Fairey ‘Seafox’ Mk.I, (Matchbox)

TYPE: Reconnaissance floatplane


POWER PLANT: One Napier Rapier air-cooled engine, rated at 395 hp


COMMENT: The Fairey Seafox was a 1930s British reconnaissance floatplane designed and built by Fairey for the Royal Fleet Air Arm. It was designed to be catapulted from the deck of a light cruiser and served in the WW II. Of the 66 built, two were finished as landplanes.
The Fairey Seafox was built to satisfy Air Ministry Specifications S.11/32. The first of two prototypes appeared in 1936, first flying on May 1936, and the first of the 64 production aircraft were delivered in 1937. The flights were organized as 700 Naval Air Squadron of the Fleet Air Arm.
The fuselage was of all-metal monocoque construction, the wings being covered with metal on the leading edge, otherwise fabric. It was powered by a 16-cylinder 395 hp air-cooled Napier Rapier H engine. It cruised at 106 mph, and had a range of 440 mi.
Although the Seafox handled well, it was criticized for being underpowered, engine cooling was poor and landing speeds were higher than desired.
In 1939, a Seafox played a part in the Battle of River Plate against the German pocket battleship “Admiral Graf Spee”, by spotting for the naval gunners. This ended with “Graf Spee’s” scuttling and destruction.
Seafoxes operated during the early part of the war from the cruisers HMS “Emerald”. “Neptune”, “Orion”, “Ajax”, “Arethusa” and “Penelope” and the armed merchant cruisers HMS “Pretoria Castle”, “Asturias” and “Alcantara”. The floatplanes remained in service until 1943 (Ref.: 24).

Junkers Ju 288C V103 (Huma Models)

TYPE: Medium bomber


POWER PLANT: Two Daimler-Benz DB 610A-1/B-1 liquid-cooled engines, rated at 2,950 hp each

PERFORMANCE: 407 mph at 22,300 ft

COMMENT: Prior to the receipt of RLM instructions to prepare for production of the Daimler-Benz DB 606-powered Junkers Ju 288, the Junkers construction bureau had introduced some major changes in the basic design of the bomber which had resulted in the Ju 288C intended specifically for the Daimler-Benz engines. One of the most noticeable external changes was the provision of a redesigned and elongated nose which increased overall length substantially. Defensive armament was supplemented by a ventral barbette aft of the bomb-bay, instrumentation was greatly improved and the structure was strengthened.
The first C-series prototype, the Ju 288 V101 with DB 606A/B engines, was completed in August 1942, this being followed within a few weeks by the similar Ju 288 V102.
The Ju 288C programme continued with high priority, production standards were finalized, and modifications dictated by flight test programme, together with production features, were embodied by the next prototype, the Ju 288C V103. Fitted with the more powerful DB 610 engines and introducing provision for underwing weapons racks, the Ju 288C V103 had the full complement of four remotely-controlled gun barbettes, and was flown for the first time in spring of 1943.
The Junkers Ju 288C V103 was intended as the first production prototype for the Ju 288C-1, and was rapidly followed by the Ju 288 V104 and V105 which were flown in May 1943, and the V106 which flew in June, these all being powered by DB 610A/B engines and differing only in minor items of equipment. At this time, it was proposed to manufacture the bomber in three versions which differed primarily in the defensive armament fitted. The Ju 288C-1 was to have a chin, dorsal and ventral barbettes each mounting twin MG 131 machine guns, and a tail barbette mounting a MG 151 cannon; the Ju 288C-2 was to have had twin MG 151 cannon in each chin, dorsal and ventral barbettes, and either two MG 131s in tail barbette or four MG 131 in a manned tail turret, and the Ju 288C-3 was to have been a night bomber with defensive armament restricted to twin MG 131s in a ventral barbette.
Suddenly, in June 1943, Junkers was informed by the Technische Amt that the entire “Bomber B” programme had been abandoned owing to increasing shortages of strategic materials and the effect that the launching of a major production program for a new bomber would have on existing production programmes at a critical phase in the conflict. However, despite the cancellation of the programme, Junkers completed two additional machines, the Ju 288 V107 and V 108, which were flown in July 1943, other airframes on the assembly line being scrapped. Some flight testing of the Ju 288 was continued until the summer of 1944, by which time a least 17 of the 22 prototypes had crashed while engaged in flight development. With the termination of the test programme, several of the surviving Ju 288B- and C-series prototypes were transferred to the Luftwaffe, and fitted with ventral gun pods similar to that fitted to the Junkers Ju 88P-4 and mounting a single 50 mm BK 5 (KwK 39) cannon, these saw limited operational use during the closing stages of the conflict (Ref.:7).

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3, 34 IAP (Italeri)

TYPE: Fighter and interceptor aircraft


POWER PLANT: One Mikulin AM-35A liquid-cooled engine, rated at 1,332 hp

PERFORMANCE: 314 mph at 25,590 ft

COMMENT: The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-3 was a Soviet fighter and interceptor aircraft used during World War II. It was a development of the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-1 by the Experimental Design Department of Factory No. 1 to remedy problems found during the MiG-1’s development and operations. It replaced the MiG-1 on the production line at Factory No. 1 on December 1940 and was built in large numbers during 1941 before Factory No. 1 was converted to build the Ilyushin Il-2.
The large number of defects noted during flight testing of the MiG-1 forced Mikoyan and Gurevich to make a number of modifications to the design. Testing was done on a full-size aircraft in the T-1 wind tunnel belonging to the Central Aero and Hydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) to evaluate the problems and their proposed solutions. The first aircraft to see all of these changes applied was the fourth prototype of the I-200. It first flew on 29 October 1940 and was approved for production after passing its State acceptance trials. The first MiG-3, as the improved aircraft was named on December 1940, was completed same month and another 20 were delivered by the end of the year.
Changes included: the engine was moved forward, outer wing panel dihedral was increased by one degree to increase lateral stability, the back of the pilot’s seat was armored with an 8 mm plate (increased to 9 mm in later models, the supercharger intakes were streamlined, the main landing gear was strengthened and the size of the main wheels was increased and the canopy glazing was extended aft to improve the view to the rear which allowed for the installation of a shelf behind the pilot for an RSI-1 radio (later upgraded to an RSI-4)
Despite the teething problems with the MiG-3, a number of reports had been received about poor quality aircraft received by the regiments which pointed directly at the NII VVS (Naoochno-Issledovatel’skiy Institoot Voyenno-Vozdooshnykh Seel—Air Force Scientific Test Institute) as it was responsible for monitoring the quality of the aircraft delivered to the VVS (Soviet Air Force). After elimination of most problems the production started and 3,422 aircraft were built in different factories spread over the eastern parts of Soviet Union.
The MiG-3’s top speed of 398 mph at 23,622 ft was faster than the 382 mph of the German Messerschmitt Bf 109F-2 in service at the beginning of 1941 and the British Supermarine Spitfire Mk. V’s 375 mph. At lower altitudes the MiG-3’s speed advantage disappeared as its maximum speed at sea level was only 314 mph while the Bf 109F-2 could do 320 mph. Unfortunately for the MiG-3 and its pilots, aerial combat over the Eastern front generally took place at low and medium altitudes where it had no speed advantage.
MiG-3s were delivered to frontline fighter regiments beginning in the spring of 1941 and were a handful for pilots accustomed to the lower-performance and docile Polikarpov I-152 and I-153 biplanes and the Polikarpov I-16 monoplane. It remained tricky and demanding to fly even after the extensive improvements made over the MiG-1 Many fighter regiments had not kept pace in training pilots to handle the MiG and the rapid pace of deliveries resulted in many units having more MiGs than trained pilots during the German invasion. By June 1941, 1,029 MIG-3s were on strength, but there were only 494 trained pilots. However high-altitude combat of this sort was to prove to be uncommon on the Eastern Front where most air-to-air engagements were at altitudes well below 16,000 ft. At these altitudes the MiG-3 was outclassed by the Bf 109 in all respects, and even by other new Soviet fighters such as the Yakovlev Yak-1. Furthermore, the shortage of ground-attack aircraft in 1941 forced it into that role as well, for which it was totally unsuited.
Over the winter of 1941–42 the Soviets transferred all of the remaining MiG-3s to the Soviet Naval Aviation and Soviet Air Defence Forces (PVO) so that on 1 May 1942 none were left on strength with the VVS. By May 1942, Naval Aviation had 37 MiGs on strength, while the PVO had 323 on hand on May. By June 1944, the Navy had transferred all its aircraft to the PVO, which reported only 17 on its own strength, and all of those were gone by January 1945. Undoubtedly more remained in training units and the like, but none were assigned to combat units by then (Ref.: 24).

Messerschmitt Me 163C V1 (A+V Models, Resin)

TYPE: Rocket-powered interceptor fighter


POWER PLANT: One Walter HWK 509C-1 bi-fuel rocket engine, rated at 2,000 kp main chamber plus 400 kp auxiliary chamber

PERFORMANCE: 596 mph at 40,000 ft.

COMMENT: As soon as it was realized that the HWK 509A rocket engine of the Messerschmitt Me 163B “Komet” consume appreciable more fuel than had been calculated, reducing commensurately the powered endurance of the aircraft, Professor Walter began investigating the possibility of introducing an auxiliary cruising chamber which achieved test status during 1944 in two B-series prototypes, the Me 163B V6 and Me 163B V18, these subsequently serving as test beds for the Me 163C-series. The cruising chamber afforded a thrust of 400 kp which was additional to the normal full-power thrust rating, and the intention was that the aircraft should take off and climb to operational altitude with both rocket chambers operating at full thrust, then cut the main chamber and cruise on the power of the auxiliary chamber alone. Apart from provision of a fully-retractable tailwheel which was positioned further forward to allow for the twin vertically-disposed rocket pipes, some revision of the keel line and shortening of the landing skid, the Me 163B V6 and Me 163B V18 were externally similar to the standard Me 162B-series production aircraft.
On July 1944, test pilot Rolf Opitz took off from Peenemünde in the Me 163B V18 for the first climb calibration trials with both rocket chambers functioning. Everything went according to plan until, just above 13,000 ft., the aircraft began to accelerate. At 14,760 ft. the climb rate of the aircraft was still increasing and within four seconds the aircraft has passed 16,400 ft. Another few seconds and the aircraft exceeded its critical Mach number, and Opitz promptly cut the rocket motor. The prototype immediately went into a steep dive from which Opitz only succeeded in recovering a few feet above the waters of the Baltic Sea. After landing back at Peenemünde Opitz discovered that almost the entire rudder of the aircraft had been ripped away, and it was subsequently ascertained the Me 163B V18 had attained a speed of 702 mph.
While test with both prototypes were proceeding, the Messerschmitt drawing office was working on a refined version of the rocket fighter, the Messerschmitt Me 163C, intended from the onset to utilize the auxiliary cruising chamber. While the wings of the new model were essentially similar to those of the Me 163B, a new centre section was introduced which increased overall span and gross area. This was married to an enlarged fuselage of improved fineness ratio which accommodated the pilot in a pressurized cockpit enclosed by a blister-type all-round vision canopy. The T-Stoff and C-Stoff tankage was increased and the armament, which could comprise either two 20-mm MG 151 or two 30-mm MK 108 cannon, was transferred from the wing roots to the fuselage. The additional tank capacity and cockpit pressurization allowed the maximum altitude to increase to 52,000 ft, as well as improving powered time to about 12 minutes, almost doubling combat time (from about five minutes to nine).
Preparations for the series production of the new model as Messerschmitt Me 163C-1a began late in 1944, but only three were reportedly completed, the being allocated “Versuchs” number as Me 163C V1, V2 And V3, and only one is known to have flown before all three were destroyed to prevent them falling into Soviet hands (Ref.: 7).