TOP 10 most unique aircraft that flew.
The current generation of aircraft is the result of decades of development and optimization. They combine speed, transport capacity, fuel economy optimization and safety in a perfectly profitable package. However, aren't they a little too similar, predictable and… boring?
After I presented you the top passenger aircraft that have never flown, let's enter the world of experiments and tell you about the craziest planes that ever existed!
The craziest planes that ever existed.
Of course, the definition of an aircraft is a bit vague, so we will have to define what characteristics an aircraft must have in order to be considered a commercial aircraft.
The first feature is the ability to carry at least 10 passengers. In order for an airline to be able to use the aircraft, it is necessary to have a minimum of 10 seats. Commercial aircraft, commercial aircraft and others are considered if they have sufficient capacity and can provide a level of comfort worthy of an airline.
Only aircraft with operational prototypes were accepted, regardless of whether these prototypes ever carried passengers or not. The criteria for classifying airplanes are simple: the more unconventional, unusual and crazy the aircraft, the higher it is.
Airplanes that have almost been built:
- Dornier do-231, the civilian version of the German military transporter VTOL Do-23, which almost went into production.
- Boeing 767-611, an almost sonic and unusual variant of an ordinary 767.
- FMA IA 36 Condor, an Argentine airliner with five engines placed in a circle around the fuselage.
- Business jet Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-25: yes, there were plans to turn the world's fastest fighter jet into a passenger plane.
Saunders-Roe SR.45 Princess
Imagine a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser, but in the form of a flying boat. The "princess" was the largest "flying boat" built of metal and intended to operate at sea.
The age of the jet was right "around the corner" and the work never passed the prototype stage, because land planes were much more convenient. Two even larger variants - P.131 Duchess and P.192 Queen - were planned to be developed.
Dassault Falcon 20 with afterburner
Business jets are fast, but one of them was the fastest. In the late 80s, experiments were conducted with the ITEC TFE1042 fighter engine on one of the Dassault aircraft.
In aviation, afterburning (PC), or forcing is a system that allows to increase the traction generated by a turbojet engine by injecting fuel after the gas turbine of the turbojet. They are usually used by fighter jets and it is doubtful that ordinary aircraft would ever go into production with such an engine.
Yakovlev Yak-40 M-602
This aircraft gets the position in this top due to its appearance. It is an ordinary Soviet Yak-40 trijet, with an M-602 turboprop mounted on top.
Why do we need a turboprop?
Another Soviet experiment aimed to test the feasibility of using hovercraft airbags instead of a landing gear. Such a maneuver would allow an aircraft to land in rough terrain, bringing air service to the most remote regions of the Soviet Union.
Several variants were built based on the An-14 commercial aircraft.
Dornier do x
It was a monumental, but ultimately unsuccessful, example of the pre-war flying boat that the Saunders-Roe Princess intended to copy.
The largest aircraft of its time, the Do X was built in Germany in the late 20s and completed several transatlantic flights, however series production plans were never realized due to the Great Depression.
Two even larger planes - the X2 and X3 - were built in Italy and were somewhat more successful.
Wing Ship Technology WSH-500
Strictly speaking, it's not a plane. No boat. It is something intermediate, a ground wing (WIG) vehicle (also known as a screenplane), designed to be almost as fast as an airplane and almost as efficient as a boat.
However, they fly, so WIG vehicles are commonly considered aircraft. There are several variants, but the WSH-500 also has the capacity of an airliner, the appearance being out of a SF movie.
Helicopters, due to their VTOL capability, are excellent for travel, but are slow and terribly inefficient. The autogyro, whose blades attached to the rotor generate lift by operating the autorotation, are much better in this regard.
Therefore, Fairley Aviation's attempt to make an airliner based on this scheme failed, but led to a majestic prototype.
Burnelli's fuselage lifting projects were unsuccessful at the time. The UB-14 was one of several aircraft built using the engineer's vision to use the fuselage as another wing, resulting in a very unusual shape.
One of the prototypes was used by Charles de Gaulle as personal transport, while others became the subject of one of the craziest conspiracy theories in the aviation world.
A lot of experiments were done with a similar prototype at the time, including the almost identical proposal of the Soviet Zlokazov ARK-Z-1 aircraft, but they were considered inferior to the classic aircraft plan.
An entire list could be filled with massive planes that the Soviets built in the 30s. This place could have been taken by Tupolev Ant-20 Maksim Gorky, Tupolev G-1 or the heavy bomber TB-1 transformed into a airliner after the war.
Instead, we have to give credit to the most unique of all: the K-7, with its massive landing gear, the fuselage built into the wing and the wingspan of the Boeing 747. The K-7 was a truly unique aircraft, built to play the role an airliner, a carrier and a heavy bomber.
The passenger version would have had two more engines added to the landing gear capsules, but plans were abandoned after the prototype crashed.
Where to start?
Ca.60 had nine wings, eight engines, a capacity of 100 passengers and performed a test flight before crashing into the lake, disintegrating during this process.
Intended for transatlantic transport, the aircraft was incredibly complex and wonderfully expensive for its time. The only prototype was completed in 1921, as a passionate project by the famous Italian aircraft designer Gianni Caproni, who imagined a future in which huge planes would allow hundreds of people to travel around the globe at high speeds. Crazy idea, isn't it?
Well, the means to achieve such a dream simply did not exist in the early 20s, which led to the craziest airplane of all time.
Aviation is beautiful because it allows us to dream with our eyes open to the sky. Everyone is free to fight for their dream.