What if – Fiat CR.25

Only 10 Fiat CR.25s were ever built. Originally intended as a reconnaissance-bomber, the ten aircraft ended their days shuttling VIPs between Mussolini’s Italy and Nazi Germany.

First flying in 1937, the aircraft was generally well liked by its pilots but this was not enough to encourage further orders. Despite this, the 10 aircraft were built in three distinct variants excluding the two initial prototypes. The CR.25bis was the main variant and was a strategic reconnaissance and long-range escort fighter aircraft. The 10th aircraft was reworked into the first transport aircraft and redesignated CR.25D. It was primarily used as a transport for the Italian air attaché in Berlin. The most promising variant was the CR.25quater, flown in 1940, which was a more heavily armed version with a slight increase in wing area but it failed to attract anymore orders.


Italian Royal Air Force (Regia Aeronautica Italiana)

Fiat CR.25 Italy

Imperial Japanese Air Force

Not as far fetched as you might think. The Japanese actually flew Fiat BR.20 bombers against the Chinese from 1937. Japan was desperately short of modern long range bombers at the time and Mussolini promised to prioritise any Japanese order for bombers even over his own air force. Although phased out of frontline use by Pearl Harbour, the aircraft still received an Allied codename – “Ruth”.

What if profile Fiat CR.25 Japan

Portuguese Air Force

What if profile Fiat CR.25 Portugal air force

Latvian Naval Aviation

Had Latvia acquired the CR.25 toward the end of the 1930s then they would not have lasted long as they would have been captured by the Soviets when they annexed the small Baltic country in 1940. 

what if profile Fiat CR.25 Latvian naval aviation

Soviet Union

A single example captured by the Soviets from Latvia and pressed in to service as an armed transport.

What if profile Fiat CR.25 soviet union air force

“What ifs” Tupolev Tu-85 “Barge”

At the end of the 1940s, Vladimir Dobrynin’s engine design bureau had developed a new air-cooled, twenty-four- cylinder in-line piston engine, the VD-4K, which offered a 4,300hp supercharged power output. Dmitri Markov set about designing a very long-range strategic bomber with these engines. Starting from the Tu-80 he began by designing a high-aspect wing with increased span – now it was 55.94m compared to the 43.83m of the Tu-75 and Tu-80, and wing area was 273.6m2, compared to 162.7m2. Wing aspect ratio was 11.4:1. This allowed the new aircraft to carry some forty-four tonnes of fuel which would give it a range of 12,000km. He streamlined the fuselage, and provided accommodation for a second crew which would be needed with the aircraft’s twenty-six- hour endurance capability. Normal crew was eight so the Tu-85 carried sixteen in a pressurised cabin. The Tu-85 was fitted with large four-blade propellers, and it was armed with five turrets each fitted with a pair of NR-23 cannons which could be remotely controlled by a gunner, who had a screen to show the arc of fire from each position a development of the B-29/Tu-4 system.

The Tu-85 was constructed at factory N 156 in 1949 and 1950. When completed, it was brought to Zhukovski aerodrome, reassembled and readied for flight. On 9 January 1951, Aleksei Pereliot was in command as it took off for the first time. In factory and state tests, it gave excellent results. Although its empty weight was 55.4 tonnes and its normal take-off weight seventy-five tonnes, it could take off at 107 tonnes when necessary, allowing it to carry the enormous fuel load needed to achieve its 12,300km range with a five-tonne payload, or to increase its normal five-tonne bomb load to twenty tonnes. Cruising speed for maximum range was established at 450km/h, but maximum speed was much higher. At low level, it was measured at 563km/h, and at a level of 10,000m it reached 665km/h.

But by now, turbine engines were establishing themselves and offering higher speeds with lower fuel burns. The Tu-85 was the end of the line for Tupolev’s piston-engined, and also for Soviet, aircraft. Although the United States would stay with pistons for another five years, for the Soviet Union, and for Europe, the time had come to move on.

Only one Tu-85, the prototype was built. It was the last large Tupolev aircraft without swept wings.



Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 bomber Soviet Union 2

Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 bomber Soviet Union 1


Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 China 1


Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 bomber North Korea 1


Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 bomber India 1

Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 AWAC AEW India 2Airborne Early Warning (AEW) variant

UK (Just for fun)

Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 AWAC AEW Britain 1

Tupolev Tu-85 Barge Tu-4 Kh-22 missile carrier Britain 1Anti-ship variant with surface search/attack radar in nose and nuclear tipped anti-ship missile carried under the fuselage.

Breguet 1001 Taon “What ifs”

In response to a NATO requirement for a single-seat lightweight strike fighter, Breguet designed a small mid-wing monoplane with swept wings and tail surfaces. Retractable tricycle landing gear was provided, this being designed especially for operation on unprepared strips. The fuselage incorporated some area ruling, accommodated the pilot in an enclosed cockpit well forward, and housed its Bristol Orpheus BOr.3 turbojet. In competition with other proposals, Breguet’s design won an order for three prototypes, the first of these making its maiden flight on 26 July 1957. The second prototype incorporated minor aerodynamic improvements and had a slightly lengthened fuselage.

To enhance high-speed performance, improved area ruling was provided by the introduction of aerodynamic bulges at the wing roots, these serving also to house additional fuel. In this configuration the Br.1001 Taon (gadfly) set an international speed record for a 1000km closed circuit, attaining a speed of 1046.65km/h at 7620m on 25 April 1958. Three months later, on 23 July, the Taon raised this figure again for the same record to 1075km/h. Despite this high-speed performance, development was discontinued, and only the two prototypes were built.



Breguet 1001 Taon

Breguet 1001 Taon France






Breguet 1001 Taon Belgium


Breguet 1001 Taon Israel


Breguet 1001 Taon Germany luftwaffe


Breguet 1001 Taon Pakistan

NASA’s Fiddler

This was just a bit of fun I did a few years ago and I found it in my archive today. I was inspired by the plan for NASA to use Tu-144s for high speed research and thought it would be interesting to put together a NASA-marked Tu-128 “Fiddler”. I chose the trainer model because it is a bit more unique and looks like it would be a test aircraft.

I did not make the diagram but rather I found it on The-Blueprints.com.

Tupolev Tu-128UT Fiddler NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration test aircraft

The Dragon’s Pursuit


The F-16C Fighting Falcon hugged the ground as close as the pilot would dare hoping to confuse the J-20’s radar.

This is another image I have created for a new Facebook page a friend and I have started called Defence of the Subatomic Realm. The name is an amalgamation of both of our own projects; mine being Defence of the Realm and his being The Museum of Subatomic Tourism.

Alternative games for the Casio Loopy

15977532_1169688039811002_6704684481845693763_nThe unfortunately named Casio Loopy was a Japan-only 32-bit home video game console released in 1995. At that time the Mega Drive and SNES were dying out being replaced by the Sega Saturn, Playstation and eventually the Nintendo 64.

Casio (yes, the same people who make calculators and watches) thought that rather than attempt to compete with the big boys they would instead try to corner a niche market that was quietly growing at the time – younger female gamers. In that typically Japanese (and some would say sexist) way the designers produced a console that was the opposite of the harsh, mean-looking Sega consoles of the time and instead produced a light coloured, smooth edged little machine that was considered more feminine.

The Loopy was based around Sega’s vaunted 32X hardware and featured an interesting add-on package called “Magical Shop” that allowed it to link with VCRs and DVD players in order to take screencaps from them! These screencaps could then be edited with text and turned in to stickers via a built-in printer. The Loopy only featured a single controller port (clearly Casio thinks girls don’t like playing games together) and as well as the standard controller it also had a mouse.

Only 11 games were ever released for the console and they came on cartridge even though most companies at the time (with the notable exception of Nintendo) were turning to compact discs. The following are some “What if” box arts I have put together showing how the game library might have looked had it been better supported. Some are games from other systems while others are based on movies/TV shows at the time. I have tried to keep the “girly” feel Casio were going for.

Angels on the Platform

Weeping Angels old photo train platform

I made this pottering around one day. I basically took the picture of the abandoned station and added the two Weeping Angels from Doctor Who in to the foreground. The Angels are actually small figures. Once I matched up their tones as best I could I put it through an old photograph filter to give it that extra sense of mystery.