De Schelde S.21: Tadpole sting.

With its pusher engine, twin boom tail feathers and hugely glassed cockpit canopy, the S.21 looked right out of a pulp aviation comic of its era. This late 1930s/early 1940s Dutch single-seat fighter design was the brainchild of T. E. Slot, the former chief designer of Pander & Son. Of all-metal construction and powered by a German 1050hp DB 600Ga, as conceived, the S.21 was heavily armed with four fixed light machine guns and a curious 23mm Madsen cannon which could be directly handled by its pilot.
The construction of the prototype was initiated in the early 1939, and it was still uncompleted when the German invaded the Nederlands in May 1940. Seized by the conquerors, the prototype, still unfinished and unflown, was destroyed by them during some terminal structural tests.

Magnificently done contemporary cutaway.


Aviatik (Berg) 30.40: Above reproach.

This pretty parasol monoplane was developed in Austria-Hungary during the late part of WW1 as a high altitude fighter to be employed mainly over the Italian front. Not a clean sheet design, this monoplane took as a basis the previous Aviatik 30.27 biplane, in fact, it was also powered by a 160hp Steyr-built Le Rhône rotary engine. Only this prototype was built. First flown the summer of 1918, it arrived already too late.

Superb looking machine, in my humble opinion.

Marinavia Farina QR 14 Levriero: Heinkelino.

The Levriero (Greyhound) was started in late 1938 by Luigi Queirolo and Ing. Recanatini as a wooden twin-engined four-seats small tourism aircraft which soon evolved into a potential military fast liaison and unarmed reconnaissance aircraft for use in the Italian African colonies. The construction of the prototype began in 1940 at the Costruzioni Aeronautiche Taliedo (CAT), a firm specialised in glider construction. Due mainly to business direction changes and the eventual acquisition of the CAT firm by Caproni, the erection of the prototype proceeded both painfully slow and intermittently; the Italian Armistice arrived with no first flight in sight.
In fact, the Levriero had to wait until Oct. 1947 for its air baptism. The flight tests proved its good, even outstanding qualities. A serie of twenty-five was envisaged and the aircraft appeared at some airshows to created interest. It even won a prize at Milan the year of its first flight. Unfortunately, all that hopes came to nothing because it could not compite with the cheap war-surplus aircraft. The aircraft ended its days rotting at the Linate airport.

Powered by a pair of sleek Alfa Romeo 111-1 C.22, this svelte “velivolo’s” fin and wing surfaces reminds me those of the early Heinkel He 111s.

Caproni Ca.134: The right amount of weirdness.

The Ca 134 two-seat biplane conceived by CapronI in 1936 to cover a Regia Aeronautica “strategic reconnaissance” requirement. Quite orthodox in design, the Ca.134 had nevertheless a strange biplane tail with endplate fins and rudders: a feature chosen to give the gunner a fairly unobstructed rear field of fire. Of classic Italian mixed-construction, this biplane was powered by a potent but heavy 900hp Isotta-Fraschini Asso XI R.CAO.
Displaying a fast pace of design and construction, the first prototype maiden flight took place in Jan. 1937. Soon followed by a second example, the Ca.134 didn’t convince the Italian authorities though. No production was undertaken.

It certainly had allure. Just like its quite related, and also unlucky, little boy.

Lockheed R6V Constitution: A giant with tiny muscles.

The Galaxy‘s anniversary the other day reminded me Lockheed’s unsuccessful prequel of the 1940s. Started in 1942, the Constitution was conceived by request of the US. Navy and the Pan Am company both looking a giant leap in range and load capacities. The design chosen employed a huge double-deck fuselage aircraft powered by four P & W R-4360 Wasp Majors, the more powerful engines available. It was not enough. First flown in 1946, the R6V turned out to be seriously underpowered even when re-engined with a more powerful variant of the Wasp Major. Worse, the engines also suffered cooling issues. Due to those problems, just two prototypes were produced and they only saw a brief service with the US. Navy until 1953. Pan Am’s interest had evaporated long before.

Ship No.1 (BuNo 85163) was employed in testing RATO (rocket assisted take-off) operations. It sure needed it at max gross weight. Those minute-looking engines on such an humongous aircraft….

ANF Les Mureaux 170: Winner of my heart (VI).

This sublime parasol fighter was a contender in the 1930 French Air Ministry C.1 specification for a fast (350km/h min.) supercharger-engined single-seat fighter. First flown in late 1932, the design proved to be both maneuverable and very fast. In fact, it was the fastest French military aircraft at the time. In the minus side, its pilot’s poor visibility due to its parasol gull-wing configuration. The two prototypes built were the only Les Mureaux 170 ever produced; the Armée de l’air chose the Dewoitine 500 monoplane and the SPAD S.510 biplane instead.

Slightly photoshopped (that tail didn’t float by itself) yet gorgeously neat photo of this beauty.