 1930’s the Akron and the battleship were on their way out of usefulness for the military. In the case of the battleship, at least, it was the capital ship of its era…., the rigid airship never left its status as an unfulfilled asset, or even worse.

Gorgeous collective card. Floating on their own peculiar ways.


Bloch MB.300 “Pacifique”: Prettiness doesn’t always pay.

This elegant French all-metal trimotor airliner was conceived for Air France in the early-middle 1930’s. First flown in 1935, the prototype was all but a success being too heavy, vastly underpowered and inestable. With Air France’s technical policies changing to the acquisition of four-engined airliners, the future of this questionable trimotor became sealed. Anyway, after modifications, the French company took reluctantly the unique prototype in 1938. It whereabouts soon afterwards are obscure; some said it ended in Spain.

Supermarine Stranraer: Not just Spitfires.

The Stranraer was a coastal reconnaissance flying boat conceived in the middle 1930’s. First flown in 1934, this R. J. Mitchell’s biplane design was almost obsolete already at that stage. Anyway, a small number of them were in service with both the British RAF and the Canadian RCAF at the start of WW2. With less than 60 built they didn’t make a great contribution to the war effort, although the Canadians kept theirs until 1946. Afterwards some were civilian operated in the demanding Canadian climate well into the 1950’s. Not well-loved by their British crews, such longevity tells us something. Couldn’t be all bad.

A loose flock flying nicely here. Better than its replacement, that’s for sure.

Douglas DF: Northern Exposure.

This elegant and advanced  flying-boat was conceived to be operated by Pan Am. First flown September 1936, the DF met all its expected performances, yet it was still not adopted by Pan Am. Neither did Douglas found other takers in the home market so luck was tried overseas. The results proved to be meagre. Only four (prototype included) were produced: two went to Japan and two to the USSR.

In the USSR they were operated in the Siberian regions by the GU SMP (Main Administration of the Northern Sea Route) for both passenger and freight transport services. This interesting photo says a lot about their harsh life there…. a long way from Pan Am’s usual idyllic operations places.