"Darts & Rapier", "Rapier & Arrow"

"Darts & Rapier" was an attempt at capturing what the ill-fated escort fighter of the B-70 Valkyrie bomber would have looked in flight if the program hadn't been canceled in 1959. I was fortunate to have a rare color picture of the full-scale mock-up in a workshop and used it as a starting point. Because of the picture's highly contrasted colors, I needed to find a photograph of a sky that would not make the aircraft stick out. It had to look natural... To justify the bright lighting on the top part of the Rapier, the sky had to feature contrasts between a bright, sunny area and dark clouds. Once the appropriate background was found, the rest was pretty easy, except maybe for the re-creation of the missing wing...

The next challenge was to find two Convair F-106 Delta Dart fighters whose orientation would be compatible with the montage, not just from the point of view of perspective, but also of lighting. The best pics I could find were of a regular model and a two-seater. And since they were not looking in the same direction, I had to flip one horizontally and redo the markings in the manner of the first aircraft. Then I had to rework the lighting and hues on each of them so that they would fit over this saturated blue background. All in all it was an extremely difficult image to do, but very rewarding in the end. I even created a fake advertisement as if it had been published in a magazine of the period.

After posting the "Darts & Rapier" image in 2009, I got a request for a variant involving the equally ill-fated Canadian Avro CF-105 Arrow with the Rapier. I immediately was thrilled at the thought since I always loved both designs and thought they would really go well together. Besides I had already done a USAF version of the CF-105 designated the YF-109A Arrow, and flying the soon-to-be F-109 alongside the F-108 seemed a reasonably good idea... Thus was created "Rapier & Arrow", which I love even better than the original version because it puts two unfortunate aircraft projects (one cancelled in the early engineering stages, the other after all prototypes were scrapped) in a very real-looking operational context.

Other than the fact that both programs were canceled, both the Rapier and the Arrow were real-life projects that would have been fully operational had politics not decided otherwise. Contrary to the rest of my gallery I did NOT introduce any element of personal creation in the design here. What you see conforms 100% to the original aircraft.

Below right are the four photographs I used to elaborate the two versions (not including the cloudy sky in the background, which truly makes the beauty of the image).

Viewers' comments:
  • I love the Arrow/Rapier combo. (apophenia)
  • Arrow and Rapier are one of my favourite what-if combos. (dy031101)
  • A scene that COULD have existed, had things changed in 1959. (David R. Townend)
  • Oh this is so very awesome!! If only these planes could have done this for real. *Sigh* oh well. This is a beautiful what if image though. Nice work!!! (dinobatfan)
  • The Rapier is just GORGEOUS! (Caravellarella)

My comments:

Sure is, and that has nothing to do with my work this time, it WAS a gorgeous design...