Convair NB-36H Crusader: Who’s a Good Atom Boy?

The Crusader was a drastically modified Peacemaker employed as a flying testbed for an airbone nuclear reactor. First flown in Sept. 1955, the idea was not to use the reactor as a source of power, but to test the effects of radiation on the aircraft itself and on its crew. This project was pursued in connection with the spellbinding WS-125A nuclear-powered bomber program. A total of forty-seven flights were undertaken in less than a year and the Crusader was scrapped soon after.

The unusual cartoon-esque shape of the NH-36H nose under construction. The shielded crew compartment is already in place waiting for its aerodynamic cover.

Martin Baltimore: Bigger than its State.

Obviously developed from the Maryland, the Baltimore was produced in answer to an Anglo-French Purchasing Commission requirement. It differed from its forebear in having the more powerful Wright Twin Cyclone engines improving significantly its performances and a deeper fuselage which allowed direct contact between its crew members and solved one of Maryland’s shortcomings.
France didn’t receive any before the 1940 debacle. The RAF employed these effective attack-bombers in the Mediterranean; further Baltimores also served in that war theatre with other air forces. Around fifteen hundred were produced; sadly no one has survived intact.

The bombardier modelling his pretty yet exposed work station. A posed photo: those open cowls flaps scream engine ground run. Image taken from a Martin Aircraft Co. “The Martin Star” internal publication, Oct. 1943.

SOKO J-22B Orao 2: Мали Jагуар.

This Lil’ Jaguar started on early 1970s as a Yugoslav-Romanian join project intended to develop a basic aircraft design to fulfil both single-seat attack-recon fighter and advanced two-seat trainer roles. Taking more than a cursory look at the Franco-British feline, the result was a more modest, small and rustic asset powered by a pair of humble RR Vipers. The prototype made its first flight in 1974. After some trial and tribulations it was produced with some local variations by both partners. The Yugoslav named theirs the Orao (Eagle) and produced a nice bunch, some of which still remain in service in both Serbia and Bosnia.

Dramatic photo of the flashy dressed Orao the Serbian AF used as a demo aircraft from around 2010/11.

Douglas DC-8-21: Nonstop Grinning.

As much As i like the 707, to me it always came second-best behind the DC-8. One of the latter alluring features is this pair of nose air scoops. These scoops each had three inlets which provided air for the cabin pressurization/air conditioning systems turbo compressors (the two outer inlets) and to the air-to-air heat exchangers (the central one).

The smart United Airlines “DC-8 Mark IV Jet Mainliner”.

Antonov An-30D: The eye of the beholder.

Taking as a basis their An-24, the Antonov OKB conceived in the mid-1960s this funny looking aerial survey airplane. The whole forward fuselage was changed and fitted with this extensively glazed nose section for the navigator; the cockpit was raised in the process. A wide array of photo equipment and configurations were available. 124 were built in the 1970s and some were exported to the usual friendly nations. The An-30s are well-known because they are still employed by some of their operators in “Open Skies Treaty” duties.

The splendid An-30’s “raison d’etre” of this cute thing. In this case the An-30D Sibiryak (Siberia) ice reconnaissance variant. Equipped on each side of the fuselage with additional fuel tanks, long-range navigation system and other equipment for operations in the Arctic.