NAA F-86A Sabre: Men and their toys (XXV).

This utterly 1950s “Manta Ray” custom car was built using as a basis a very British 1934 BSA car chassis by members of the F-86A Sabre-equipped 197th “Copperheads” FIS of the Arizona Air National Guard.

Popular Mechanics, please.

Douglas A-20G Havoc: “She’s slick….., and beautiful”.

Not maybe one of the great forgotten ones of WW2, yet the Boston/Havoc family with it circa 7,500 produced deserves to be better remembered. Originally designed by the Douglas’ El Segundo as a private venture bomber, the basic design soon grew into fast, sturdy and very able aircraft. Its many variants satisfied many users, in many war theatres and in a considerable number of roles.

Magnificent Kodakchrome photo of some brand new Havocs en route (Alaska, methinks) to the Soviet Union. Notice the clever customising of the American star into a provisional red one for the transit. With almost 3,000 delivered, the USSR was the major operator of the Boston/Havoc. They adored them.


Fokker D.III: When skill & manners mattered.

The D.III was one of those barely decent biplane fighters produced by the Fokker company right after their monoplanes became hopelessly obsolete. Powered by the stunning, but dubious Oberursel U.III two-row rotary engine, the two-bay winged D.III like it’s older biplane brothers proved to be just too slow. It also still employed the already archaic wing-warping control system. And add to all that Anthony Fokker’s usual decease: poor quality control. They appeared at the frontline in the summer of 1916, but soon were relegated to the less demanding areas. More than two hundred were produced.

In this delightful artwork, the always chivalrous Oswald Boelcke meets his 20th victim, Captain R E Wilson (32 Sqn RFC), on 2 Sept. 1916. He achieved seven victories with the D.III (352/16), but was adamant in his dislike.

Antonov An-12B: Not flashy, but with a punch.

Well, to put it simple, the An-12 has been called the Soviet “Hercules.” The An-12 was a military medium-lift cargo aircraft developed from the underpowered An-8 via the flawed An-10. Neither of its two so-so forebears presaged its substantial success. Mind you, not in the same league of the Hercules, but close enough. Circa 1250 were produced, and a considerable number of them are still in service with military forces and in the civilian market. Furthermore, the Chinese version of the An-12 (Y-8) is still in production.

Gorgeous early in service photo. Soviet paratroopers were regular users of the An-12s. Notice the defensive armament which consisted of a stunning DB-65U powered turret with its two 23 mm Afanasyev/Makarov AM-23 cannons.