Gloster (A-W) Meteor F.8 “Prone Pilot”: Almost as long as its denomination.

This Meteor extravagance was a testbed conceived in 1954 to evaluate the pros and cons of a prone pilot position in high-speed aircraft; the more modest R.S.4 “Bobsleigh” covered the proof-of concept stage and low-speed range. Flown successfully a number of times, but never with the prone pilot alone, “Pinocchio” displayed mixed results. Despite its advantages to allow the pilot to withstand G-forces, it also suffered for degraded visibility (rearward mainly) and sheer ergonomic clumsiness. This very unique prototype survives at the superb RAF Museum, Cosford.

The best -of the very few available- in flight photo of WK935. Built by Armstrong-Whitworth, the “Prone Meteor” used the utterly “Buck Rogers-esque” Meteor NF 12 tail feathers. So bird-like it all.

Fieseler Fi 156C-3 (Trop) Storch: “Did I Do That? (IX)”.

This Storch (WNr 5837 DJ + PC) was employed as a communications aircraft by the II SS Panzer Corps. Its pilot, SS-Obergruppenführer Paul Hausser, was the artist who put it on the roof of the Haus Wörnerblick, Mittenwald, 16 Aug. 1943.

The Storch was renowned for its outstanding STOL qualities, but this is hilariously ridiculous.

Boeing Skyfox: “This briefing is from file A56-7W. Classified”.

Originally proposed by the Skyfox Corporation in the early 1980s, this purposeful looking trainer was a drastic upgrade of the world-beating T-33 Shooting Star. Basically, the airframe suffered alterations which made its heritage almost unrecognisable and its prehistoric Allison J33 turbojet was replaced by a pair of eficient Garrett TFE731 turbofans. The T-Bird’s original designer, Irwin Culver, and some former Lockheed employees were involved in its conception. The idea was to sell it either as a fully equipped and complete aircraft or as a parts kit conversion. One prototype was completed and tested successfully, but found no takers. Boeing saw potential anyway and acquired the design rights in 1986. They enjoyed hardly better luck;  the whole project was cancelled in the early 1990s.

Couldn’t be more Eighties. Looking like an European-1 camouflaged bizjet in this Boeing Co. photo

Mitsubishi (2MR1) Tobi: Not all Falcons are handsome.


This lanky artifact was Mitsubishi competitor to replace in 1926 the Army locally-built Salmson 2 A2 recon aircraft. The 2MR1 was designed by Nobushiro Nakata with with the help of Professor Baumann. Of mixed construction, the Tobi (a sort of falcon) was powered by a 450-600hp Mitsubishi (Hispano-Suiza) engine. Its sesquiplane configuration consisted on a quite large upper wing mounted way up high connected through a bizarre array of centre section and interplane struts to the boxy fuselage and lower wings.
The Tobi prototype made its maiden flight in the summer of 1927. Factory tests were very positive with a top speed well above the requirements. Sadly, during the official test flights the prototype was seriously damaged on a heavy landing and was eliminated from the competition.

They also knew how to make pretty ones.

Plymouth A-A-2004: Magnus-fic.

This 1930 contraction was built to explore Anton Flettner’s rotors and the Magnus effect. So three rotating cylinders replaced this seaplane wings. The A-A-2004 was powered by a 300hp Wright J6 for flight and a 90hp American Cirrus ACE to spin its “drums”. Mystery evolves its fate; some sources said it flew, others it didn’t. It works anyway.

Pretty cool and informative drawing from the Popular Science Monthly magazine, Nov. 1930.

de Rougé Pollopas: Tails Up!!

In 1928 Viscount Charles de Rougé conceived the notion of the “stabilisation aérienne surélevée” as a way to create an autostable aircraft. His idea was to place the aircraft’s tail surfaces above a short fuselage. Under the denomination “Elytroplan”, he started to experiment in 1932 with his crude “Sigma” glider. By 1935, de Rougé had built the Pollopas; named in honor of a British company which acted as a sponsor. Still a quite bare bones design as we can see. It flew with a certain regularity before WW2 so Le Viscomte continued to elaborate his idea.

That weird “crocodile” tail surfaces seems to be hinged to give longitudinal control.

Mauser C96: Bewitching Broomhandles.

Spellbinding ten Mauser C96 semiauto-pistol gunner “battery” tested -it seems- by the Austro-Hungarians during WW1. Sometime before the end of 1918: that tubular ring turret was fitted to all two-seaters until then. It was replaced later by wooden gun rings. The aircraft is hard to identify; to me it looks like a Brandenburg C.I, but don’t take my word for it. The C.I (type LDD) was a very effective single-engine recon aircraft designed by a young Ernst Heinkel and produced in considerable numbers in Austro-Hungary.

Imagine to reload that clip-fed nightmare. This contraction remains me, as a Spaniard, the Meroka close-in weapon system (CIWS).

Brown SC: Diamonds were not forever.

This bizarre aircraft was built in Missouri in 1931 and was the brainchild of a guy called Ben Brown. This pusher design was powered by a 95 hp Cirrus Mark III and had a “Bellanca-like” strutted tandem wing  with joined wingtips that form a sort of diamond-shaped wing. Ailerons on the wingtips and elevons on the forward wing, close to the fuselage.  It seems it was test flown, but no data is available about that or about its fate.

Boxy yet alluring.

Photo and main source of information: the great Aerofiles place.