The early days of flight were perilous ones. Aeronautical understanding was limited and building materials more so, meaning things that operated a long way from the ground were made out of bits of wood and chickenwire. However by the late 1920s mankind’s incredible rate of progress (no doubt helped by the otherwise totally pointless First World War) had made flying relatively safe and normal. Except in one area; Speed.
Like racing cars of the era, racing planes were fantastically dangerous, pushing the limits of physics and effectively working by trail and error, when error often meant death. This is one example from the time, the bonkers Savoia-Marchetti S.65 racing seaplane, designed for the 1929 Schneider Trophy race. With two 1,050bhp V12 engines mounted fore and aft of the pilot, the S.65 proved so unstable it didn’t get airborne at all and the Italian team behind it returned to Italy for more development.
On Lake Garda in 1930 the trails continued, and on the forth attempt the seaplane took to the air in a glorious rush of wind and noise. Whereupon it stalled, crashed into the water, and sunk to the bottom taking its young pilot with it. Thankfully although recovered the S.65 did not attempt to fly again, but a failure though it was it did look rather wonderful, as does Henrik Jensen‘s marvellous mini-figure scale recreation, pictured here in a neat diorama depicting the plane before its fateful flight attempt.
There’s more to see of Henrik’s excellent Savoia-Marchetti S.65 at his photostream – head to Lake Garda in 1930 via the link in the text above, but maybe watch from a distance.
The Second World War, for all the death and destruction it wrought, did provide the catalyst for some amazing technological advances. Sticking some floats underneath a Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter probably isn’t in the top three though, but the result is still rather cool. The Nakajima A6M2-N ‘Rufe’, developed from the infamous Zero, turned the land-based fighter/bomber into an amphibious floatplane. Just over 300 were produced between 1942 and the end of the war, with last being operated by the French following its capture in Indo-China. This ingeniously constructed small scale version comes from John C. Lamarck of Flickr, who has captured the Rufe’s unique asthenic brilliantly in miniature. See more at John’s photostream via the link.
Ah Canada. The United States’ slightly boring neighbour. Home of singing-horse Celine Dion, the catchy pop of Carly Ray Jepsen, and perennial annoyance that is Justin Bieber. Fortunately they also know how to make some cool stuff up there, thanks almost entirely to transportation giant Bombardier.
Founded in the 1930s Bombardier began by making snowmobiles, and have since expanded to build ski-doos, trains, ATVs and aircraft. It’s the latter we have here, in the form of a Canadair CL-215 water-bombing amphibious plane. Designed in the late 1960s to operate at low speeds and in tricky winds, the CL-215 was sold to eleven countries for fire-fighting and search and rescue operations, with 125 units produced until the design was replaced in 1990.
This lovely replica of the Canadair CL-215 comes from previous bloggee Dornbi of Flickr and he’s captured the unusual shoulder-mounted engine configuration of the aircraft brilliantly. There’s more of the build to see at Dornbi’s photostream – click the link above to drop the world’s biggest water bomb.
This superb 1920s float plane comes from previous bloggee Henrik Jensen, and it’s got to be our favourite aircraft of the year so far. Star of ‘The Adventures of Tintin – The Unicorn’s Secret’ it’s a Bellanca CH-300 and it’s absolutely wonderful. There’s lots more to see on both Flickr and MOCpages, including some neat build details and information on the real aircraft.
Kingfisher. It’s a name that’s used a lot. For a children’s book publisher. A rather good beer. An airline. A bird. And this; the World War II era Vought OS2U floatplane. Over 1,500 Vought Kingfishers were produced after its introduction in the late ’30s, and we think it might be one of the prettiest planes ever made. TLCB favourite Henrik Jensen has reproduced the unusual aircraft superbly, and you can see more his recreation on MOCpages.