v 173 flying pancake the amazing stol flying saucer

As is usually the instance, a number of the very best concepts are simply awaiting the best mix of sources as well as scenarios to assemble. The V-173″Flying Pancake” is an ideal instance. In the late 1930s, with battle drums defeating louder, the U.S. Navy was searching for a plane that several idea was difficult. A solitary layout that can remove on the shortened deck of a ship, show competitor aircraft rate as well as ability to move, and afterwards land back on that particular very same brief deck. Get in wind resistant designer Charles Zimmerman and also his “Zimmer Skimmer.”

In 1935, Zimmerman won a give from the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) to establish a small brief departure and also touchdown (STOL) airplane. His special layout included a 7-foot wingspan, mixed wing body style as well as big, slow-turning props. Troubles with prop synchronization based the Skimmer, and also it never ever flew. It did capture the eye of Vought Aircraft as well as the U.S. Navy. Vought quickly employed Zimmerman as lead designer on the Navy’s STOL job. To decrease threat and also reduce advancement time, the very first model would certainly not be a combat-ready airplane yet instead an innovation demonstrator, the V-173 Flying Pancake.

Made and also constructed to the basic air travel criteria of the age, the V-173 was created of timber as well as material with light weight aluminum scheduled for the fairing and also cowling locations. Zimmerman defined the airplane form as discoidal. The body created a bent wing area about 25 feet in size. 2 Continental A80, four-cylinder opposed air-cooled engines, which later on powered ratings of Pipers and also Taylorcrafts, were hidden in the combined wing. Both mechanical fuel-injected four-bangers were attached to the twin three-bladed, slow-turning props with an intricate system of clutches and also driveshafts. This system enabled either engine to power both props in case of a solitary failing.

The distinct prop idea was the trick to both the high-speed as well as sluggish efficiency of the airplane. In standard airplane, wingtip vortices develop a substantial drag charge. To counteract these vortices, the V-173’s props, situated at the external sides of the training body, kipped down the contrary instructions of the vortices, properly terminating the drag. While both Continental A80s performed at 2,500 RPM, the huge three-bladed props transformed at a careless 400 RPM. The huge slow-turning props supplied smooth air flow over the lorry for improved low-speed efficiency. In addition, each completely flexible prop blade bent ahead at the origin, just like helicopter rotor blades. Establishing this complicated system, comparable to that of the contemporary V-22 Osprey, postponed trip screening for numerous months however was ultimately improved. Gas amount was restricted to 2 10-gallon containers, each feeding among the Continental A80 engines. Because of the 22-degree angle of the combined wing, the flooring of the cabin was polished with plexiglass for launch as well as touchdown. The initial setup consisted of twin standard upright and also straight tail surface areas. All set for launch, the Pancake considered in at a little over 3,000 extra pounds.

Examination pilot Boone Guyton made the very first trip on Nov. 23, 1942. It lasted 13 mins, as well as it almost finished in catastrophe. Side controls were as well hefty, drivetrain resonance degrees were high, as well as the standard lifts were not effective adequate to change from the high climb right into straight trip. Guyton’s conserving elegance, actually, was that the V-173 would certainly not delay. In reaction, Zimmerman changed the standard straight stabilizers with all-flying surface areas, referred to as “airivators.” These effective totally portable surface areas worked as both ailerons and also lifts as well as were effective adequate to permit change to as well as from cruise ship trip.


On later trips, a set of special touchdown flaps were included in between the twin tails. Pilots grumbled that ground result stress stopped the tail from working out to the path throughout touchdown. The enhancement of a collection of 2 touchdown flaps that dispersed up eased the stress as well as made regular touchdowns feasible. These as well as various other problems were dealt with, and also the V-173 Flying Pancake took place to transform 190 effective trips as well as log roughly 132 hrs airborne. The brilliant yellow model might remove in much less than 200 feet, cruise ship at 138 miles per hr, as well as land at 15 miles per hr. Charles Lindbergh, that flew the V-173, kept in mind that it can almost float, would certainly not delay under power with complete aft stick, as well as was very easy to land.

The Navy was pleased and also quickly purchased 2 full-blown competitor models. These were the Vought XF5U, referred to as, properly, the Flying Flapjack. Astonishingly, the Flapjack was just a little bigger than the V-173, with a 28-by-32 size as well as size. It was powered by 2 Pratt & & Whitney Radial engines of 1,400 horse power each, generating a 17-fold boost in power to counter its fivefold rise in gross weight. The Flapjack included an ejection seat, retracting equipment as well as a layout rate of over 450 miles per hr. The XF5U program was terminated in very early 1947, simply prior to its initial trip– it was doing high-speed taxi examinations as well as brief jumps on the path. Program hold-ups, completion of World War II and also the dawn of the Jet Age confirmed to be merely excessive for the Flying Flapjack.

All the developments made by the little V-173 Flying Pancake were not shed. The all-moving “airivators” are currently the “elevons” that elegance the tails of a wide range of delta as well as swing-wing jets, supplying both roll as well as pitch control. As well as the interconnected prop drive system, lastly improved in the Vertical Takeoff as well as Landing (VTOL) V-22 Osprey, has actually ended up being an essential device for the armed solutions. Oh, as well as another point. The Flying Pancake examination trips in the Stratford, Connecticut, area produced several of the earliest UFO records on document!


The V-173 Flying Pancake model was not damaged. Sixty years later on, on finance from the Smithsonian, it was carefully brought back by a group of Vought retired people. Today, you can see this extraordinary plane on screen at the Frontiers of Flight Museum at Love Field in Dallas, Texas. Delight in!

Learn more about one more Incredible Plane, the Mooney M22 Mustang.