Five Favorite Flyers

For me it starts in Flander’s Fields with the Great War stately classic British SE.5a, with a Lewis Gun (Belgian Rattlesnake) on the top wing-mount, flown by Canadian ace Billy Bishop and Englishmen James McCudden and Albert Ball.

For the Huns there’s Toni Fokker’s brilliant Eindecker (him seen seated in aeroplane), the first gunned-up aircraft. It had a synchronizer gear interrupting the machinegun’s firing sequence, allowing the pilot to fire through the arc of the propeller without striking its blades, and was flown by Max Immelmann inventor of the fighting manouver called The Immelmann Turn and the supreme tactician Oswald Boelcke.

Among WWII aircraft I was a big fan of Lockheed’s Gabelschwanz Teufel the iconic Fork-Tailed Devil as the Germans called it – the P-38 Lightning, no surprises here. This was the long-range plane in which Rex T. Barber went out with a flight of 16 planes and got Admiral Yamamoto, after flying 435 miles at no more than 50 feet off the ocean to avoid detection and make the intercept, and was also the plane flown by the legendary top-ace Dick Bong.

And the ‘plane with the most graceful wing design and sensuous combination of curves ever designed, the Supermarine Spitfire – It was the sexy Jaguar XKE of aircraft, and helped win the Battle of Britain.

I also admire Naval aviation – you gotta hand it to guys who take off and land at sea on a moving deck in the rain and at night – and the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver with its great big semi-circle curved tail section packed deadly torpedo heat. It was the plane in which my dad trained as a radioman, but washed-out because he bulked up – his shoulders got too big from rowing on the Annapolis crew team and he could no longer fit in the little aft seat in which he was supposed to work…or was that the Avenger – sometimes I can’t get a straight answer out of him…

About NotClauswitz

The semi-sprawling adventures of a culturally hegemonic former flat-lander and anti-idiotarian individualist, fleeing the toxic cultural smug emitted by self-satisfied lotus-eating low-land Tesla-driving floppy-hat wearing lizadroid-Leftbat Califorganic eco-tofuistas ~