Outstanding Design

Republic XF-12 / XR-12 „Rainbow“

Built in 1946 as a long-range photo-reconnaissance aircraft, Republic‘s XR-12 was the fastest multi-engined piston-powered airplane ever built, reaching a top speed of 450 mph in level flight. The fuselage contained three separate camera compartments with facilites to process film in flight. Eighteen high-intensity flash bulbs were stowed in a hold in the belly for night photography. The Rainbow had one of the highest power to weight ratios of any multi-reciprocating-engine airplane. Two prototypes of the Rainbow were built. A derivative airliner design, the Republic RC-2, was proposed as a high speed transport. One Rainbow crashed on a flight out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. The other one ended up as a target at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland.

Rainbow, 44-91002 on its first flight on February 4, 1946

A classic design - too late for the war and later defeated by the jets.


Bell XFM-1 / YFM-1 „Airacobra“

The YFM-1 Airacuda was developed as a bomber destroyer aircraft. It was an interesting design in that it had two engines, each with rearward-facing propellers, and forward-facing gunner‘s positions in the front of each of the extended engine nacelles. The 37mm cannon in each of these positions were remotely controlled by an operator seated in the fuselage behind the pilot, though a gunner was stationed behind each gun as a loader and for manual backup. The first prototype XFM-1 flew on September 1, 1937. It was decided to build an experimental series of 13 aircraft, first of which was completed in September 1939. It was a revolutionary design that unfortunately was plagued by mechanical problems and poor performance. As a result the program ended without the Airacuda entering mass production.


Kyushu J7W „Shinden“

The J7W1 was designed as a high speed interceptor fighter with great firepower and high climb rate to intercept the B-29 Superfortresses. First, the canard concept was tested with three MXY6 gliders, then a designing team with captain Masaoki Tsuruno (Imperial Japanese Navy) developed the J7W1. Two prototypes were built, the first had its first flight on august, 3rd 1945. The second was never tested.  It was an all-metal construction with a full retractable landing gear and a six-blade-propeller. Quantity production was undertaken, but no production aircraft had been completed due to end of the war. The J7W2 version was planned to get a 900kp Ne-130 axial turbojet instead of the radial powerplant. Two J71W prototypes were completed in the spring of 1945 at the Zasshonokuma plant of Kyushu Hikoki K.K.

J7W1 rear view with huge six-bladed propeller.

A nearly completed J7W shortly after the occupation.

Front view showing the sleek lines of this radical interceptor design.

The first prototype of the J7W1

Members of the Japanese design team (left) proudly posing together with United States Airforce personnel.


Hughes XF-11

The XF-11 was a reconnaissance-photographic, twin-boom, high wing monoplane manufactured by Hughes Aircraft Company. Because of the atomic bomb, the need was greater than ever to know what other countries were doing. The United States government contracted Howard Hughes to build a high altitude spy plane that could go above radar with a special camera using newly developed fine grain film. The twenty-eight cylinder engines in the XF-11 developed more than enough power to the counter- rotating double propellers designed to create more thrust. Thirty minutes into the flight, the gear boxes made for the counter-rotating propellers failed, leaving Hughes without power and causing an out-of-control crash in Beverly Hills which destroyed two homes. The wreck that he miraculously survived, left him scarred for life. The second prototype was equipped with single-rotating propellers.

Hughes XF-113 3-view drawing by Josef Hueber / Airborne Grafix

The crash site at Beverly Hills.

The 2nd XF-11 without counter-rotating propellers.

The first XF-11 - note counter-rotating props.

Howard Hughes before takeoff.


Bristol Type 167 „Brabazon“

The Bristol Type 167 was a long-range airliner developed in response to a report from the Brabazon Committee of 1942. Named the Brabazon after the committee chairman, Lord Brabzon of Tara, construction of the first prototype began in October 1945. The airliner would be able to carry up to 100 passengers in a luxurious cabin, for 5,500 miles at 330 mph. The design broke new ground in airliner design, not just in its immense size, but in the advanced technology it employed. The aircraft rolled out for engine runs in December 1948. On 4th September, 1949, chief test pilot „Bill“ Pegg took the Brabazon up for her first flight. Most of the work force and thousands of other spectators cheered as the aircraft climbed majestically, flew around, and landed. The aircraft was free of any major problems, especially considering the many ground-breaking technological applications in the design. Everyone who flew in it was impressed by its quietness and smoothness and its spacious interior. Following its first flight, the Brabazon Mark I undertook numerous successful test flights and demonstations. In March 1952 the government anounced that the project would be suspended, and eventually cancelled it in July 1953. The main reason for the cancellation would appear to be the huge costs of the project, a main part of which was the large assembly hall and runway extension at Filton.

3view drawing by Josef Hueber /Airborne Grafix

Brabazon during test flight with Bristol Freighter as chase plane.

Bristol WW1 Fighter demonstrating the huge size of the Brabazon.

The Brabazon was the star of the 1949 Farnborough airshow.

Test run of the starboard engines at the new Filton runway in 1949 prior to the first flight.

The two Brabazons in front of the Filton hangars.