Douglas A-20G Havoc: “She’s slick….., and beautiful”.

Not maybe one of the great forgotten ones of WW2, yet the Boston/Havoc family with it circa 7,500 produced deserves to be better remembered. Originally designed by the Douglas’ El Segundo as a private venture bomber, the basic design soon grew into fast, sturdy and very able aircraft. Its many variants satisfied many users, in many war theatres and in a considerable number of roles.

Magnificent Kodakchrome photo of some brand new Havocs en route (Alaska, methinks) to the Soviet Union. Notice the clever customising of the American star into a provisional red one for the transit. With almost 3,000 delivered, the USSR was the major operator of the Boston/Havoc. They adored them.

Cleopatra.

Piaggio P.111: Ben oltre la bellezza.

This beauty was conceived in 1939 purely as a high-altitude research aircraft. In particular, to investigate cabin pressurization in line with the development of the company P108C airliner. First flown in the spring of 1941, this relatively small bimotor monoplane was powered by a pair of 1000hp Piaggio P.XII R.C.l00/2v two-stage supercharged radial engines which allow it to achieve a ceiling of about 39,000 feet. An active test career followed which concluded with its unceremonious scrapping before the Italian armistice.

The sparkling brand new prototype at Villanova d’Albenga (Savona), 1941.

Kawasaki Ki-48-I: Cuteness Overload.

Ki-48colour

Already a veteran in late 1941, the Ki-48 became the main light bomber of the Japanese Army Air Force (JAAF) during all the Pacific War. Seeing extensive service in Burma, Malaya, New Guinea, etc. Too slow and pitifully armed, even in the improved -II variants, the design soldiered with the usual Japanese aplomb until the very end…, Kamikaze sorties included. Some saw service later with the Chinese (red and otherwise) and in Indonesia.

Rare, rare colour photo taken from the belly gun position of another “Sokei”, maybe. It was such a lovely toylike thing.

Photo source.

“Supermarine Spitfire Mk. I”: I’m on him.

Artistic interpretation of Tom Hardy “in action” inside the modified Yak-52TW used for Spitfire cockpit inflight shots in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” 2017 movie. According to some friends a sheer good way to spend an evening. Not so sure in my case. Still pending, I’m not a Nolan’s admirer. Some day…, maybe, perhaps.

Hardy wears the unmistakable B helmet, a crude D oxygen mask and the magnificent Mk IVb googles with the anti-glare polarised screen up. The latter’s an anachronism if I’m not very mistaken.

Artist: Mauro Belfiore.

Lockheed P-38J Lightning: Drive it like you stole it.

The proud new owner of a Volkswagen 166 Schwimmwagen sharing space in this photo with the P-38J “Miss Mass” (42-67449) of Lt. V. J. Noble (392nd Fighter Squadron, 367th Fighter Group, 9th Air Force). The Lightning is warming out nicely at Cricqueville-en-Bessin, France (A-2), Aug. 26, 1944.

A good catch, by the way. The German “Swimming Car” was the only version of the Kübelwagen which bested its American counterpart, the Jeep.

Photo: LIFE magazine.

General Motors A-1 Bug: Men and their toys (XXIII).

The founder of Delco, Charles Kettering, undertook serious research and development in guided missiles for the US military since 1919. With the start of WW2, while working at General Motors, he proposed yet another iteration of his “Bugs” as a guided power-driven bomb. Tests started in 1941 and showed that control and general reliability were rather poor. The project saw some improvement in time, but it was ultimately cancelled in 1943.

Muroc, Aug. 1942. The Bug, by then, could employ its own tricycle-like landing gear to take-off, or be launched from this custom-built hot-rod Caddy. This stunning automobile had a pair of 165 hp Cadillac engines attached to a single drive shaft.