Boulton-Paul Defiant: Limited Aircraft.

Getting closer to the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. I think it’s time to pay some homage, starting with this winner’s failure. The Defiant was the highest exponent of the very British bomber-destroyer “turret fighter” concept of the 1930s. The mere idea of shooting at bombers like on naval warfare… Well, the Defiant proved initially moderately successful, until the initial surprise was overcome. All was not lost though. They proved to be more than decently efficient stopgap night fighters and, in the long term, able target tow workers.

It was a neat looking aircraft nevertheless. A cross between the shape of the Hurricane and the construction of the Spitfire.

Saab B 17B: Scandinavian no-nonsense.

With the building of the Northrop 8-A 1 under licence, the ASJA/Saab company found themselves with the knowledge to design and manufacture modern all-metal monoplanes. So in the Spring of 1940, Saab offered the Swedish authorities their all-new type 17 aircraft. This was, at first, intended to fulfil a recon aircraft role, but soon was redesigned as a dive bomber. First flown in 1940, the Northrop’s roots were quite evident in the successful prototype. Production soon started in three basic models powered by three different engines; Sweden was a neutral country and engines were hard to produce or find. A total of over 320 of these sturdy aircraft were build.

A pair of stupendous looking B 17B (980hp Bristol/Svensk Flygmotor Mercury XXIV) from Wing F 7 in this gorgeous photo. The backward folding undercarriage with its bulky covers looked dated. That odd design choice was employed to keep the wing free of any landing gear recesses, and stronger accordingly. Not a bad idea for a dive bomber.

Dewoitine D.520-01: Arrested Development.

Emile Dewoitine’s D.520 was the best French mass produced fighter of WW2. This racy beauty was roughly equal to both the Spitfire and Bf 109E in 1940. Sadly, that was also the year of France surrender and the end of D.520’s further serious improvement. The design continued to be produced in quantity by Vichy France anyway, with German permission. Captured and new built saw also service with the Germans, Bulgarians and the Italians. The latter two in anger. It was that good.

The sheer prettiness of the first prototype. Photo taken after its Nov. 1938 landing accident: the three-blade variable-pitch prop has replaced the pedestrian two-blade fixed-pitch wooden prop.

Fieseler Fi 156C-3 (Trop) Storch: “Did I Do That? (IX)”.

This Storch (WNr 5837 DJ + PC) was employed as a communications aircraft by the II SS Panzer Corps. Its pilot, SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser, was the artist who put it on the roof of the Haus Wörnerblick, Mittenwald, 16 Aug. 1943.

The Storch was renowned for its outstanding STOL qualities, but this is hilariously ridiculous.