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Rotorcraft Little Known Failures Mystery Planes Prior Mysteries

Previous Mystery Planes and their Solutions

Mystery6.jpg (10095 bytes) Mystery Plane #6

Posted on 26 Feb, 1999

Clearly, this is not a production design, but it does have an interesting history. Yes, it does resemble something, doesn't it? That could be a clue. Good luck.

Mystery6a.jpg (25545 bytes) A second view of one of the V-326 planes, clearly showing the 28-cylinder, four-row P&W R-4360 engine and its mounting. The sign in the foreground reads V-326A Airplane, Pratt & Whitney Altitude Test Ship with Wasp Major and Twin Turbos in Process of Modification.

Solution #6 - Vought V-326 series high altitude test planes

Two of these test aircraft were built by Vought for Pratt & Whitney in about 1943 to test the P&W R-4360 Wasp Major engine fitted with turbosuperchargers. Rod Smith was the first to identify it as a Vought-Sikorsky VS-326, which may have been an early designation of the design, while Chris Bolger termed it a Vought V-326, which I think is the more correct answer, as indicated in the sign in the second picture above. Rod, if you have documentation about the Sikorsky involvement, please let me know. To avoid a fight, I'm going to put the Mystery Planes on the back burner for a while and move onto some other type of aviation quiz or trivia shortly. If I run into a good new mystery, however, I'll post it. Thanks to all for visiting and participating. Randy

Mystery5.jpg (14180 bytes) Mystery Plane #5

Posted on 9 Feb, 1999

This one should be quite a bit easier than #4.

Solution #5 - Curtiss Y1A-18, later A-18, Shrike

As listed above, the most correct Army Air Corps designation for the thirteen service evaluation Curtiss Model 76s is Y1A-18, which differed from the XA-14 in having Wright R-1820 engines and three-bladed propellers in place of the XA-14's R-1670 engines and two-bladed props. They did later become known as A-18s (see below). Thus, Rod Smith was the first to say it was an A-18, while Bill Vaugh and then Oleg said it was a YA-18. Chris Bolger's identification was A-14, while Duke Soddy said it was the XA-14. An you thought that Army designations were simple, eh? Thanks again to all who had fun with this mystery plane. The photo was published on page 48 of WWII War Eagles by Jeff Ethell and Warren Bodie and is used here with permission. Here is a bit more info on the design.

In 1930, Curtiss began development of a series of monoplane ground-attack aircraft for the U.S. Army, all of which bore the name Shrike at one time or another. The XA-14 prototype was an all metal twin-engine design, powered by two Wright R-1670 twin-row engines. However, this engine was not a success, and the thirteen Y1A-18s ordered for service testing were powered by 850 hp Wright R-1820-47 single-row engines, driving three-bladed, constant-speed propellers. Top speed was 247 mph. The bomb load was light, being carried in bombays in the wings, each holding only 200 lbs each. In 1940, the Shrikes were redesignated A-18s and used for training only.

Mystery4.jpg (16317 bytes) Mystery Plane #4

Posted on 16 Jan 1999

I am very impressed that Rod Smith correctly identified this only a couple of hours after I posted the image. Let's see if it is easier than I thought or Rod is just really good. Have fun. Randy

Solution #4 - Parnall G.4/31

As I noted, Rod Smith correctly identified this very quickly. Chris Bolger also got it the same day it was posted. Robert Allen's comment after correctly recognizing the plane is interesting: No, this isn't too easy at all; no-one except an enthusiast whose primary interest is Between-the-Wars British aircraft (like me) is likely to get it!

Parnall & Sons Ltd. is not a household name in the U.S - I'm not sure it is even in Great Britain. In 1931, Specification G.4/31 was issued for a torpedo-bomber and coastal reconnaissance aircraft. A number of designs were proposed by various companies, including Parnall. It's design was powered by a 690 hp Pegasus engine, and test flights showed that the design met the requirements of the specifications. However, the project was not continued and was cancelled in favor of the Vickers Wellesley.

For more info, check out Parnall Aircraft since 1914 by Kenneth E. Wixey, originally published by Putnam Aeronautical Books and later by the Naval Institute Press, 1990. Mystery Plane #5 should be a lot easier.

Mystery Plane #3 Mystery Plane #3
is the one on the right.

Posted on 11 Dec 1998

Color even! That might give you a hint were to look.

Solution #3 - Berliner Joyce OJ-2

First correct solution was by Oleg, who also got Mystery Plane #1 first, and the only other correct ID was by Rod Smith. Several folks identified correctly the Curtiss SBC Helldivers on the left of the photo but neglected to note that the mystery plane was the one on the right, or did not realize that there were two different types in the photo. I was first shown this slide by my friend Jeff Ethell, who enjoyed testing others' knowledge of lesser-known aircraft with the photo. The photo is published in WWII Pacific War Eagles by Jeff  and Warren Bodie on page 12 and is used here with permission.

Thirty-nine or so Berliner Joyce OJ-2s were built, entering service with the USN in 1933. Engine was a Pratt & Whitney R-985-A of 400 horsepower. Fitted on floats, they were used as catapult-launched observation planes assigned to cruisers. Later, they served as utility planes and "hacks" at various naval stations.

Berenznyak-Isayev BI-1 Mystery Plane #2
Posted on 10 Dec 1998

Solution #2 - Berenznyak-Isayev (also known as Bolkhovitinov) BI-1

First correct solution by none other than Emmanuel Gustin followed only a few minutes later by Duncan Curtis. The following also correctly identified the BI-1: Ken Duffey, Rod Smith, Vlad Vinogradsky and Bill Bielauskas. Thank you all for participating.

I was afraid this one might not be as hard as it would seem, due to the aircraft's unusual profile and stance. The BI-1 was the first rocket-powered fighter built in the Soviet Union, and possibly the world. Most of its structure was of wood covered with fabric, while the rocket engine was a Dushkin D-1A, which in its later versions provided 1,100 kg of thrust. First powered flights were in early 1943 and later that year a top speed of nearly 560 mph was recorded. On 27 March, 1943, on the seventh flight, the BI-1 crashed, killing noted test pilot G. Ya. Bakhchivandzhi. A replica of the aircraft is on display at the museum in Monino, Russia.

Image Source: Under the Red Star: Luftwaffe Aircraft in the Soviet Airforce by Carl-Fredrik Geust.

Saab T 18B Mystery Plane #1
Posted on 27 Nov 1998

This one may not be as easy as it looks. The answer will be posted in early December.


  1. It is not German but the engines are.
  2. The manufacturer is still in business.


Solution #1 - Saab T 18B

First correct solution, SAAB 18B, by Oleg from Russia - most correct solution, SAAB T 18B, by Lars Larsson from Sweden.

We often forget that many neutral countries were armed for their own defense, and that some even produced their own combat aircraft. This was the case with Sweden during WWII where Saab (originally Svenska Aeroplan Aktiebolaget AB) merged with other aircraft companies in 1939 and was the principle builder of combat aircraft.

The Saab 18 was a medium and attack bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, designed to replace aging Junkers Ju 86s purchased from Germany. The Saab B 18A entered service in 1944 powered by two Wright R-1830 engines. The model 18 had been designed for more powerful Daimler-Benz engines, and the B 18B bomber version was fitted with DB 605 engines. The T 18B model was intended to carry torpedoes but was armed instead with one 57 mm and two 20 mm cannons plus air-to-ground rockets, serving in the ground attack role. The last Saab 18s were not retired from Swedish service until the late 1950s.

Production of Saab 18s totaled 244 aircraft, with about 61 being T 18Bs.

Image Source: Saab Aircraft since 1937 by Hans G. Andersson.

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