Bell-MDD LHX: Man-Machine by the Superteam.

The Light Helicopter Experimental (LHX) program was a child of the 1980s intended to replace two workhorses of the US. Army: the Cobra and Kiowa. This ambitious program was won by Boeing-Sikorsky’s stunning RAH-66 Comanche, which became the main loser when the program was cancelled.
The Bell-McDonnell Douglas design contender featured a neat wing-sponson-weapon bays configuration and MDD’s signature NOTAR ducted exhaust system instead of a tail rotor.

Utterly Eighties’ poster. Reminds me one of those Atari video game covers.

NASA SCAT-16: Men and their toys (XXVIII).

Beginning in the early-1960s, NASA commenced the SCAT (Supersonic Commercial Air Transport) program. Twenty five different configurations were studied, eventually narrowed down to just a few which showed potential. The three-engined swing-wing SCAT-16 was one of them. The data was released by NASA to the US domestic aerospace companies and it became the basis of the failed American SST.

NASA photo of the SCAT.16 model tested in Langley 7 X 10 Foot High Speed Tunnel, 1962. Men’s jewelry, crew cut, slim tie, horn-rimmed glasses…..

Photo: NASA.

Hafner P.D.6: Things nearly came.

This helicopter was Raoul Hafner answer to the British Air Ministry March 1939 Specification S.22/38 which covered an experimental rotary-wing aircraft. Hafner’s P.D.6 was a neat original approach for the solution of helicopter control problems. Powered with a Propcher engine, his single-seater employed a aerofoil-shaped fuselage to counteract the power-driven rotor torque. A prototype was ordered, but the turmoil of the start of WW2 and the temporal detention of Hafner (he was an Austrian subject) put an end to the whole idea.

“Wellsian” someone said it was, Wellsian indeed.

HS Harrier T.52: High on believing.

Patented by Swiss test pilot Heinz Erwin Frick (Bae) in 1982, the Skyhook concept was conceived to operate Harriers from smaller ships. Thanks to a crane, the Harrier would have been caught in midair by an appropriately equipped ship and armed and refueled, even in rough sea conditions. It had no takers.

An old friend demonstrating the validity of this pretty smart idea with a clever and quite economical rig.

Others tried…

Project Pluto: “Good old American know-how and insanity.”

Nicknamed the “Flying Crowbar”, Project Pluto was an attempt during the 1950-60s to create a Supersonic Low Altitude Missile (SLAM) powered by a nuclear ramjet. And what an attempt. In addition to the multiple nuclear warheads carried, this “creature” was conceived to spend weeks flying over populated areas at low altitude after its payload was expended, its engine irradiating all around in the process. Not to mention the killing properties of the tremendous shockwave wherever it flew over. If all that was not enough, add the extra radiation released when it crashed. Gladly the sheer horrific qualities of this monster, the possibility of emulation by the Soviets and the availability of the cheaper ICBMs put an end to all this incredible idea.

Lovely -what a word choice- cutaway of the ultimate LTV design. This 1959 GD-Convair “The Big Stick” video gives us an oversight of the concept, its goriness apart.

Daimler Benz “Jäger”: All in the Family.

When Daimler Benz started the development of its outstanding DB 609 in Sep. 1942 they found themselves with the need to place it in an aircraft. The DB 609 was a quite massive 16 cylinder liquid-cooled engine with a projected initial output of 2700 hp. Why not to create that aircraft in-house? Their proposal was a quite conventional fighter design with one mayor exception: the contra-rotating props and their location. Sadly, only a partial mock-up of the Jäger (not its official name) was completed before its complicated engine -and hence this fighter- was cancelled in 1943.

Startling with that nose radiator, tricycle undercarriage and “birdcaged” teardrop cockpit canopy.

Dornier 1931 Rennflugzeug: The best for last.

Not quite content with their already remarkable 1928 Schneider race floatplane, the Dornier company took an even more radical path three years later. A flying boat this time, their braced-monoplane was to be powered by a pair of 2000 hp(!) liquid-cooled engines on a tandem configuration. They drove via angle drives a pusher propeller high above the fuselage. The latter, wings and tailplane had surface radiators. Stability on the water was ensured (quite questionably) by small retractable floats.
Lack of available engines, almost non-existent pilot view, those floats, questionable design choices…. It never had a chance.