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  • July Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Jul 1, 2020

    The Douglas Dolphin evolved from the Sinbad flying boat of July 1930. Looking like the 1929 Saunders-Roe Cutty Sark, the Sinbad was powered by a pair of 300 hp Wright J-5 Whirlwind radials. It carried two pilots and up to eight passengers. First flown in July 1930 from Santa Monica Bay, the Sinbad was sold to the Coast Guard and served until November 1939. The amphibious Dolphin, designed for military and civilian use, was based on the Sinbad. Between 1931 and 1934, 58 Dolphins were constructed... Full story

  • April Mystery Airplane Photo

    Jun 1, 2020

    What we call the Formula I Class at Reno, evolved from the Goodyear Trophy Racers that developed in 1947 around a 190 cubic inch engine, the 85 hp Continental C-85. Rules stated that the aircraft must have a minimum of 66 square feet of wing area and have an empty weight of at least 500 pounds. Props had to be fixed pitch and gear non-retractable. Goodyear sponsored the races for three years. Although the Cleveland races ended with 1949, the midget class continued. Famous racers included Steve... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|May 1, 2020

    Fokker Fodder. Manfred von Richthofen shot down 19 B.E. 2 biplanes and his brother Lothar six. Werner Voss claimed 11. Too slow, poorly armed, and too stable for aerobatics, the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E. 2 appeared in 1912 and served until the Armistice on 11 November 1918. Over 3500 were built, serving on the Western Front, in the Aegean, Africa, Australia, India, Palestine, and Macedonia. On 13 August 1914, it became the first RFC aircraft to land in France. Designed with inherent stability... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Apr 1, 2020

    Carl Bucker, a World War I German naval aviator, founded Svenska Aero in 1921. He returned to Germany along with Swedish designer Anders Andersson in 1932. Established at Berlin-Johannisthal, Bucker produced a series of fine aerobatic and training aircraft, including the Jungmann, Jungmeister, and Bestmann, many of which served with the Luftwaffe and were manufactured under license in other countries. The prototype Bu-131 was first flown on 27 April 1934 by Joachim von Koppen. Early models were... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Mar 1, 2020

    Donald Luscombe (1895-1965) served in France in WWI as an ambulance driver. It was in France that he took his first flight, in a Voisin pusher. After the Great War, he bought a Curtiss Jenny. His interest in developing enclosed cabin aircraft evolved from flying in the Jenny's exposed cockpit. The Monocoupe of 1927 came from his experiences. This was followed by the 145 hp Luscombe Phantom in 1933, the first all-metal light plane. Many readers will know or have flown the Luscombe 8 Silvaire and... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Feb 1, 2020

    Formed in October 1936, with a new factory at Fishermen's Bend, in Melbourne, Australia, Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) gave Australia a much needed national facility for aircraft manufacture. With Wing Commander Lawrence Wackett as chief designer, CAC began manufacture of trainers for the RAAF. Its first major product was a modified version of the North American NA-16, called the Wirraway, of which 755 were built. With access to modern fighter aircraft from Britain or the United States... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane Contest

    Tom Lymburn|Jan 1, 2020

    The original Mong Sport flew on May 1, 1953, the creation of Ralph Mong, Jr. Designed around a 65 hp Continental A65, it soon became a popular plans-built airplane, with a maximum speed of 115 mph and a stall of 50 mph. Light weight, at 970 pounds gross, including a 16-gallon fuel tank, its clean airframe appealed to the pilots when the biplane class was added at Reno in the mid-1960's, as the airframe proved adaptable to more powerful engines. In 1965 Bill Boland won the biplane class at 148 mp... Full story

  • Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Dec 1, 2019

    Actor Reginald Denny (1891-1967) flew with the Royal Flying Corps during World War I, first as a gunner on Bristol Fighters, later as a pilot. After the Great War he came to Hollywood to further his acting career appearing in over 200 silent films and "talkies." He also continued flying, becoming a member of the "13 Black Cats" stunt pilots which included Art Goebel. Denny's interest in radio-controlled model planes led to the founding of a hobby shop and the Radioplane Company that produced... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Nov 1, 2019

    Formed in 1922 in Lincoln, Nebraska, by Ray Page, the Nebraska Aircraft Corporation became Lincoln-Page Aircraft in 1927. Lincoln began by rebuilding surplus Standard J-1 biplane trainers into a more useful and powerful model called the Lincoln Standard. Powered by a variety of engines, including the OX-5 and the 150 hp Hisso, these modifications were popular in the early 1920's. The Lincoln-Page LP-3 was certified in March 1928 under Approved Type Certificate #28 with a 90 hp Curtiss OX-5. A... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Oct 1, 2019

    Societe de Construction d’Avions de Tourisme et d’Affaires was established in 1966 as a subsidiary of Sud-Aviation, later Aerospatiale. It has produced general aviation aircraft like the Horizon, Tampico, Tobago, Trinidad, and the TBM 700. In 1978, it began work on a basic trainer for the Armee de l’Air. Powered by a 300 hp Lycoming O-540 air-cooled flat 6, the Epsilon was designed to provide a stepping stone to the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet advanced trainer and light attack aircraft. The T... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Sep 1, 2019

    Glenn Curtiss (1878-1930) was truly one of aviation's great pioneers. He founded the Curtiss Aeroplane Company on 1 December 1910 in Hammondsport, NY. The company evolved through various mergers until 8 August 1929, when it combined with former bitter rival Wright to become Curtiss-Wright. Litigation between Curtiss and the Wrights had lasted from 1908 to 1913. In 1930, Curtiss-Wright absorbed Wichita based Travel Air. Curtiss-Wright did not survive long after WWII as an aircraft manufacturer,... Full story

  • Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Aug 1, 2019

    Established by the Canadian government in 1944 at Montreal to build a Merlin engined version of the DC-4/C-54, Canadair manufactured its own designs (Argus and Tutor) and license - built F-86 Sabres, Lockheed T-33s, Lockheed F-104s, and the Northrop F-5. In 1986, the company was sold to Bombardier. Canadair's unique amphibious CL-215 fire bomber, powered by two 2100 hp Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radials, was first flown on 23 October 1967 by W. Longhurst and made its first water takeoff on 1 May... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Jul 1, 2019

    Thomas Octave Murdock Sopwith (1888-1989), later Sir Thomas, formed Sopwith Aviation at Kingston-on-Thames in 1912. Famous as a pilot, balloonist, car racer, and yacht racer, Sopwith, with Fred Sigrist and Harry Hawker, were the backbone of a company that supplied the RFC, RNAS, and RAF with combat aircraft during WWI. Finances forced the liquidation of Sopwith after the war, but it returned to aircraft manufacturing as H. G. Hawker Engineering in November 1920. Known for the 1 ½... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Jun 1, 2019

    To cover its needs for liaison, medevac, training, and light cargo, the USAF has acquired "off the shelf" civilian business aircraft. Examples have included the Beech King Air, Cessna Citation, Gates Learjet, Gulfstream, Lockheed Jetstar, and North American Sabreliner. To train students for tanker and airlift operations, the Air Force ordered a converted version of the Beechjet 400A. The T-1A began life as the eight passenger Mitsubishi MU-300 Diamond, first flying on 29 August 1978. After... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|May 1, 2019

    The Army was impressed by the Luftwaffe's use DFS 230 assault gliders on 10 May 1940, in the surprise capture of Belgium's Fort Eben-Emael and a bridge over the Albert Canal. As a result, it ordered the Frankfort TG-1, Schweizer TG-2 and TG-3, and the Laister-Kauffmann TG-4 training gliders in April 1941. While these civilian designs were suitable for training, they did not replicate the flight characteristics of the large WACO CG-4A combat gliders. The surviving trainers were declared surplus b... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Apr 1, 2019

    Founded in 1912 by Guilio Macchi to manufacture Nieuport aircraft, Macchi soon turned to building seaplanes designed by Mario Castoldi. The most famous were the Schneider Trophy racers, culminating in the MC.72 which still holds the piston-engined speed record for seaplanes. On 23 October 1934, Francesco Agello hit 440.681 mph behind the 3100 hp Fiat 24 cylinder liquid-cooled engine. First flying on 24 December 1937, the MC.200 fighter won the Regia Aeronautica interceptor contest of 1938.... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Mar 1, 2019

    Professor Claude Dornier was known during World War I for his work with stressed skin Duralumin construction, designing large flying boats and other combat aircraft, including the experimental D-1 all metal single-seat fighter. Post-war he continued designs of all metal flying boats like the famous "Wal" series, production taking place in Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, and Japan to avoid the Versailles Treaty and Allied Control Commission. During World War II, Dornier production focused on t... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Feb 1, 2019

    Designed by Teddy Petter, and first flown by Wing Commander Roland Beamont on 13 May 1949, the Rolls Royce Avon powered Canberra was the RAF's first jet bomber. Produced in the U.K. by English Electric, Avro, Handley Page, and Shorts and, like A84-229 in this Oshkosh 1991 photo, by the Australian Government Aircraft Factory at Fishermen's Bend, the Canberra and its American Wright J-65 engined Martin B-57 cousin, remained in military service until the last RAF PR. 9 was retired in July 2006.... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Jan 1, 2019

    The Bolingbroke was a Canadian license production Bristol Blenheim. In an effort to build Canadian aircraft manufacturing capability, the RCAF chose the Bristol Model 149 for production by Fairchild Aircraft of Longueuil, Quebec. The initial contract was awarded in November 1937, and the first aircraft, RCAF 702, made its maiden flight on 14 September 1939, flown by J. H. "Red" Lymburner. Powered by two Bristol Mercury nine-cylinder radials and carrying a 1000 pound bomb load, the Bolingbroke... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Dec 1, 2018

    Maritime patrol aircraft evolved during WWI with Curtiss and Felixstowe flying boats scouring the North Sea and Mediterranean for German U-boats and commerce raiders. Land based bombers followed. The Catalina, Sunderland, Wellington, and Liberator served during WWII. World War II also saw the modification of airliners into land-based patrol aircraft. The Lockheed Model 14 Electra became the Model 414 Hudson and the Focke-Wulf FW-200 Condor became Churchill's "scourge of the Atlantic." Post war,... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Nov 1, 2018

    Emil Matthew "Matty" Laird (1896-1982) flew his first design on 15 September 1913. Built in his mother's attic, it got 10 feet into the air. Associated with Wichita and Chicago, Laird was famed for his custom-built sport and racing aircraft. Known initially for the Swallow biplane (about 43 built between 1920 and 1923), in 1924 he began design and manufacture of a series of Laird Commercials that sold well to "sportsman" pilots even during the Depression. Laird biplanes were part of the early da... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Oct 1, 2018

    In 1946, the Army Air Force sent to industry a request for a "penetration" fighter able to escort bombers as well as perform ground attack. Three companies responded, McDonnell with the XF-88, North American with the YF-93 based on the F-86, and Lockheed with the XF-90. Of these, only the XF-88, modified to become the F-101 Voodoo, was produced. Lockheed received an AAF contract on 20 June 1946 for two prototypes, serials 46-687 and 46-688. Initially, Lockheed had proposed a delta wing, but... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Sep 1, 2018

    Ultra-light and light sport aircraft aren't new. Back in the early 1920's, The Daily Mail encouraged the design and manufacture of ultra light, inexpensive aircraft. One born of this competition was the DH. 53 Humming Bird. Originally fitted with a 750 cc Douglas motorcycle engine, the 524 pound Humming Bird debuted in October 1923. Later, powered with the 26 hp Blackbourne Tomtit and other engines, fifteen were produced, eight for the RAF. Three went to Australia, one to Russia, and one to... Full story

  • Westland (National Steel Car) Lysander IIIA T. T.

    Tom Lymburn|Aug 1, 2018

    Although recognized as a maker of helicopters today, Westland started in the 19th century as a manufacturer of farm equipment. During WWI, Ernest Petter produced engines and airplanes at Westland Farm, the doors opening on 3 April 1915, as Westland Aircraft Works. Post-war Westland designed and built the Wapiti and Wallace general purpose biplanes based on the wartime de Havilland DH 9A. Designed to RAF Specification A.39/34, by a team led by Arthur Davenport, the Lysander, named after the... Full story

  • The Mystery Airplane

    Tom Lymburn|Jul 1, 2018

    Lloyd Stearman started with Matty Laird in Chicago, moved to Wichita, and later worked with Walter Beech and Clyde Cessna at Travel Air. In 1926, he set up Stearman Aircraft Company in Venice, CA, returning to Wichita in 1927. His company produced practical biplanes for sport, passengers, mail, and training. The classic C-3B, certified under Approved Type Certificate #55 of July 1928, appeared with a 220 hp Wright J-5 Whirlwind nine-cylinder radial. A three seater, it had the traditional welded... Full story

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