Monday, January 12, 2015

Strangely-shaped Aircraft: AD-1, VZ-2 and V-12

Here are three more of the wacky designs which were developed to test future concepts in the field aeronautical engineering or to simply make aircraft which could fly faster, carry more, fly further or be more manoeuvrable.

AD-1 oblique winged aircraft

The AD-1 oblique wing aircraft built in 1979 by Ames Industrial for NASA. The AD-1 could pivot its entire wingspan from zero to 60 degrees during flight. This plane was flown over 70 times at different speeds, altitudes and wing pivot angles. However, at angles over 45 degrees, the plane handled badly. It was thought that a stiffer wing and a more advanced fly-by-wire system might have allowed the plane to handle better. It was concluded that a transonic (a bit on either side of the speed of sound) aircraft would be needed to gather more data on this kind of flying. The plane was then retired, and it now on display at Hiller Aviation Museum in California. (Above-Left): The AD-10 in flight.

Vertol VZ-2

The Vertol VZ-2 aircraft was a tilt-wing VTOL (vertical take-off and landing) This aircraft first flew on 13 August 1957. It was built in the USA to test the tilt-wing approach to VTOL, and completed about 450 flights, in which about 34 resulted in the aircraft going from horizontal position to vertical and then again to horizontal which in the air. The plane which uses this mechanism today is the V-22 Osprey, which has a similar tilt-wing approach and foldable rotors, which allows it to be stored on an aircraft carrier. The VZ-2 is known in storage in the Paul. E. Garber facility. (Above-Left): The VZ-2 about to take-off.

Mil V-12

The Mil V-12 was, and continues to be, the largest helicopter every built. This plane was full of design flaws, and studies showed that both single and double-rotor configurations (like on the Chinook), would be unsuccessful. Finally, the design team was forced to choose the transverse rotor design, where two rotors are mounted side by side on a wing or pylon like structure. The two prototypes were the only which were ever built. The helicopter flew for the first time on 10th July 1968. The controlling of this helicopter was quite difficult, as the sheer size and diameter of each of the gigantic rotors made manoeuvring quite a challenge. However, despite all these issues, the V-12 set 8 world records, 4 of which still stand today. These are altitude with 30000, 35000 and 40000 kg of cargo respectively and maximum weight lifted to an altitude of 2000 metres. Sadly, the V-12 was not accepted by the Soviet Air Force because its main aim, the transport of ICBMs from one place to another had become redundant. Production was then stopped, and the two prototypes are on display in two places in Moscow. (Above-Left): The V-12.

If you want to see more strangely-shaped planes, follow any of the links below:

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