All posts by Gunther Arnold

Bristol “Beaufort” Mk.II (Special Hobby Models)

TYPE: Torpedo bomber, bomber, trainer


POWER PLANT: Two Prat & Whitney R1839 “Twin Wasp” radial engines, rated at 1,130 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 272 mph at 6,500 ft

COMMENT: The Bristol “Beaufort” was a British twin-engined torpedo bomber designed by the Bristol Aeroplane Company, and developed from experience gained designing and building the earlier Bristol “Blenheim” light bomber.“ Beauforts” first saw service with Royal Air Force Coastal Command and then the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm from 1940. They were used as torpedo bombers, conventional bombers and mine-layers until 1942, when they were removed from active service and were then used as trainer aircraft until being declared obsolete in 1945. “Beauforts” also saw considerable action in the Mediterranean. Squadrons based in Egypt and on Malta helped interdict Axis shipping supplying Rommel’s “Deutsches Afrikakorps” in North Africa. Some were fitted with ASV radar aerial arrays under both wings and forward fuselage. Although it was designed as a torpedo-bomber, the “Beaufort” was more often used as a medium day bomber. The “Beaufort” also flew more hours in training than on operational missions and more were lost through accidents and mechanical failures than were lost to enemy fire. The “Beaufort” was adapted as a long-range heavy fighter variant called the Bristol “Beaufighter”, which proved to be very successful and many “Beaufort” units eventually converted to the “Beaufighter”. At least 1,180 “Beauforts” were built by Bristol and other British manufacturers.
The Australian government’s Department of Aircraft Production (DAP) also manufactured variants of the “Beaufort”. These are often known collectively as the DAP “Beaufort”. More than 700 Australian-built “Beauforts” saw service with the Royal Australian Air Force in the South West Pacific theatre where they were used until the end of the war (Ref.: 24).

Henschel Hs P.87 (Planet, Resin)

TYPE: Light bomber, ground attack aircraft. Project.

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: One Daimler-Benz DB 610 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,900 hp, driving two four-bladed pusher propellers


COMMENT: In 194/42 the design team of Henschel Aircraft Company proposed an advanced project of a fast light bomber and ground attack aircraft. Power was provided by a single Daimler-Benz DB 610 engine that in fact consisted of two Daimler-Benz DB 605 liquid-cooled engines, joined side-by side. The engine drove two four-bladed pusher type propellers via an extension shaft. A similar design but powered by a Daimler-Benz DB 613 was the Henschel Hs P. 75 fighter and interceptor project. Both designs were radical in so far as a canard arrangement was proposed with elevators in front and the wing positioned to the rear. By that enough space was available to integrate the wide and bulky power unit. Furthermore, a large weapon bay in the in the forward fuselage was available. The disadvantage of this arrangement is the permanent shifting of the center of gravity. Vertical fins were located at the wingtips. Intensive work was done concerning the lay-out of the cockpit in order to give the two crew members an excellent view forward. In case of emergency the cabin could be blown up in order to prevent a collision with the eight-bladed propellers. Detailed construction was in an advanced stage when the RLM refused this project with the flimsy comment “… the pilots couldn’t acclimatize with a propeller in the back and the elevators in front”. So further work on this project was stopped (Ref.: 16, 17).

Kyushu J7W2 (Hasegawa)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter. Project


POWER PLANT: One Ishikawajima Ne-130 turbojet engine, rated at 900 kp thrust

PERFORMANCE: No data available

COMMENT: The concept of Kyushu J7W1 unique canard configuration was due to designers of the Technical staff of the Japanese Navy. From the onset of that project it was envisaged to replace the rear-mounted Mitsubishi Ha-43 air-cooled radial engine, which drove a six-blade pusher propeller, with the new turbojet engines under development at that time.
Following some initial work on that concept, the staff of Dai-Ichi Kaigun Koku Gijitsusho (First Naval Air Technical Arsenal) designed a glider to test the aircraft’s handling qualities at low speeds. Three prototypes of the MXY6 were built for the Navy by Chigasaki Seizo K.K. and these all-wood gliders with moderately swept wings supporting tall tail surfaces inboard the ailerons began flight trials in autumn of 1943.
Although the “Shinden” was expected to be a highly maneuverable interceptor, only two prototypes were finished before the end of war. And of course the turbojet engine powered Kyushu J7W2 was never realized, it didn’t even reach the drawing board (Ref.: 24).

Grumman G.71 (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Carrier-based fighter. Project


POWER PLANT: One Westinghouse 24C turbojet engine, rated at 1,360 kp


COMMENT: The design for a fast carrier-based jet fighter was put forward by Grumman Company in November 1944. This small and aerodynamic clean cantilever-winged fighter was to be armed with either four 20mm cannon or six 0.5 in machine guns across the nose. The wings were not of folding type. The aircraft was to be powered by a single Westinghouse 24C turbojet engine delivering app. 1,300 kp thrust, but was still under development. It was the first jet fighter project of Grumman and it is not clear why this promising project was not pursued. However, after WW II the general design influenced the development of the Grumman F9F “Panther”, the Company’s first turbojet engine powered fighter showing better performance compared to the McDonnell FD-1 “ Phantom”, the US Navy’s first “pure” turbojet fighter.

Heinkel He 343A-1 (Planet Models, Resin)

TYPE: Medium bomber. Project.

ACCOMMODATION: Pilot and observer

POWER PLANT: Four Heinkel/Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engines, rated at 1,300 kp each


COMMENT: The Heinkel He 343 was a four-engine jet bomber project by Heinkel Aircraft Company in the last years of WW II. In 1944 a total of 20 of these aircraft were ordered. For shortening the development time and for re-use of existing parts, its general design was envisioned along the lines of an enlarged Arado Ar 234 “Blitz” (“Lightning”). For a choice of engines, the Junkers Jumo 004 and the Heinkel HeS 011 were planned. The DFS (Deutsche Forschungsinstitut für Segelflug), (German Research Institute for Gliding Flight) was involved in the project and created the project known as P.1068. By the end of 1944, work was nearly finished by the Heinkel engineers, with parts for the He 343 prototype aircraft either under construction or in a finished state, when the order was cancelled due to the “Jägernotprogramm (Emergency Fighter Program). Four versions were planned: the He 343A-1 bomber, the He 343A-2 reconnaissance aircraft, and the He 343A-3 and He 343B-1 “Zerstörer” (“Destroyer”) heavy fighters.
The Heinkel He 343A-1 was to be the bomber version. Depending on the engines used, the bomb load ranged between 2000 kg to 3000 kg, with 2000 kg to be carried internally, and 1000 kg to be carried externally. Trials were to be held with the Fritz X radio controlled bomb, which would have also added a third crew member. Defensive armament consisted of two fixed rear firing MG 151 20 mm cannon with 200 rounds each, which were mounted in the rear fuselage. None aircraft was completed. However, after WW II the Soviet Union utilized the design as the basis for the development of the Ilyushin Il-22, changing some of the parameters such as size and crew numbers. One prototype was built and flown. The results of the tests were used in development of the Ilyushin Il-28 (Ref: 24).

Kogiken Plan I Type A Heavy fighter (Unicraft, Resin)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter. Project


POWER PLANT: One Kawasaki Ha 40 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,100 hp

PERFORMANCE: No data available

COMMENT: In the summer of 1941, Rikugun Kokugijutsu Kenkyujo (Japanese Army Aerotechnical Research Institute, short named “Kogiken”) formed a design group under the leadership of Ando Sheigo. The task was to study Japanese aviation technology in terms of what was possible at present and in the near future. Additionally, some effort was to be spent on reviewing the aircraft technology of other countries. From the results the group was to assemble and draft proposals for aircraft to fill various pre-determined roles: heavy fighter, light bomber, heavy bomber and reconnaissance. For a bigger idea pool, Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) main aircraft providers, Kawasaki and Tachikawa, were invited to join the group, too. In that period projects such as Kogiken Plan III Revised light bomber and Kogiken Plan V Revised light bomber were designed and proposed to the IJA.
Among fighter designs the Kogiken Plan I Type A was a single seat heavy fighter and a Japanese adaption of the Bell P-39 “Airacobra” mid-fuselage engine concept. The aircraft was designed end 1941 and should be powered by a single Kawasaki Ha 40 liquid-cooled in-line engine, derived from the German Daimler-Benz DB 601A. The engine was installed immediately aft the cockpit driving a four-bladed puller propeller via an extension shaft. A tricycle landing gear was provided similar to the Bell P-39. Armament consisted of 37 mm Ho-203 or 20 mm Ho-5 canon firing through the propeller hub and two wing-mounted 12.5 mm Ho-103 guns. No further details are known, the project never left the drawing board (Ref.: Parts from Unicraft).

Hawker “Typhoon” Mk. IB, 143th SQN (Airfix)

TYPE: Interceptor, fighter bomber


POWER PLANT: One Napier “Sabre” IIC liquid-cooled engine, rated at 2,180 hp

PERFORMANCE: 412 mph at 19,000 ft

COMMENT: The Hawker “Typhoon” (“Tiffy” in RAF slang), was a British single-seat fighter bomber, produced by Hawker Aircraft. It was intended to be a medium–high altitude interceptor, as a replacement for the Hawker “Hurricane” but several design problems were encountered and it never completely satisfied this requirement.
The “Typhoon” was originally designed to mount twelve Browning Machine guns and be powered by the latest 2000 hp engines. Its service introduction in mid-1941 was plagued with problems and for several months the aircraft faced a doubtful future. When the Luftwaffe brought the formidable Focke-Wulf Fw 190 into service in 1941, the “Typhoon” was the only RAF fighter capable of catching it at low altitudes; as a result it secured a new role as a low-altitude interceptor.
By contemporary standards, the new design’s wing was very “thick”, similar to the “Hurricane” before it. Although the “Typhoon” was expected to achieve over 400 mph in level flight at 20,000 ft, the thick wings created a large drag rise and prevented higher speeds than the 410 mph at 20,000 feet achieved in tests. The climb rate and performance above that level was also considered disappointing. When the “Typhoon” was dived at speeds of over 500 mph, the drag rise caused buffeting and trim changes. These compressibility problems led to Hawker designing the “Typhoon II”, later known as the “Tempest”, which used much thinner wings with a laminar flow airfoil.
By 1943, the RAF needed a ground-attack fighter more than a “pure” fighter and the “Typhoon” was suited to the role and less-suited to the pure fighter role than competing aircraft such as the Supermarine “Spitfire” Mk IX. The powerful engine allowed the aircraft to carry a load of up to two 454 kg bombs, equal to the light bombers of only a few years earlier. The bomb-equipped aircraft were nicknamed “Bombphoons” and entered service with No. 181 Squadron, formed in September 1942
Starting in January 1943, a “Typhoon” was used to test a new, clear, one piece sliding “bubble” canopy and its associated new windscreen structure which had slimmer frames which, together with the “cut-down” rear dorsal fairing, provided a far superior all-around field of view to the car-door type. From November 1943 all production aircraft were to be so fitted. However, the complex modifications required to the fuselage and a long lead time for new components to reach the production line meant that it took some time before the new canopy became standard. Production of the “Typhoon”, which was entirely the responsibility of Gloster Aircraft, totaled 3,330 machines (Ref.: 24)

Focke-Wulf Ta 183/III (Planet, Resin)

TYPE: Fighter, Project


POWER PLANT: One Heinkel-Hirth HeS 011 turbojet engine, rated at 1,300 kp


COMMENT: On February 1945 the Tank design team proposed a second design of the Focke-Wulf/Tank Ta 183 turbojet fighter although the RLM accepted the first design for production. The new aircraft was similar to the Ta 183 design, except the wings were swept back at 35 degrees and the cockpit was set farther aft. Also, the tail unit was of more conventional design, with a curvilinear sweep of the fuselage into the vertical tail. This seemed to be necessary because it was expected that the long vertical tail of Ta 183 led to vibrations. By that the horizontal tail planes were mounted lower at the end of the fuselage. As with many other projects al work was halted with the end of the WW II two months later (Ref.: 17).

Kyushu J7W1 “Shinden” (“Magnificent Lightning”), (Tamiya)

TYPE: Interceptor fighter


POWER PLANT: One Mitsubishi Ha-43 12 (MK9D) radial engine, rated at 2,130 hp


COMMENT: The Kyūshū J7W1 “Shinden”( “Magnificent Lightning”) fighter was a Japanese propeller-driven aircraft prototype with wings at the rear of the fuselage, a nose mounted canard, and pusher engine. Developed by the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) as a short-range, land-based interceptor, the J7W was a response to Boeing B-29 “Superfortress” raids on the Japanese home islands. In the IJN designation system, “J” referred to land-based fighters and “W” to Watanabe Tekkōjo, the company that oversaw the initial design..
The construction of the first two prototypes started in earnest by June 1944, and the first prototype was completed in April 1945. The 2,130 hp Mitsubishi MK9D (Ha-43) radial engine and its supercharger were installed behind the cockpit and drove a six-bladed propeller via an extension shaft. Engine cooling was to be provided by long, narrow, obliquely mounted intakes on the side of the fuselage. It was this configuration that caused cooling problems while running the engine while it was still on the ground. This, together with the unavailability of some equipment parts postponed the first flight of the “Shinden”. Even before the first prototype took to the air, the Navy ordered the J7W1 into production, with a quota of 30 “Shinden” a month given to Kyushu’s Zasshonokuma factory and 120 from Nakajima’s Handa plant. It was estimated some 1,086 “Shinden” could be produced between April 1946 and March 1947.
On August 1945, the prototype first flew from Itazuke Air Base. Two more short flights were made, a total of 45 minutes airborne, one each on the same days as the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki occurred, before the war’s end. Flights were successful, but showed a marked torque pull to starboard (due to the powerful engine), some flutter of the propeller blades, and vibration in the extended drive shaft.
A turbojet engine–powered version, the Kyushu J7K2, was considered, but never even reached the drawing board (Ref.: 24).

Supermarine “Seafire” Mk III, 887 NAS (Pavla Models)

TYPE: Carrier-borne fighter, fighter-bomber


POWER PLANT: One Rolls-Royce “Merlin” 55 liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,470 hp

PERFORMANCE: 352 mph at 12,250 ft

COMMENT: The Supermarine “Seafire” was a naval version of the Supermarine “Spitfire” adapted for operation from aircraft carriers. The name “Seafire” was arrived at by abbreviating the longer name “Sea Spitfire”.
In late 1941 and early 1942, the Admiralty assessed the “Spitfire” for possible conversion. In late 1941, a total of 48 “Spitfire” Mk Vb were converted to become “hooked Spitfires”. This was the “Seafire” Mk Ib and would be the first of several “Seafire” variants to reach the Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm. The second semi-naval variant of the “Seafire” and the first to be built as such, was the “Seafire F Mk IIc which was based on the “Spitfire” Mk Vc. The IIc was the first of the “Seafires” to be deployed operationally in large numbers. Although developed for aircraft carrier use, this version still lacked the folding wings needed to allow them to be used on board some Royal Navy carriers, some of which had small aircraft elevators unable to accommodate the full wingspan of the “Seafires”. The “Seafire” F Mk III was the first true carrier adaptation of the Spitfire design. It was developed from the “Seafire” Mk IIC, but incorporated manually folding wings allowing more of these aircraft to be spotted on deck or in the hangars below. Supermarine devised a system of two straight chordwise folds; a break was introduced immediately outboard of the wheel-wells from which the wing hinged upwards and slightly angled towards the fuselage. A second hinge at each wingtip join allowed the tips to fold down (when the wings were folded the wingtips were folded outwards). This version used the more powerful Merlin  or Merlin 55M, driving the same four-bladed propeller unit used by the IIC series; the Merlin 55M was another version of the Merlin for maximum performance at low altitude. This Mark was built in larger numbers than any other “Seafire” variant; of the 1,220 manufactured Westland built 870 and Cunliffe Owen 350 aircraft. (Ref.: 24).