Sud-Est LeO H-470: Plowshares into swords.

One of the fastest, and prettiest, flying boats of the 1930’s. The H-470 resulted from a 1934 Minist√®re de l’Air specification for a commercial mail carrier/airliner suitable for use over the South Atlantic, the Dakar-Natal route. Exceptional care was taken in its development in order to obtain the highest possible aerodynamic efficiency and it showed. The prototype maiden flight took place in the summer of 1936 and proved particularly successful. This prototype was lost soon after, but not before it proved the soundness of the design. Five production H-470’s were ordered by Air France. The World situation then interfered and the five were impressed by the French Navy. Armed by the Navy, they turned into long-range maritime recon aircraft. They served in that role until 1943 when problems with spare supplies condemned the survivors to the scrape yard.

They sure were mighty sleek things, even with the addition of military draggy equipment. Of note its characteristic 4 tandem mounted Hispano-Suiza 12Y engines and the cooling radiators placed in nacelles under them.


Fieseler Fi 167: Flights of Fancy (IV).

Germany’s first aircraft carrier, the Graf Zeppelin, had it keel laid down at the end of 1936, but the premature start of WW2 delayed first and ended later (1943) its possible entry into service. To equip it the Reich Ministry of Aviation (Reichsluftfahrtministerium; the RLM to us) issued the usual aircraft specifications. The Fi 167 was the winner of torpedo and reconnaissance bomber one. This magnificently elegant biplane took the skies in 1938 and from the very beginning proved to be a superb performer, surpassing many of the requested specifications.
Sadly, as I’ve said, German carrier aviation came to nothing and its demise means the end of Germany’s carrier aircraft needs too. Anyway, this biplane was obsolete long before that. By 1942 its place had been taken by a carrier version of the Ju 87. The dozen or so Fi 167’s built saw some service with the Luftwaffe in the Netherlands and later with the Croatians.

A pretty cool digital artwork by

Vought XTBU-1 Sea Wolf: US Industrial might at work.

The XTBU-1 was the XTBF-1 (Avenger‘s prototype) “losing” rival for the US Navy 1940 torpedo bomber contract. Even though the Sea Wolf came second in the contest, Vought design showed such performances and potential the Navy ordered its further development. The company by then with their hands full with their troublesome Corsair fighters decided to sell their TBU design to Consolidated. In the end only 189 would be produced due to technical and production problems which caused huge delays. Designated TBY-2, only two mere squadrons were in the process of preparation to deploy overseas when “V-J Day” came.

Gorgeous profile photo of the Sea Wolf’s first prototype. To say it was purposeful-looking aircraft is a serious understatement. I do love its long, long greenhouse cockpit canopy.

Heinkel He 114B-1: Modest yet valuable.

The elegant He 114 was a maritime reconnaissance sesquiplane aircraft conceived by Heinkel as a private venture around 1936. In 1937 a He 114 development model competed unsuccessfully against the Arado Ar 196 as a replacement for the Heinkel He 60. Despite that setback, the Luftwaffe ordered a few as, mainly, training aircraft. The type was phased out of service in the early war years, but not before performing discreet but very valuable actions, especially in the Black Sea.

Heinkel also seldom failed to export a usually small quantities of their pre-war aircraft they constructed. One of their users was Sweden which took a batch of 14 of the B-1 export model. A pair of them here in glorious color.

Boeing B-29 Superfortress: Flight of Fancy (III).

The other day thinking about the now two airworthy B-29’s all the sudden I remembered a childhood all-favorite of mine, Disney’s 1980 “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark” movie. The Superfortress featured in the flying sequences was “Fertile Myrtle” (45-21787 / BuNo 84029). A famous aircraft, “Fertile Myrtle”, was employed from 1951 to 1956 by the US Navy/NACA to launch the iconic Douglas D-558-II Skyrocket. Owned nowadays by Kermit Weeks, its nose is currently on display in the International Sport Aviation Museum (Lakeland, Florida). The rest of the aircraft is stored. As an aside, four other B-29’s wrecks were acquired also from the China Lake Naval Weapons Center for diverse non-flying duties in the movie.

The movie is utterly naive, but in a good way. Pure nostalgia.

Folland Fo.108 (43/37): Only the Brave (VI).

The Fo.108 was the answer to a RAF requirement (43/37) for a purpose-built engine testbed aircraft. Folland’s winner was this humongous single-engined monoplane. Crewed by a pilot and two “boffins” there was nothing fancy or advanced in its conception when the prototype took the skies for the first time in 1940, just a no-nonsense platform to perform a vital duty.
An obvious question came to my mind: why single-engined knowing the potential trouble of an untried engined as the only motive power? The operational story of the 12 produced Fo.108 answered it….,five of them were lost in crashes. You don’t get the nickname “Frightful” for nothing.

Those Follands’¬† humonguousness in all it splendor. The quite massive Napier Sabre model being tested here looks almost as a little tiny joke.