Republic XP-47J “Superbolt”: On a diet.

The “Jugs”, despite being the biggest and heaviest single seat fighters to see service in WW2 were renowned by their outstanding performances. So, what could happen if you lighten them a little bit?. That’s what the people of Republic had in mind with this prototype. They took a newly built airframe and reduced its armament to the American 6x.50 MG standard instead of the P-47’s eight and supped it up with various combinations of water-injected R2800 engines, props and turbosuperchargers. First flown in late 1943, the performances displayed by the unique prototype (43-46952) were superb achieving a max speed of just over 500mph…hence its “Superbolt” nickname. Regrettably, Republic’s almost contemporary XP-72 looked more promising and that plus the advent of jet propulsion meant the end… from both projects.

The Superbolt returning with elan  to its nest (Republic Farmingdale factory, maybe). It was a really hot -and really ugly- potato. That shortened and reconfigured engine cowling couldn’t hardly be less graceful.

SNECMA C400 P2: The very French Atar Volant.

This VTOL proof of concept test bed was the most spectacular “aircraft” at the 22e Salon International d’Aéronautique (1957). The two existing “Atar Volants” prototypes were present: the remote controlled C400 P1 as a static exhibit and the ejection seat-equipped P2 as a flier. This crude thing was piloted by Auguste Morel, the same test pilot who took the P2 on its first flight just a few days before in May 14, 1957.

Candid Kodachrome photo taken by Nicholas Gauthier. Very appropriate that French flag there; those were glorious times for French aviation.

Polikarpov I-17 (TsKB-15): Art Deco in Red.

After his epoch-making I-16, Polikarpov was decided to achieve higher speeds with its next fighter project. In order to do that he chose the slicker water-cooled inline engine instead of the I-16 trusty air-cooled radial. The basic I-17 platform was similar to his previous rotund fighter, but thanks to the inline engine the fuselage cross-section was reduced to the minimum; quite similar to some “speed-seekers” of that era. First flown in September 1934, the design proved to be fast yet not promising enough. Only 3 prototypes were produce plus a few variants studies. Curiously this pretty things were though to be in service with the Soviet AF in early WW2 and were “shot down” in huge numbers by the Germans…

Magnificent 3-view drawing of the 1st prototype, the TsKB-15. With its imported 760hp Hispano-Suiza 12 Ybrs it attained a maximum speed of 455km/h.

Supermarine 327: A bloody shame.

The 327 had its origins in an alternative Supermarine’s answer to the RAF F.18/37 requirement: the one that was fulfilled by the Hawker Typhoon/Tornado. The people of Supermarine chose the twin-engined formula for their heavily armed fighter, a fighter that show its clear Spitfire heritage. Preceded by various models equipped with Bristol Taurus radials in tractor configuration and also by both Bristol Taurus and RR Merlin in pusher configuration, the 327 was the cleanest and more refined example of this unlucky family. Conceived after the Hawker proposal won the original requirement, its intended function was fulfill the role of cannon-equipped fighter. The rearmed Hawker Typhoon with its 4 x 20mm won again. This splendid mock-up was as far as these gorgeous aircraft went.

It comes to my mind….

Dassault MD.320 Hirondelle: They can go to hell.

This lovely aircraft was Dassault answer to a middle 1960’s French Air Force requirement for an aircraft to replace their venerable Douglas DC-3/Beechcraft 18 in their transport and training roles. They were quite specific in the engine choice: they wanted the 870hp Turbomeca Astazou turboprops. With that in mind, the Dassault people just took their successful Falcon 20 airframe and adapted it, quite quickly, to employ those turboprops. First flew in 1968, the Hirondelle proved to be a very decent little thing. Then, all the sudden, the French AF decided what they really wanted was a jet-powered aircraft….. Only this prototype was built.

She was really cute. Those slim Astazou nacelles again.

Nakajima B4N1: Incom T-65’s Ojiisan.

The B4N1 was an unsuccessful Nakajima entry in an Imperial Japanese navy (IJN) 1932 carrier attack bomber contest. The IJN wanted the usual biplane, and Nakajima produced this stunning aircraft characterised by its drum-shaped welded steel tube fuselage and a bizarre backwards folding wooden “X-wing” structures. Two prototypes appeared in 1933. Their performance proved to be poor, thanks to their asthmatic and troublesome Hikari II engines, and they also suffered stability problems produced, it seems,  by the straight  outer sections in the lower pair fo wings. In the end neither the B4N1 nor its Mitsubishi competitor gained acceptance into service.

It was really something, don’t  you think so?

Firestone XR-9B: Unlucky tadpole.

At the end of WW2 the emergence and possibilities of the practical helicopter was evident. Many aircraft companies, both big and tiny, saw a potential boom in vertical flight area and tried hard to achieve a large piece of that cake. The Model 45 design was Firestone Aircraft Company pretender. Conceived originally by G & A Aircraft during late WW2, this pod and boom helicopter follow the classic lines of the Sikorsky S-51 ….with with a lot less success. Only two variants of the 45 were produced: a side by side seat civilian one and this tandem seat military example.

Cute enough to me.