Needed to get this out there, sketch/color practice out of my sketchbook. It’s been really cold and snowy here, so i’ve been playing War Thunder… a little too much, but still. I love aviation, and classic dogfighting is pretty intense. I enjoy the strategy of it all.
The German World War II Glider Fighter — The BV 40
By 1944 the American and British bombing campaign against Germany was really taking it’s toll. Entire cities were reduced to ruins and maintaining a war industry became much more difficult. Furthermore, throughout the war Germany suffered from shortages of vital war materials, a problem which grew worse and worse as the fortunes of war turned against the Axis Powers. The German military attempted technological solutions to the problem such as jet and rocket powered fighter interceptors. However a German company called Blohm & Voss, which was traditionally involved in shipbuilding, attempted to solve the problem with a very low tech solution.
In May of 1944 Blohm & Voss successfully tested their new fighter called the BV 40. Unlike other fighter crafted of the day, the BV 40 was unique in that it was not a powered airplane, but a glider lacking an engine. The glider had to be towed into the air, with a regular BF-109 fighter plane being able tow a pair of the gliders simultaneously. The gliders would be towed above a bomber formation before being set adrift, at which point both the gliders and powered fighters would dive upon the bomber formation. To shoot down bombers, the BV 40 was equipped with a pair of MK 108 30mm cannon, which for an airplane is a very powerful gun, more than capable of downing a bomber. Each gun was loaded with 35 rounds of high explosive shells.
Dimensions were a length of 18.7 feet, a wingspan of 26 feet and a height of 5.4 feet. Takeoff weight was around 2,100 lbs. It’s speed was around 345 MPH while cruising and 560 MPH in a dive.
The advantages of the BV-40 was that it was cheap and easy to produce, so easy to produce that even unskilled labor (perhaps slave labor) could construct them. The air frame was produced from wood which could be sourced locally, while its skin was simple lightweight sheet metal. It was also a very small aircraft making it difficult to target and shoot down. Of course it lacked any armor, meaning if it did get hit it would most certainly be blown out of the sky. The BV-40 had very limited flight time, being able to make only one or two passes against a bomber formation before it would lose speed and be forced to land. Finally, the pilot flew the plane in a prone position, which wasn’t very comfortable.
After the BV 40 was successfully tested, the German Luftwaffe ordered an initial production run of 200 gliders. However, interest in the BV 40 waned as Germany invested more in jets and rockets. The BV 40 was never adopted and only 7 prototypes were built.
The Boosted Kingfisher, also known as Type-B, is an experimental variant of the Kingfisher, with a more powerful quad-turboengine core, boosted wing thrusters and five added vector boosters on it’s legs and crotch. Much faster and able to fly at much higher altitudes, the Type-B is usually used reserved for recon missions and ace pilots.
Today, i bring you a World War II legend, the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang.
The Mustang is a long range fighter that was widely used in the escort role of heavy bombers such as the B-17 and B-29, it also went to action during the Korean War alongside the jet fighters of the time.
It was first flown by Royal Air Force (RAF) in the tactical recon and fighter-bomber roles, the P-51, in it’s earlier variants, was first fitted with the
Allison V-1710 engine and that limited the performace of the fighter at high altitudes. With the development of the B and C variants, the Rolls-Royce Merlin was the chosen engine and it gave a much better performance for the Mustang above 15,000ft allowing it to face Luftwaffe fighters such as the BF-109 and FW-190.
The version that really made the P-51 shine was the D variant, it was powered by the Packard V-1650-7, a license-built version of the Rolls-Royce Merlin 66 and was armed with six .50 caliber (12.7 mm) M2/AN Browning machine guns.
During 1944, it helped the USAAF ensure air superiority over Germany and also support bombings through it’s fighter-bomber roles but Europe wasn’t it’s only action zone, the Mustang also fought in the North African, Mediterranean, Italian and Pacific theaters.
When the Korean War broke out, the P-51s were the main fighters of the United Nations until jet fighters took their place but this was not their end as it continued to operate on the ground attack role, fitted with bombs and rockets. It started to lose ground to the newer USAF F-84 fighter-bombers,
United States Navy (USN) Grumman F9F Panthers and jets from other nations such as Gloster Meteor F8s. Today, the P-51 is widely used by civillians and air races.
That’s it for this photo series! As always, if you have any suggestions or contributions, don’t hesitate to send them to me.
The Dutch cellist turned World War II resistance fighter, Frieda
Belinfante, was born on this day in 1904!
Frieda photographed circa-1940. She lived openly after WWII with her partner Henriëtte Bosmans, who was also a Dutch musician (x).
Frieda was born in Amsterdam on May 10, 1904 to a very musical
and artistic Jewish family. Her father was a renowned pianist and music teacher
in the Netherlands and her family line boasts several popular writers and
journalists from throughout the generations. Frieda began studying the cello
when she was ten-years-old and she made her concert debut at age seventeen. The
Nazi occupation eventually interrupted Frieda’s career and prevented her from pursuing
music until after the war.
As an out Jewish lesbian who was known for her butch presentation, rebellion against the Nazi Party came naturally to Frieda. It was her good friend Willem
Arondeus, a fellow artist and gay man, who pulled Frieda into the world of the
Dutch resistance. Willem was one of the leaders of Raad van Verzet and he
recruited Frieda to help forge documents for Jewish people trying to flee the
Netherlands. Together, Frieda and Willem eventually went on to perform the
bombing and destruction of a Nazi-run population registry on March 27, 1943. The
operation was a success and it hindered the Nazis from being able to identify
Jewish populations in the Netherlands. After the bombing, Frieda, Willem, and the
other resistance fighters involved with Raad van Verzet were forced to go into
hiding. Frieda disguised herself as a man for three months before she eventually
made her way to safety in Switzerland.
After the war, Frieda returned to both the Netherlands and
her music career. She eventually made the transition from performer to music
conductor and immigrated to the United States in 1947 to join the music faculty
at UCLA. Under Frieda’s conduction, the music scene at UCLA reached unforeseen heights.
In 1987, the City of Laguna Beach, California declared February 19th
to be the new “Frieda Belinfante Day” due to her outstanding life journey and her
contributions to the Laguna Beach community. Frieda passed away in 1995 when
she was 90 years old, but she was posthumously the subject of a 1999 documentary titled But I Was
A Girl and a Dutch exhibition about the
persecution of lesbians and gay men during World War II.
The P-38 Lightning was the first fighter with sufficient range to provide air cover to the bombers all the way to the target and return. This long range capability, massive armament, high speed, & unusual twin tail design earned the P-38 the name “Fork Tailed Devil” from the enemy and “Angel in Overall” by the American bomber crews.