Straight & Level 10 December

Last week we reported on Scottish government plans to set up an independent air force if the country votes for independence next year. The latter-day Bravehearts envisage keeping at least 12 of the UK’s Eurofighter Typhoons, along with various other defence assets, the pound and the Queen. However, Bill Dady of Clavework Graphics has gone one or two steps further and imagined a Republic of Scotland air force flying Dassault Mirages. Other what-might-have-been, or what-might-still-be images of fantasty air force types from around the world are available at


Time is right for a Warthog watch
Forget Breitling and other makers of classic aviators’ watches. For the real Total Aviation Person in your life (or, let’s face it, you), here is perhaps the ultimate flying timepiece. The Horological Machine No 4 or HM4 from Swiss watchmaker MB&F, is inspired by the Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt, also known by its less-elegant nickname, the Warthog.
Even MB&F describes the design as “extreme and irrational”, but taste is a subjective thing. There is even a gold and titanium luxury version.

RT photo FRONT

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Rolls reversal?
William Chambers thought our main coverline last week – Reversal of Rolls – meant the UK engine-maker had “invented a new means of thrust reversal by spinning the fan backwards. It does on the ads on,” he says.
We’re not sure. Trent engine fans rotate clockwise and we think that’s what’s happening on Rolls’ interactive ad, although there might be an optical illusion at play.
Judge for yourself by going to and looking at the ad on issue one of our interactive dailies. Or go straight to the ad on
Die Spitfeuer
Fascinating paper on the origins of the Spitfire’s distinctive double-ellipse planform in the Journal of Aeronautical History. The possible German inspiration behind the fighter that won the Battle of Britain is well known.
However, author JAD Ackroyd, formerly of the Victoria University of Manchester, argues that it was not the long-suspected Heinkel 70 but the work of Ludvig Prandtl on finite wing theory that influenced Canadian Beverley Shenstone, a key designer with Supermarine, who had earlier worked for Junkers in Germany.
The saga of how German ingenuity helped design the aircraft that stopped Hitler is too involved to go into here but for those with an interest in wing design and the UK’s most iconic military aircraft, it makes fascinating reading

Owl express
We loved the instant response of Waterstones to its rival Amazon’s revelation that it is working on a mini-UAV able to make customer deliveries within minutes of ordering.
The British bookseller has disclosed that it is training owls to perform much the same task, Harry Potter style – something that sounds scarcely more bonkers than Amazon’s plan.
You can watch the company’s hilarious deadpan video about Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service  (OWLS, geddit?) – where the company’s spokesman admits that putting the service into commercial use “will take a number of years as it takes ages to train owls to do anything and we only just thought of it this morning” – at

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David Nixon recalls a conference on decoy technology being held near his office.
“The signs pointing to ‘Location of Decoy Conference’ were all over the place,” he says. “I searched in vain for a sign that read ‘Location of Actual Conference’.”


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