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Model Aviation Magazine, AMA - Airplanes and Rockets

Modern Planes Album
December 1939 Flying Aces

December 1939 Flying Aces

December 1939 Flying Aces Cover - Airplanes and Rockets Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

"...the new World War has clamped down the screens of censorship, hence we shall be lucky to get anything much in the way of info and pictures on new equipment to be used by the warring nations." That appeared in the December 1939 issue of Flying Aces magazines. Most people here in America think of World War II beginning on December 7th, 1941, with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In actuality, the war began much sooner with Hitler's and Hirohito's invasions in Europe (and North Africa) and Asia (South China and South Pacific), respectively. The accepted start date is September 1, 1939, following Hitler's invasion of Poland. Since a December magazine issue typically went to press in October or October, the war had only begun a month or two earlier. Of particular interest here (to me, anyway) is the Curtiss XP−42, obviously a modification of the P−40 Warhawk, but with a noticeably different cowl. Its shape suggests an inline type engine, but reportedly it housed a Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasp radial.

Modern Planes Album

Four of the Latest War Machines

On our fighting craft menu this month: Britain's new all-purpose sea job, France's American-built bomber which has already seen action, and two striking U.S. pursuit planes - the new Seversky and Curtiss fighters.

Fairey Albacore

Fairey Albacore, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsThis in all probability will be the last of the new British service planes to appear in these or any other pages for some time. For the new World War has clamped down the screens of censorship, hence we shall be lucky to get anything much in the way of info and pictures on new equipment to be used by the warring nations.

Last of the jobs to slip through this barrier, the Albacore appeared in the British prints on August 17. We've only seen one photograph of it so far.

Manufactured by the Fairey Aviation Corporation of Hayes, Middlesex, England, it's listed by the firm as a three-seat biplane dive-bomber likewise designed for reconnaissance, torpedo, and aircraft carrier work - which is plenty for any machine. It's obvious, of course, that they've attempted to turn out a craft fitting a multitude of purposes. How well they have succeeded will only be known when they actually try it out against the enemy.

In general, this biplane jack-of-all-trades will be used by the Fleet Air Arm as a ship-board machine. It is powered with the new Bristol Taurus sleeve-valve power plant and is fitted with either the Rotal airscrew or the De Havilland constant-speed prop. We also notice that in the first two Albacores built there were several changes in the design of the engine cowling. Then the fixed undercarriage was fitted with streamline spats in the second model.

The interesting feature of this job is its negative overhang, meaning that its lower wing has a greater span than the upper. This may be due to the fact that the Albacore (that name means a young camel, cow, or heifer) will use special flaps to control the speed while diving - a point that has caused several British experts to raise their eyebrows. The plane can also be produced as a float seaplane. Unfortunately we have no details on the armament, speed, or general performance.

French Douglas Bomber DB-7

French Douglas Bomber DB-7, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsDuring the first week of the present Second World War, the French Air Force enjoyed decided supremacy over the German airmen who attempted to cover the ground activity about Hitler's West Wall. As a matter of fact, the French bombers were skating all over the skies and were shooting down German Army-Cooperation planes with comparative ease, while bombing the German defenses into the bargain.

This was somewhat contrary to what was generally expected, for France was supposed to be quite tardy as far as air power was concerned. Her high degree of efficiency developed during and after the World War had been allowed to crumble during a rather soupy political regime which included an attempt to nationalize the. aircraft industry.

But when the story of these recent French air successes came out, it developed that most of this air offensive was being carried out with bombers designed and built in the United States. To be sure, they only had two of these new Douglas DB-7's-jobs shipped over from this country before the neutrality law went into effect. But it seems that those two proved very handy.

The new Douglas DB-7, as designed expressly for the French Air Service, is rated at well over 300 m.p.h. carrying two 900-h.p. Twin-Wasp SC3-G engines, they appear to be faster and more formidable than the highly touted German Junkers, Dorniers, and Heinkels.

This is the first actual war-service machine to be fitted with a tricycle undercarriage. The front wheel and the main portions of the undercarriage system retract into the nose. The engines are carried in nacelles which are streamlined to a point well behind the trailing edge of the wing. There appears to be a gunner's tunnel fitted under the tail assembly.

The nose carries a compete gunner's cockpit, plus a prone-position turret for the bomber-officer. There are complete navigation and engineer's compartments in the fuselage, as well as modern enclosed bomb traps.

Seversky XP-41

Seversky XP-41, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsWe are thankful that at last some American manufacturers are really presenting something new for us to write about.

At the present time the trend is to high-speed fighters rated in the 400-m.p.h. class, although of course much of it is very hush-hush and you have to write your own performance figures.

For instance we have a new Severky listed as the XP-41 and powered with a P. & W. twin-row radial said to turn out more than 1,000 h.p. At present this machine is undergoing service tests at Wright Field, so only the test pilots and the superior officers know just what she will do under normal military conditions and with full fighting loads.

This plane is not a great deal unlike the special racers that have been made by the Seversky firm and flown by such noted National Air Race pilots as Frank Fuller and Miss "Jackie" Cochrane. The original XP-41, by the way, was flown by Frank Sinclair, Seversky test pilot. It caught fire in mid-air and crashed, Sinclair having taken to his chute. This new model no doubt has had a lot of the "bugs" ironed out.

Generally speaking, it's a low-wing fighter monoplane with typical deep-bellied fuselage. It has an undercarriage which folds upward and inward, giving the plane a wide landing track. The cockpit, covered with some form of unbreakable transparent hatch, is heated for high altitude flying. The equipment includes a modern engine supercharger, oxygen equipment, and two-way radio set. The machine is all-metal and covered with sheet Alclad, which presents a very smooth surface, with headless rivets used.

Less powerful prototypes of this model have been reported to do well over 300 m.p.h. and it is within reasonable assumption that these new machines may get up somewhere near the 400-m.p.h. mark, which no doubt will satisfy the high-speed school of thought - especially if the XP-41's need not be flown in formation.

Details of the armament are not as yet known, but it will carry at least two machine guns in the wings plus two on the engine cowl.

Curtiss XP-42

Curtiss XP-42, December 1939 Flying Aces - Airplanes and RocketsGradually the P-40 numbers are climbing. Not so long ago the P-35 and the P-36 were top rung. Now we are up to the P-42, which indicates how many models we actually pass over before we find a winner.

This latest Curtiss single-seat fighter is now at Wright Field, where the Air Corps test pilots are "trying to take her apart." Another all-metal low-wing monoplane, this model is designed for modern tactical exercises and as service equipment. The front view of it should especially interest our readers, who may get a first impression that the plane is fitted with some sort of an in-line chemical-cooled power plant. The cowling appears, at first glance, to cover an Allison engine. The large prop-boss makes the mystery even more puzzling.

Actually, the engine is a twin-row Pratt and Whitney Wasp rated at 1,200 h.p. The designers, we understand, have devised a cowling to cover such a motor and yet achieve the streamlined effect of the type of cowling usually found over an in-line engine. This, of course, accounts for the large spinner cap, devised to cover the space between the prop boss and the front ring of the engine cowling. Several reports on this plane have it that it is powered with the 1,250-h.p. Allison - but this is not true, for we of Flying Aces have tracked the power plant down. That it's a Wasp has been confirmed by P.&W.

Truly, the makers have attained a splendid streamline effect, and we see no reason why they should not get the same performance from a plane powered with the noted radial engine as they might do with a streamlined in-line engine. The reader may observe the radial air-scoop orifices, and in later pictures we have noticed adjustable cooling gills at the back of the engine cowling.



Posted August 20, 2022

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