Startup: Mobile Paradise

This is the USS Shangri-La, an aircraft carrier whose naming marked a radical departure from convention, and which was the end result of a cheeky off-handed remark from US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Shangri-La was, of course, the fictional far-off paradise from James Hilton’s novel “Lost Horizon”. When Jimmy Doolittle — the same […]

Military-Grade Awesome

Sherman Firefly – Bringing The Big Gun

Sherman Firefly

When faced against the German’s superior armor the Sherman’s cannon wasn’t going to be enough. So the British created a complex but effective solution to the problem. What they needed was a bigger gun with more hitting power.


Continue reading Sherman Firefly – Bringing The Big Gun

Airborne Awesomosity, Military Surplus

What If The B-29 Had Failed, What Were The Backups?


Consolidated B-32 Dominator


The B-29 Superfortress was the most complex aircraft built during the 40’s; because of this the US Air Force wanted some other aircraft as insurance against its failure.

Continue reading What If The B-29 Had Failed, What Were The Backups?

Genius Innovators

Approximately Fuzed

The Germans tend to be a pretty smart lot. I’m not just saying that because I’m part German. They have built a reputation for identifying problems and then searching out solutions to them. This is probably why they have been reputed to be good at engineering. Their biggest failing, though, is their lack of follow through. A good example of this is the proximity fuze.
Continue reading Approximately Fuzed

Airborne Awesomosity, Military-Grade Awesome

AT-9 Jeep: Deliberately Being Difficult

This AT-9 is part of the National Air Force Museum collection. (U.S. Air Force photo)

As our nation watched World War II escalate in Europe, America’s armed forces felt more urgency to prepare for the possibility that the U.S. would be drawn into the conflict. The Army Air Forces were procuring an expanding arsenal of larger, more powerful and harder to handle bombers. This meant that training requirements for pilots increased, too.

Cessna responded to this need with the AT-17/AT-8 Bobcat, a fairly conventional advanced trainer (“AT”) based on their new civillian T-50 twin. Curtiss-Wright, however, developed the AT-9, a purpose-built, all-metal, twin-engined advanced military trainer that went into service just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. It was notable for being notoriously hard to fly and land, and deliberately so. It was also, in my opinion, one of the absolute coolest-looking planes to come out of the WWII era.
Continue reading AT-9 Jeep: Deliberately Being Difficult

Giant F*ck-Off Aircraft, Startup

Startup: Seaplane or Flying Boat?

Since yesterday’s Startup, I’ve had thoughts of the Spruce Goose stuck in my head. It’s one of those marvels of engineering that I got to see up close and personal when I was young, and found it so captivating because it inspired my imagination in amazing ways.

My parents were awesome for […]