We all love aeroplanes (well I do) and maybe we tend to think of aircraft designers as superior beings, genii that we are blessed to have on the
earth. This idea, you might think, might be justified in the case of people like R J Mitchell, Sidney Camm, Kelly Johnson etc, but, even though they
created some of the greatest machines ever seen, even they had clunkers too.
Here then is something I hope will grow into a thread detailing, in a light hearted way, some of the biggest blunders ever to see the light of day.
There are thousands of unmade projects, for most of which someone in authority had an epiphany and the utter stupidity of what was being proposed
became blindingly apparent and the designer was told to bugger off. More rarely, perfectly good aircraft were discarded for mundane reasons like there
was no money left or whatever, but rarer still, some real turkeys actually made it into the air! Apparently, like the ‘Emperors New Clothes’
nobody dare to speak out and mention the silliness of what they were doing in case the silliest person of all turned out to be them.
This thread then is dedicated to those aircraft that truly deserved to be strangled at birth, but weren’t. I don’t mean personal grudges people
may bear towards certain planes, like whether the RAF should have bought the F-22 instead of the Typhoon etc But genuine cast iron 100% Turkeys (no
offence to anyone from that country)
In fact, this sort of thing;
Boulton Paul Defiant.
a Defiant crew consider a safer career in bomb disposal
Here's a good idea, somebody once thought; lets make a fighter plane in the same class as the Hurricane and Spitfire, we’ll even use the terrific
Rolls Royce Merlin engine in it. Then we’ll fit it with a big, heavy and draggy mid upper turret from a bomber and then to finish it off (literally)
DON'T give the pilot any forward firing guns to use! That was a pearler, don't you think?
The concept dated from WW1 when the Bristol F.2B was highly successful in the same role and in the early thirties the Hawker Demon carried on in the
same tradition, crucially however, BOTH these aircraft did have fixed forward firing guns but did not have a huge metal and glass motorised dustbin on
their back. The Defiant was intended to bring the whole idea up to date with the whizzy new cantilevered monoplanes that were taking over the whole of
aviation, incorporating all the latest technology like retractable landing gear and stuff. (just think, if WW2 had never happened we’d have made a
Jet version by 1950 as well!!)
It is astonishing now to read the publications that date from 1939 and early 1940 and to see how incredibly smug we were that we had created this
brilliant new weapon that nobody else had thought of.
Even more astonishingly, at first the Defiant was highly successful! This was entirely due to the Germans (a) mistaking them for Hurricanes and (b)
thinking nobody could be stupid enough to build a fighter plane like that and the Defiants gunners easily took out Bf.109's as they swooped down on
them from above and behind. The Germans soon learned that we WERE in fact that stupid and the Defiants career as a defender of the realm was over
before the Battle of Britain had finished, most of the huge numbers lost going down without managing to even fire their guns. It was more successful,
because it was at less risk, as a nightfighter until the Beaufighter replaced it but that doesn’t disguise the fact that it should never have been
built in the first place.
So, over to you guys.
[edit on 29-6-2006 by waynos]