Monday, June 18, 2007

Weird Aircraft Ideas of World War Two

There were some mighty strange contraptions planned during the war, and these are some of the weirdest. Whether or not these actually flew, or are just signs of a warped engineering mind, I do not know. However, it is probably a safe bet that this whole post is pure fiction.

First, the HARLEY-FAIRFAX K-55 AIR-PAL TRAINER, conceived as an economical flight trainer. The plane was so economical it didn't even have an intercom for the instructor to communicate with the students. According to the Fiddler's Green website, "elaborate pre briefings, hand signals, screaming all were tried but all fell short of the desired result, unanimity of action. Happily for all concerned, a further economy move halted production altogether only five months after it began. But those who flew or tried to fly her are not likely to ever forget this stillborn regent of the cloud lanes-memories shared by those on the ground lucky and sharp-eyed enough to catch a necessarily brief glimpse of an Air-Pal cartwheeling across the sky while 19 plucky, if somewhat perplexed students tried outguessing one another, their teacher and fate itself."

Second, there was this strange German contraption, the DINKEL GX "KLEINEFEUERWERKSWAFFE, which translated means "Little Fireworks Weapon". According to Fiddler's Green, "the Dinkel was merely a metal tube, its fat nether end hollowed out and stuffed with every skyrocket, cherry bomb, Roman candle and other explosive that could be culled from warehouses, private homes and factories. The pilot hung on for dear life as someone lit the wick protruding from the stern. The craft wiggled and shot ahead on skids, rising into the air if the pilot was quick-witted enough to so direct its erratic course."
Developed in the last months of the war, the planes had their swan song when Reichsmarshal Hermann Goering decided to launch four of them, packed with fireworks, to entertain Adolph Hitler. The four Dinkels flew dutifully upward, and attempted to blaze a giant swastika in the sky overhead. At the point where the planes intersected on the swastika, they all crashed together. Hitler loved it, but a planned encore with 60 of the Dinkels was cancelled when Germany lost the war before it could be pulled off.

This Russian SNUD aircraft's bent-down snout is the result of a blueprint getting wrinkled during the design phase. The designers knew that the penalty for destruction of government property was death, so they went ahead with the design anyways. The SNUD had metal wheels that ripped up the runways, engineers on each wing in their own little compartments to watch the engines, and could fly over fifty miles an hour for 3,500 miles. Okay, do you get the feeling that some of this is made up? I do.

Finally, this experimental B-17 was not built in numbers, or at all, but is certainly one of the most unusual variations on a classic design.

Credit for the photos and information goes to Fiddler's Green. For more photos of strange aircraft, go to


Max Williams said...

The look may be so weird but HARLEY-FAIRFAX K-55 AIR-PAL TRAINER got what it takes to become an economical flight trainer.

-Aerospace test equipment | AvionTEq

stevmorpix said...

The color illustrations and descriptions were done by Bruce McCall, a humorist and illustrator for the National Lampoon,