Doctor of Teleocity
Ad Free Member
- Dec 2, 2003
- The Netherlands
Okay, let's be honest, for every successful design, there is a far larger amount of duds. The Supermarine Spitfire was a very successful plane but in the annals of Supermarine aviation it was a very notable exception because subsequent fighter planes by Supermarine such as the Spiteful, Seafang, Attacker, Swift and Scimitar were hampered by bad designs and stability issues.
But as bad as those were, they weren't the worst planes by far.
Here's my Top Ten of the worst ever planes, in both designs and attitude behind their creation.
Number 10: The Brewster F2/B-339 Buffalo
The Buffalo was the first monoplane to enter service as a carrier borne fighter with the US Navy, who quickly found out that it was completely useless. But as time would show, the outbreak of the second world war gave Brewster aviation a whole slew of Customers as many air forces around the world needed fighter planes. And the Buffalo was readily available and sold in their thousands.
But in combat, the de-rated Wright Cyclone engines were prone to overheating, the plane was under powered and the machine guns were prone to jamming. Many pilot lucky enough to have survived a dogfight against a Japanese Zero would often shout in frustration at his own plane.
In Finland however, that wasn't the case, the Arctic conditions of the country remedied the overheating problem and the pilots deemed it a pleasant flyer.
But yeah, despite not being totally useless, in overall the Brewster Buffalo earned its place in this list.
Number 9. The Baade 152
The very first German made jet airliner and as it stands the only East-German made airliner is actually the very last plane to have been designed at what was once the famous Junkers factory.
The Baade had a striking resemblance to the Boeing B-47 stratojet bomber in both its lay out, shoulder decker configuration, bicycle under carriage and use of twin engines in a single pod. It was being marketed to supply airliners with a cutting edge plane which would replace the aging propliners and bring the DDR into the modern age.
This promotion video for the Baade 152 starts with the words "Fast", "Safe" and "Adequate", words which as it turns out, the plane itself was not living up to. It was unstable to fly and a persistent problem with the fuel pipes led the prototype to crash during its second flight.
With only three made, the Baade 152 never lived up to expectations and Soviet made Tupolev Tu-124 "Cookpot" in good supply, was deemed redundant straight away.
Number 8. The De Havilland DH-106 Comet
Or "Here-is-why-you-should-not-design-a-jetliner-using-propliner-technology" This particular one is the last remaining complete example of the first version of the Comet. The very last one with the square windows which made it that the fuselage would tear open in mid flight because of metal fatigue.
Sadly, that happened after the plane had been sold in quite a large number to several airlines. Later versions of the Comet rectified that issue and the plane itself actually flew until the eighties but for many, the De Havilland Comet will always remain a failure.
Oh and that picture, if you're a Top Gear fan, there's an Easter egg with the spitfire standing in front of it...
Number 7. The Curtis SB2C Helldiver
Now you KNOW you've got a dog on your hand when a professor of aeronautical engineering declares you crazy if you actually build more of them when wind tunnel testing revealed inherent issues with the plane's overall balance and stability. Even more so if that plane was meant as a dive bomber where balance and Stability are the KEY features.
But because the US Navy was in short supply of Dive Bombers to replace the obsolete Douglas SBD Dauntless, Curtiss got the order to start mass producing the SB2C, basically they were bought sight unseen.
It came back to haunt them in a very real way. The SB2C required more than what the rookie pilots could even hope to supply and many found their death in landing accidents. Both the pilots and the carrier crews began to hate the "Son of a ***** second class" because of its instability issues and high accident rate.
One man who had their profound sympathy was famed English test pilot Captain Eric "Winkle" Brown, who tested the Helldiver for the Royal Navy and declared that it was unfit to fulfill the task it was designed for in the first place. Brown even went as far as never going near an aircraft carrier in a Helldiver.
Number 6. The Fisher P-75 Eagle
Proof that even when you mix up some excellent aircraft together, it doesn't mean that you will end up with a winner.
The P-75 had the fuselage of a Douglas SBD dauntless, married to the wings of a P-51 Mustang, the undercarriage of a Chance-Vought F-4U Corsair and the cockpit of a Bell P-39 Airacobra. It was meant as a long range escort fighter but when tested against already in service designs fell hopelessly short of expectation. It was too large, too heavy and not nearly nimble enough to fulfill what it was designed to do in the first place.
Still, it has its looks going for it and that counter rotating propeller is just the coolest.
Number 5. The Royal Aircraft factory B.E.9
Ah, the first world war, the very first military conflict in which air power was employed. The first role those planes fulfilled was aerial reconnaissance But the design of the planes themselves didn't really lend itself for that purpose because with the big engine in front and the big wings at both sides of the cockpit left very little place for the photographer to get his camera out and take pictures the way he was supposed to do.
So the solution was to add a gondola in front of the engine and put the navigator, photographer in there: problem solved, he now had an unobstructed view of the battlefield. But was also in constant peril of being sucked into the spinning propeller or crushed to death if the aircraft did a nose up landing. With only one example built, the project was deemed too dangerous and abandoned.
But the story doesn't end there because apparently the French thought otherwise and developed the SPAD S.A-2 which used the same configuration.
It was an unpopular plane on account of the flaws that the Brits had long since identified.
Number 4. The McDonell XF-85 Goblin.
Don't you guys love that juxtaposition with the humble Bumblebee, which according to common laws of physic shouldn't be able to fly and yet it DOES.
The XF-85 was meant to be taken on board a B36 bomber as its own fighter protection. It was a good idea but a flawed one because the Goblin was difficult to fly and because it had no internal landing gear of its own, no way of landing it, otherwise then just hooking it back up to its mother ship bomber which brought it back to earth. There was no way this concept was ever going to be practical.
Number 3. The De Lackner HZ-1 Aerocycle.
We have all read those comics of super heroes using jet packs to fly into action, it is a cool idea and it has people experimenting to achieve just that. In the 1950s, the U.S. Army thought that having their infantryman hover into battle was the right thing to do. Not with jet packs, but on a one-person helicopter.
Right, you probably see where this is going: a TINY platform on which the soldier going into battle is standing on and four inches below that platform are twin spinning blades. It gives a horrifying new meaning to the word "Chopper"
Number 2. The Christmas Bullet
This is what you get when somebody who has no experience in aeronautical science figures "How hard can it be?" and designs a plane.
It was designed by Dr. William Christmas who had his own very specific idea on how the wings of a plane should flex with the wind the way nature is also flexing birds' wings as they fly, as such the Bullet was designed to be without the reinforcing struts which give Wings their strength.
Only two Bullets were ever made, both of them crashing during the maiden flights when their wing designs came apart and in both cases costing the lives of the pilots.
Now among aircraft enthusiasts, the Christmas bullet is the worst ever plane but I argue that there is a worse one and not just because of it being a failed design but also because it was involved in a scandal and all being masterminded by somebody who should have known better.
Well, here we are, the one you've all been waiting for...
Number 1: The Langley Aerodrome A.
A very dramatic picture of Samuel Langley's attempt at achieving powered flight gone wrong. Langley was a curator for the Smithsonian museum had a bit of an ego to match, so when he learned about the Wright Brothers trying to create a motorized airplane he was dead set on beating them at the punch. He got backing from the Army and set out to work. But Langley used the wing designs of Otto Lillienthal of which the Wright brothers had discovered were flawed, they would NEVER work for powered flight. Langley's plane was never capable of flying.
But big headed as he was, Langley argued with the Wrights that his plane WAS capable of flying and thus HE should be in the Smithsonian as the first man who achieved powered flight and to prove it he brought out his prototype to another rival of the Wrights, Glenn Curtis who flew it, taking away the title from the Wrights.
But not that much later, it was revealed that Langley had Curtis rebuild the wings completely incorporating Curtis' modifications to the Wrights wing design which made it airworthy and after the flight had the old wing reattached again. In short, he cheated. It took until 1942 before a court ruled against the Smithsonian and the Wright brothers were rightfully reinstated as the pioneers they were.
So because of being a plane which never could have successfully flown and then being used in a ruse to take away the credit from the people who truly deserved it. Langley Aerodrome A. is the number one worst plane ever.