Men and their flying machines. Giant ones, tiny ones, some with forward-swept wings, all kinds of strange aircraft have been invented. Here are some of the strangest looking ones I have found.
This opposite of beauty flew only once in 1947 and was designed to carry over 700 people. It was actually a wooden heavy transport aircraft designed and built by the Hughes Aircraft company. It was built by the U.S. War Department because of wartime raw material restrictions on the use of aluminum. Its official name is Hughes H-4 Hercules but Spruce Goose somehow stuck. This heavy transport flying boat is the largest flying boat ever built, and has the largest wingspan of any aircraft in history with span exceeding the length of a football field. It is currently housed in Evergreen Aviation Museum in McMinnville, Oregon, USA.
This over-eating plane, officially, the Boeing 747 Large Cargo Freighter, is a wide-body cargo aircraft and the world’s longest cargo loader constructed by drastic modifications to an existing Boeing 747-400. Boeing uses this plane to bring in aircraft parts from suppliers around the world. Only 4 of the type have been built.
As weird as its name, this plane was a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft built in the United States by Aero Spacelines and used for ferrying outsized cargo items, most notably NASA’s components of the Apollo moon program. Infact, the Dreamlifter was inspired from this beauty. Only 1 unit if this aircraft was ever built and it served a good 15 years, starting in 1962.
Northrop Tacit Blue
Before you start laughing, do understand that this aircraft was a pioneer in stealth technology. There was only one produced, by the U.S. Air Force, in 1982, which was meant to demonstrate that a stealth low observable surveillance aircraft with a low probability of intercept radar and other sensors could operate close to the forward line of battle with a high degree of survivability. The pioneer plane is currently housed at the National Museum of the US Air Force.
Horten HO 229
Designed by Horten brothers of Germany this plane was a late-World War II prototypefighter/bomber. Its odd shape can be attributed to the fact that it was designed to be more difficult to detect with radar. Horten Ho 229 never made it to actual war and was only flown as a prototype.
Officially, the Vought V-173 was designed by Charles H. Zimmerman. It was an American experimental test aircraft built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program and without doubt it is one of the most strangest planes ever built.
The Convair XFY Pogo tailsitter was an experiment in vertical takeoff and landing. The Pogo had delta wings and three-bladed contra-rotating propellers powered by a 5,500 hp (4,100 kW) Allison YT40-A-16 turboprop engine. It was intended to be a high-performance fighter aircraft capable of operating from small warships. Landing the XFY-1 was difficult as the pilot had to look over his shoulder while carefully working the throttle to land.
The Grumman X-29 was an experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The aerodynamic instability of this arrangement increased agility but required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, also reducing the weight. Developed by Grumman, the X-29 first flew in 1984 and two X-29s were flight tested over the next decade.
The Russians had their version as they always do.
The Sukhoi Su-47 Berkut (Russian: Су-47 Беркут – Golden Eagle) (NATO reporting name Firkin), also designated S-32 and S-37 (not to be confused with the single-engined delta canard design offered by Sukhoi in the early 1990s under the designation Su-37) during initial development, was an experimental supersonic jet fighter developed by Sukhoi Aviation Corporation. A distinguishing feature of the aircraft was its forward-swept wing, similar to that of the Tsybin’s LL-3., that gave the aircraft excellent agility and maneuverability. While serial production of the type never materialized, the sole aircraft produced served as a technology demonstrator prototype for a number of advanced techhnologies later used in the 4.5 generation fighter SU-35BM and current Indo-Russian 5th generation fighter prototype Sukhoi PAK FA.
The Hawker Siddeley Nimrod was a military aircraft developed and built in the United Kingdom. It is an extensive modification of the de Havilland Comet, the world’s first jet airliner. It was originally designed by de Havilland’s successor, Hawker Siddeley, now part of BAE Systems.
It was designed with an extended nose for radar, a new tail with electronic warfare (ESM) sensors mounted in a bulky fairing, and a MAD (Magnetic anomaly detector) boom. After the first flight in May 1967, the RAF ordered 46 Nimrod MR1s. The first example (XV230) entered service in October 1969. Five squadrons were eventually equipped with the MR1.
Aircraft with huge rotating radar domes.
The Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, aircraft carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft. This twin-turboprop aircraft was designed and developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Grumman Aircraft Company for the United States Navy as a replacement for the earlier E-1 Tracer, which was rapidly becoming obsolete. E-2 performance has been upgraded with the E-2B, and E-2C versions, where most of the changes were made to the radar and radio communications due to advances in electronic integrated circuits and other electronics. The fourth version of the Hawkeye is the E-2D, which first flew in 2007.
XF-107A Experimental Fighter Bomber
The air intake was in the unusual dorsal location as the USAF had required the carriage of an underbelly semi-conformal nuclear weapon. The original chin intake caused a shock wave that interfered in launching this weapon. The implications this had for the survivability of the pilot during ejection were troubling. The intake also severely limited rear visibility. Nonetheless this was not considered terribly important for a tactical fighter-bomber aircraft, and furthermore it was assumed at the time that air combat would be via guided missile exchanges outside visual range.