Straight & Level 7 January

Cracking the kamikaze code
Can you decipher kamikaze? The Fleet Air Arm Museum is trying to find the meaning of insignia on a rare Japanese Second World War Ohka 2 – which has been hanging from its rafters for over 30 years.
The aircraft was designed to be released on steep dive suicide missions from the underside of Mitsubishi G4M bombers at 12,000ft (3,700m) and there are 12 examples still in existence.
This model is to feature in a new display to commemorate the war in the Pacific.
The markings are on the left hand side of the aircraft and the hatch cover; there is also a cherry blossom, from which the Ohka takes its name, a Japanese symbol of flowering and rebirth.
During their dive, three solid fuel rockets would be ignited, allowing the aircraft to reach speeds of 410kt (760km/h) before they reached their targets.
Museum spokesperson Jon Jefferies says: “It is chilling to look through the cockpit window of this piloted rocket and through the ringed sight.”
If you think you might be able to help in the translation of the Japanese insignia on the Ohka, please contact the museum’s curator of aircraft, Dave Morris, at:

Flight suits
Does anyone still get dressed to fly? EasyJet boss Carolyn McCall recently remarked on the fact that her father dons a suit to get on a plane, to demonstrate the democratisation of air travel that has happened since the dawn of low-cost airlines. This generational change has transformed leisure flying from a rare treat to “something that you just do”, and this has been reflected in sartorial etiquette, she said.
Is it a good thing or bad thing that Sunday best, or at least workday smart, has been replaced at 30,000ft by hoodies, baseball caps, trainers and yesterday’s T-shirt? We suppose it’s progress… at least until someone brings in dress-down Fridays for flightcrew.

Going for a spin
Bristow Group is looking for Eurocopter EC225 pilots for its African operation.  It says it is seeking “expressions of interest for rotational employment”.

Gripping stuff
Budgie news scribbler and Hawker Siddeley Trident aficionado Max Kingsley-Jones will recount the story of one of the UK’s heroic aviation failures at the Weybridge branch of the Royal Aeronautical Society on 15 January. The talk will examine the evolution of the trijet, affectionately nicknamed the “Gripper” by pilots due to its leisurely take-off performance, and whether short-sighted design decisions led to a huge commercial opportunity being missed.
For more information about the event, which will take place at the Brooklands Museum, email:

Significant point
A (hastily-corrected) Boeing release on 777X windtunnel testing claims a 4.22m-long model is “0.05% scale”, which would make the real aircraft 8km long…

Galactic scale
Can’t afford the $200,000 for a trip to the stars on Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic? The next best thing might be this shrunk-down SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo from model-maker Revell. Available from

04842 product shot


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