Boulton Paul P.103B: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

At first sight, apart of those contra-rotating props, this neat sketch looks like an Allied early interpretation of the German Fw 190A. In fact, this Bristol Centaurus-powered  “clone” was one of the two Boulton Paul’s proposals (the P.103A was a RR Griffon-engined version) to fulfill the Royal Navy N.7/43 fighter specification. That requirement was conceived to supply, at last, the Fleet Air Arm with an up-to-date all-British carrier fighter after years of barely satisfactory landplane conversions (Sea Hurricanes & Seafires) and American types. In the end, after a tortuous path, it was the Sea Fury the one which answered the “Senior Service” prayers…., but only after the war ended.

Ah, that cockpit canopy.

Bell Rocket Belt: Rocketeer vs Lotus.

We’ve seen lately one of those periodic resurgences of extreme individual flying gizmos. Time to go back the one of the oldest, most spectacular and certainly the most famous by far: the late 1950’s hydrogen peroxide-fuelled marvel of the Bell company.

Nostalgic GIF taken from a Pathé’s Documentary of 1966. The circuit is the classic Brands Hatch and the race car looks like a Formula 3 Lotus. It sure was a short race….that Rocket Belt maximum endurance was only a little more than 21 seconds.

AW Albemarde Mk I: Second-best at best.

Late in the 1930’s the British Air Ministry grew concerned that, if there was a war, the possible supply shortage of aircraft light alloy materials could became a problem. One of the product of that concern was the RAF specification B.9/38 for a bomber built with alternative materials -the Albemarde was the answer. With its already dated steel tube, wood and fabric construction, the Albemarde proved to be both overweight and low on performance compared to up-to-date designs. Obviously, its bomber role was soon forgotten replaced early on by general recon duties. In the end it was as transports and gliders tugs where these unloving and unloved things earned their keep.

Gorgeous cutaway of this aircraft which its chief designer John Lloyd defined as “.. an aircraft that could be built by the tinker, tailor and candlestick maker outside the industry”.

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….

Hawker Typhoon Mk.1B: “I Got Stripes”.

A Typhoon Mk IB photographed by Flight magazine before its delivery to the RAF in April 1943. Exhibiting its gloriously aggressive lines to advantage; nice way to show us its 12in black and 24in white bands. As I’ve commented before, one of the Typhoon’s problems -especially in early service- was that it was easily mistaken with the Fw 190. This was the solution.

Photo. IWM.

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.