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

Yeah I wonder what the comparative death rate was like for airplane travel vs. airship travel by the time everyone gave up on building rigid airships? Almost a century later and it still looks like we haven’t figured out how to make lighter-than-air travel safe and reliable.

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That video made me so happy. I watched it on a loop for far too long when it was posted.

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Over the last 80 years engines have gotten much more powerful, allowing aircraft to go faster and carry more. Helium however, hasn’t gotten any lighter, which means that airships still constitute an envelope built as lightly as possible, to the point that a rigid airship is not really strong enough to deal with extreme winds. The US Navy’s Shenendoah, Akron, and Macon all crashed despite being filled with helium. Only the Los Angeles survived to be scrapped.

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Pretty sure that’s a Mosquito, not a comet.

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I said the same thing at seeing the picture, but:

A child of the mosquito, certainly. It was smaller, faster, and a fighter, not a bomber, intended as a long range fighter in the pacific, they also had a carrier version. The war ended prior to the squadrons being activated.

Thanks @phuzz, an aircraft I didn’t know existed!

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The piano maker’s staff say the instrument was removed from the Hindenburg in 1937 and placed on display in the factory, where it was later destroyed in an air raid.

Wow that is some Final Destination-level cursed piano backstory.

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Comet is an interesting one because the famous (/infamous) airliner was the second De Havilland aircraft by that name.

The first was this racing aeroplane, which I think counts as an ancestor of the Mosquito:

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The Hornet was from the era of all the very coolest piston engined aircraft, the late-40’s to early-50’s, when jet aircraft were just starting to become useful. They were apparently absolute hotrods, could outperform a Spitfire even with one engine out, and could almost keep up with the Meteor and Vampire jets that the RAF were bringing in at the same time.
As the last of a dying breed they represent the pinnacle of that technology, but because they missed the end of the Second World War, they’re not much known. See also the Twin Mustang (“what if we glued two Mustangs together?”), Martin-Baker MB5, Hawker Sea Fury, Yak-3U.

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So glad someone mentioned this. The Avro Arrow is such an underappreciated plane. A scrappy little Canadian company invented seemingly everything related to modern high speed flight, from swept delta wings to haptic feedback hydraulics, then was totally forgotten about by everyone.

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All of this. It’s a fundamentally flawed idea- it’s a sailboat with no keel. You’re relying on engine power to provide the stability that water does in a ship, and no engine in the world will likely ever be able to do that. Even model airships with insane power-to-area ratios still don’t work very well. Model aircraft engines are so powerful now that you can basically make anything fly (as evidenced by all the YouTube channels where they strap engines to everything and make them fly) but model airships are still terrible.

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And with a bit of luck you can sometimes find seriously cool stuff. When I worked at university, they were thorwing away an USSR-made autopilot (and a ridiculosly huge gyroscope) that is an exact copy of the one that was used with Norden bombsight. It is now part of my collection :slight_smile:
I also have APU turbine and compressor from Warsaw pact chemical warfare jet that is commonly considered as the ugliest aircraft ever made.
I’d love to get a functioning GTDE type turboshaft engine:
http://www.koavia.com/eng/product/airplane/gazoturbinnye_dvigateli_energouzly.shtml

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The PZL M-15 Belphegor? I always thought that was designed for agriculture not chemical warfare…

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On scientific conferences I’ve talked to people close to that project, and they didn’t really believe the official version. For agricultural use you need a plane that is very maneuverable, fuel efficient and safe. M-15 was none of these. If agricultural plane has to have turbine engine, turboprop is IMO only reasonable option.
On the subject of maneuverability, there are two problems:

  • the engine in M-15 has extremely long reaction time, like 20s
  • the chemical tanks increase inertia to ridiculous level

Here’s PZL agricultural aircraft with turboprop engine:

Another interesting thing about M-15 is that although it was designed in Poland, all the technical documentation was written in Russian.

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The language use was a political thing, because Russian was the official language of Poland at the time. The Soviets deliberately tried repressing the Polish language. For a long time it was illegal to teach it or to use it in any public venue. Russian was required for all street signs, newspapers, etc.

Um, not. It was not. It was Polish. The technical documentation was in Russia probably because it was for the Soviet market primarily.

Again, that is just… incorrect.

[ETA] Here is a current museum that memorializes the Polish People’s Republic:

https://mzprl.pl/galeria/?lang=en

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As @Mindysan33 said it wasn’t. Here’s an example of official speech broadcasted on TV (introduction of matrial law in 1981):

Some of the occupying forces repressed Polish language earlier, during occupation of Poland before 1918:


Germans also did so during WW II.

I was a bit imprecise, not only manuals, but all the engineering and manufacturing documentation, including technical drawings was in Russian.

Thank you, it’s maybe 20 minutes walk from where I live and I didn’t know about it :slight_smile:
I’ll visit it when current pandemic finally winds down.

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Sure. I’m just pointing out a possible reason for it being in Russian. I suspect you could find the stuff in other Eastern Bloc languages, too, if they were making these for the larger market of Eastern Bloc, maybe even for communist states outside the warsaw pact (Yugoslavia, Cuba, North Korea, etc). People forget, despite the fact we’re talking about command economies here, they still had a marketplace of sorts going on among the second world nations (which intersected with the non-aligned/Third World at times). It’s like getting something today that’s imported from China and having any manuals in multiple languages. Or something in North America that has writing in English, Spanish, and sometimes French if it’s for the Canadian market.

Oh cool! If you get to go soon, let us know how it is. I love places like that!

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What on Earth are you doing with the apu t&c? :grinning: How is the build-quality? Company managers who visited Energomash long ago and collogues who’ve inspected the RD-180 motors in Florida came back with nasty reviews on build, such as horribly misaligned weld joints… like, the kind you can see from across the room. (!!!)

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I fantasize about the Sea Fury seeing WWII action.