EKW C-3605 Schlepp: “It was an aircraft stuck to a nose,…”

The original EKW C-36 was a late 1930s/early 1940s single-engined maid-of-all-trades combat aircraft design conceived to replace the Fokker C.Vs variants in service with the Swiss AF. They entered service in 1942, despite being born already obsolete both conceptually and technologically. Gladly, that was not a problem in the very neutral Switzerland so the various C-36 produced stayed in the front line use until the early 1950s and a few converted into target tugs (Schlepp) were still operated in the late 1980s.

The very alive example of the Fliegermuseum Dübendorf is one of twenty-four former C-3603-1 converted into target tugs. The conversion entailed the replacement of its Hispano-Suiza 12 Y-51 piston engine by a Lycoming T53 turboprop. To preserve the centrage, the lighter T53 was place in this somehow hilariously lengthened nose. It has always amused me.


NAA B-25J Mitchell: Torn between two loves.

The B-25 and the B-26 Marauder were America’s two principal medium bombers during WW2. Of the two the Mitchell was the sturdier and more adaptable. Those qualities led to their use in the rougher theaters of operations, mainly the Mediterranean and the Pacific, where they proved almost irreplaceable. It also meant they became popular with postwar operators, both military and civilian.

This B-25J (44-30823) wears the livery of “Pacific Prowler.” That Mitchell flew over 120 missions in the Pacific. I must confess I’m a fan of The Whore, but the Mitchell’s subtle gull-wing was really something.

Photo taken at Grimes Field, Ohio (2010) by T/Sgt. Jacob N. Bailey (USAF Photograph).

Dassault Mirage 5F: A worth the money rhinoplastie.

On this day, but 51 years ago (May 19, 1967), the Mirage 5 prototype took its first flight piloted by Hervé Leprince-Ringuet at Melun-Villaroche, France. The Mirage 5 was born due to an Israeli AF’s request for a cheaper simpler “Mirage III”, an aircraft they successfully operated. The weather in the Middle East is usually sunny most of the year and for certain missions the sophistication of the Mirage III (mainly its troublesome Cyrano radar) seemed unnecessary. As a plus the resultant fighter promised to be easier to operate and longer-legged.
The Israelis placed an order for 50 in 1966 of the resultant Mirage V; aircraft the Israelis never received due to an arms embargo enacted in 1967. The French AF took them as their Mirage 5Fs. The Israelis? No problem, they just produced their own 5’s copy: the Nesher. Interestingly, some sources claim the Neshers are in fact real Mirage 5s…., being Israel and France not an impossibility. Anyway, the Mirage 5 model did sell around the world like hot cookies.

The sleek slender radar-less nose of this 5F of the EC 3/13 Auvergne. The place of the Cyrano was used to relocate some avionics which liberated, at the same time, space for additional fuel.

Consolidated B-24J Liberator: Only lacks a lace gift wrap.

The Liberator was more advanced, faster and longer ranged than the Flying Fortress, so it wasn’t strange that it became the most-produced American aircraft of World War II.  That said, the Liberator doesn’t stand a chance in a beauty contest, specially against the alluring B-17. In fact, there was a joke  -a B-17’s crews joke-  which said that the B-24 was the box the B-17 came in. I used to play a lot with my toys boxes when I was a kid.

Superb portrait of “Witchcraft”, the Collings Foundation’s Liberator again.

Photo: Kedar Karmarkar.

Fairey Gannet T.2: Character in spades.

The spectacularly intricate nose affair of the Gannet. In this case a T.2 (the dual-control trainer of anti-submarine AS.1) preserved at the Midland Air Museum, Coventry.

Intakes and more intakes for the Double Mamba turbojet engine, and its neatly presented contra-rotating propellers. Utterly British.

Photo: © June 2014 Siteseen Ltd.

Budd RB-1 Conestoga: “If It Looks Right,…..”

Specialised in welded stainless steel products, the Edward G. Budd Manufacturing Co. was awarded a contract by the US. Navy in 1942 for the design and manufacture of a “C-47-class” transport in that material. The Conestoga displayed some very modern features; mainly its clear cargo area, upswept “tailfeathers” and rear cargo door/ramp. First flown in late 1943, the Conestoga prospects seemed promising with an initial US. Navy order of 200 machines plus 600 by the USAAF. Regrettably during the flight tests problems soon appeared; mediocre range, systems follies and complicated stainless steel construction.
Delays in production, plus the problems already enumerated, resulted in a drastic production reduction. In the end only around twenty were  produced for the Navy, and none saw active service. Some had a very interesting postwar civilian lives though. One incomplete example survives to this day in the Pima Air and Space Museum.

Admiring that comic nose affair, its most distinctive feature. Handsome it was not.

Boeing EC-135E ARIA: “My nose isn’t big. I just happen to have a very small head”.

The ARIA marries two subjects very dear to me: early space exploration and aircraft “ugliness”. The original Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft were C-135B cargo aircraft modified into EC-135N to provide tracking & telemetry in support of the US space program during those epic the late 1960s/early 1970s. Later renamed “Advanced” instead of “Apollo” at the end of that program the ARIA’s continued to provide service in space/missile related duties until they became redundant in the middle 1990s.
The heart of the ARIA systems was its 7ft diameter two-axis steerable antenna, a “world’s largest”. The antenna was located in this humongous 10ft diameter nose. A nose both hilarious and draggy, its nickname “Jimmy Durante” was well-deserved.

In this photo, “Droop Snoot”, an EC-135E on display at the USAF Museum. The -E was the original -N model re-engined with P&W TF33 turbofans.

Another C-135’s nose proboscis.