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.