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A Cigar’s Take on Aviation

3 July 2020

La Aurora’s Zeppelin 4″ long cigar—©2020Joseph May/Slipstream Photography

This will be a trying weekend for many of our medical professionals with the amount of COVID patients on the rise—on top of the normal holiday load of emergency and hospital care—so keep fingers crossed for them.

This is a cigar I recently noticed, a short and stubby one though quite round. La Aurora makes it and they’ve named it Zeppelin. And why this 4 inch long fat cigar made? Because, as they’ve stated, they want one that was “blimpy” enough.

Some of what we’re paying attention to…

11 June 2020

National Naval Aviation Museum

History Up Close series playlist on Facebook—see the on-going restoration work (especially the rare example of the “Birdcage” F4U-1 Corsair); the Dauntless and the scars from its daring Battle of Midway flight, and more. Many of the aircraft featured in the NNAM’s playlist were recovered by A and T Recovery and restored at their restoration facility.

The People’s Mosquito Project

Completing mould A’s rear half by John and Ross of Retrotech

This is a fascinating and important project to build a de Havilland Mosquito from the molds up—an original Mosquito built decades after World War II! The big difference is the aircraft will fly and become part of the public trust in the UK—not privately owned as are the others. Recently, a special drive to fund the £100,000 required to construct the fuselage and £80,000 has been reached in a short amount of time. The interest is out there and you can take part!

Airships: North Pole Quest | The Game

Max Pinucci, the brilliant and unique artist with especial interest in airships, has begun a month long Kickstarter campaign for his concept which places the contestants in the year 1924 racing to the unreached and unknown North Pole—one of the few blank spaces on the world’s map at the time—after selecting one of six historic 3-D airships players lead their crews through weather and happenstance as they strive to win the race. Get into the campaign and get into the game! Airships: North Pole Quest | The Game

Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence

6 June 2020

22° 16′ 54″ N / 114° 14′ 08″ E

The Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence sits on the commanding heights of the eastern entrance to Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor on the site of historic Lei Due Mun Fort.

The entrance of the Hong Kong Coastal Defence Museum, marking the beginning of a steep uphill walk to the gun emplacements and museum building. Several exhibits along the path keep interests up however—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The peak where a 6-inch breach loading disappearing gun (circa 1890) and its emplacement is located—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The 6-inch disappearing gun in its raised firing position—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The aft end of the replica Brennen torpedo (counter-rotating propellers were powered by the unwinding of interior cables). These were shore launched having a speed of 27 knots and a range of 2000 yards at a running depth of 12 feet—more than suitable for guarding a channel against invading ships—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The nose of the replica Brennan torpedo designed to penetrate into wooden hulls—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

The interior drive mechanism, which was powered from shore, for the unwinding of on board cables—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography USA

The power supply of the replica Brennen torpedo (cables were pulled from a shore based engine, differential pulling of the cables would activate the rudder to steer the torpedo)—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Portable single mount Bofors 40mm antiaircraft cannon—©2014 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

AIRSHIPS| North Pole Quest (an innovative board game soon to be on Kickstarter)

4 June 2020

AIRSHIPS| North Pole Quest board game on Kickstarter 9 June—9 July of 2020

Max Pinucci—of Airships: Designed for Greatness book fame—has a designed an innovative and imaginative board game which allows players to vicariously transport themselves to the year 1924 to both plan and lead a mission to the mysterious and unexplored North Pole using one of six historical scale airships.

Max’s book is unique in its superb combination of artwork, accuracy and phenomenal trait of bringing airship size as well as working environment to the reader. It is reviewed here and too much cannot be said about the results of Max’s abilities and inspired approach to this portion of aviation’s Golden Era. His board game promises to add yet another dimension to airship history and experience as players race to one of the few blank spaces on the World’s map in airships. Mission planning and execution to the frozen unknown in any one of six accurately executed scale airship pieces on a bespoke playing board—what isn’t there to love?

See the exciting intro video here on Linkdin.

Return to Hardwick: Home of the 93rd Bomber Group

4 June 2020

The movie poster for Return to Hardwick: Home of the 93rd Bomber Group

Narrated by Michael Cudlitz (he also narrated Band of Brothers as well as The Walking Dead) this is the 93rd Bomb Group’s World War II story. One of the most decorated units which primarily flew B-24 Liberator heavy bombers in raids over Europe. They had over 100 aircraft MIA and flew Operation Tidal Wave (the infamous World War II Ploesti refinery low level raid) among many other accomplishments. Their base at Hardwick is now largely forgotten, being returned to civilian use, but the movie also tells the experience of sons, daughters and grandchildren exploring its remnants which is sure to elicit significant thinking.

Empires of the Sky

3 June 2020

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World, Alexander Rose, 2020, ISBN 987654321, 599 pp.

Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World by Alexander Rose

The countdown number (á lá NASA) of the ISBN is a good omen about the value of this book! Rose has a marvelous approach to this early phase of aviation’s Golden Era—the exciting and unpredictable period when airship travel ruled over propeller driven airline routes and ocean liners were the standard by which all were judged. Count von Zeppelin working with now famous designers of Maybach and Daimler to produce a paradigm setting airship design leagues ahead of previous airship company works. The Wright brothers working separately from the Count but concurrently arriving at the same methodology as Zeppelin to identify individual items, solving for those and harmonizing the resulting solutions. Juan Trippe dreaming of airline global travel in what would become Pan American Airways and setting the mold for all future airlines which we know today. The story of Zeppelin’s most famous pilot, Hugh Eckener, coming to be is a remarkable story and one of the many subplots in this book which keeps the reader’s fascinated as this story unfolds in all its surprising twists and turns.

Rose has an approach that places the reader into the room, so to speak, as each designer delves into individual challenges and strategizes solutions. It is wonderful to experience these discoveries seemingly first hand, though vicariously. Early flights and their often disastrous ends are experienced in the same way. He writes not in a dry fashion but in an interpretive and wondrous way. This is not history explained—it is history making in process. The story of passenger travel via airships (Zeppelin) versus airplane travel (Juan Trippe) is tumultuous and was affected by world events unpredicted and not in control of these industry magnates. How they reacted to these inputs is fascinating on entirely other levels given the differing cultures, philosophies and governmental influences.

In Empire of the Skies, Rose has many gifts for the reader aside from his thorough and wonderful telling of this often mercurial pace in aviation’s development. He has a complete index as well as thorough bibliography and notes section. The description of earlier aviation experimentation is marvelous, though not addressing Asian efforts, and is the book in itself.

This book is not only about history—it is about how history occurs, the human dimension of it. As we all suspect, whenever people become involved any linear nature of history unfolding disappears quicker than cookies within reach of children.

Lancaster cutaway model

16 May 2020

Avro Lancaster Mk III cutaway model in the London Science Museum—©2018 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

This handsome effort is displayed on the fifth floor of the London Science Museum—an aviation museum all to itself filled with historic aircraft, models and engines encompassing most of aviation’s history. The Avro-made Lancaster figures prominently in England’s World War II history and holds an esteemed place beside the Spitfire, Hurricane and Mosquito.

This model is a 1:12 scale (1 inch = 12 inches) of a Mk III variant which was near a twin of the Mk I having only two significant differences—and these were internal. The Mk III was powered by Packard built Merlin (i.e., not Rolls-Royce made) engines and these were instead fed by Bendix-Stromberg (i.e. not SU pressure only) pressure-injection carburettors. These carburettors [British English spelling of the term] also required slow-running-cut-off switches in the cockpit to shut down the engines by way of pulling the throttles back to idle then pulling the switches when the fuel mixture weakened, as simply cutting the fuel supply alone would not quickly stop the engines from operating.

Forward fuselage section of this Avro Lancaster Mk III cutaway model—©2018 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Central fuselage section of this Avro Lancaster Mk III cutaway model—©2018 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Aft fuselage section of this Avro Lancaster Mk III cutaway model (note the flares and flare chute forward of the tail wheel)—©2018 Joseph May/SlipstreamPhotography

Taras Talks Recovering Historic Aircraft

27 April 2020

Taras Lysennko–the T of A and T Recovery–was interviewed recently in a hugely attended live FaceBook session of their Aviation Archeology group. For those who aren’t on FB (I am one) the interview is now on YouTube at this link…

Taras wrote The Great Navy Birds of Lake Michigan (here is the link) which relates his adventures and achievements bringing WW II veteran aircraft to the restorers of the National Naval Aviation Museum Foundation—all on time, on budget as a for-the-public-benefit company (i.e., a great savings of tax payers money).

Taras is always interesting and almost has more stories of recovery as well as people which can be counted. WARNING: Do not start it as a background since it will soon draw you in and you’ll soon forget what you had originally started to do 😉

The Splendid and the Vile

26 April 2020

The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson, 2020, ISBN 9780385348720, 585 pp.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Larson’s book tells the fascinating history and intricate goings-on of Churchill, and Great Britain, in the year or so between Japan’s invasion of China and the USA’s entry into Word War II.  This period had Great Britain on the ropes, suffering three great evacuations, pummeled nightly with air raids and enduring blackouts as well as rationing (e.g., 3 ounces of tea/person/week). Larson brings into his richly researched material the stories of the human dimension involved from several personal perspectives and recollections. Readers learn how, as well as why, Winston Churchill led Britain through the war from its darkest days to victory by his brilliance and connection with his public—only to be tossed aside at the end in what would be a muted replication of Britain’s treatment of Alan Turing. Readers also learn of the family and trusted staff which intersected the various arcs of history in Britain, Germany and the USA. It is all quite interwoven and completely fascinating like a rich tapestry. Regular everyday people are mentioned, often by name, which brings the history home to the heart. These were people like you and like me whether they were immolated by a parachute mine or performed the common heroics of rescues. The advent of electronic air warfare is significantly placed in the tale—Britain with its radar technology (though warnings took minutes to get to the fighter squadron) and Germany with its radio beam riding technology (allowing bombers nightly missions when Britain’s fighters were largely ineffectual)—and each country’s countermeasures.

Getting to know the people supporting (or in some cases misleading) Churchill, Göebbels and FDR makes this tapestry real and four dimensional. Readers will also be amused at the social customs which reamained as well as which of society’s morés were set aside. The drama of a nation hanging on by its fingertips. The Battle of Britain. The devolvement of military strategic bombing to purposed attacks on citizenry. The reticence of a closely related country with an evenly divided populace of whether to help or remain isolated—á lá the American Revolutionary War. The miscalculation of Germany’s command structure in the Luftwaffe and the Propaganda Ministry which successively brought the USA ever closer to Great Britain’s side, although incrementally as well as slowly.

Finally, as a subtle touch, the book’s cover—which relates the view of British citizens witnessing untold numbers of bombers passing overhead on their target runs—once removed reveals black and orange (an artful and emotive acknowledging of the terror of nocturnal bombing?).

FB Live: Lost Navy aircraft of Lake Michigan w Taras Lyssenko

22 April 2020

Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 7PM–10PM UTC+2

FB Live: “Lost Navy aircraft of Lake Michigan” with Taras Lyssenko

Thursday, April 23, 2020 at 7 PM – 10 PM UTC+02
Public · Hosted by Cynrik De Decker and Aviation Archaeology
To all 22 600 members of Aviation Archaeology: Please have your questions ready ! Join us on our first FB Live interactive discussion in the Group on Thursday April 23th @
– 10:00am (Pacific Time/America)
– 12:00pm (Central Time/America)
– 1:00pm (Eastern Time/America)
– 6:00pm (GMT)
– 19:00 Paris/Brussels
– 20:00 Moscow…
– 02:00 AM Tokyo (on the 24th)
– 03:00 AM Sydney (on the 24th) – sorry Aussies and Kiwis 
with Taras Lyssenko about the project under the direction of the management of the National Naval Aviation Museum to recover dozens of once lost World II U.S. Navy Aircraft from Lake Michigan for public presentation. Following the live discussion, the recording will be posted on YouTube. Please do share !