Things with Wings

Stipa-Caproni tubular fuselage monoplane

This was an experimental aircraft, preceding the Caproni-Campini N.1. It basically was a flying venturi tube with a 120 h.p. de Havilland Gipsy III engine fitted inside it, while the propeller turned in the front edge of the tube. The crew sat in a bulge on top of the fuselage. 1932.

A very rare in-flight photo of the Stipa-Caproni tubular fuselage aircraft.

3/5 Scale flying Replica of the Stipa-Caproni

Anyone heading west out of Toowoomba on the Warrego Highway (120 km west of Brisbane, Australia) can often see interesting aircraft coming and going from Lynette Zuccoli‘s Aerotec hangar as they pass the airport. In October 2001 they would have enjoyed the unique sight of what looked like a ‚beer barrel with wings‘ taxying up and down making an occasional ‚hop‘. There were two short flights witnessed by a group of people and photographed by a professional photographer (Craig Justo). The Aircraft was airborne for approximately 500 meters , height was at top about 5 /6 meters. This was on both flights. Even though it was a very short distance, the pilot, Bryce Wolf was able to report that the aircraft flew in a manner which was very similar to the original test flight report in 1931. Lynette Zuccoli is the owner of this unique replica. Info: 1932 Caproni built an experimental aircraft with a ‚venturi duct fuselage‘ designed by Dott. Ing. Luigi Stipa. The 3/5-scale replica was built by Bruce Wolf for Aerotec Pty. Ltd. and is powered by a 75 h.p. Simmonini Vee Twin engine.

aproni Campini CC2 (N-1)

On 27 August, 1940, the first prototype was tested for 10 minutes over the Taliedo airfield by pilot Mario De Bernardi.On 16 September that same year it was flown for another 5 minutes, thus undergoing the acceptance flight test in order that the secondprototype was upgraded. The latter made its maiden flight on 11 April, 1941. Low-altitude flights were made over Rome.These flights were recognized by the F.A.I. (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale) to be the first ever made by a „jet“. Truth to tell, the plan conceived by the German, Hans von Ohain, and the Heinkel group, whereby the extraordinary He.178 aircraft was flown precisely a year before, on 27th August, 1939, but had been kept secret.

Test run of the injector ring ("afterburner").

Schematic view of the Caproni version of a hybrid „jet“ engine.

This photo shows probably the second prototype in flight.

Front view with the compressor unit (Photo by Phil Callihan).

The CC2 in the Museo Aeronautico (Photo by Phil Callihan).

Convair YB - 60

One of two YB-60‘s built at the Fort Worth Convair plant. One was completed and was flown, the other was never finished and both were scrapped after losing the competition for an all-jet heavy bomber to the B-52. The YB-60 was 72% B-36. The problem of increasing B-36 speed had led Convair engineers to develop a swept-wing configuration in 1950. A wider center chord on the new wing increased the wing area to 5,239 sq. ft. Eight Pratt & Whitney XJ-57-P-3 turbo-jets, 8,700 lb. thrust each, were paired in four pods. Crew requirements were then limited to five men, all in the forward pressurized compartment. A retractable tail wheel was added to balance load changes. In spite of an impressive improvement over the performance of the B-36, the YB-60 was inferior in most respects to the Boeing B-52.

Convair XC - 99  (Consolidated Vultee Model 37)

The XC-99, serial 43-52436, was a double deck transport variant of the B-36. It had a considerably larger fuselage, but was never fitted with jet pods. The wingspan is the same 230 feet (70.10 meters), but the fuselage is 23 feet longer at 185 feet (56.39 meters). 
The payload of the XC-99 was 101,000 pounds (45.81 to) or 400 fully equipped troops. Pan American Airlines ordered fifteen Model 37 twin-deck airliners. They would have provided capacious restrooms and lounges for their transatlantic passengers.

Douglas XB-42

In 1943 the Douglas XB-42 project was designed to create a twin-engined bomber having a maximum speed in excess of 400 mph and capable of carrying a bombload of 2000 pounds to targets within a 2000-mile radius. The XB-42 bomber was unique in that both of its engines were located inside of the fuselage (turning a pair of contra-rotating propellers in the tail). The aircraft had a crew of three, and was armed with a turret contained two .50 caliber machine guns in the trailing edge of each wing. The first prototype flew in May 1944, and proved to have outstanding performance. Its top speed was over 400 mph, which was comparable to the fast British Mosquito, but the XB-42 carried twice the maximum bombload, and was better armed. Development continued until December 1945.

Douglas XB-43

Plans for production version included replacing 2 bug-eye canopies with single canopy (as on second XB-43). XB-43s performed quite well. Second XB-43 delivered to Muroc Lake May 47 and used as engine test bed. One J35 engine replaced with a GE J47 and was kept flying by cannibalizing first XB-43 which was damaged 1 Feb 51. Late 1953, second XB-43 retired. By then, newer jet bombers were on drawing board (including B-45 and B-47) and USAF dropped further consideration.

Lockheed R6O/V „Constitution“

Lockheed began working on a new transport aircraft for the U.S. Navy in 1942. Two aircraft were ordered as XR6O-1. This aircraft was not given a high priority during the war and it did not make its first flight until 9 November 1946. The aircraft were underpowered and did not have sufficient range. By 1953, the Navy had exhausted the spare parts for this model and the aircraft were placed in storage at Litchfield Park, Arizona, they were sold in 1955. The new civilian owners flew one aircraft to Las Vegas, Nevada, and the second to Opa Locka, Florida, USA, but neither had an Approved Type Certificate (ATC) for civil operation and the cost to obtain one was prohibitive so both aircraft were unfortunatelly scrapped.

Sense of scale: R6A next to 12A Electra Junior.
R6O in flight over Rogers Dry Lake, California.
The Constitution in flight over Catalina Island.

The Besler Steam Plane

A Travel Air 2000 biplane made the world‘s first piloted flight under steam power over Oakland, California, on 12 April 1933. The strangest feature of the flight was its relative silence; spectators on the ground could hear the pilot when he called to them from mid-air. The aircraft, piloted by William Besler, had been fitted with a two-cylinder, 150 hp reciprocating engine. An important contribution to its design was made by Nathan C. Price, a former Doble Steam Motors engineer. Price was working on high pressure compact engines for rail and road transport; the purpose of the flight was to obtain publicity for this work. Following its unexpectedly favourable reception Price went to Boeing and worked on various aviation projects, but Boeing dropped the idea of a steam aeroengine in 1936. Price later worked for Lockheed where his experience with developing compact burners for steam boilers helped to design Lockheed‘s first jet engine. The advantages of the „Besler System“ that were claimed at the time included the elimination of audible noise and destructive vibration; greater efficiency at low engine speeds and also at high altitudes where lower air temperatures assisted condensation; reduced likelihood of engine failure; reduced maintenance costs; reduced fuel costs, since fuel oil was used in place of petrol; reduced fire hazard since the fuel was less volatile and operating temperatures were lower; and a lack of need for radio shielding. For capacities in excess of 1000 horse power a turbine captures the energy released by the expansion of steam more efficiently than a piston. Thus, the steam reciprocating engine turned out to be unsuitable for scaling up to the needs of large aircraft.

The Besler brothers proudly posing in front of their design.

Concept of the Besler steam plane demonstrator.
William Besler in front of the Airspeed 2000.
A very rare shot of the steam powered Airspeed 2000.
Approaching under steam!
Besler steam plane in flight.
Engine layout as published in „Luftwissen“/Germany 1941
Besler steam aero engine.