23 February 1951: At Istres, France, Société des Avions Marcel Dassault chief test pilot Konstantin Wladimir (“Kostia”) Rozanoff made the first flight of the Mystère MD.452 prototype, F-WFUU, c/n 01. This was a development of the Dassault Ouragan MD.450 with the wings’ leading edge swept from 14° to 30°. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce Nene turbojet engine. Rozanoff believed, though it was not confirmed, that he had broken the Sound Barrier.
A series of prototypes were built before the fighter bomber was put into production as the Mystère IIC. 171 were built between 1954 and 1957.
The Mystère IIC was a single seat, single engine turbojet-powered fighter bomber produced for the Armée de l’Air. It was 38 feet 6 inches (11.735 meters) long with a wingspan of 42 feet, 9 inches (13.030 meters) and overall height of 14 feet (4.267 meters). The fighter had an empty weight of 11,495 pounds (5,214 kilograms) and maximum takeoff weight of 16,480 pounds (7,475 kilograms). The powerplant was a SNECMA ATAR 101D-1 turbojet which produced 6,610 pounds of thrust (29.403 kilonewtons).
The maximum speed of the Mystère IIC was 660 miles per hour (1,062 kilometers per hour). Its range was 550 miles (885 kilometers) and the service ceiling was 50,000 feet (15,240 meters).
The MD.452 was armed with two Direction des Études et Fabrications d’Armement (DEFA) 30mm revolver cannon with 150 rounds of ammunition per gun, and up to 2,000 pounds (907 kilograms) of bombs.
The prototype Dassault Mystère, F-WFUU, crashed at Istres 3 March 1953 when a wing tip fuel tank broke away and struck the airplane’s tail, killing test pilot Charles Monier.
Kostia Romanoff was killed 3 April 1954 while demonstrating a Mystère IVB.
23 February 1945: Guards Lieutenant Natalya Fedorovna Meklin, a senior pilot with the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment, 325th Night Bomber Aviation Division, 4th Air Army, was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union by decree of the Supreme Soviet of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. This was in acknowledgement of the 840 combat missions that Lieutenant Meklin had flown to date. She was also awarded the Order of Lenin with Gold Star. The medals were presented to her by Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky, 8 March 1945, while she was on duty in Poland. By the end of The Great Patriotic War, she had flown 982 combat sorties.
Natalya Fedorovna Meklin was born 8 September 1922, at Lubny, Poltava, Ukraine. As a teenager, she attended High School No. 79 in Kiev, where she participated in gymnastics and competitive small-bore rifle and pistol shooting. She graduated in 1940.
Following high school, Natalya Fedorovna learned to fly at the Kiev Young Pioneer Palace glider school. In 1941 she went to the Moscow Aviation Institute. During July and August the students were sent to Bryansk to dig tank traps as defense against the Nazi invasion.
Inspired by famed Soviet pilot Marina Mikailovna Raskova, in October 1941 Natalya Fedorovna joined the women’s aviation regiments being formed by Raskova. She was sent to the Engels Military Aviation School, near Saratov, Russia, where she spent seven months in training as a pilot and navigator. Graduating in May 1942, Lieutenant Meklin was assigned to the 588th Night Bomber Aviation Regiment as chief of communications. The unit was then fighting on the southern Caucasian Front.
The women in the night bomber regiments made night attacks behind enemy lines flying the Polikarpov U-2 light bomber. They often approached their target at very low altitude and made gliding attacks. Their effect was to demoralize enemy soldiers and keep them awake. The Germans called them die Nacthexen (the Night Witches).
Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the Order of the Red Star on 19 October 1942. In 1943, she became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Comrade Melkin flew 380 combat sorties as a navigator, and was then assigned as a pilot.
In February 1943, the 588th Aviation Regiment was redesignated the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Unit. On 27 April 1943, Guards Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, Second Class.
The following year, 14 April 1944, Lieutenant Meklin was awarded the first of three Orders of the Red Banner. A second followed on 14 December 1944, and the third, 15 June 1945.
Following The Great Patriotic War, Lieutenant Meklin’s status became that of a reserve officer. For the next two years, she studies at Moscow University, then in 1947, returned to active duty. She rose to the rank of major. She attended the Military Institute of Foreign Languages, graduating in 1953, and served as a translator in the 6th Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, where she was involved in the development of proposals for the production of various types of nuclear weapons, and preparation and coordination of tactical and technical requirements of nuclear weapons.
In January 1956, Major Meklin married Yuri Fedorovich Kravtsov, and she assumed the name Kravtsova.
Major Natalya F. Kravtsova retired from the Air Force in September 1957. She was employed as a supervising editor at the Publishing House of Military Technical Literature in 1960, and then in 1961 as a translator/editor inn the Bureau of Foreign Military Literature.
On 11 March 1985, Natalya Fedorovna was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, First Class.
Comrade Kravtsova was the author of many articles and books, the last being We Were Called Night Witches (published in 2005).
Natalya Fedorovna Kravtsova, Hero of the Soviet Union, died 5 June 2005, in Moscow. Her remains were interred at the Troyekurovskoye Cemetery in Moscow.
The Самолет У-2 (Airplane U-2) was designed by Nikolai Nikolaevich Poliparkov as a basic trainer. It made its first flight 7 January 1928 with test pilot M.M. Gromov. The airplane was produced in two- and three-place variants, some with an enclosed rear cabin. A float plane was also built.
Airplane U-2 was a single-engine, single bay biplane, constructed of a wire-braced wood framework, covered with fabric. There were ailerons on upper and lower wings. It was 8.170 meters (26 feet, 9.7 inches) long, with an upper wing span of 11.400 meters (37 feet, 4.8 inches), and lower span of 10.654 meters (34 feet, 10.9 inches). The wings’ chord was 1.650 meters (5 feet, 5 inches). The vertical gap between wings was 1.777 meters (5 feet, 10 inches), and the lower wing was staggered 0.800 meters (2 feet, 7.5 inches) behind the upper wing. The wings had 2° dihedral, and an angle of incidence of 2° 20′.
The U-2 was powered by a normally-aspirated, air-cooled, 8.590 liter (524.212-cubic-inch-displacement) Shvetsov M-11 five-cylinder radial engine, driving a two-bladed fixed-pitch wooden propeller. The engine produced 90 horsepower at 1,520–1,560 r.p.m.; 100 horsepower from 1,580–1,600 r.p.m.; and a maximum 110 horsepower at 1,650–1,670 r.p.m. The M-11 weighed 165 kilograms (364 pounds).
The U-2 was first armed in 1941. It could carry 350 kilograms (771 pounds) of bombs. A single 7.62×54mmR Shpitalny-Komaritskie (ShKAS) revolver machine gun was mounted in the rear cockpit.
The U-2 was redesignated Polikarpov Po-2 following the War. It was in production from 1928 to 1952. Sources vary as to the number built, ranging from 20,000 to 40,000.
23 February 1934: Test pilot Marshall Headle, Chief Pilot in Charge of Flight Operations for Lockheed Aircraft Company, took the prototype Lockheed Model 10 Electra, serial number 1001, registered NX233Y, for its first flight at United Airport, Burbank, California (which soon became United Air Terminal, then Lockheed Air Terminal and is now the Hollywood-Burbank Airport, BUR).
The Lockheed Model 10 Electra was designed as a 10-passenger commercial transport and was a contemporary of the Boeing Model 247. This was Lockheed’s first all-metal airplane. The Electra had two engines, a low wing and retractable landing gear. An engineering team led by Hall L. Hibbard worked on the airplane.
A young engineer, Clarence L. (“Kelly”) Johnson, an assistant aerodynamicist at the University of Michigan, performed the wind tunnel tests on scale models of the proposed design and recommended changes to the configuration, such as the use of two vertical fins mounted at the outboard ends of the horizontal stabilizer. This became a design feature of Lockheed airplanes into the 1950s and included the Model 14 Super Electra/Hudson, Model 18 Lodestar/PV-1 Ventura, the P-38 Lightning fighter and the L-1649 Starliner, which was produced until 1958. Johnson would become the leader of Lockheed’s legendary “Skunk Works.”
The prototype Electra was was used for certification testing. During a full-load test at Mines Field (now, LAX, Los Angeles International Airport) the Electra’s landing gear malfunctioned. Babe Headle flew the airplane back to Burbank and made a one-wheel landing. The prototype was slightly damaged but quickly repaired.
After testing was competed the prototype Electra was delivered to Northwest Airways, Inc., at St. Paul, Minnesota, 31 December 1934. The experimental registration was changed to a standard registration, NC233Y, and it was assigned the Northwest fleet number 60.
Like the Boeing 247, the Electra was originally produced with a forward-slanting windshield to prevent instrument light reflection during night flights. This resulted in ground lighting reflections, though, and was changed to a standard, rearward slant with the fifth production airplane. NC233Y was modified by Northwestern’s maintenance staff.
Lockheed built 147 Model 10s in various configurations. The first production variant was the Model 10A. It was 38 feet, 7 inches (11.760 meters) long with a wingspan of 55 feet (16.764 meters), and height of 10 feet, 1 inch (3.073 meters). The wings had a total area of 458.3 square feet (42.6square meters). Their angle of incidence was 0°, and there were 5° 34′ dihedral.
The airplane had an empty weight of 5,455 pounds (2,474 kilograms) and a gross weight of 9,000 pounds (4,082 kilograms).
The Model 10A was powered by two air-cooled, supercharged, 986.749-cubic-inch-displacement (16.170 liters) Pratt & Whitney Wasp Jr. SB 9-cylinder radial engines with a compression ratio of 6:1. They were rated at 400 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters), and 450 horsepower at 2,300 r.p.m. for takeoff, using 87-octane gasoline. The SB engines were direct-drive and turned two-bladed Smith variable-pitch propellers. The Wasp Jr. SB was 3 feet, 6.59 inches (1.056 meters) long, 3 feet, 11.75 inches (1.162 meters) in diameter, and weighed 645 pounds (293 kilograms). The engines were covered by NACA cowlings.
The airplane had a cruise speed of 190 miles per hour (306 kilometers per hour) at 5,000 feet (1,524 meters) and maximum speed of 215 miles per hour (346 kilometers per hour) at 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). The service ceiling was 20,000 feet ( meters) and the range at cruise speed was 750 miles (1,207 kilometers).
Newsreel footage of the Lockheed Model 10 prototype’s first flight, by cinematographer Alfred Dillimtash Black for Fox Movietone News, is in the collection of the Moving Image Research Collections, University of South Carolina, University Libraries, and can be viewed at:
The Electra was “the Lisbon plane” in the classic 1942 motion picture, “Casablanca,” which starred Humphrey Bogart, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid and Claude Rains.
Probably the best-known Lockheed Electra is the Model 10E Special, NR16020, which was built for Amelia Earhart for her around-the-world flight attempt in 1937. She took delivery of the airplane on her 39th birthday, 24 July 1936.
The prototype Lockheed Model 10 later carried U.S. registrations NC2332, NC17380, and Canadian registration CF-BRG. It was placed in service with the Royal Canadian Air Force with the serial number 7652. One of 15 Lockheed Electras in RCAF service during World War II, it was destroyed by fire at RCAF Station Mountain View, Prince Edward County, Ontario, Canada, 14 October 1941.
Marshall Headle was born 21 March 1893 at Winthrop, Massachussetts, United States of America, He was the third child of Edwin Charles Headle, a clergyman, and Clarendo Yeomans Headle. He attended Winthrop High School before going on to the Massachussetts Agricultural College at Bolton. He graduated in 1912 with a Bachelor of Science degree (B.Sc.) in Floriculture.
Headle enlisted in the United States Army in 1917, and attended aviation ground school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.). His flight training took place at Tours, France. He held the rank of First Lieutenant, Air Service of the American Expeditionary Force, United States Army. Lieutenant Headle served as a flight instructor at Tours and at the 2nd Aviation Instruction Center.
From 1919 to 1922, Headle was attached to the United States Embassy in Paris, France. He then returned to the United States.
Marshall Headle enlisted as a private in the United States Marine Corps, 25 October 1924. He served with the Marines in China as an airplane crew chief and aviator. He was promoted to gunnery sergeant (Gy.Sgt.). He returned to the United States in 1928, and resigned from the Marine Corps to become a civilian pilot.
In 1929, Headle married Dorothea Evelyn Breeder. They had two children, Marshall Ronald Headle, born in 1932, and Michele Ann Headle. (Mrs. Headle died in Honolulu, Hawaii, 25 May 2010, at the age of 99 years.)
Headle joined Lockheed in 1929, as chief pilot, flight operations. On 30 October 1929, Headle made the first flight of the all-metal Detroit-Lockheed DL-2 Sirius.
In 1930, Headle attempted to set a world altitude record with a 500 kilogram (1,102 pounds) payload, flying a Lockheed Vega. He used a pressurized tank of oxygen with a flexible tube.
In 1931, he took the Model 9 Orion, NX960Y, on its first flight.
In 1933, became the company’s chief test pilot, succeeding Wiley Post. He also traveled world-wide demonstrating Lockheed’s airplanes.
Headle also made the first flight of Gerard Vultee’s Vultee V-1A single-engine airliner, 19 February 1933.
On 29 July 1937, he made the first flight of the Lockheed Model 14 Super Electra. The Model 14 fuselage was stretched, resulting in the Model 18 Lodestar. Headle, with Louis Upshaw, took the prototype, NX17385, for its first flight, 21 September 1939. The Lodestar would be developed into the Lockheed Ventura bomber.
On 16 September 1940, Headle made the first flight of the Lockheed YP-38 service test prototype. Headle was featured in magazine and billboard advertisements for Camel cigarettes in 1941.
In 1941, he was injured in an altitude chamber accident and was no longer able to fly.
Marshall Headle died 14 May 1945 at the age of 52 years. He was buried at the Valhalla Memorial Cemetery, Burbank, California.