Potez 452: Punched above its weight.

The Potez 452 was a shipboard reconnaissance flying boat conceived to operate from the French capital ships. The first prototype, the type 45, first flew in 1935. After its flight trials proved to be successful an order of 16 was soon passed.  First delivered at the end of 1935, the 452’s served in battleships, cruisers and lesser ships (avisos). At the beginning of WW2 they saw action in the Mediterranean mainly and served well into 1944; of note the part some took in the conflict with Siam of 1940. Precisely a 452 based at Bien Hoa (French Indochina) was the last one in operational service.

The Nº 2 built in its handling trolley. Not one of the prettiest thing around, but with its a quite neat hull and that wing-mounted 350hp Hispano-Suiza 9Qd engine, the 452 had a certain charm.

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Douglas XB-42 Mixmaster: Dreams Processor.

The Mixmaster was originated by Douglas as a private venture attack bomber early in 1943. Curiously the USAF saw it as a potential, and inexpensive, substitute for the Boeing B-29(!!). Nothing was cheap or dull in the Mixmaster though. A twin-engined pusher aircraft with its two 1800hp Allison V-1710 engines placed beside each other behind the cockpit; their power reach the contra-rotating props via a pair of P-39’s drive shafts. The defensive armament was also unusual too: a pair of .50 HMG in each wing trailing edge fired through remotely controlled by the co-pilot.
First flown in the Spring of 1944, its performances were astonishing with a top speed in excess of 450mph. The fastest American bomber of its time, on one flight the XB-42 even set a transcontinental speed record with an average speed of 433mph. All weren’t rose though: vibration,stability and cooling problems were present. Anyway, as in other cases, WW2 ended and with it the pressing need of new bombing assets. Just two prototype were built. Jet propulsion was also clearly the future, and Douglas explored that with 2 further developments of this formula.

Spellbinding photo of XB-42 (43-50224) at Palm Springs, California -my guess. Clearly displayed here its original twin bubble canopies, one of the not so clever idea of this design. This cockpits layout hindered badly communications between the crew and soon replaced by a single bubble canopy. A less cooler option, that’s for sure.

Supermarine Stranraer: Not just Spitfires.

The Stranraer was a coastal reconnaissance flying boat conceived in the middle 1930’s. First flown in 1934, this R. J. Mitchell’s biplane design was almost obsolete already at that stage. Anyway, a small number of them were in service with both the British RAF and the Canadian RCAF at the start of WW2. With less than 60 built they didn’t make a great contribution to the war effort, although the Canadians kept theirs until 1946. Afterwards some were civilian operated in the demanding Canadian climate well into the 1950’s. Not well-loved by their British crews, such longevity tells us something. Couldn’t be all bad.

A loose flock flying nicely here. Better than its replacement, that’s for sure.

Beriev KOR-2 (Be-4): Enough, yet not enough.

The KOR-2 was a reconnaissance flying boat pushed forward in 1939 to replace the household problematic KOR-1. Starting really from zero, Beriev chose to design a totally different aircraft: a flying boat instead of a floatplane. First flown in the fall of 1940, the KOR-2 soon proved to be what the doctor ordered. Sadly, the production was just starting when the Germans invaded the USSR. Its production suffered the interruptions of evacuation and the paucity of the type demand by the Soviet Navy. They served mainly in the Baltic both land and cruiser-based recon roles. Only about 47 were built, the last one in 1945….less than fifty in four years. Must be a record.

Lovely photo of a possible “Cruiser-borne” KOR-2. It was that gorgeous.

Horten Ho VI: Reimar by Eduardo.

Not happy with his already magnificent Ho IVa, Reimar Horten decided to take its basic formula a step ahead. His spellbinding Ho VI of 1944 was an experimental nurflügel aircraft designed to further explore the potential of very high aspect ratio (AR) all-wing design against the best traditional sailplanes of the era. Not intended for series production, only two were produced. A pity.

The deceiving simplicity of Horten’s jewel as seen by my good friend Eduardo Alonso.

“Boeing B-29”: The Japanese and their nice toys.

At first sight nothing out of the ordinary in this quite well-made “B-29” wooden mock-up. Looks just like another airfield decoy, don’t you think?…,wrong. Taken at the Irumagawa AB (Japan), this was one of the three full-size B-29 mock-ups constructed in Japan during the war. Another, the one at the Imperial Japanese Army Academy at Saitama, was employed as a demolition trainer to develop the tactics to be employed for the “Operation Gi-gou” on Okinawa.