Seiran Engine Surfaces
I was delighted to see the article in your May issue about the Japanese subs that carried Aichi M6A1 Seiran floatplanes (“Japan’s Panama Canal Buster,” by John Geoghegan). A few years ago, my organization contracted for the restoration of a Kawasaki Ki.61 Hien “Tony” fighter. Since the plan was to rebuild it into the world’s only airworthy Tony, we were quite concerned about finding an engine, as the original was completely unusable. When we came across reports of a DB 605 Messerschmitt engine (above), we examined photos of it, but there just seemed to be something strange about it. An anchor had been stamped onto the crankshaft, so we thought it might have come from some German-designed fast attack boat using aviation motors (just as the U.S. installed V-12 Allisons from P-40s and P-39s on PT-boats). But some other markings were not so easy to explain.
Suddenly we realized that what we were looking at was not a German aircraft engine or a Japanese boat motor but an original and rebuildable Japanese license-built aircraft engine designed after the DB 601A. The anchor was there because the V-12 motor had been manufactured for the Aichi Seiran floatplane. We had found a suitable engine to power our Kawasaki fighter.
Our Tony will be flying in a few more years, but in the meantime we are looking for countless small parts such as instruments, wheels, engine accessories, any available blueprints and a Hamilton Standard 3E50 propeller, like from a Douglas DC-2, which was used under license.
Aviation Institute of Maintenance
Virginia Beach, Va.
More on Fettered Eagles
Regarding Walter Boyne’s “Fettered Eagles” article in the May issue, when it comes to the Lockheed AH-56 Cheyenne, he has it mostly right. But Boyne said Lockheed had corrected “some” of the stability problems of the Cheyenne by 1972, and that’s not the whole story. The AH-56 still had controllability problems requiring not one but two supplemental, or “balancing,” rotors: one above the plane of the main rotor, and the second installed beneath the main transmission. There was also a plethora of hydraulic servos and control linkages to keep the Cheyenne upright, which may have hindered its combat survivability.
The Cheyenne’s demise actually came toward the end of 1972 when, bowing to other builders’ protestations, the AH-56 was pitted against Bell’s YAH-63 Kingcobra and Sikorsky’s “original” Blackhawk, the superlative S-67. Came the fly-off. The Army tried it twice, and both times the only flyable helicopter was the S-67—the YAH-63 had suffered a hard landing and was unflyable, and the techs couldn’t get the Cheyenne up, for whatever reasons. The Army, in its infinite wisdom, declared the fly-off null and void, opting to buy the (then) Hughes AH-64 Apache—which none of us senior warrants either wanted or appreciated.
No, I would not have put the Cheyenne in the “Fettered Eagles” category; it was more of a white elephant. Besides, who thought up the idea of a multimillion-dollar Army gunship with only one engine? Even its competitors had two, as does the AH-64.
Chief Warrant Officer James P. Fazelas
U.S. Army (ret.)
I was poring over your latest edition when I got stopped by a reference to the Martin-Baker MB.5 in the “Fettered Eagles” feature. According to your article, the prototype was used for target practice and later burned. My question is: Then what the heck was I looking at during the Reno Air Races in 2003? I know the card under the plane said it was an MB.5. Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the card, but I did photograph the plane (above).
As an aside, I was flying the Douglas RB-26 when it was replaced by the RB-57. The Mar – tin guys were still optimistic about us getting the RB-51, but that went down the tubes. The 57 was sure a fun bird to fly, though.
Several readers wrote us about that plane. It’s a scratch-built replica that utilizes P-51 parts. You can read more about it at this Web site: johnmarlinsmb5replica.mysite.com.
Eagle Squadron Correction
What a lovely surprise to see your March issue featuring “Eagle Squadron Memories,” especially when I saw my dad’s picture. Art Roscoe, my father, passed away almost two years ago.
However, I must point out an error. The article states that “like many other Eagle Squadron members, Roscoe transferred into the USAAF when he was given the opportunity.” That is incorrect. My dad adamantly refused to go into the USAAF and stayed with the RAF until the end of the war. In fact, at one point he gave serious consideration to not returning to the United States at all.
I am very proud of my dad’s career and don’t want to see any incorrect information about him printed.
Valerie J. Cantone
Fair Oaks, Calif.
Author Frank Lorey III sends his apologies and says the mistake must have been the result of a mixup in his notes, as he interviewed Roscoe and Gene Fetrow together.
Originally published in the July 2008 issue of Aviation History. To subscribe, click here.