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.

Douglas DF: Northern Exposure.

This elegant and advanced  flying-boat was conceived to be operated by Pan Am. First flown September 1936, the DF met all its expected performances, yet it was still not adopted by Pan Am. Neither did Douglas found other takers in the home market so luck was tried overseas. The results proved to be meagre. Only four (prototype included) were produced: two went to Japan and two to the USSR.

In the USSR they were operated in the Siberian regions by the GU SMP (Main Administration of the Northern Sea Route) for both passenger and freight transport services. This interesting photo says a lot about their harsh life there…. a long way from Pan Am’s usual idyllic operations places.

Lockheed F-94C Starfire: From the ground up.

The F-94C Starfire shared with its F-94 forerunners almost only the name. The original F-94’s were in essence fast and dirty T-33 airframes conversions produced as interim all-weather fighters. The result was satisfactory, but just so. Lockheed though they could do better. The Starfire had also same T-33 roots, but with its new wing, tail feathers, J48 engine with afterburner, radar and rocket armament was a totally different kettle of fish. In the end the USAF bought that fish and it proved to be a very decent Sabre Dog and Scorpion‘s second-best partner.

Superb Lockheed poster from 1952, the Cold War at its very best. The Duke abides.

Other things.

“MiG-31” Firefox: “Думайте на русском языке”.

I usually like to take time in the summers to watch old movies. The latest to suffer this treatment has been Clint Eastwood’s (1982) Firefox. The first time I saw it was in a double session cinema when I was a kid….. Boy!!, I still remember how thrilled I went home. Later, in my very pedantic twenties, the movie lost a huge number of points in my esteem. Older now -but not a lot wiser-, Firefox appears to me like a flawed yet quite enjoyable movie. All in all, Clint must feel happy enough.

Very different from the original, its “MiG-31” design was certainly astonishing in the early 1980’s and has aged decently. The choice of flight gear style is a plus in this movie. Worn very tight and with that. interesting selection of colours : black for our hero / white and orange international for its foe. The helmet as usual is the icing on the cake. In this case a very literal interpretation of the USAF HGU-15/P –USN HGU-20/P — NASA LEH  “Clam Shell”.

“Think in Russian”, my friends.

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.

Vought F-8H Crusader: The Last of the Gunslingers.

LT Jerry Pearson of the VF-24 (USS Hancock) displaying proudly the Crusader‘s “archaic” weaponry over the Gulf of Tonkin, 1969. After the F-8 guns were on their way out in American fighter aircraft inventory…., a serious and hated mistake. They came back.

Of note that little hatch under the fuselage that opened each time the Mk.12 cannons were fired to vent the dangerous explosive gases.

Curtiss A-1 “Triad”: Past & Future.

This little aircraft had the honor of opening the history of the US Navy aviation when it was ordered in May 8th, 1911. The A-1 was a “Model E”, in essence a bigger refined variant of the previous “Model D”. As an amphibian its nickname “Triad” was quite appropriate: the A-1 operated through air, land and sea. The US Navy employed this handy aircraft, and a few of its siblings, for operational tests and training. A long way was still ahead.

The beauty of this photo is beyond me. Spellbinding, hypnotizing, mesmerizing, entrancing, …….. all very “-ing”.