Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet (Replica): Herrlich Rote !!

This striking Me 163B flying replica was created by Joseph Kurtz between 1994 and 1996. Kurtz was, in fact, a Luftwaffe pilot who trained to fly the Komet, but who never saw combat with it. The aircraft was acquired and operated later by EADS. Not a true clone, this engineless replica has nevertheless proven to be an excellent flyer. According to what I’ve read it’s grounded nowadays…., it should be flying.

In action here (thankfully with no shitty music).

Focke-Wulf Fw 190 V18/U1: Such a Knockout.

It was soon obvious what was the main shortcoming of the Fw 190: lack of real high altitude performance. As early as 1941, various solution were studied to solve it featuring mainly new power plants with better superchargers and even the use of turbochargers. The C-series was conceived to follow the later approach. A bunch of prototypes were built, but in the end they proved too complicated and finicky. The D-series, with liquid cooled Jumo 312, proved to be the best option.

The Fw 190 V18/U1, the first real C-series prototype, in all its glorious splendour. This prototype was powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 603G engine. That not very refined ventral “pouch” fairing housed the DVL TK 11 turbocharger installation.  Easy to understand why it was nicknamed the Kanguruh (Kangaroo).

By the way, this is my favourite Würger.

Lavochkin La-7: “Too Much Love Will Kill You”.

The radial-engined Lavochkin’s were, with the liquid-cooled Yakovlev’s, the fighters that allowed the Soviet AF to face in battle the Luftwaffe finest on a more or less equal footing. Somehow crude and certainly not refined maybe, but sturdy, fast and built in quantity. In good hands the Lavochkin’s gave a good account of themselves…. the top Soviet ace of the war, Ivan Kozhedub (62 victories), ended the war at the controls of one of them.

NPO Lavochkin company is obviously proud of their more famous product. One of the only three survivors is presented this way near their place at Khimki, Moscow. They should take instead a better care of it: a replica would do just as well, it is my humble opinion.

Arado Ar 231: Der Kinder Surprise.

The smart Ar 231 was an ultra light-weight floatplane conceived in the early WW2 years to be carried and operated from submarines. Its main unusual feature was an offset wing design to enable its two wing panels to fold aft flat in its watertight stowage tube without interfering with each other, the inner section was designed on a slant so the right wing was in fact lower than the left. Tested thoroughly during 1940, the design couldn’t get over its inherent fragility, lack of power and awful air/seaworthiness qualities. Only a bunch of prototypes were built.

At any rate, a superbly elegant failure with some clever engineering behind it.

Supermarine Spitfire: “We either stand down or blow up “.

Spitfire is a drug. I’ve just revisited, again, the ” Battle of Britain” (1969) movie. With all its defects, nothing has come near this classic; no digital effects and plenty of hardware “in action”. Well, there one thing I hate in this movie: they killed the best “pilot” and I can’t really forgive them for that. The headgear was also quite dubious.

Such a glorious line. His name is….

Henschel Hs 123: The Unreachable.

The Hs 123 was, in fact, a “Stuka” before the Stuka. This portly looking biplane was conceived to compete in a 1933 dive bomber requirement. Sturdy and dependable, the Hs 123 first saw service in the Spanish Guerra Civil where it soon proved its capabilities. After that, they continued to soldier even if other more modern platforms were available.  So good they were that their archaic configuration didn’t deter them from intensive use during WW2. In fact, the relatively modest number produced served well and hard into 1944…., when they’re retired due to spare parts shortage. Almost irreplaceable.

Lovely drawing in this 1937 Henschel’s ad. Photo Source.