Zimmerman’s Flying Apparatus: “Here I come to save the day….”

Behind this somehow comic-looking patent was the mind of Charles Horton Zimmerman. The young Zimmerman was at that time interested in what he called “kinesthetic control”: to achieve control through the use of the pilot body in small flying vehicles….a sort of flying gyro scooter, sans gyro.  This patent was materialized later in a more pedestrian prototype that was tested at the Hiller company factory. It flew, but not very high; it showed serious stability and control problems.

Ah, and those “mice ears”?  They had no control functions. They were there to support the pilot head and lesser the his/her neck fatigue during the horizontal flight.

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Handley Page “Sycamore”: Triple somersault.

The “look twice” Sycamore was a Mach 2 airliner design study which was started by the Geoffrey Lee at the Handley Page company in 1959. Up to 150 passengers (plus fuel and baggage) were carried within a wing that was conceived to be slewed to either 72 degrees for high speed flight or 25 degrees for low speed. The crew was accommodated in a small cabin at the “forward” tip of the wing counterbalanced by a quite tall fin at the other. The four podded jet engines rotate in flight for obvious reasons.
A study it remained: the advantages of the formula were not clear and there were concerns with its stability and control qualities.

Boulton Paul P.103B: “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

At first sight, apart of those contra-rotating props, this neat sketch looks like an Allied early interpretation of the German Fw 190A. In fact, this Bristol Centaurus-powered  “clone” was one of the two Boulton Paul’s proposals (the P.103A was a RR Griffon-engined version) to fulfill the Royal Navy N.7/43 fighter specification. That requirement was conceived to supply, at last, the Fleet Air Arm with an up-to-date all-British carrier fighter after years of barely satisfactory landplane conversions (Sea Hurricanes & Seafires) and American types. In the end, after a tortuous path, it was the Sea Fury the one which answered the “Senior Service” prayers…., but only after the war ended.

Ah, that cockpit canopy.

Avro Canada TS-140 proposal: Double take that !!

This incredible tandem, or canard, winged fighter was a design presented by Avro Canada to meet the US Navy TS-140 Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) fighter Specification of 1956. Conceived to be powered by four Bristol Orpheus placed in swiveling nacelles in each of its wing tips, The Avro Canada design lost against the Bell D-188A proposal. A meagre victory: the D-188A was later cancelled too.

Pretty interpretation of what might have been. A very conventional looking big carrier for a such VTOL creature.

Sukhoi Jet Engine Powered Aircraft: We must begin somewhere.

This was Pavel Sukhoi’s OKB first attempt into the jet aircraft design. Conceived as a purely research aircraft in late 1942, this dandy artifact had an annular intake scoop placed the fuselage just behind its teardrop-shaped cockpit capsule. The nose section would have housed both the cockpit and a fuel tank, and was to be attached to the larger diameter central fuselage by four pylons. The central fuselage was to contain the “half-step” composite jet engine: a classic air-cooled engine -with an oil cooler- driving a pair of co-axial propellers was employed to supply compressed air to a sort of jet engine’s fuel injection/combustion chamber placed in the tapered tube. Complex enough?. The project never left the drawing board.

Very Soviet style artist’s impression of the subject. It could have been really something.

Hughes Rotor/Wing: “Simple answer to a tough problem”.

Pursuing the same “Holy Grail” the V-22 Osprey is beginning to fulfil nowadays, the always innovative Hughes company played in the 1960-70’s with the elegant, yet complicated, rotor/wing concept. In it, essentially, you used your rotor for vertical/slow flight and stop it to form a sort of wing for forward flight. Cool, isn’t it?. They were not alone.

Superb artwork of the Hughes’ Rotor Wing brochure. Sadly, just a paper dream.

Cristòfol Juandó’s aircraft: El Geni Mecànic.


The very “Jules Verne-sque” central nacelle of the Juandó’s “Multíptero” or “Flugilarillo seen here in his “El Genio Mecánico” factory, Modolell de Sant Gervasi street (Barcelona). The inventor is the one pointing.

The little known Catalan inventor and industrialist Cristòfol Juandó i Rafecas (1848-1917) also took a chance with the nascent aviation fever of the turn of the century. He even created a company, the “Compañía Universal de Navegación Aérea”, to promote his project. Sadly, little has survived of his efforts of 1901-02. About his aircraft, Juandó described it bizarrely as a “..sort of rotative wing equipped with blades which open and close at the right moments…”. The intended engine was a 24 hp 4-cylinder Buchet. Some sources say he did build a full-sized aircraft, but without given further data. Anyway, lacking the financial resources necessary, Juandó tried to interest the always lethargic Spanish government. He persevered unsuccessfully in that endeavour until the early 1910’s and after that obscurity.

This add gives us a certain idea, or not, of what was going on in Juandó’s brainchild. It looked like small size model of the real thing. Unairworthy at first sight(?).