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Weird Wings

Whilst the flying wing and tailless configurations were moderately common, the lifting body designs did away with wings entirely. Most were 'proofs of concept', aiming variously to reduce drag or have the fuselage contribute to lift instead of being dead weight.

Pursuit of the lifting body concept has merged with a strange fascination with the disc form as an airframe design. All the flying saucers on this page were made on this planet, and some even flew - however briefly; none achieved stupendous performances claimed by the allegedly alien UFOs. And, to be honest, some don't even use their fuselage to provide aerodynamic lift...

(See links page, or search the web, for some of the many sites dealing with Horton, Northrop and Burnelli designs. They are omitted here as material is easy enough to find using the designer/manufacturer's name and "flying wing" as keywords. Information on "flying saucers" (German or otherwise) is equally plentiful.)


HALTON METEOR - In 1929 the RAF School of Technical Training, Halton, pursued a unique tailless tandem-engine design. Official support was withdrawn at the last moment, ending the project.

KALININ K-12 - The K-12 was a 1930s Russian proof-of-concept scaled-down version of a tailless bomber proposal. The project was terminated politically when the designer was arrested and his bureau closed.

CANADIAN CAR & FOUNDRY LIFTING BODIES - These 1940s Canadian projects employed principles pioneered by Burnelli in development of lifting body airframes, in which the fuselage contributes to lift instead of simply providing the load. Neither left the drawing board.

De HAVILLAND DH.108 - Britain's DH.108 was built originally to investigate behaviour of swept wings at various subsonic speeds. It was the first British aircraft to exceed Mach 1, and claims to have been the first turbojet to do so.

BAC MUSTARD - The British Aircraft Corporation proposed the use of lifting body recoverable spacecraft in 1966. Its own innovation was to propose launch by means of joined, near-identical lifting-body recoverable vehicles, the booster units landing like aircraft after releasing one of their number to continue into space.


Wingless lifting body aircraft were generally developed as a result of contracts to produce reusable spacecraft. Part of the motivation for pursuit of these designs was economical and part of it was military - to develop reliable weapons delivery from space.



THE FIRST FLYING SAUCER? - This 1911 pioneer may deserve more credit than he realised. This may well represent the first recorded attempt to build a disc shaped aircraft, at least on this planet.

THE REICH'S DISCS - Although claims crop up regularly that flying saucers were developed by the Third Reich's scientists during World War Two, the first substantial evidence of a flyable disc-shaped aircraft is lacking until the US' postwar Flying Flapjack.

CHANCE VOUGHT XF5U - The disc-plan XF5U Flying Flapjack Navy fighter design promised to be a very fast fighter capable of near-vertical takeoff. Its development was overtaken by the jet age and further work was cancelled in 1947.

AVROPLANE - In the 1950s, a Canadian VTOL design was developed which incorporated a number of radical features - including low radar cross-section. The reasons for its abandonment are unclear.

AVRO-CAR - A Canadian-built disc-shaped experimental aircraft of the 1960s, constructed to test VTOL theory, and taken over by the USAF.

HILLER FLYING PLATFORM - An ONR project to develop a man-carrying flying platform, which worked but never saw production.


SKYSHIP - An unmanned 30-foot scale model of the proposed Skyship airship was produced to the media at Cardington, England, in 1975 to demonstrate the future of lighter-than-air commercial transport.

GIROSTAT MICRO AIRSHIPS - A Midlands of UK man began building small airships for commercial purposes in the late 1980s. Whimsically, he chose to make them disc-shaped, with a few cigar-shaped versions in between.

THERMOPLANE - The Thermoplane was a proof-of-concept design developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s in Russia, intended as an ecologically clean means of transport requiring little in the way of landing fields


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