Some Really Cool Aircraft
on 10/14/2005 (2)
Here are some really cool aircraft that captured our eye and imagination. Enjoy!
Lockheed P-38 Lightning Nicknamed "Der Gabelschwanz Teufel" or "Fork-Tailed Devil" by Luftwaffe fighter pilots in WWII, The Lightning was designed in 1937 as a high-altitude interceptor. Equipped with droppable fuel tanks under its wings, the P-38 was used extensively as a long-range escort fighter and saw action in practically every major combat area of the world. A very versatile aircraft, the Lightning was also used for dive bombing, level bombing, ground strafing and photo reconnaissance missions. An icon of WWII aviation, the P-38 was perhaps one of the most regal birds ever built.
Chance-Vought V-173 'Flying Pancake': Charles H. Zimmerman promoted his “Flying Pancake” design from 1933 to 1937 while working for the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) at Langley Field, Virginia. It was a prototype "proof of concept" aircraft that lacked wings, instead relying on its flat circular body to provide the lifting surface. The arrival of the jet age saw the cancellation of the larger production variation of the the V-173, the XF5U-1, despite the fact that the XF5U-1 was due to take its first test flight later that year. Looking eerily like a UFO, the V-173 just may have fueled 'Flying Saucer' eye witness reports during that turmoiled era.
Curtiss-Wright XP-55 Ascender: A beast of a bird, only 3 prototypes of the rear-engined canard-winged XP-55 were built, the performance of the Ascender was not very impressive and was in fact inferior to that of the more conventional fighters already in service. In addition, by 1944, jet-powered fighter aircraft were clearly the wave of the future. Consequently, no production was undertaken, and further development was abandoned.
Ryan X-13 'Verti-Jet': Initiated in 1954, and the precursor of VTOL, or vertical take off and landing jets such as the Harrier, the X-13 was designed to test the idea of vertical takeoff, transition to horizontal flight, and return to vertical flight, literally hitching onto a 'hook and loop' assembly mounted on a landing tower. No small wonder the Verti-Jet never reached production. Imagine trying to land vertically, looking straight up into the air out of the cockpit, and trying to hook onto the landing tower on the deck of a pitching Battleship in a 20 knot crosswind . No chance, Right Stuf
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