Curtiss SOC: Shockproof elan.

The tough and ready Curtiss SOC Seagull was a scout/recon floatplane employed by the US Navy in their catapult-equipped battleships and cruisers from 1935 until, in some cases, well into 1945. The cause of its commendable front line longevity was the failure of its intended replacement: Curtiss’ other Seagull, the SO3C. They also saw service with the US Coast Guard. Produced both by Curtiss and by the Naval Aircraft Factory (NAF) as the SON-1, around 320 of them were produced.

Jumping over the heavy waves and don’t giving a damn. Pure poetry this photo.


De Schelde S.21: Tadpole sting.

With its pusher engine, twin boom tail feathers and hugely glassed cockpit canopy, the S.21 looked right out of a pulp aviation comic of its era. This late 1930s/early 1940s Dutch single-seat fighter design was the brainchild of T. E. Slot, the former chief designer of Pander & Son. Of all-metal construction and powered by a German 1050hp DB 600Ga, as conceived, the S.21 was heavily armed with four fixed light machine guns and a curious 23mm Madsen cannon which could be directly handled by its pilot.
The construction of the prototype was initiated in the early 1939, and it was still uncompleted when the German invaded the Nederlands in May 1940. Seized by the conquerors, the prototype, still unfinished and unflown, was destroyed by them during some terminal structural tests.

Magnificently done contemporary cutaway.

USAAF A-2 Jacket: Oversexed, overpaid and over here.

The sheer elegance of the iconic A-2 jacket as usually “tarnished” by its owners. In this case, “Der Grossarschvogel” (The Big Butt Bird) was listed as the name of a B-17G of the 8th AF 401st BG.

To many of the stoic Europeans the average American soldier appeared to act like a not yet totally grown-up teen. Don’t know why.

Marinavia Farina QR 14 Levriero: Heinkelino.

The Levriero (Greyhound) was started in late 1938 by Luigi Queirolo and Ing. Recanatini as a wooden twin-engined four-seats small tourism aircraft which soon evolved into a potential military fast liaison and unarmed reconnaissance aircraft for use in the Italian African colonies. The construction of the prototype began in 1940 at the Costruzioni Aeronautiche Taliedo (CAT), a firm specialised in glider construction. Due mainly to business direction changes and the eventual acquisition of the CAT firm by Caproni, the erection of the prototype proceeded both painfully slow and intermittently; the Italian Armistice arrived with no first flight in sight.
In fact, the Levriero had to wait until Oct. 1947 for its air baptism. The flight tests proved its good, even outstanding qualities. A serie of twenty-five was envisaged and the aircraft appeared at some airshows to created interest. It even won a prize at Milan the year of its first flight. Unfortunately, all that hopes came to nothing because it could not compite with the cheap war-surplus aircraft. The aircraft ended its days rotting at the Linate airport.

Powered by a pair of sleek Alfa Romeo 111-1 C.22, this svelte “velivolo’s” fin and wing surfaces reminds me those of the early Heinkel He 111s.

Lockheed R6V Constitution: A giant with tiny muscles.

The Galaxy‘s anniversary the other day reminded me Lockheed’s unsuccessful prequel of the 1940s. Started in 1942, the Constitution was conceived by request of the US. Navy and the Pan Am company both looking a giant leap in range and load capacities. The design chosen employed a huge double-deck fuselage aircraft powered by four P & W R-4360 Wasp Majors, the more powerful engines available. It was not enough. First flown in 1946, the R6V turned out to be seriously underpowered even when re-engined with a more powerful variant of the Wasp Major. Worse, the engines also suffered cooling issues. Due to those problems, just two prototypes were produced and they only saw a brief service with the US. Navy until 1953. Pan Am’s interest had evaporated long before.

Ship No.1 (BuNo 85163) was employed in testing RATO (rocket assisted take-off) operations. It sure needed it at max gross weight. Those minute-looking engines on such an humongous aircraft….

Ikarus IK-2: Labor of love.

The IK-2 was born in curious circumstances. In the late 1920s Royal Yugoslav AF in order to improve the technical knowledge of the indigenous industry send to France a number of young aeronautical engineers. Two of them, Ljubomir Ilić and Kosta Sivčev, went back full of ideas, but found themselves in no position to exploit them. No problem. In 1931 they simply decided to design their dream at their spare time and with their own funds.
By 1933 they were noticed at last by some officials and the project reached the prototype stage with the IK-1. Like the later IK-2, a stunning gull-winged metal monoplane powered by one of those Hispano-Suiza “Moteur Canon” engines. The prototype took its maiden flight in 1935 and proved its potential despite its lost during the third flight due to wing fabric detachment.
Modified with metal-covered wings, the resulting IK-2 was tested successfully starting in 1936. After overcoming some opinion differences rooted on the IK-1’s crash, a dozen production model were ordered. Regrettably by then the various delays in development had caught the design and by 1939, the IK-2 was obsolescent. The dozen saw service in WW2 against the Germans and they conducted themselves quite honorably. Around a third even survived to serve with the pro-German Croatian AF.

Splendidly French-looking (their interwar fighters were quite handsome) and fast for a fixed-undercarriage fighter. An old favorite of mine.