Douglas AD-4N Skyraider: Two times the charm.

A pair of deliciously restored Skyraiders wearing the stunning livery of the US. Navy Attack Squadron 176 (VA-176) “Thunderbolts”. They sure looked the part, but the VA-176 didn’t operate this three-seat variant; they used the later AD-6 (A-1H) single seater. By the way, one of them piloted by LTJG  W. T. Patton became the last of the two “MiG killer” Skyraiders when he shot down, with the SPAD’s  4 x 20 mm battery, a North Vietnamese MiG-17 jet fighter on Oct. 9, 1966.

Such a brutish elegance.

Stanley Aviation “escape capsule”: The good old days of above & beyond.

How the incredible Hustler‘s escape capsule works. As we see in this “time capsule” GIF, in case of an emergency a protective clamshell would enclose the whole seat, the control stick included in case of the pilot. “Turted up” in such way the pilot could still continue to fly the Hustler or in case of a more dire situation undertake an immediate egress. The capsule would float and even be used as a life raft.

The “pilot” wears an Aviators Equipment Corporation MB-3 helmet with a MS22001 oxygen mask. That peculiar “soft” helmet with its detachable bill was used by the Strategic Air Command in the late 1950’s/early 1960’s for crew positions not requiring the use of a rigid helmet. The Hustler, with its escape capsule, was ideal. Hardware porn, my friends.

Bell P-59A Airacomet: “A fighter?!….., Are you sure, Sir”.

The Airacomet has the honour of being the first United States jet fighter aircraft to enter service…, with a “little” help from British jet engine knowledge. Bell was the company chosen for this endeavour for its usual innovative ideas, but mainly because its was the least busy of the big aeronautical companies. Entering a new era, Bell chose to be prudent, too prudent in fact: their Airacomets were big, cumbersome, heavy and underpowered. When first flown in Oct 1942 it became soon obvious the performances achieved were, in fact, worse than the latest piston engined fighters. The very few of them produced never saw combat and served firstly as trainers.

Pot bellied things they were. Anyway, they sure have a serious punch with those three .50 HMG’s and 37 mm cannon.