Aviation museums' "most wanted list" of cool aerospace artifacts lost to history

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/09/10/aviation-museums-most-want.html

Just imagine the scene inside the Zeppelin… what it must have been like on a hot summer night, floating just above a sea of cumulus clouds with a full moon overhead and the windows open…slight hum of the motors in the background with Mozart or Chopin coming from the piano. I want to go to there.


Found it! They meant cold literally.

Edit: hey wait, that’s a steel can! There’s still hope!


Yeah, it would be pretty cool except for some of the fascist passengers and crew that would also be onboard.


Plus I don’t think I’d ever want to be seen riding a vehicle with that particular insignia painted on the side.

As for non-Zeppelin airships, the British R 101 rivaled the Hindenburg in size and luxury, with 50 passenger cabins. Unfortunately it was overloaded, hit some nasty weather, and crashed on its first passenger flight. More people died than on the Hindenburg, but no film of the crash so it’s far less famous.


The Canadian holy grail is the last remaining Avro Arrow that someone is rumoured to have hidden away.

So far only test models have been found.


How about the Martin NBS-1 that stood in for the Gotha bomber in Wings?

(ISTR reading about one point that there were accidents during the filming of the movie that destroyed at least one aircraft that was a unique instance of its type. But I could be misremembering, because it’s hard for a guy to keep his eyes from straying to Clara Bow instead. :wink:)

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Yes, really. A couple of ‘higher ups’ at my first employer got the chance to test out some ideas using a couple of very obsolete engines (one having been used on one of the Bell X-1 variants). They figured it was cheaper to use what was already out there, the alternative requiring the designing and building of a workhorse from scratch. And so began the search. The X-1 engine was found covered in dust, ignored, in the corner of a museum in Texas. The other engine was found intact at a scrap metal outfit not far from our plant, the engine having been sold to them at one of my employer’s surplus sales. (In case you’re wondering, the X-1 engine work required that its leather O-rings be replaced with suitable synthetic ones.) Bottom Line: Aerospace hardware gets sprinkled all over the place.


I was going to say a de Havilland Hornet, but apparently one exists and is being renovated in New Zealand.

They seem to do a lot of rebuilds/replicas in NZ, I wonder why?


What? Nonsense. The crash footage isn’t as well-known as the Hindenburg, but it definitely exists.


Walt Disney and Werner Von Braun - I wonder if they ever talked politics?


Zeppelins flew very low - often not much more than a couple of thousand feet so they were generally well below the clouds. Passengers used to report that sounds from the ground were quite audible and on trans Atlantic crossings they often used to loiter and watch whales.

What was really nice about the big airships was that they were apparently rock-steady in flight and there was no airsickness, noise or vibration which was typical of early piston-engined planes.


Looks like the real deal only comes in bottles.

The giant sheds where R101 and her sort-of sister ship, the R100 were housed are just down the road from me - and they are immense. One of them was regularly used as a laboratory in recent years. It is so big and a controlled environment that they can build entire houses inside and test them for insulation. The other is being used by Hybrid Air Vehicles for their enormous Airlander airship prototype.

The R101 was a terrible airship; not just overweight, but it had far too many novel technologies, its gasbags were rotten, it wasn’t properly tested and it only made its maiden journey because of political pressure from the Air Minister, Lord Thompson - who died in the crash.

Both R100 and R101 were prototypes, they were going to be succeeded by at least three more airships, each of which would have been the biggest ever constructed to provide services to Egypt, Canada, India and Australia.

After the crash, the relatively-successful R100, which had completed a trip to Canada, was broken up. Her aluminium alloy was sold to the Zeppelin company who used it to build another airship - the Hindenburg.


And the Akron crash at sea killed more than either the Hindenburg or the R 101, with the added tragic twist that a second lighter-than-air craft (a Navy blimp) was lost after being deployed to help search for survivors.


You live by the airlander test side? Does that mean you regularly get to see giant bonks?


Follow the signs for the Gernsback Continuum.


I was focusing on civilian luxury airships but if we’re comparing others don’t forget the British R38 (44 dead) and the French Dixmude (50 dead). For all its fame, the Hindenburg disaster was only the 5th deadliest airship accident, but it’s the only one most people have even heard of. Really goes to show the power of dramatic photos / film clips / live radio broadcasts to spur the public consciousness.


It’s never been in the air when I’ve been passing; I live in hope that this project will (literally and metaphorically) get off the ground.

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As god is my witness I thought turkeys could fly.