Sukhoi Jet Engine Powered Aircraft: We must begin somewhere.

This was Pavel Sukhoi’s OKB first attempt into the jet aircraft design. Conceived as a purely research aircraft in late 1942, this dandy artifact had an annular intake scoop placed the fuselage just behind its teardrop-shaped cockpit capsule. The nose section would have housed both the cockpit and a fuel tank, and was to be attached to the larger diameter central fuselage by four pylons. The central fuselage was to contain the “half-step” composite jet engine: a classic air-cooled engine -with an oil cooler- driving a pair of co-axial propellers was employed to supply compressed air to a sort of jet engine’s fuel injection/combustion chamber placed in the tapered tube. Complex enough?. The project never left the drawing board.

Very Soviet style artist’s impression of the subject. It could have been really something.

Hughes Rotor/Wing: “Simple answer to a tough problem”.

Pursuing the same “Holy Grail” the V-22 Osprey is beginning to fulfil nowadays, the always innovative Hughes company played in the 1960-70’s with the elegant, yet complicated, rotor/wing concept. In it, essentially, you used your rotor for vertical/slow flight and stop it to form a sort of wing for forward flight. Cool, isn’t it?. They were not alone.

Superb artwork of the Hughes’ Rotor Wing brochure. Sadly, just a paper dream.

Cristòfol Juandó’s aircraft: El Geni Mecànic.


The very “Jules Verne-sque” central nacelle of the Juandó’s “Multíptero” or “Flugilarillo seen here in his “El Genio Mecánico” factory, Modolell de Sant Gervasi street (Barcelona). The inventor is the one pointing.

The little known Catalan inventor and industrialist Cristòfol Juandó i Rafecas (1848-1917) also took a chance with the nascent aviation fever of the turn of the century. He even created a company, the “Compañía Universal de Navegación Aérea”, to promote his project. Sadly, little has survived of his efforts of 1901-02. About his aircraft, Juandó described it bizarrely as a “..sort of rotative wing equipped with blades which open and close at the right moments…”. The intended engine was a 24 hp 4-cylinder Buchet. Some sources say he did build a full-sized aircraft, but without given further data. Anyway, lacking the financial resources necessary, Juandó tried to interest the always lethargic Spanish government. He persevered unsuccessfully in that endeavour until the early 1910’s and after that obscurity.

This add gives us a certain idea, or not, of what was going on in Juandó’s brainchild. It looked like small size model of the real thing. Unairworthy at first sight(?).

Curtiss Commando & Convair Model 37: A dreamed future.

With the arrival of peace the future appeared full of possibilities, but what future?. Not the best of seer here. The great Curtiss Commando, on the left, did splendid work during and after WW2,  but was already almost obsolete when the war ended and was soon replaced in civil service -cargo duties apart. The eye-catching Convair Model 37 airliner was a civil version of the XC-99 that was briefly considered by the Pan Am company ( it wears its colours here), but never made into service. Anyway, the main subject of this ad is the wonderfully pedestrian Autocar Tanker Truck.

Another magnificent  work of art of the great John Gould.

CAPRA R.80: The stuff dreams are made of.

The CAPRA R.80 was a stunning mail carrier seaplane studied in 1942. It was intended for a Franco-Portuguese company that hoped to capitalize the Lisbon-New York route. Conceived by the always bold Roger Robert, the basic formula of this CAPRA was radical: a catapultable only (total lack of propellers-water clearance) trimotor seaplane. Its engine configuration was certainly interesting; two of its 1250 CV  Hispano-Suiza engines were in the nose geared to a pair tractor co-axial props and a third was placed at the back driving a pusher prop via a long drive shaft. To move around in the water a little marine engine was envisaged.
What happened to it?… well, the year of its conception says it all. Anyway, hard to think it could have been technically or economically viable even against the large flying boats already in service, even less against the landplanes just around the corner. A delightful mirage though.

A more complete account in French by the author of this precious 3-view drawing, Jean Moulin.

Aeroplano-Monoplano “Causarás”: El Delta de l’Horta.

In the Spain of 1909, the Valencian sculptor and painter Ricardo Causarás registered a patent of a flying machine with a, now, well-known shape. His “Aeroplano” was a sharp angled delta monoplane, the first registered use of that wing platform.
Causarás started its aeronautical experiments in 1905, building under military sponsorship -and secrecy- a small prototype. Later, in 1909, two further prototypes were produced (one small and the other quite bigger) at the very Valencian Barrio del Carmen. Those two were tested nearly, yet few data is available about those tests. Anyway, by then the confidential nature of the Causarás’ work seems to have ended: his flying endeavours were profusely published in the diaries.

By the way, I use to stroll near the place where Causarás built his last two “aeroplanos”.

Projekt Schwimmweste: Desperation is the mother of invention.

The Projekt Schwimmweste (swim vest) was conceived to allow a modified V2 rocket to reach the North American continent. The missile was to be transported to a short distance off the shore in a submersible container (codenamed Prüfstand XII) towed by the also innovative Type XXI submarine. The V2 container has a trim system to bring it to vertical for launch.
This project only materialised in 4 or 5 containers -only one according to other sources- built and tested by the Vulkanwerft at Stettin. By early-1945 the promising prospects of the startling A9/A10 two-stage rocket were more “realistic”.

Artwork: Justo Miranda.