Rotten, Black as Muck…….

cd_0007
I recently had a fine wee trip to Durham Cathedral and noticed a couple of rather fetching sculptings. The header here is arguably the work of the Creator upon the created work of His creations.
And talking of creations, after a recent Burns Supper I’ve given myself the task of learning that epic creation of Rabbie’s – Tam o’ Shanter.
So I duly downloaded an online version and printed it out. Just recently however I did the same for my mobile ‘phone via a Kindle connection.
I was a bit surprised to find the word “Lord’s” had been KINDLE’d to “L-d’s” but not as affronted as to find further on that four “offensive” lines of Rab’s had been completely censored by the Kindle’s politically/religiously correct version. These are they…………….
“Three lawyers’ tongues, turned inside oot
Wi’ lies seam’d like a beggar’s clout,
Three priests’ hearts, rotten, black as muck,
Lay stinkin’, vile in every neuk……….”
Now Rabbie’s respect for the clergy is well enough known – as was their respect (!) for him. Lawyers machinations too it seems.
But – how to respect a system of publishing which feels the need to censor those four lines from such an epic – so as not to offend the sensibilities of some over-sensitive, litigious, pressure-group bammers who may be lurking OUT THERE. Pathetic.
cd_0172

Advertisements

Tales of Tailless – Two

Dunne D5

Dunne D5


Is it a Stealth prototype? Not in 1910. It’s the Dunne D5 – the brainchild of Lt. John William Dunne whose first attempts at inherently-stable sweptback flying-wings got off the ground (!) in 1907 at Blair Atholl – and in much secrecy.
After many experiments and a few more Dunnes, officialdom decided the future was in ballooning and airships.
Aye but Oh!

No secrecy involved when this one was in flight though-thanks to the sizeable rammy being created by the Vulcan’s four great Olympus BOI.3s.

Vulcan

Vulcan

What fun we can have in painting! The Vulcan of this era was finished in anti-nuclear-flash white, so I just thought it’d be nice in purple.
But it IS white, no?

Tailless in GAVA

Me163B

Me163B


.
Recently I posted this painting on Facebook and folks were interested in something from Forbes that was not Great War. Well – there are more.
For my second ever submission to the Guild of Aviation Artists’ exhibition there were two aircraft – and not a tail between them.
I just love the paintings of Turner and I’d been at his Water Colours exhibition in Edinburgh. There were a few that he’d painted on blue paper which I thought looked especially attractive. So naturally plagiarism raised its ugly head and this Me 163 is accordingly a watercolour on a blue paper….
Not a GREAT pilots’ aeroplane the 163, as you sat between two fuel tanks of corrosive stuff that exploded when mixed. Or melted skin clean off if that unfortunate skin was exposed to it. Plus, it landed on a big skid with a predictable wallop and if the fuels hadn’t been totally drained in the flight they would just explode. Aye – volunteers line up here………..
The other tailless was the more approachable Westland Pterodactyl IV. No short-range, late-war fighting rocket like the 163, this was the second flying experiment of Westland to the designs of the innovative Mr. Geoffrey Hill. It flew in 1931 and in the age of open-cockpit bi-planes here was a glazed-cabin, swept-back flying wing and the wings SWUNG to more suitable angles of sweep for the speed involved. A really amazing machine.

Pterodactyl IV

Pterodactyl IV


The Pterodactyl was my first and only Acrylic painting in an attempt to branch out from watercolours. Acrylic! Bah! Not for me. Far too quick-drying. So onto the oils then…
..and perhaps yet more things without tails.

Grafton Corruption

It’s been an on-going regret for years that although I have one, I am just SO useless at playing the saxophone. That does not stop me loving saxes as engineering pieces as well as listening to little else but sax-featured music on Spotify or even via those ancient-tech Compact Discs.
During World War Two, plastics technologies advanced in leaps and bounds. Aeroplanes, for instance, needed protective covers for installed Radar devices that had to be “transparent” to the waves passing through them and still could stand up to the ever-increasing airspeeds they faced.
Perspex cockpit canopies were growing ever larger as “bubbles” replaced the smaller faired-into-fuselage designs.
At the end of WW2 the techniques for sizeable plastic mouldings were well established but suddenly the military were longer ordering much of anything.
A year after the war saw Hector Sommaruga (honest!) start work on an alto sax that would use the new plastic moulding methods now available.
It hit the streets in 1950 and was called the Grafton after Hector’s studio in Grafton Street – off Tottenham Court Road. The price? 55 Quid! Cheap!
And it looked like this….

Grafton

Grafton

In a world of brass, the cream plastic sax looked pretty neat as well as being half the price of a “real” one.
Charlie Parker played one for a wee while as did Ornette Coleman.
But the keys didn’t feel like sax keys should and the springs were crap and the bodies would just break or things would fall off.
Mouldings couldn’t go bigger than the alto body-size either, so a tenor or – perish the thought! – a baritone were right out.
It was also a bastard for repair-men to handle and most just refused after their first attempt.
Thus ended the short life of the Grafton and you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent working example today.
But my pal Willie has the one shown above which he bought for sweeties from a hard-pressed fellow he worked with – who didn’t know the value of his treasure. There are not many left as unscathed as this. The irony is – Willie doesn’t play either!

The Best Museums ever!

..and both visited in the same week. I DO hope 2014 will be as fine as 2013 was
on the esoteric museums front.
Firstly…..

Wainwright D Class

Wainwright D Class

The National Rail Museum at York included the lovely 4-4-0 of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway. A 1901 class “D” by Wainwright. What a fabulous place and still with six A4s on display.
I like 4-4-0s more though.
Then in two days time it was off to Loanhead for a trip round the very private Speedway Museum.

Speedway Museum

Speedway Museum

This was even more amazing than York! Absolutely stunning and only lacking the smell of Castrol “R” and thankfully the reek of fags!
I hope I’ll get back for a further visit this year too, but if not there’s a nice wee railway just twenty miles from here and they have TWO 4-4-0’s in their museum.
Meanwhile, to both my readers – have a great, enjoyable and successful 2014!

A lucky dragon….

The Great War’s German Albatros DV was no great shakes as a successor to that manufacturer’s previous DIII. It was little better and shared its progenitor’s unhappy quality of wing-flutter in a dive – sometimes with disastrous results if the dive was continued. Not a great confidence-inspiring characteristic in a fighter.
This picture is just started but will probably be complete next year!

v Hippel

v Hippel

It shows a lucky man. Hans Joachim von Hippel. He was involved in a combat in February 1918 and during a dive the port lower wing simply failed and decided to land separately about twelve miles away from his home base. This left our Hans in a bit of a pickle. Driving a one and a half-plane and it wasn’t even his – it was the mount of his C/O, a Mr. Flashar. Flashar had had a huge red dragon painted on the fuselage sides, perhaps in the knowledge of the dragon being a symbol of good luck in the Chinese culture? It must have been given a good pat on the back when von Hippel crawled out of the Albatros after nursing it down from 13,000 feet and merely overturning at the end of a respectable landing. But I wonder if Hans still got a boot up the bum for writing-off the C/O’s personal aeroplane?
I’m trying to imagine how crossed-up the control surfaces must have been to get away with this. And that lucky dragon will take a bit of fastidious work too.
So a 2014 completion then? I hope so….

Peter Craven

He’s been here before, but last night I finished the Peter Craven picture. Just a bit more detailed than previously but hopefully in as loose a style as I can manage whilst still being recognisable as the speedy wee giant that he was.
I was at Meadowbank Stadium recently and enquired where I could see the plaque to commemorate Craven. It had been privately funded by enthusiasts and was unveiled by his wife Brenda amongst others. Nobody knew where it had disappeared to and nobody gave a bugger about the significance of it.

Peter Craven

Peter Craven

Meadowbank is “managed” by Edinburgh City Council. The same folks that gave us that internationally acclaimed tram system.
Hang your heads, you collective of useless bastards.

The Fighter that Never Was…..

Penston's Ponderous Protector

Penston’s Ponderous Protector

The BE12. Before the Great War, the Royal Aircraft Factory developed the two-seater BE2, an aeroplane to be deployed by the Army as a aerial reconnaissance machine. As such, the great priority was for it to be stable. With no great need for speed. Unfortunately the rules of warfare in the air changed when the fighter aeroplane appeared with a forward-firing machine gun. And it was a German one. The poor BE2 found itself virtually helpless and a great deal too many men were lost as the production of BE2s continued for far too long after it was found to be sadly lacking in manoeuvrability, speed and practical defence.
One answer by the Factory was to install a more powerful engine, reduce the tail surface area and delete the front seat. Fit a Lewis machine-gun on the top wing or a Vickers on the side of the fuselage. Thus making a “fighter” – they hoped.
Result? The BE12 – still rubbish! So the BE12 became a light bomber or a night-fighter.
The night-fighter above was based at Penston, East Lothian and was a defence against Zeppelins destroying Edinburgh. (That’s the capitol’s Arthur’s Seat in the background.) Zeppelins however, had stopped their visits by the time this defence had been deployed. Damn!

BE 12

BE 12

The Oil at the top was painted a couple of years ago. This is a small Watercolour of the same type of machine, but only finished a couple of days ago.

Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft!

This aeroplane below is one manufactured by Luft Verkehrs Gesellschaft mbH.
Cleverly or thankfully, the makers were known as LVG – and this one is a CIV.
This was actually the first German heavier-than-air machine to drop bombs on London.
In November 1916.
The crew were lucky to get back home over the Channel as it developed engine trouble. No great surprise for them probably as this was one of the few machines to use the Mercedes DIV engine. Mercedes produced some of the best and most reliable six-cylinder aero engines of the Great War, however this was a straight eight and on the limit of reliability due to its mighty crankshaft length and the subsequent stresses on it. Mercedes went back to their sixes after this effort. There was also some doubt about the structural integrity of LVG’s airframe itself. Not TOO confidence inspiring I would think. That’s the huge exhaust-system alongside the crew too. It must have been deafening.

LVG C4

LVG C4


My thanks to John Constable too – whose clouds I shamelessly tried to emulate in this oil.