Light, fixed-wing anti-tank/ground attack aircraft projects

cluttonfred

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OK, like many of us, I have my pet interests, and one of them is the generally unsuccessful effort to bring relatively small, light aircraft to the battlefield. Here are two already known to this group which made it to prototype/demonstrator stage. They couldn't be more different from each other except the twin tails, but they have always caught my eye. See links for more information:

Scaled Composites (Rutan) Model 151 Ares


Potez 75


There's a nice thread on the Potez 75 in the CGI section of this forum.

Can anyone suggest any more projects for light, fixed-wing anti-tank and/or ground attack aircraft? I don't mean converted trainers, I mean purpose-designed, specialized aircraft. Let's say under 4000 kg/8800 lbs MTOW to keep it relatively "light."

Cheers,

Matthew
 

Stargazer2006

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Great Ares pic, Mole. Think I'll be adding it to my website if that's no problem with you!
Allow me to correct a mistake, though. The Ares was the Model 151, not 51.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Can anyone suggest any more projects for light, fixed-wing anti-tank and/or ground attack aircraft? I don't mean converted trainers, I mean purpose-designed, specialized aircraft. Let's say under 4000 kg/8800 lbs MTOW to keep it relatively "light."
Also the LARA project that lead to the OV-10 Bronco.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,344.0

On the lighter scale there is the FAC/Recce adaptions of the Cessna 337 Skymaster including the Rhodesian Lynx with light strike capabilities and the O-2T USAF never built.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna_O-2_Skymaster

Then there is the smallest of the small the Malmo MFI-9 “Mini-Coin” used in the Biafran War.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malm%C3%B6_MFI-9

Plus the Martin Mighty Midget.

http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,2419.0

I’m tapped…
 

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The following are more COIN than antitank/ground support, but for your information:

There's the North American T-28 Trojan and the Sud-Aviation SE 117 Voltigeur (prototype only), although both of these exceed the 8.800 lbs limit.

The Morane-Saulnier MS 1500 Epervier (also only a prototype), with a MTOW of approx. 6.100 lbs should fit the bill (see image below).

Regards & all,

Thomas L. Nielsen
Luxembourg
 

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Kadija_Man

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One should not ignore the Count Carl Gustaf Ericsson von Rosen's"Babies of Biafra"



Five small civilian single engine Malmo MFI-9 planes. Produced by SAAB, they had been originally designed for a ground attack role in case of a war by the Swedish Air Force. He had the planes fitted with rockets from Matra and proceeded with a band of friends to form a squadron to help the Biafran cause. On May 22, 1969, and over the next few days, Von Rosen and his five aircraft launched attacks against Nigerian air fields at Port Harcourt, Enugu, Benin and other small airports. The Nigerians were taken by surprise and a number of expensive jets, including a few MiG-17 fighters and three out of Nigeria's six Ilyushin Il-28 bombers, were destroyed on the ground.
 

Stargazer2006

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Malmo MFI-9 planes
:eek: :eek: :eek:

Really? This looks awfully similar to a Bölkow Bö 208 Junior to me! Was it the same aircraft built under license?
 

Arjen

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The MFI-9 was produced under licence by Bölkow. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malm%C3%B6_MFI-9
One variant of the MFI-9 which gained widespread fame was the MiniCOIN (an acronym for "Miniature Counter-Insurrection"), a modification of the MFI-9B military trainer variant of the MFI-9, adapted to carry weapons; a flight of them were flown on the Biafran side in the Nigerian Civil War.

The flight (and name) originated with Carl Gustaf von Rosen, who realized that in a low intensity conflict even a few small, minimally-armed aircraft are capable of having a significant impact. Light aircraft are in any event more suitable for operation in the primitive conditions typical in such conflicts.

Von Rosen was familiar with the military trainer version of the MFI-9, which was robust enough to be able to carry significant loads of ordnance suspended from hard points on the wings. A number of MFI-9Bs had been constructed in hopes of a sale to the Swedish Air Force, but when the sale fell through, the aircraft became available at a low price. After conversion, they saw extensive service during most of the war.
 

cluttonfred

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The pic is sourced from the Ares page on the Scaled Composites web site. Thanks for the correction on the model number. Another thought, according to that Scaled Composites site, "The ARES, Scaled Model 151, was designed initially in response to a U.S. Army request for a Low Cost Battlefield Attack Aircraft (LCBAA)." Does anyone know if there were any other designs submitted under that study?

Stargazer2006 said:
Great Ares pic, Mole. Think I'll be adding it to my website if that's no problem with you!
Allow me to correct a mistake, though. The Ares was the Model 151, not 51.
 

cluttonfred

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Thanks, all, for the input. The SABA designs, Martin Midget and MS 1500 Epervier are definitely what I had in mind as relatively light, purpose-designed aircraft. LARA and other larger designs are perhaps for another thread. I want to stay away from the various armed trainer conversions as that's also another thread.

Breaking my own rules, there is the very neat SIPA S.1100 designed by Yves Gardan for COIN/CAS based on French experience in the Algerian war. The powerplants were the entire firewall-forward units from WWII-surplus Harvard trainers (also used by the French for COIN/CAS) since they were rugged, reliable, cheap and available. Three seats, two 30mm or four 20mm or .50 cal guns, 800 kg of external ordnance, too heavy for this discussion, though.

SIPA S.1100
 

Jemiba

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The early designs of the S.1100 used Turboméca Bastan turboprop engines,
maybe somewhat reducing weight (and so better fitting to your rules !), but also
more expensive and regarded as more vulnerable, so the P & W R1340 were
adopted again. The initial design even looked much more elegant.
For me the MS.1500 is of special interest. Jean Cuny mentions a twin engined
version designated MS.1520, which seemes to have been "minimal change" variant
to the MS.1500, incorporating a retractable landing gear and two wing mounted
engines. No other sources or drawings, so my sketch is source grade 1 only.
 

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GTX

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The S.1100 looks a quite attractive design. Mind you, one could almost mistake it for a WWII design with that heavily framed cockpit.

Regards,

Greg
 

Arjen

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While being aware this is the postwar aircraft projects part of SPF, I would like to draw your attention to the Tomashevich Pegas. Designed by a team led by Dmitri Tomashevich, four prototypes were built from late 1942. Made of wood, steel and fabric, designed in monoplane- as wel as biplane-form. Powered by two Shvetsov M-11F 140hp engines, armed with a 37mm gun (or two 23mm VYa guns), a 12.7 mm UBK machine gun and a 500kg bomb load. The biplane had a jettisonable upper wing, but never flew.

3-view drawings can be found on page 84 of "Soviet Combat Aircraft of the Second World War, Volume Two - Twin-Engined Fighters, Attack Aircraft and Bombers" by Yefim Gordon, Dmitri Khazanov and Alexander Medved, Midland Publishing 1999.

The original, bigger picture can be found here: http://www.the-vaw.com/html/pegas.php
 

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cluttonfred

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Thanks, Jemiba, for those fantastic images, I wasn't aware of the engine switch. Which Jean Cuny book is that?

GTX said:
The S.1100 looks a quite attractive design. Mind you, one could almost mistake it for a WWII design with that heavily framed cockpit.
I seem to remember reading somewhere a reference to "a snake's head" in describing the S.1100. You can certainly imagine one being quite scary coming at you with guns and rockets blazing and some aggressive nose art. Presumably the faceted panels are flat bullet-proof or at least bullet-resistant panes, though that's just an assumption.
 

cluttonfred

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Arjen said:
While being aware this is the postwar aircraft projects part of SPF, I would like to draw your attention to the Tomashevich Pegas.
Thanks, Arjen. You'll find a thread on Low-powered WWII-era combat aircraft in the pre-WWII section that includes much about the Pegas and other designs. I started that thread too...told you this was pet interest of mine. Cheers, Matthew
 

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In my defence, may I claim a considerable backlog in unread topics?
 

Abraham Gubler

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Stargazer2006 said:
Malmo MFI-9 planes
:eek: :eek: :eek:

Really? This looks awfully similar to a Bölkow Bö 208 Junior to me! Was it the same aircraft built under license?
This aircraft was designed and first built in the USA by Swedish engineer Bjoern Andreasson who was working for Convair. But he built it in his garage as a personal project he callled the "BA-7". He returned to Sweden in 1960 to work for AB Malmo FlygIndustri (MFI) who build the BA-7 as the MFI-9. In 1961 Malmo licensed the design to Bolkow Appartebau GMBH (later part of MBB). Malmo scaled up the MFI-9 to the MFI-15 but were acquired by Saab before first flight of the Saab Safari. In the 1970s Saab licensed the MFI-15 to Pakistan where it is still built as the Mushshak.

Both the MFI-9 and larger MFI-15 have been weaponised as very light strike/weapons trainers. The Swedish MFI-15 was even cleared as an ATGM carrier with six Bantam missiles. The Iranian Revolutionary Guards brought some Mushshaks which are probably weaponised too.
 

Stargazer2006

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Thank you very much Abraham for this detailed account of the Junior's origins. Very interesting.
 

Jemiba

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Mole said:
Which Jean Cuny book is that?
Jean Cuny "Les Avions De Combat Francais, 1944-1960 - Volume 2", Docavia.
 

hesham

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Hi,

here is the MS.775/1500 initial design from the book; Les Avions De Combat Francais,
1944-1960 - Volume 2.
 

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Arjen

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Dug this one up: Soko J-20 Kraguj
http://www.muzejrv.mod.gov.rs/pages_files/parter_files/partexpo/j20_files/j20.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soko_J-20_Kraguj
The Soko J-20 Kraguj (Sparrowhawk) is a Yugoslavian single-seat light ground-attack and counter-insurgency aircraft, first flown in 1964.

Design

It is of classic semi-monocoque, fully metal structure with a rectangular wing. The pilot is accommodated in a closed, heated and ventilated cockpit with adjustable seats. The cockpit canopy slides backwards to open. The landing gear is non-retractable with a tail wheel. Rubber dampers provide shock absorption, and hydraulic brakes are used for wheel braking.

The power plant comprises one 245 kW Textron Lycoming GSO-480-B1J6 piston engine and Hartzell HC-B3Z20-1/10151C-5 three-blade metal variable pitch propeller. The engine cooling airflow is intensified by means of two specially designed ejectors. 164 kg of fuel contained in two rubber tanks enables a flight range of 623 km for the fully armed configuration of the aircraft. 27 V DC electric power is supplied from a 1,5 kW generator and a storage battery. De-fogging and de-icing of the windshield is done by blowing of hot air and by fuel injection.

Operation

The aircraft is specially designed for low-altitude missions against day and night visible ground targets in a broad area. It is readily available to be loaded with weapons and supplied through a flexible system of auxiliary airfields that require no special preparations, especially in mountainous regions. It can take-off from short unprepared runways, even ones covered in deep snow when fitted with skis. It is also called a "Partisan aircraft".

The Kraguj P-2 is intended for close ground force support, and can be used for training of pilots in visual day/night flights, aiming, missile firing and bombing of ground targets.

Armament

Permanent armament comprises two wing-mounted 7.7 mm Colt Browning Mk-II machine guns with 650 rounds each and a collimator sight in the cockpit. For combat missions there is a capacity for an external load of bombs and two 57 mm and two 128 mm (HVAR-5) air-to-ground rocket launchers. Adapters on the underwing pylons can be used to switch the armament configuration from free-fall bombs to multi-tube launchers with twelve 57 mm air-to-ground rockets. Cluster or cargo bombs, or 128 mm air-to-ground rockets can be fitted.
 

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Arjen

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Colonel KP Rice (USMC, retired) was involved in the development of the OV-10 Bronco, he has his own website and posted some of his experiences concerning that development.
http://www.volanteaircraft.com/ov-10.htm
To cover the low end, WWII performance, I asked for a plane that could dive bomb like a Stuka or an SBD, maneuver like an SNJ/AT-6, and was as fast and strong as a Corsair. To be able to operate with supported troops, I asked for a small, easily supported and relatively inexpensive airplane, able to land and take off near a typical Battalion CP. For this requirement we came up with a wingspan limited to 20ft and a landing gear tread of 6.5ft for operating from roads, short take off and landing for small fields, and a backup seaplane capability. We aimed at the use of ground ordnance and communications to save weight, size and logistics without compromising (and possibly improving) close-in effectiveness. I also asked for ordnance near the centerline for accuracy, the best possible visibility, a seat for an observer and a small bomb bay for tactical flexibility.

I got these requirements from various sources. The dive bombing was based on my experience with the utility of this tactic and the notable results that had been achieved by aircraft like the Stuka and SBD. The AT-6 maneuverability was based on observation of Air Force airborne forward controllers (FACs) flying this type in Korea. My experience with the Corsair had impressed me with the value of its speed and strength for survivability against ground fire, and its ability to go fast or slow as the situation required, had been very effective. The P-38 had demonstrated the advantage of centerline guns for accuracy. Visibility and a back seat were needed for target acquisition and situational awareness. The bomb bay derived from the experiences of a Marine TBF torpedo bomber squadron during the Okinawa campaign (they flew almost three times as much as the fighter-bombers because their bomb-bays were in demand for so many "special" missions). The use of ground type ordnance was based on the fact that these weapons were tailored to their targets and should provide the maximum effect for their weight and logistic cost.

This was asking for a lot and, as experience ultimately showed, was essentially impossible in a normal "system" airplane. We were not designing a normal system airplane, however, and as we made our trade-offs we gave up a lot of what was standard because it wasn't absolutely required for the mission. This included things like ejection seats; aviation type navigation and communication equipment; and especially the single engine performance, fuel and equipment requirements associated with airways instrument flight.

The design we came up with was definitely not "normal," but it could hopefully do tactically useful jobs that nothing else could do. To be able to operate near the supported troops it was small, with a wingspan of only 20ft and a tread of 6.5ft. to allow operations from dirt roads where even helicopters were restricted. It could take off and land over a 50ft. obstacle in only 500ft. and was to use ground ordnance and communications. The additional flexibility of water-based operations with retractable floats was also considered feasible. It had two turbo-prop engines in a twin boom configuration which allowed both internal and external ordnance carriage near the centerline. Weight empty was 330lbs; for STOL operations the weight was 5800lbs. and for runway operations the weight went up to 6600lbs. For "low end" performance top speed at sea level was between 265kts and 285kts depending on the load, and the stall speed was around 40kts. It had two seats, good air-to-air and air-to-ground visibility and a canopy that could be opened in flight for better visibility at night. It also featured 400lbs of armor and could pull up to 10 "G." It had taken a long six months, but we thought that the design was feasible, and that if built, could support revolutionary advances in CAS.
http://www.volanteaircraft.com/l2vma.htm The colonel's views on the what and why of CAS-aircraft.
The OV-10 is a trifle big to be mentioned in this topic, but the colonel's experiences fit right in. He has some insights to offer on CAS.

The second picture is a size comparison of the initial design with an A-1 Skyraider. It is quite small, although it would probably have been considerably more powerful than mole's 500hp limit.

<edit January 26, 2011> I changed the picture titles, because the original titles suggested the pictures represented preliminary NAA OV-10 designs.</edit>
 

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Stargazer2006

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I think you are mistaking the OV-10 and the L2 VMA (Light Light Support Aircraft) which are two different designs. The OV-10 is exposed here for comparison with the much lighter Volante L2 VMA, which is the design you posted.
 

Arjen

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The picturenames are ov-10-something, I did not mean to suggest they represent any North American design. Colonel Rice included the pictures with his CAS/LL2 article, perhaps I should have stated that I take these pictures to represent his own design.

<edit January 26, 2011>I changed the picture titles. Stéphane, my apologies.</edit>
 

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There was a prototype of the Beech Bonanza with a couple of racks under its wings. I also think I've heard of Piper doing something similar with their Cherokee Six. Could the Cessna O-1 & O-2 carry anything besides smoke rockets? Some T-34s were equipped with underwing racks. How about the Fairchild / Pilatus AU-23?
 

Stargazer2006

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frank said:
There was a prototype of the Beech Bonanza with a couple of racks under its wings.
Yeah. That was the Beechcraft YAU-22A (model designation unknown). I'm enclosing three pictures.
 

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Arjen

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Model D33

In 1965, at Eglin AFB, Florida, the US Air Force conducted tests with a Model S35 butterfly-tail Bonanza, (c/n D-7859, registered N5847K) modified as a light ground-attack aircraft. Designated Model D33, the aircraft was fitted with a conventional tail unit and six wing hardpoints, the inboard points stressed for 600lb and the outboard points stressed for 300lb. A variety of ordnance could be carried, such as 7.62mm miniguns, 250lb napalm bombs, and 2.75in FFAR rockets.
From "Beech Aircraft and their predecessors" by Alain J Pelletier, Putnam 1995, p.122.

@Stéphane: thank you for supplying those pictures, they are new to me :)

Differences from the commercial model included the communications installation, which was external, and the provision of four underwing hardpoints, used to carry Minigun or rocket pods, flares, etc.
From the Cessna O-2 section of "United States Military Aircraft since 1909" by Gordon Swanborough & Peter M Bowers, Putnam 1989, p.168. I can't find any written references to armed Cessna O-1's. I have found a picture of what looks like an O-1 with underwing stores here: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=303I guess those are smoke rockets, though.
 

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hesham

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Hi,

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA523208&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf
 

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frank

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The O-1 has the aforementioned smoke rockets.

Arjen said:
Model D33

In 1965, at Eglin AFB, Florida, the US Air Force conducted tests with a Model S35 butterfly-tail Bonanza, (c/n D-7859, registered N5847K) modified as a light ground-attack aircraft. Designated Model D33, the aircraft was fitted with a conventional tail unit and six wing hardpoints, the inboard points stressed for 600lb and the outboard points stressed for 300lb. A variety of ordnance could be carried, such as 7.62mm miniguns, 250lb napalm bombs, and 2.75in FFAR rockets.
From "Beech Aircraft and their predecessors" by Alain J Pelletier, Putnam 1995, p.122.

@Stéphane: thank you for supplying those pictures, they are new to me :)

Differences from the commercial model included the communications installation, which was external, and the provision of four underwing hardpoints, used to carry Minigun or rocket pods, flares, etc.
From the Cessna O-2 section of "United States Military Aircraft since 1909" by Gordon Swanborough & Peter M Bowers, Putnam 1989, p.168. I can't find any written references to armed Cessna O-1's. I have found a picture of what looks like an O-1 with underwing stores here: http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=303I guess those are smoke rockets, though.
 

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I have photos from the 'net of O-1s fitted with two 7- or 19-round 2.75-in rocket pods or with two napalm tanks, though I'm not sure if these were used in action or posed (I've had them for years and am no longer sure of the source). I have see photos of a bungee cord-mounted 7.62-mm M-60 machine gun mounted to fire sideways from a cockpit window that was tried in action, though without official sanction.
 

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Stargazer2006

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Nice pics! But don't forget to mention the source when you take it straight from the web, it can help identify the aircraft better sometimes. I know I didn't keep track of where I got mine from...
 

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Problably you have forgot the first true postwar light attack aircraft, the Fletcher FD-25 Defender. You take a look to this book "Gunships The Story of Spooky, Shadow,Stinger and Spectre" by Wayne Mutza. (I have it) There is a chapter dedicate to the conversion of light aircraft in to attack aircraft/gunship. It describe the Cessna Model 206 Skywagon, Piper Cherokee Six and the less know American Electric Piranha. They were developed under the Project Little Brother by USAF. Another aircraft in this category is the Aermacchi AM-3C Bosbok who served with South African Air Force from the '70 to the recent years.
 

Stargazer2006

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brontolino said:
Problably you have forgot the first true postwar light attack aircraft, the Fletcher FD-25 Defender. You take a look to this book "Gunships The Story of Spooky, Shadow,Stinger and Spectre" by Wayne Mutza. (I have it) There is a chapter dedicate to the conversion of light aircraft in to attack aircraft/gunship. It describe the Cessna Model 206 Skywagon, Piper Cherokee Six and the less know American Electric Piranha. They were developed under the Project Little Brother by USAF. Another aircraft in this category is the Aermacchi AM-3C Bosbok who served with South African Air Force from the '70 to the recent years.
WOW! :eek: Didn't know about this one! Here's a series of three photos I just found on the web:

However, I find it looks more like a racer than a combat aircraft, really...
 

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brontolino

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The aircraft in the 3 photo is the same exanple described in the book, but probably with a different power plant suited for the air races. (There is a photo in the book but I can't scan it). The Piranha can carry seven tube-rocket lauchers on its wing-tip and a 500 pound bomb on a belly centerline station. The sole example build was pulled prematurely from the evaluations by the USAF and was in storage for seven years before was aquired by a private owner and overlauded.

Ciao
 

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SM-92P "Finist" from Russia (more: http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,50.45.html )
and U.S. SA-981 ???
 

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Stargazer2006

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borovik said:
and U.S. SA-981 ???
This looks like a Sadler design, which would account for the "SA-" prefix. Can someone confirm?
 

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The aircraft with the invasion strips that Stargazer found (4 photos above) is a home-built located in the middle of Kansas, USA. I live about 100 miles from the owner. Just may have to go visit.

Ray
 

borovik

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Stargazer2006 said:
borovik said:
and U.S. SA-981 ???
This looks like a Sadler design, which would account for the "SA-" prefix. Can someone confirm?
Another five cents. Sorry, the source is not known. (like Air International)
 

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cluttonfred

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The Schapel design is new to me, the RTAF (Royal Thai Air Force) design is fairly well documented and entered production. At least one survives in the Thai air force museum.
 

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Stargazer2006- However, I find it looks more like a racer than a combat aircraft, really...
You took the words right out of my mouth!!

Regards
Pioneer
 
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