Sunday, 17 May 2009

Able chap that Thor!

Photo caption “1958 July 10 - 02:30 GMT - Cape Canaveral LC17A. Thor Able 118 Able RTV re-entry vehicle test flight Agency: USAF 6555ATW. Apogee: 1,600 km (900 mi). Mouse 'Mia II' reached 1600 km altitude, flew 9600 km range, but re-entry vehicle not recovered.” Unknown source

Another blast of picture this time of the adapted ballistic missile Thor-able the unsung hero of the US space programme responsible for 10’s of launches for almost 20 years. This one had little Mouseanaut “Mia-II” on board who sadly was recovered when the missile re-entered. More Info here

Saturday, 14 March 2009

No need to Hunt the "Snark" it's there at the back!

Photo information:USAF Graduation Ceremony circa 1960 Hawthrone (?) Airforce base. Back drop of SM-62 "Snark" Intercontinental Missile. unknown source.

I haven’t posted much for a while and released I had several vintage press shots to share. Here’s nice one of a passing out ceremony. The military do enjoy a bit of sort of a macho "camp "don’t they? Isn’t having a huge guided missile as set dressing for ceremony ever so slightly over the top and a bit dramatic. You can forget “la cage au foile” the lads with the gold braid and sharp creases love a statement.

A bit of reading shows the Northrop SM-62 “Snark” was a bit of pig and didn’t last long in service, although in this film of launch it doesn’t look too bad. Not sure I’d been keen on living near an airfield that regularly had un-launched nuclear warheads returning home and skidding along the tarmac!

Saturday, 29 November 2008

School boy daydreams

Photo info: AQM-60 Kingfisher anti-missile system test missile circa 1958 no photo credit visible

Another scan from the archive, a fairly standard press shot a little short on background info. The main attraction of this photo is that the Kingfisher Missile seems to have been designed on the back of schoolboy's maths book being almost comically rocket shape. After sports cars, fighter jets and tanks rockets must one of the most doodled machines making a change from rock band logos, optimistic scribbles of buxom maidens, sharks fins and sadly swastikas on the blank canvas of the exercise book.

The AQM-60 Kingfisher it seems was developed as test missile to test the newly developed 1950's anti-missile weapons system sadly it proved too efficient and not many of systems were able to destroy it as it sped at mach 3 across the Arizona skies. This is all obviously proves that next time the Us military need a problem solving they just need to contact the best research lab in the world i.e. any year 8 double maths lesson on wet Wednesday afternoon.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The Wild Rover

Pic Info: Lunar Rover Vehicle circa 1969 being tested prior to Apollo 15. Postcard posted from Kennedy Space centre Aug 1975

It could be a weak joke along the lines of Americans are so lazy they even took a car to moon, can't they walk anywhere. The justification for the lunar rover or as it was called all through my youth the "moon buggy" was to carry rock samples and to allow much longer journeys as walking in bulky space suits was extremely difficult. This picture shows the first crew to use the LRV on Apollo 15, on this mission the LRV went about 3 .5 miles and back from the Luna lander.

It's rather amusingly an early example of electric vehicle although one with un-rechargeable batteries and that only ever drove eight miles! One curious thing about the LRV is that it's tires are made of woven wire not rubber.
I always thought even though it's basically a go art that the lunar rover was kind of cool looking with reflective gold covered camera etc and chunky "land rover" wheels. Lastly I have suspicion that one of the reasons they were built is that it must have been a good laugh driving around on the moon's brittle sandy surface even at less than 10 miles a hour!

Like it always says in the car ads one careful owner and to prove it here's the hand book
For more details as always go to wiki

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Eagle eyed drawings

Pic info: Centre fold cutaway Eagle comic circa 1966. Artist Roy Cross.
Taken from Eagle Annual Of cutaways Orion Press.

It goes like this one of our family stories was that my Dad use to read Eagle in 50’s and had collected a number of these centre page cutaway pictures. A rare splash of colour in the black and white world of rationing Britain. Sadly as parents do his mum chucked them out which is slightly ironic as my Nan's house was full of dusty useless old tut in later years.

Anyway I found this reprint book (the Eagle Annual of Cutaways)in a comic shop a while ago and bought it for my Dad’s Birthday. It full of the most wonderful drawings.

I know most of the world isn’t turned on by cutaway diagrams of 1950’s cargo planes etc but I would heartily recommend you at least open the book in Foyle’s as its a marvel for anyone interested in drawing, design, history, culture, graphics etc.
It's a 100 pages of incredibly detailed technical drawing mostly in colour. It’s dripping with the sensibility of 1950-60’s Britain and even though everywhere is smoky chimneys and meat and 2 veg there’s refreshing optimism of the choice subject.

The enthusiasm for science and for a better world is pleasing. It’s also refreshingly un-patronising towards children as the artists assumed that they’ll be interested in more things than football and trainers. They perhaps naively assume that not only racing cars and jet fighters might spark interest but also dustbin Lorries and spectacularly oddly a potato harvester might pique some interest in young minds.

Jonathon Glancey writes an entertaining introduction revelling in a world were we still made stuff and even where even the most glamorous of motor boat is piloted by men in car coats and trilbies. So have a look you never know what you’ll learn.

This picture if the X- 15 is one of a number of space themes spreads including Telstar and Mercury capsules. The X-15 is a what might have been on space craft after a number of successful years of record breaking experimental flights it's funding dwindled to pay for the moon flights the contention of X-15 supporters is that it had been developed further we would now be flying into space much like Dan Dare in sleek rocket planes.

This striking drawing is by Roy Cross who some of you may know was the genius behind the classic box art from those other essentials for any 1960's childhood Airfix kits!
Roy's work is always full of excitement and action even if now the PC police have removed the bullets and bombs from modern boxes in case presumably any kids decide to restage the strafing of a German U boat.

Ps. there's a GPO tower cutaway on my other site as a Brucie bonus
here for the more details of Eagles Cutaway

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Another Stellar first!

Picture Info. Lt. Colonel Guion Bluford May 1982 B/W Postcard

Here’s a nice postcard of America’s first black astronaut who goes by the marvellous name of Guion "Guy" Bluford (and being American) Junior. I won’t rehash the details he suffice to say he’s made 4 shuttle flights and spent a wapping 668 hours in space. The Guion's full story is here.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

A bigger splash!

Picture Info:
Postcard Caption "Recovery of Lieutenant Commander Shepard, the first U.S man in space, after his 302 mile ride down the atlantic Missile range". Plastichrome Postcard circa 1960 (?)

Here’s a dramatic shot of Alan Shepard being pulled from the drink after his first sub-orbital trip. Looking at this 40 plus year card a handful of things struck me firstly I don’t know what formal process developed the design, colour scheme and typography of the American military planes etc but some how their planes always look great.
The stars and typeface are simple and clear, I always like the little labels on the side of places for ducts and vents and escape hatches. There is something about this era’s craft that’s appealing both the chopper and the capsule are close to the planes of ww11 in design. They are lithe and simple none of the chunky excess of the shuttle or modern military choppers they are made up of slim simple forms with ribs and welds visible. They just look cool some how.
Another thing about this shot is that considering this was all happening out at sea and the main goal was to rescue old Alan and his capsule it’s really nice shot taken with some bulky camera by some marine snapper hanging out the door of another chopper, of course decent shots where very important to the US’s space mission as NASA lives and dies by the public support and this support needs to be fed with exciting pictures like this one.