Monday, June 7, 2010

10 US Military Aircraft That Never Quite Made It

Over the years the USA has developed many formidable aircraft.  However, there were many that didn't ever get far from the drawing board for a variety of reasons.  

Some were simply before their time while others were of no time in particular (or perhaps shouldn't have been).  

Others still look like they were designed for a science fiction movie.  Take a look at ten US military aircraft that never quite made it.

X-13 Vertijet

In 1947 the US Navy awarded the Ryan Company a contract to see whether or not a fighter plane would take off vertically and the result was ultimately the X-13, after the Air Force took over the project in 1943.  The ultimate aim at the beginning was to evaluate whether or not submarine based aircraft would be feasible and it is easy to imagine this beauty leaping from the seas.  Later still, once the Air Force became involved the aim was to develop a jet powered VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) aircraft.

It did indeed make a vertical take-off, transitioned to horizontal flight and back again in 1957. It was then demonstrated in Washington DC where it crossed the Potomac River, coming to rest at the Pentagon.  Unfortunately the Air Force chose not to develop the Ryan X-13 Vertijet any further because there was a lack of operational requirement.

HZ-1 Aerocycle

Reconnaissance is important in the field and the US Army wanted, in the 1950s, to have a simple personal helicopter that could be operated by pilots with limited flight experience and with a small amount of instruction.

It was seen as a potential motorcycle of the air and, certainly, the early tests showed quite a lot of promise.

However, once further studies had been conducted it was discovered that the HZ-1 was too difficult to control in untrained hands.

This was further evidence when on test flights the contraption crashed twice.  The project was cancelled. (Image Credit)

F2Y Sea Dart

Only a prototype for the Convair F2Y Sea Dart was ever made, but you can see where perhaps the inspiration for Thunderbird 4 came from.  It does hold one record, despite its short-lived life – it is the only seaplane to ever go faster than the speed of sound.  The seaplane was a result of a 1948 competition by the US Navy for a supersonic interceptor aircraft.

In November 1954 the Sea Dart disintegrated in mid-air during a demonstration for the Navy and the media, killing its test pilot.  That was the end of that, but the Navy had been losing interest anyway as problems with supersonic fighters on aircraft carriers had been solved and the Sea Dart had outlived its potential and use.

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