Take a look at the below list of Top 10 Strange Aircrafts That Actually Existed. When you think of aircraft, most likely you think of jets, helicopters, and maybe UFOs. The history of flight has produced many varied designs because people did not know how to fly and there were numerous ideas on how to make flight work. We are used to seeing jets and helicopters now, but in the beginning, there were a variety of prototypes based on the needs at the time. There has actually been fierce competition during the invention phases of planes.
One thing that you will notice is that the Hughes H4 Hercules, or Spruce Goose, as it was commonly known, is not included here. That is not to say that it was not an amazing aircraft with an interesting history, and its story is actually similar to many described here. However, the ones chosen are very peculiar looking by any standards, while the Spruce Goose was fairly normal looking other than its enormous size.
List of Top 10 Strange Aircrafts That Actually Existed
10. The Lun class Ekranoplan
Called the Caspian Sea Monster, this has been likened to the Spruce Goose because of its massive size. This Russian aircraft, known as the Lun class MD-160 is actually a cross between an airplane and a ship. This craft evolved from the Russian experiments with something known as an ekranoplane, which took advantage of the lift generated by flying very close to the water’s surface and could fly at high speeds. First produced in 1987, it could cruise only 16 feet above the water at speeds greater than 350 miles per hour. This gave it more fuel economy by using ground effect, which is extra lift of large wings when close to the surface. This made it a great interceptor vehicle. It could also sneak through enemy radar and launch a round of missiles. The 550-ton plane was 240 feet long and 60 feet wide with a wing span of 144 feet. That is longer than the Spruce Goose and larger than many commercial planes. It is powered by eight turbojet engines. The ground effect did not happen until it was out of the water so it had to take off into the wind. It did not handle well. So even though there was no worry about torpedos and mines just below the water, it was actually a sitting duck for Western air forces, earning the NATO designation of “Duck”. It carried anti-ship P-270 Moskit guided missiles on the fuselage and a pair of cannons in the tail turret as well as a pair under the missile tubes. Since it did not have landing gear there was a floating dry dock designed for it. A second ekranoplane was being constructed for a quick response field hospital when the fall of the Soviet Union ended that. The MD-160 was taken out of service in 1997 and now resides inactive at a naval station in Kaspiyisk.
9. The Avro VZ9 Avrocar
This aircraft was a collaboration between Canada and the United States. It looked like the flying saucers seen in movies. It was intended to have stealth characteristics, fly at a height exceeding 100,000 feet, and reach Mach 1 speeds. The USAAF wanted a parasitic fighter that could be carried by the B-29. McDonnell was the only company to submit a design. Testing continued for 12 months. While it was reportedly easy to fly, there proved to be insurmountable problems. The centralized rotor would lift all the water from puddles and blow it right into the pilot’s face, so it had to have a protective shield. It could only get two to three feet above ground before losing control, and maximum speed proved to be just 35 miles per hour. It was also impossible to re-dock with the carrying craft, resulting in several collisions. Numerous tests in air tunnels proved that the design was basically flawed, so after building two prototypes and wasting more than $19 million, the project was abandoned.
8. Rolls-Royce Thrust Measuring Rig
This aircraft was the first British VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft. Studies of VTOL aircraft began in World War II. Nicknamed the “Thrust Measuring Rig” or “Flying Bedstead” it was a very strange looking craft indeed. There were two of these made, the first in 1953. It looked nothing like an aircraft. It was just a frame with four legs, with twin Rolls-Royce turbojets. There were two reaction jets on arms out to each side, and the pilot perched on top. Its combined weight was only about 600 pounds less than the combined thrust of the two engines. Because each control movement caused a reduction in the thrust, requiring a bit more throttle, it could not be controlled at maximum thrust without losing height. This gave a narrow margin for error, and none at all if the engine faltered. It did provide useful data for the Harrier project later. though. The first of the two machines crashed after being moved to the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, killing the pilot. The second crashed within a week of its first flight, again killing its pilot. There is a great picture of this machine at.
7. Nemeth Parasol
The original Nemuth Parasol prototype was developed by Steven P. Nemeth, a former flight instructor, in the 1930s. A newspaper in 1934 touted it as almost fool proof and able to land on any field. students at Miami University built a prototype of Nemuth’s aircraft and tested it in 1934. Observers called it the “Flying Umbrella”, referring to the saucer-like wings that had a 15-foot span. Nemuth proclaimed that someone with no experience could learn to fly this machine in 30 minutes. In this test flight, the aircraft attained a speed of 135 miles per hour. During the test flight, the aircraft was intentionally stalled in the air to show that the “parasol” could act as a parachute and it came down almost vertically to a soft landing at 25 miles per hour.It became the first round wing design to maintain consistent flight. It was stable and the pilot could maintain complete control at low speeds. In the test flight, the plane had a smooth takeoff and landing. Only one prototype was ever made and strangely, there is no information available on why there was no further testing or what happened to the plane.
6. The Blohm & Voss BV 141
The Blohm & Voss firm was well known for their successful floatplanes and flying boats used in World War II, the BV 141 was its most unique design. This was a German reconnaissance aircraft. It performed well but was never put into full-scale production mainly because of the lack of availability of the engine that the firm wanted to use in it. It used an asymmetric design with a crew gondola on one side for the pilot, observer, and rear gunner, and the fuselage was on the other side, or actually midline of the plane. Three prototypes and a batch of the planes for evaluation were made but in 1940 it was decided that they were underpowered even though they had otherwise exceeded requirements. Several wreckedBV 141s were found by the advancing allies but no examples survived to date.
5. The Stipa
Luigi Stipa, an Italian aviator, came up with this design and it was a quite unusual site. Dubbed the “Flying Barrel” because it really did look like a barrel with propellers, it used a 120-horse power De-Havilland gipsy engine with a twin blade wooden propeller. Even though the plane had a weak engine and short wingspan, it demonstrated good stability, but it never showed the ability to obtain high speeds because of the drag of the fuselage. Luigi asked the Italian government for funding, but they were more interested in speed and declined, so the Stipa Caproni project was scrapped.
4. Vought V-173/XF5U-1 “Flying Pancake”
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Navy wanted an aircraft that could take off and land in small areas Vought was famous for its great aircraft and in 1942 they started working on the design for the flying pancake. It had no discrete nose, tail, or wing section. It had a body that looked like a pancake with two propellers sticking out at the tip of each side. The whole body generated lift so it could take off and land at low speeds. It was perfect for landing on a carrier. It had a top speed of 425 miles per hour but could land at just 20 miles per hour. It did have excessive vibration in the engine bays and by the time that this was rectified, the war had ended and engineers were looking more toward jet engines.
3. The Bartini Beriev VVA 14
This was an experimental prototype seaplane invented by Italian aviation engineer and developed in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Soviet Union feared a US submarine attack so they contacted the Beriev aircraft company, a well-known maker of seaplanes, to come up with an amphibious craft that could hunt for submarines. They wanted it to be able to take off from land or water, glide over the ocean at high speeds, and be able to take off vertically. The result was a central hull much like bomber planes, with arms out to each side to hold pontoons. There was one straight wing to provide lift and two turbofan engines for propulsion for flight. It was originally supposed to have inflatable pontoons but changed over to metal ones that could glide across the water without damage. The final design was not finished, as the company who was to deliver the jet engines did not deliver them on time and then Bertini died. When the craft had issues during test runs, the project was abandoned. The only remaining VVA 14 is in an air force museum in Moscow.
2. Lockheed Martin P-791
This strange looking aircraft was an experimental airship developed by Lockheed Martin Its first flight was in early 2006 at the company’s testing facility. It resembled a blimp to some degree. The tri-hulled shape had disc cushions beneath it for landing. These discs can grip the water or the land. It was designed to carry large cargo loads and personnel to remote areas including areas of sand, snow, and water, without significant fuel reduction. The hull is 21 feet tall and filled with helium, producing about 89 percent of the lift.
1. The Caproni Ca 60
This was indeed an odd looking aircraft. It was created when flying was new and is based on the concept that the more wings, the better. Only one of these was built. It had four engines and three sets of triple wings and could carry 100 passengers. It was tested in 1921 and reached a height of 18 meters, or under 20 yards. On its second flight, it crashed into the water shortly after takeoff and broke on impact. the designer intended to rebuild it but it was cost prohibitive and impractical.