Cañete HACR Pirata: All too Spanish (III).

Antonio Cañete Heredia was a Spanish military pilot and engineer who in the early 1920s designed and built a successful glider flying boat, the Gaviota (Gull). Emboldened by the experience took the logical next step. His Pirata (Pirate) or “Hidro Antonio Cañete de Reconocimiento” (HACR) was conceived as a military recon parasol wing, single-engined flying boat. Due to the crude state of metallurgy industry in Spain, Cañete was forced to use galvanised iron in the main structure; wood and fabric was employed in the rest.
Powered by a locally built 450 hp Elizalde-Lorraine, the Pirata made its maiden flight in the summer of 1927 with its designer on board as an observer. During its tests the Pirata proved to be a sound design, but it was not to be. Lack of money -the usual Spanish curse- or the already available Dornier Wal sealed its possible future. Only this prototype was built.

It was undeniably a slick effort.


Hughes H-1 Racer (Replica): “The cure for pain is in the pain.”

The original H-1 was designed by Richard Palmer by order of Howard Hughes who wanted a record-beating aircraft. Built in 1935 without regard to costs, the Racer was a thing of beauty both aesthetically and technically. With Hughes at its controls it fulfilled its task magnificently setting a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across continental US. To achieve those divergent exploits the same aircraft employed two different set of wings. The H-1 had also the rare honour of being the last private owned/built aircraft to hold an absolute air speed record. The H-1 resided nowadays proudly at the National Air and Space Museum.

The beauty portrayed here is Jim Wright’s built full-scale replica originally intended to be used in the film “The Aviator.” First flown in 2002, Wright sadly didn’t enjoyed it too much; he died tragically in the crash that destroyed it the summer of 2003.

Riout 102T Alérion: “Sur un nénuphar éphémère,..”

Designed by René Riout, the Riout 102T Alérion was without doubt one of the most advanced ornithopters ever built. Built in 1937, its sophistication was a wasted effort; like almost all aircraft of this type, the Alérion was a non-flyer. Luckily, this superb contraction is still with us today, lovingly preserved at the Musée Régional de l’Air d’Angers.

Four wings and four wheels. Jolie Libelulle, n’est ce pas? 

Thomas-Morse R-5: “So the last will be first..”

In 1922 the United States Army Air Service (USAAS) put the requirement for a racing aircraft design to take part in the already famous Pulitzer Trophy Race. The Thomas-Morse company answered with this advanced all-metal parasol monoplane powered by a 600hp Packard 1A-2025 engine. Two R-5s were produced and both took part in the 1922 Pulitzer. With not very bright results: they finished last and next-to-last. The USAAS found nevertheless the right usage for them though. They were destroyed during static structural tests.

Unmistakable the style of Douglas Rolfe in this drawing. Part of Rolfe’s “Air Progress” series of the 1950’s, later reedited in this marvellously abused book. By the way, the information is wrong; it corresponds to the US.Navy Thomas-Morse MB-7 racer of 1921.

SFCA Maillet 21: Quel bizarre effort.

This strange aeroplane was the product of the little known Société Francaise de Constructions Aéronautiques (SFCA). That French company had inherited a design called the Maillet-Nening MN-A from its recently deceased designer: André Maillet. From it they developed their first product, the Maillet 20 in 1935. Only two of this all-wooden three-seat monoplane tourer were produced, but the Armée de l’Air saw something in the design and bought 30 examples of an improved trainer version under the name Maillet 201.
The Maillet 21 was sort of prototype made rebuilding the still unbuilt second Maillet 20. The main peculiarity of this model was its cockpit disposition: the pilot was placed at the rear on araised seat yet the forward glazing was lowered to lay flush with the forward fuselage. From this prototype SFCA manufactured a short production serie equipped with a retractable undercarriage under the name of Maillet-Lignel 20.

The Maillet 21 in all its eccentric splendor. Photo taken at the 1935 Hélène Boucher Cup race, a race for female pilots. The 21 was no slouch; Claire Roman finished second at its helm. The Spanish Republicans bought this monoplane later and it was devoured by the Spanish Guerra Civil cauldron.

Madam Satan (1930): Electrifying !!!

Madam Satan is a long forgotten film directed by Cecil B. DeMille at the dawn of the “talkies”. Nothing noticeable in this movie. Its screenplay and structure were, at best, pure hilarity. Well, nothing until a character decided to organize a monumental masquerade party aboard a zeppelin… the Great Depression wasn’t still in full bloom.

Let’s hope that zeppelin used Helium.

Thayaht: Il paracadute Salvator.

“Paracadutista” (Parachutist) 1931.
It’s been a long time since I don’t share a piece of Futurismo here. It’s time then. In this case, a lovely piece by the hand of Thayaht, the artist name of Ernesto Michahelles.

With its Warren girder interplane structure and characteristic shorter upper wing, the biplane depicted here couldn’t be more Italian. By the way, the “Salvator” was the classic Italian parachute of that era.