Thursday, March 3, 2011

International Flavor from Paris 1951

Here are a few non-French displays from the 1951 Paris salon.

British machines were the next most prominent. This was Supermarine Attacker F.1 WA486.

Blackburn Firebrand TF.4 EK829. Visible behind this aircraft are two Italian-registered Cessna Cranes, I-CISA and (I think) I-LNOT. They bear crests on the nose for something called the "C.I.A.B."

WP227 was the prototype for the NF.2 night fighter version of the de Havilland Venom fighter. It would be a two further years before the Venom night fighter would enter operational service.

Also not yet in operational service was one of the stars of the show, de Havilland's Comet airliner. G-ALYP was the demonstrator and this was one of the aircraft, when in BOAC service in 1954, that broke up in the air due to metal fatigue with the loss of all 35 aboard, leading to the withdrawal of the Comets from airline service. The wreckage of this machine, recovered from the sea floor off Italy, still exists and was recently re-examined to confirm the initial diagnosis of metal fatigue.

This DC-3 was operated by S.N.C.A.S.O. as a test bed for small jet engines. That growth below the center of the wing is, according to the signage, a jet weighing 150 kg.

Poland's airline Lot brought along a rare iron-curtain visitor at the height of tensions between the east and west blocs, an Ilyushin Il-12. These had been in service for about two years at the time, and no doubt created quite a sensation at the show.

The partial DC-3 visible in the background is F-BEIS, which has a fascinating history. Originally it was C-53 42-68819, serving with the 8th Air Force during World War Two where it likely participated in the D-Day drops. After the war it went to Sweden as SE-APG, then by the time of this photo was with S.N.C.A.S.O. and named "Lucille". It later did stints in the French and Yugoslavian air forces (the only C-53 ever to serve with the latter), was on the US civil register for a time as N8071Z, and in 1981 was sold to the South African Air Force which converted it to turboprops. It appears that it still exists today.

An Avro Anson also appears in the distant background of this shot.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

French Delicacies

In 1951, Dick went to the Paris Airshow, the flying portion of which was being held for the first time at the already-historic Le Bourget field. You might say it was a business trip; he was crew chief for one of the F-84s of the USAF Skyblazers, a featured attraction that year. But the young wrench-turner found time to wander the field and photograph most of the static displays.

His primary camera shot 4x5-inch negatives; I'm guessing it was a Speed Graphic or some such press camera. If you've never handled such large pieces of film, the resolution is a revelation. Objects in the distant background often are rendered with greater detail than the main subject in a 35mm frame. Dick also brought along a 35mm camera loaded with Kodachrome.

This first post will feature the French exhibits, shot with the 4x5. It's a reminder of the beautiful and advanced products the promising French aviation industry was producing then.

These have never been published and came to me in their original developing sleeves marked by the Px of Dick's next base, Davis-Monthan in Arizona, where they were processed. I'll get them published one of these days.

This beauty is a Vema 51, said to have been designed by Macchi. Next to it is a Morane-built Fieseler Storch, of which Dick unfortunately did not get an individual picture.

I don't know what this high-stepping twin was. The glazed nose suggests a bombing or recon trainer of some kind.

The Sud-Ouest SO-6021 Espadon (Swordfish) was a much-talked-about fighter then being offered to the Armee de l'Air. It looked like it could go about Mach 2, but in fact it was subsonic and was never put into production.

The Sud-Ouest SO-30 Bretagne was a French light airliner of the immediate postwar period. The engines and nacelles will look familiar to fans of the Martin B-26, many of which were available in France during that period. To its left is the lovely SO-7060 Deauville.

SO-30s were converted to test new jet engines -- in this case, a pair of SNECMA Atars. The result looks quite a lot like a small commercial airliner, several months before the de Havilland Comet entered service.

F-BCUP was a handsome SNCASE SE-161 Languedoc, developed from the prewar Bloch 161.

The SIPA S.111 was one of a series of French military trainers developed from the Arado Ar 396, a wooden version of the Ar 96 that was produced in occupied France during the war. Behind it is the SNCASE SE-2010 Armagnac, the largest French aircraft at the show. These aircraft were not a commercial success and only nine were built.

The SNCASE Mistral, France's license-built derivative of the de Havilland Vampire. This would have to be a very early one, possibly the second airframe based on its serial, 53-02. In the background are the prototype Dassault Mystere to the left, and in the center, Fairchild C-82A 45-57818, one of just a handful of this type to have participated in the Berlin Airlift.

The beautiful Rey R-1 was an experiment in articulated wings, which could flap along the black line outboard of the engines to assume a natural degree of dihedral to control aerodynamic stresses. Not unlike the flexible wing of the new Boeing 787, but much prettier.

The Aubrey PA-204 Cigale Major was a french touring aeroplane built in small quantities.

In a future post, I'll show some types from Britain and elsewhere in Europe that appeared at the show.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Kaman Huskies

Last month marked the passing of iconoclastic rotorcraft designer Charles Kaman (1919-2011), who achieved a modest degree of success with his radical helicopter designs and pioneered the jet-powered helicopter that now dominates this area of aeronautics.

Kaman's most successful design was the H-43 Huskie, used by the U.S. military services as a short-range rescue machine. The H-43 exemplifies Kaman's characteristic design of having two separate side-by-side main rotors whose arcs closely intermesh.

Dick shot these pics of two H-43s on the ramp at Cam Rahn Bay, Vietnam, in 1968. Probably, they each had quite a few rescues of downed pilots to their credit.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Frank Tallman

This is the late Frank Tallman, famous American film, stunt, and airshow pilot, at the Reno air races in 1969. Tallman appeared in dozens of films and TV programs in the 1960s and 1970s, and amassed a significant collection of historical aircraft. The aircraft he is standing on is his Curtiss TP-40N, which, like much of his collection, was acquired by Florida collector Kermit Weeks following Tallman's death in 1978.

Here's another shot of the TP-40N from the same occasion.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Classic Transports at Ottumwa

(Click the picture to see the entire image -- there's more to the right.)

The Antique Aircraft Association annual fly-in at Ottumwa/Blakesburg, Iowa, used to attract some larger aircraft than it now does. Here are three classic 1930s transports, from three different countries, that appeared at the 1973 gathering.

The Junkers Ju 52/3m, N130LW, would later be owned by author Martin Caidin and inspire his frightfully bad novel, Jericho 52. Still later, it would return to Germany where it is now operated by Lufthansa.

The Vultee V-1A, N16099, was retired to the Virginia Air Museum in Richmond, where it is now displayed.

The de Havilland Dragon Rapide was registered N89DH, which is the same registration as the machine recently restored to spectacular condition in New Zealand for collector Jerry Yagen of Virginia Beach, so I presume that it is the same airplane. This is a genuine warbird that served in the Royal Air Force as HB724.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Twin Mustangs

The F-82 Twin Mustang was not really two of North American's world-beating P-51 Mustang fighters joined at the hip, but that was the conceptual inspiration (as well as great marketing), and the final product stayed faithful to that concept. The idea was to double up on the Mustang's great strengths of fuel capacity and long range for bomber escort by adding another fuselage with more fuel tanks, and a second pilot to share the load of long escort missions. An early example proved its long-range performance by setting a non-stop speed record from Hawaii to New York, but by that time, the few years of history when long range bomber escort fighters really were needed had passed. The F-82 was repurposed as a night fighter with a radar operator in the right-hand cockpit.

About 500 F-82s were made, and today only three intact examples remain. The US Air Force still owns them all, having just resolved an ownership dispute over one of them that went to litigation. (There are also two F-82s being restored to fly by private owners.) These photos show all three of the USAF-owned planes.

This is the one that set the speed record from Hawaii to New York. That was in 1947; to this day, no piston-engined airplane has ever flown so fast over so long a distance. The USAF has displayed it in its museum for a long time. Dick took the above photo in 1965, when it was still displayed outside. The photo below is an official museum photo that he got from the gift shop, probably about the same date.

The later model F-82 below is displayed at the Lackland AF Base museum in Texas. Dick photographed it in December 1977.

The third USAF F-82, the one that was the subject of the ownership dispute, was just recently repossessed by the USAF. This is what it looked like in 1977, in the care of the Commemorative Air Force in Texas, who maintained it for over 20 years.

Here is the same plane in 2005, more or less as it looks today. Recent rumor has it that the USAF Museum will be painting it black and installing the large central radar pod that these night fighters carried