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The Royal Aircraft Factory Fe-2b...the other Whirling Incinerator...as the RFC crews called them. The DH-2 being the other...

It was a two seat reconnaissance/bomber pusher aircraft that often was pressed into...lol...air superiority roles. Not very successfully seeing the Germans had the Albatros D2 and D3.



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DOP:  Thanks for the B-47 inspiration.  I have largely forgotten this airplane, as I usually fixate on the B-36 (huge R-4360 fan since I used to own & fly a pair of R-985s).  The amount of mainten

Two R-985s?? Sweet. Did you own a Goose or something similar? Yes...the 47 was pretty cool. Flew like a fighter by accounts. But it was underpowered none-the less...JATO was standard for loaded t

Mine was a 3NM.  Funny, but when I was a wee kid, I was introduced to general aviation by the pilot and engineer that kept a D18S for local construction magnate.  They would show a couple of 12 year o

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Guynemer flew the SPAD VII*...which was a great leap forward for Allied aviation. It and the Nieuport 17 represented France's second generation fighters of WW1. Weird machines like the Morane Saulnier Type N were the first generation...while the Nieuport 11 Bebe was a transitional aircraft.

The Americans ended-up using the SPAD VII as well as the SPAD XIII & Nieuport 28 rather than British aircraft. They had nothing of their own that was terribly...good...at the time.


* I recall building a few 1/72 scale models of the SPAD VII as a yoot.


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Edward "Mick" Mannock, Great Britain's top ace. 61 kills.



Along with James McCudden, they were Britain's answer to the Jasta formations of the Germans. More brutal tactics rather than any 'knight of the air' stuff...Mannock's 15 rules for air combat still have much validity in today's dogfight arena.

Mannock's fifteen rules on air combat
1. Pilots must dive to attack with zest, and must hold their fire until they get within one hundred yards of the target
2. Achieve surprise by approaching from the east (German side of the front)
3. Utilize the sun's glare and clouds to achieve surprise
4. Pilots must keep physically fit by exercise and the moderate use of stimulants
5. Pilots must sight their guns and practice as much as possible. Targets are fleeting.
6. Pilots must practice spotting machines in the air and recognizing them at long range, and every aeroplane is to be treated as an enemy until it is certain it is not
7. Pilots must learn where the enemy's blind spots are
8. Scouts must be attacked from above and two-seaters from beneath their tails
9. Pilots must practice quick turns, as this manoeuvre is used more than another in a fight
10. Pilots must practice judging distances in flight as these are very deceptive
11. Decoys must be guarded against—a single enemy is often a decoy—therefore the air above must be searched before attacking
12. If the day is sunny, machines should be turned with as little bank as possible; otherwise the sun glistening on their wings will give away their positions at long range
13. Pilots must keep turning in a dogfight and never fly straight unless firing
14. Pilots must never dive away from an enemy, as he gives an opponent a non-deflection shot—bullets are faster than aeroplanes
15. Pilots must keep an eye on their watches during patrols, on the direction and strength of the wind

Canada had its own top aces...of course. Billy Bishop, Raymond Collishaw, Billy Barker, Donald MacLaren....

Not many good vids on Mannock...just this BBC Documentary.


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Over to WW2...



The Nakajima Ki-43 Oscar...the Japanese Army's main day fighter. The A6M Zero was a Navy plane. Very rare...only a few flying if any, anymore...older vids. It was quite similar to the Zero but lightly armed...no 20mm cannons. Like the Zero, no armor to protect anything...

Early version...

Later model...

Japanese wartime film starring the Ki-43...basically.


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The G3M Nell



You generally don't hear or see much about the Nell history-wise other than it was one of the aircraft types used to sink the Prince of Wales and the Repulse in 1941. But it saw quite a lot of action in WW2...just not vs the Americans. Thus it tended to miss immortality from Hollywood...the G4M Betty being a much more common archetypical Japanese bomber in the movies. Over 1,000 made...so a fair number completed. Retired in 1945...so a LONG serving aircraft even though mostly obsolete by the end of WW2.


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No. 75 Squadron RAAF was well acquainted with the G3M Nell. It was based in Port Moresby New Guinea during early WW2 and fought daily battles with both the Japanese Army & Navy squadrons (which had separate aviation commands). 75 Sqn flew the P-40 Kittyhawk which was the export version of the Warhawk. One of the few matches available in dogfights vs the Zeros and Oscars if flown correctly.








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The B-52D


You can distinguish the D and earlier models of the Stratofortress by the extra tall rudder/tail. On the G & H models, it was shortened. The D models were also often in SEA camo with black undersurfaces for night raids into North Viet-Nam. As well, D models carried bomb racks on the inboard hardpoints. This brought the carrying capacity to one-hundred and two 500-750 pound freefall bombs. Quite the swath of destruction...

D model landing...trying to...

A later model H series landing...

There are no D models still flying...just in museums. The 'E' & 'F' models were ultimately D models with upgrades...but I don't believe they were fitted for SEA bombing. I might be wrong...


Aye Caramba!

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The Convair F-106 Delta Dart. The last American pure interceptor. One of the 'Century Fighters/Series'.


This was the logical end to what started with the disappointing F-102 Delta Dagger. The Dagger looked similar, but had trouble going supersonic. Enter a similar design with a much bigger engine and advance computerized avionics. No guns or bombs on these rigs. Just missiles. Its only job...playing tag with Soviet Badgers, Bisons and Bears.



The legendary 'Cornfield Bomber' was an F-106 that landed by itself after the pilot had ejected...a testament to its advanced design features.


Fast as snot...Mach 2.3+ at altitude.


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The Mya-4 Molot (Hammer)...NATO code "Bison"



The Bison was a bit of a failure redeemed. It lacked the range needed to make a round trip to the USA from the Soviet Union...but was none-the-less a very advanced and powerful aircraft. They'd likely still be soldiering-on in some form if there had been more clearance between belly and runway. But it sat very low...making attaching standoff cruise missiles impossible...essential for any modern upgrade back in the day. Thus it was slowly removed from service...ending as a recon ship and air-to-air tanker. A version was modified for use in the Soviet space program to haul the Russian Space Shuttle (Buran)...a testament to its raw lifting power. 


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Taken in early January 1916 at the Fokker factory.





A bit of a sad photo...for the Krauts. The Fokker Scourge* had ended...and the Eindecker was hopelessly obsolete. 


* The term Fokker Scourge was coined AFTER the...errr...Fokker Scourge.

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The Polikarpov Po-2...



This little biplane was built in HUGE numbers and saw major action through the entirety of WW2. Between 20 and 30 thousand built. It could carry a small load of bombs for scouting and harassment purposes. But otherwise...pretty much WW1 technology at work. 

The all female Night Witches of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment made the aircraft both feared by the Axis...and famous with the Allies. Tactics included dead stick bomb runs (engine cut)...silent...except for the bombs.


The Night Witches didn't just fly Po-2s...Pe-2s, SB-2s and similar aircraft also used as the war progressed and their successes mounted.




Tupolev SB-2


Petlyakov  Pe-2

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Now here's a piece of kit.

The Me-163 Komet



The Komet was decades ahead of its time when it took to the air...with relatively little testing...at near supersonic speeds, armed to the teeth. It used a hypergolic fuel set-up of 85% hydrogen peroxide (T-Stoff) mixing with methanol-hydrazine (C-Stoff) to propel it quickly into the daylight bomber stream. It's twin medium velocity 30mm cannons capable of downing a B-17 or B-24 with a single high-explosive round.

It was a high speed glider, really, it's rocket fuel quickly expended in the upward blistering climb. But it was very agile and bled energy slowly...keeping it going for several minutes of havoc. It would then glide to the near-by base to be rearmed...landing on a retractable skid. During take-off, it used a set of drop-away wheels that would dramatically bounce down the strip at well over 200 mph...heads up.

It was...as you can imagine...extremely dangerous to fly. The pilot sat surrounded by tanks of this C & T Stoff...either of which could fizz a man into nothing like a seltzer tablet...and did! Accounts of tanks rupturing and eating the pilot alive were nastily common. All that would be left was some slime and the metal bits...belt buckles, etc.

Landing was the tricky part...the skid had to be extended then set to neutral to allow its springs to function. If this was done incorrectly in any way, it often ended with the pilot getting critically injured...broken back being the common result.


Was it a success? Partially. Too late for one. Too few for another. But when it did score...it scored big. Its one real advantage was that it was many times safer than some of the other crazy rigs the Luftwaffe was developing in those final months of WW2. Natter...cough, cough....for example.

I highly recommend Mano Ziegler's books on the subject...an actual 163 pilot.




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The C-46 Commando



Often mistaken for the ubiquitous C-47 at first glance, the Commando was Curtiss's 1940 offering to aviation. But as you can see upon closer inspection it is quite unique. The massive rudder and streamlined cockpit set it apart. Bigger than the C-47, too.

Used mainly in the CBI theater of WW2, hauling cargo over 'The Hump' to supply the Chinese. Its 2000 HP Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double Wasp engines allowed it to make the climb with relative safety compared to the other aircraft types attempting the journey. But it was a gas guzzler next to the C-47, so it was of less use out in the far flung islands of the Central Pacific. It only saw limited use in Europe late in the war.

Post war, the C-46 saw only very limited use in the Berlin Airlift, its powerful engines allowing a big haul into Tempelhof. But it was getting quickly outclassed by the newer four engine aircraft in service like the C-54 and C-69. It was just too darn expensive to fly as far as the USAAF was concerned. That didn't stop it from seeing use globally by many nations looking for a rugged powerful cargo aircraft...as long as cost per hour wasn't an issue...

Not a pleasure for maintenance crews who complained that it was a 'plumber's nightmare' and required many thousands of man hours extra work compared to simpler designs. The Commando also had a bit of a reputation early in its career for EXPLODING suddenly in mid-air...not a selling point to the crews...which were often 4-5 men. 

Like the C-47, still examples flying today in non-airshow roles.


The CBI patch/logo...


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The Boeing 307 Stratoliner



While commercial passenger air travel had been going-on for some decades, it wasn't until this machine appeared that passengers started to get to fly above the weather. The 307 was the first pressurized airliner and could cruise at over 200 mph above 20,000'. Its range made it practical for medium to longish hops...up to 1,700 miles...2,800 km.

During WW2, five 307s from TWA were converted into C-75 transports. The pressurization system...pretty heavy back then...was removed to save weight.


A spiffy looking machine, Howard Hughes converted one for private use...which I understand still exists as a converted house boat! Or at least the front part is.



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The Convair XC-99 (1949)



This massive aircraft was the largest land-based piston powered aircraft...developed out of the B-36 Peacemaker. There was only a single prototype built, but it saw a lot of use before it was retired in 1957. Convair had hoped to make it a commercial airliner, but like the similar Bristol Brabazon, it arrived at the dawn of the jet age and was pretty much obsolete upon completion.



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