Lockheed F-104CCV: The icing on the cake (II).

This strange “thing” was a test vehicle employed by Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm (MBB) to validate the fly-by-wire control systems intended for the future generation of fighters. With the help of ballast to change the centre of gravity CoG, this Fokker-built F-104 was transformed from a conventional naturally stable aircraft into a unstable platform. Equipped with a triple.redundant fly-by-wire system, this Control Configured Vehicle (CCV) testbed took the skies in 1977. Not having enough, in 1980 a sort of vestigial F-104’s tailplane was added on the forward spine also for aerodynamic destabilizing purposes. The very profitable data acquired during its tests helped in the design of both the X-31 and the EFA.

That extra tail sure did the trick. More and More.

Cunliffe-Owen OA-1: The harsh reality.

The British little known Scottish Aircraft & Engineering Ltd. company purchased in the middle-late 1930’s the licence rights to produce Vicent Burnelli‘s UB-14 lifting fuselage. Called by them OA-1, the prototype took flight in 1939,.. the year of the invasion of Poland. With the country at war, the by then renamed Cunliffe-Owen company, turned its back to the Burnelli and soon switched their capabilities to produce parts for other aircraft companies. So this unique prototype remained the one and only “British Burnelli” produced. It worked for a living though; serving with both the RAF and latter with the Free French AF (de Gaulle included) until its extinction.

Lovely publicity artwork with a neat cutaway depicting the main features of Burnelli’s idea.

Tupolev Tu-4LL: Mutant !!!

Behold the Glory. This Tu-4 (aircraft 94/1) engine testbed had its no. 3 ASh-73Tk engine replaced by “half a Tu-91”; the entire forward/center fuselage of Tupolev’s “aircraft 91” naval strike aircraft. This Tu-4LL was flown in this configuration in 1954.

Almost cartoonist that “91” nose. Incredible aviation era, those were the times.

Main info source.

CAC CA-15: Winner, but no cookie.

This stunning fighter was the pinnacle of Australian aviation efforts during WW2. Sadly, it proved to be in the end a not fully realised effort. As originally projected in 1943, the CA-15 was to be a P & W Double Wasp interceptor suitable also as long range escort fighter. The lack of availability of that highly employed radial engine obliged the designers to convert radically the CA-15 to employ a liquid-cooled 2,305hp RR Griffon instead. All that slowed drastically the project and meanwhile WW2 ended slowing even further its progress. In the end the unique prototype built took the skies in the spring of 1946. With a max speed of 448 mph (721 km/h) and superb handling the CA-15 was superior to the P-51 Mustang….., but arrived 3 years too late. Jet age was already here to stay.
“Kangaroo” was its nickname for obvious reasons. Such a purposeful looking beast. A long way from the Boomerang.

Artist: Ronnie Olsthoorn.

Shorts S.B.5: Hubris sometimes pays.

The S.B.5 was built basically because the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) Farnborough didn’t trust the configuration (mainly the low set tailplane) chosen by the English Electric company for their P.1A. This simple and spartan testbed proved the civil servant were the ones in error. Anyway, that waste apart, the manufacture of the S.B.5 turned out to be wise and profitable decision; it became one of most versatile and cos-effective research tool in highly swept wing surfaces thanks to its easily changeable wings.

Useful, but not pretty. The Shorts people obviously knew that and decided in this add to erase the S.B.5 fixed undercarriage.

Ryan XV-5A: Men and their Toys (XVI).


In late 1961 General Electric won an US Army contract to develop their fan-in-wing concept. Not being an aircraft manufacturer company GE subcontracted the actual production of the two VZ-11 (later renamed XV-5A) to Ryan Aeronautical. Obviously GE did supply both the engines and the actual lift fan system. The inboard section of each wing contained a 5-foot diameter fan than provided the vertical lift. A smaller fan on nose also in addition to provide additional lift also served as pitch control. When not in the vertical fight mode hinged doors covered the wing fans and louvers did the same with the nose one.
The test flight operations of these two prototypes started in 1964 and they proved to be tragic. Both XV-5A’s crashed killing their test pilots. The second prototype was later rebuilt and improved as the XV-5B and continued the program until retired in 1971.

Ryan Chief Test Pilot W. L. “Lou” Everett “taming” a XV-5A wind tunnel scale model. Sadly, he lost his life in the real one.