10 Really Odd Experimental Aircraft Designs

On August 12, 2015 by Tim Newman

A little while back, we produced a piece covering some of Germany’s mighty strange experimental aircraft designs. They were a joy to behold. Of course, Germany wasn’t the only country to dream up weird, out of the blue, prototypes.

Here are another 10 impressively strange experimental aircraft for you to revel in:


Weird Prototype Aircraft - Ames-Dryden-1

At high speeds, the wing would be pivoted at up to 60 degrees to the aircraft’s fuselage for better high-speed performance. Studies showed these angles would decrease aerodynamic drag, permitting increased speed and longer range with the same fuel expenditure. Also it would look really weird.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Ames-Dryden-1 from above

Blohm & Voss BV 141

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Blohm & Voss BV 141

The asymmetry helped provide the gunner a better line of sight. Although the Blohm & Voss BV 141 performed well, it was never ordered into full-scale production, partly because the preferred engine was hard to acquire, and there was substantial competition from another tactical reconnaissance aircraft, the Focke-Wulf Fw 189.

Aufklärungsflugzeug Blohm + Voß BV 141

Aero Spacelines Super Guppy

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Boeing C-97

The Aero Spacelines Super Guppy is a large, wide-bodied cargo aircraft that is used for hauling outsize cargo components, such as parts for the International Space Station (ISS)

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Boeing C-97 ISS

McDonnell XF-85 Goblin

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Boeing XF-85 Goblin

These little dinky things were designed to be dropped by bombers to carry out attacks once they’d arrived at their destination. Like so:

McDonnell XF-85

SNECMA Coléoptère

Weird Prototype Aircraft - C-450

The SNECMA C.450 Coléoptère (meaning “beetle” in French) was a VTOL aircraft developed by the French company SNECMA in the 1950s.

It was a single-person aircraft with an annular wing designed to take-off and land vertically, therefore requiring no runway and very little space. The sole prototype was destroyed on its ninth flight.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - C-450 prototype

Lockheed XFV

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Lockheed XFV

This weirdo was an experimental “tailsitter” prototype aircraft built by Lockheed in the early 1950s. It could carry out a vertical takeoff and landing and was used for protecting convoys.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - Lockheed XFV prototype


Weird Prototype Aircraft - M2-F1

The NASA M2-F1 was a lightweight, unpowered prototype aircraft, developed to flight test the wingless lifting body concept. It looked like a “flying bathtub,” and was designated the M2-F1, the “M” referring to “manned” and “F” referring to “flight”.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - M2-F1 in tow

M39B Libellula

Weird Prototype Aircraft - M39B Libellula

The M.39B Libellula (from Libellulidae, a taxonomic family of dragonflies) was a Second World War tandem wing experimental aircraft built by Miles Aircraft.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - M39B Libellula grounded

VTOL Vought V-173

Weird Prototype Aircraft - VTOL Vought V-173

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” designed by Charles H. Zimmerman was an American experimental test aircraft built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - VTOL Vought V-173 restored

VVA 14

Weird Prototype Aircraft - VVA 14

The VVA 14 was developed in the Soviet Union during the 1970s. It was designed to take-off from the water and fly at high speed over long distances, it was to make true flights at high altitude, but also have the capability of ‘flying’ efficiently just above the sea surface, using aerodynamic ground effect.

Weird Prototype Aircraft - VVA 14 amphibious

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