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1

Avro Vulcan

One of three “V bombers” designed to give Britain an “independent nuclear deterrent” in the 1950s, the Vulcan was intended to penetrate Soviet airspace at high altitude and drop free fall nuclear bombs, In the 1960s the aircraft had to adapt to low-level attack with stand-off nuclear missiles. The Royal Air Force’s Vulcan squadrons converted to the Mk 2A version, optimized for low-level penetration missions, with […]

2

Blériot XI

French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot’s Type XI monoplane won its place in the history books by making the first cross- Channel flight from France to England on 25 July 1909. Taking off from Les Baraques near Calais. Blériot flew for just over half an hour to land near Dover Castle in Kent and claim a £1,000 prize offered by newspaper magnate Lord […]

3

Lee-Richards Annular Monoplane

Although never mainstream, the notion of making an aeroplane with a circular wing has merit and has intermittently attracted serious flight innovators. British experimenters, Cedric Lee and George Tilghman Richards, designed their first powered annular-winged aeroplane in 1913. The aircraft was built amid great secrecy at Shoreham Aerodrome in Sussex, by Gordon England. Based on two concentric steel-tube hoops, the wing was braced to […]

4

Ryan NYP

In 1927 airmail pilot Charles Lindbergh decided to compete for a $25.000 prize offered for the first person to fly non-stop between New York and Paris. Ryan Airlines of San Diego, California, agreed to build him an aeroplane in 60 days for $6.000 ($10,580 with the engine included). The New-York-to-Paris (NYP) aircraft was based on Ryan’s M.2 high-wing monoplane, but was specially adapted to accommodate greatly […]

5

Boeing B-52

When Boeing’s B-52 Stratofortress bomber entered service with US Strategic Air Command in 1955, no one could have believed that it would still be going strong in the early 21st century. The aireraft has undergone constant updating of equipment and extensive structuraI modification, but its survival in frontline service is above all a tribute to the soundness of the initial design. Distinctive […]

6

Bell X-1

The rocket-powered Bell X-l was the first aircraft to fly at above the speed of sound. It was built expressly to investigate the problem of “breaking the sound barrier”, then regarded with some trepidation. The X -1 was straight-winged and aerodynamically clean, with a fuselage modelled along the lines of a 0.50-calibre bullet. For its experimental flights, it was carried aloft in the […]

7

Chanute biplane glider

In the summer of 1896 French-born  American Octave Chanute, a wealthy railroad engineer who had published a history of flight experiments, camped out on the windswept shore of Lake Michigan, determined to turn his theory into practice. In his mid-60s, Chanute was too old to fly himself, but he was accompanied by young engineer August Moore Herring, who served as his assistant […]

8

Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik

The Soviet Ilyushin Il-2 Shturmovik ground-attack aircrafl was produced in greater numbers than any other aeroplane in history – at least 35,952 were made. Crudely built as an expendable item, it was not designed to be taken apart or extensively repaired. For mximum protection during ground-attack operations, the crew and engine were enclosed in a “bathub” of heavy armour plate, to which the […]

9

MAcCready Gossamer Albatross

The Grossamer Albatross captured headlines in 1979 when it made the first human-powered fligh across the English Channel. Designed hy American engineer Dr Paul MacCready, the aircraft used pedal-power to drive its large, two-bladed propeller. Appropriately, it was piloted by an amateur cyclist, Bryan Allen, who made the 22 miles and 453 yards crossing in two hours and 49 minutes, at a […]

10

Early attemps

Although mankind has mastered flight only in the last hundred years, humans have been attempting to emulate the birds for centuries. Some have even strapped on wings and jumped from great heights, only to leant the hard way that there is a lot more to flying than simply flapping your amis. The first flying machines to be historically documented were kites, which were built in […]