Metropolitan & Carvair: Diametrically opposed at first sight.

The two disparate worker bees of this Spanish charter airline during the 1960s. One of the three Metropolitans acquired second-hand which became the first pressurised airlines of the company and one of the two DC-4s converted by Aviation Traders into pedestrian Carvairs by Aviaco’s order.

Neat and clever publicity art in the “AVIÓN” magazine. I find quite irresistible the stylist design chosen for the CV-440 compared with the realistic drawing of the Carvair.


Dassault Mirage IIIC: ¡¡BRAVÍSIMO!!

Nope, not an illegal imitation. The Spanish Bruguera publishing company bought in 1968 the rights of “Les Aventures de Tanguy et Laverdure” among other Franco-Belgian cartoons and they used their “Revista Juvenil Bravo” magazine to distribute them in Spain. As an aside, the Spanish Ejército del Aire (AF) bought later the real deal.

The artist of this very decent cover was Edmond (Edmond Fernández Ripoll). A few of these old “tebeos” were, gladly, still at hand when I was a kid. Happy times.

CASA C-202A Halcón: Do not call self-sufficiency what is just misery.

This dumpy aircraft was another product of General Franco’s autarky postwar policy. This program started in the last part of the 1940s as a refinement of the Previous Alcotán, designed both by Pedro Huarte-Mendicoa. Contrary to the Alcotán, it had tricycle landing gear an its unpressurized cabin could accommodate fourteen-eighteen passengers. Following the autarky policy it was intended to be powered by a pair of indigenous 775hp EMMASA Beta B.4 radial engines. The lack of development of the latter forced the first prototype to be powered with a bizarre sort of mongrel engine which combined parts old 840hp Wright Cyclone taken from Iberia retired DC-2’s and parts of B.4. Its maiden flight on 1952 (60 years ago yesterday) proved the good qualities of the airframe and the dubious ones of the power plants. The second prototype flew two years later with the intended Betas, but it soon became obvious the troublesome Spanish engines had no future. An order (20) was placed anyway by the Spanish AF, but in the end only the two prototypes were produced. The 1st prototype was later reengined and aerodynamically cleaned out thanks to the interest of an American company; no orders followed.

We could see the lines of the later Azor in this neat photo of the 1st prototype taken at Getafe (Madrid) just after being roll out of it assembly hangar. The pair of wheels units in front landing gear were provided by another aircraft; the Halcón employed a single wheel, which was still not available….

Avia 51: Like father unlike son.

In 1929 the chief designer of the Avia company, Richard Nebesář was sent to the USA (to the Martin and Lockheed companies) to gain experience in the latest aeronautical techniques. Back in Czechoslovakia in 1931, Nebesář began to work in two projects to apply his new knowledge. The first (the Avia 50) was soon cancelled, the second became the six-passenger transport Avia 51. Nebesář’s three 200hp Avia RK.12 powered all-metal monoplane (with fabric covered wings) displayed unmistakable Lockheed Vega‘s roots.
First flown in 1933, the prototype proved unstable to fly and subject to flutter. Despite those serious defects the Czech national airlines CLS acquired three of them in 1934. According to one source they were soon retired for service because they were uneconomical to operate; another source claims their pilots refused to fly them. The Spanish Civil War came to the rescue. All three were bought in 1937 by the Republicans. Only one was operated briefly by the FARE, the other two were lost at sea when the freighter was sunk.

Aérospatiale-BAC Concorde: Açò es mel de romer!!

Tonight is “la Plantá” here in Valencia, the first official day of the Fallas. Not a particular fan of these fiestas -to the “non-fallero” Valencians the Fallas could be quite insufferable-, but from time to time you can enjoy real pieces of art like this one. This British Airways Concorde duplicate was the main theme of the Plaça de l’Ajuntament (País Valencià then) falla of 1981.

Artist: Vicente Luna.

Cañete HACR Pirata: All too Spanish (III).

Antonio Cañete Heredia was a Spanish military pilot and engineer who in the early 1920s designed and built a successful glider flying boat, the Gaviota (Gull). Emboldened by the experience took the logical next step. His Pirata (Pirate) or “Hidro Antonio Cañete de Reconocimiento” (HACR) was conceived as a military recon parasol wing, single-engined flying boat. Due to the crude state of metallurgy industry in Spain, Cañete was forced to use galvanised iron in the main structure; wood and fabric was employed in the rest.
Powered by a locally built 450 hp Elizalde-Lorraine, the Pirata made its maiden flight in the summer of 1927 with its designer on board as an observer. During its tests the Pirata proved to be a sound design, but it was not to be. Lack of money -the usual Spanish curse- or the already available Dornier Wal sealed its possible future. Only this prototype was built.

It was undeniably a slick effort.

SFCA Maillet 21: Quel bizarre effort.

This strange aeroplane was the product of the little known Société Francaise de Constructions Aéronautiques (SFCA). That French company had inherited a design called the Maillet-Nening MN-A from its recently deceased designer: André Maillet. From it they developed their first product, the Maillet 20 in 1935. Only two of this all-wooden three-seat monoplane tourer were produced, but the Armée de l’Air saw something in the design and bought 30 examples of an improved trainer version under the name Maillet 201.
The Maillet 21 was sort of prototype made rebuilding the still unbuilt second Maillet 20. The main peculiarity of this model was its cockpit disposition: the pilot was placed at the rear on araised seat yet the forward glazing was lowered to lay flush with the forward fuselage. From this prototype SFCA manufactured a short production serie equipped with a retractable undercarriage under the name of Maillet-Lignel 20.

The Maillet 21 in all its eccentric splendor. Photo taken at the 1935 Hélène Boucher Cup race, a race for female pilots. The 21 was no slouch; Claire Roman finished second at its helm. The Spanish Republicans bought this monoplane later and it was devoured by the Spanish Guerra Civil cauldron.