Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Ghost In The Machine

I was watching an episode of Top Gear a few years back (the rightful UK version, not that unspeakably stupid and moronic American travesty. Seriously, why do we feel the need to constantly "Americanize" television shows whose charm lies in their very Britishness? The Office is the only one that's ever come close to pulling it off. Rant off...) when Clarkson and Company asked the question "what's the most beautiful machine ever made by man?" (I'm writing from memory here, so I may be paraphrasing a bit).

The answer was "the Spitfire," and while I think the classic English double, as well as the traditional recurve and longbow, are equally beautiful (if you can classify them as "machines") I am not inclined to disagree with the Top Gear guys' assertion. Many people believe the Supermarine Spitfire was not only the most beautiful airplane of the WWII era, but one of the most beautiful airplanes ever made.

But my personal favorite has always been the Vought F4U Corsair. No, it can't compete with the Spitfire for sheer elegance and beauty, but for a history-obsessed kid growing up in the seventies, hanging on each episode of Baa Baa Black Sheep every week (until it got cancelled, damn it) the Corsair with its menacing midnight blue paint and awesome gullwings was - to use the patois - the shizzle.

This one resides at the Commemorative Air Force museum in Galveston. I took the pic last summer on our Galveston trip. She's a looker, isn't she?


  1. Man how I wanted to grow up and be Pappy Boyington. People fell for those elliptical wings on the Spitfire like some Playboy bunny in a room full of lumberjacks. They're sleek but the rest of the plane isn't all that special.

    I love the look of the Corsair too. It's different without being weird like a P-38. My favorite of the era is a later model P-51 with the bubble canopy. It's angular without being square, rounded off in all the right places, and it just screams power.

    That museum's on my list if I ever get to Galveston.

  2. Love the Corsair... I was always fascinated with a plane that could manage to takeoff and land on an aircraft carrier. And yes, Robert Conrad was a badass. Hell, even his commercials were awesome (as well as the electronics of that era):

  3. To me virtually any piston plane from that era is gorgeous. Mustang, Corsair, FW-190, Hurricane, Macchi Veltro, P-40 Warhawk, Mosquito, Zero....I could go on.

  4. I completely understand. Yet would still go with a bar- in- wood Dickson.

    Or a Morgan.

  5. The Corsair was always my favorite too... although there's something about the unmistakeable roar of a P51 that just sort of rocks. There's one based out of a small airport near my place in the SF Bay Area that flies over from time to time while I'm riding the horse. It's a sound that simply screams MORE POWER!