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April 2012

Belgian Mystery Ship -

A Solution Worthy of Hercule Poirot!

 

You may remember last year we received a fascinating e-mail from Jean Dillen in Antwerp, Belgium who discovered this Luton Minor-esque airframe in the early 1970s.

He wrote: "We discovered in an old hangar at Antwerp-Deurne airfield, a never finished homebuilt. Now, after all these years the plane vanished and we got curious on what it might have been. Somehow the rudder has some likeness to the French Pou Du Ciel but fuselage and wing seems to indicate otherwise. The wing shown also seems to be the lower smaller one on a bi-plane. Can it be from a plan dating from the 30s? Do you have any idea what it may have been or can point me to someone who can ?

Amazingly, not only did we get a response, but it came from two aviation enthusiasts just a few kilometres away from Jean Dillen's home!

Thibaut Cammermans and Flying Flea expert Alain Blondiau identified the aircraft as the Avionette Canard André Watteyne AW6B.

You haven’t heard of it? Well neither had I, but it turns out that it was designed during the 1940's by a prominent Belgian architect, to allow owners of part-built Fleas to re-use some of the components to build something completely different, namely a tail-first ‘canard’ design. Interestingly the mainplanes and canard look almost identical to Luton Minor wings and tail, albeit in a different order.

Although some scale models were built, the pictures seem to show the parts of the only full-size example. Watteyne went on to design art-deco churches and lived close to Antwerp’s Deurne airport.

So coincidentally and previously unknown to one another, did the finder of the photographs Jean Dillen and historian Cammermans, who are now meeting up to compare notes. It’s a small world!

Click on the image to enlarge....