Sopwith 7F.1 Snipe (replica): Even better than the real thing?

One of the superb flying replicas constructed in the Wellington workshops of The Vintage Aviator Lt (TVAL), New Zealand. The amount of detail and authenticity of this Snipe is simply staggering; just to think that its gorgeous Bentley BR2 rotary engine was also “scratch-built” by TVAL….

Photo: Ben Rawlings.


Fokker D.VII: What the….. !!!

Some mischievousness here with a classic Sanke Postcard. WW1 German Ace (28 victories) and Pour le Mérite holder Leutnant Arthur Laumann didn’t need that kind of help.

As we say here in Spain: “cuando el diablo se aburre, mata moscas con el rabo” / when the devil is bored, he kills flies with his tail.

Nieuport 10 (XB): Only the Brave (IV).

Tested in early 1915, this is the very first example of the long series of famous Nieuport sesquiplanes of WW1. The prototype is seen here showing the awkward position the observed would be forced to take in combat to fire -through a cutout in the wing centre section- his Hotchkiss machine gun. That was soon changed; later Nieuports two-seaters had the crew positions reversed and a fixed Lewis was placed in the top wing.

A similar installation.

LUSAC-11: Above & Beyond.

The “Lepère United States Army Combat-11” was a two-seat fighter manufactured -less than 30 were built- during the last year of the Great War by the Packard Motor company to the design of French Captain George Lepère. The few built didn’t saw service in their intended role; some were used as liasion aircraft and others as test planes.

Over McCook Field (1919). Pictured in this magnificent photo is a specially modified LUSAC-11. Equiped with a high-compression 425hp Liberty engine and flown by Lt. Rudolph “Shorty” Schroerder it’d achieved a altitude of 28,900 ft in 1918. Modified again, this time with a General Electric turbosupercharger, Schroeder set an altitude record of 33,113 ft.

Photo: USAF.

Fokker D.VII: Men are from Mars (IV).

Like all wars, the first war in the air greatly accelerates the technological developments -that’s the way we humans are. The flimsy artifacts powered by sputtering engines rapidly evolved into strong, powerful and feisty warmachines. The aircrew personal equipment also suffered drastic transformations. Gone were the devil-might-care era of the pioneers with their hat turned backwards to be supplanted by seriously professional gear.

By 1917 things looked like this. The oustanding Fokker D.VII with its advanced thick wing profile, clever no-nonsense construction methods and highly-compresed engine and a perfectly attired “rider”. Outside the gorgeously checkered D.VII fuselage we can observe an experimental installation of the Ahrendt & Heylandt liquid oxygen apparatus with its protected flask and rebreathing bag. The pilot uses a simple pipestern-type mouthpiece and a handy nose clip to prevent him from inhaling outside air. I simple adore the pilot huge stopwatch.

Photo: National Archives.

Hanriot HD.1: Still being rejected….

This authentic Hanriot HD.1 (c/n 75) and a Farman F.40 was traded some years ago by the RAF Museum (RAFM) with Gene De Marco “The Vintage Aviator Ltd” (TVAL) for three of their superb reproductions: a Sopwith Snipe, a Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8 and an Albatros D.Va. It wears the original livery of the 1e Escadille de Chasse, Belgian Flying Corps, September 1918.

The sky is always the limit.

Photo: James Fahey.

Boeing Stearman PT-17: The Iron Mask.

Image captured from “Biggles” (1986) movie. Awful is a too mild adjective to describe that film. A weak story and utterly appalling acting (Peter Cushing apart) poorly mixed with some neat aviation action sequences. (Spoilers Alert). Granted, the Stampe vs Stearman fantasy is quite hard to swallow…., and that funny Bell 206 time travel.
The best part of this disaster to me is German “Ace” Eric Von Stalhein’s headgear; a customised Luftstreitkräfte (Imperial German Air Service) cork and leather safety flight helmet equipped with a sort of stunning metal visor.

The “bad guys” are always the best dressed.