available at a nice discount here), and fell in love with the plane myself. I was also intrigued to find out that the Rainbow actually made at least one airshow appearance, which made it an ideal subject to be featured both in my "Vintage Wings" column in the magazine (it just ran in the November/December issue, on page 6), as well as on this blog. Mike had just the photo, one that hadn't run in the book. The image was taken in October, 1948, at the open house at Wright Field, and shows the second of the two XR-12s that were built. While the first ship was essentially a handling qualities flight test vehicle, the second one had a full interior, including all the reconnaissance cameras and even a darkroom.
This photo, and one from a different angle that was used in the book, are unique. As Mike tells it, "It is very possibly one of the last photos ever taken of the airplane, because one week later it left for operational testing at Eglin AFB, FL, and crashed on only its second test flight there on November 7th." Of the seven-man crew, only five survived the watery crash.