Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Flying Wing

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The concept of an aircraft as a 'flying wing', with the fuselage integrated with the wing and sometimes even without a tail, has been a design feature tried and tested for many years, and currently in service with some military aircraft such as the Rockwell B2 Stealth Bomber. During the 1930's, when aircraft designers were trying to think of how to push the barrier of aircraft development, the flying wing was experimented with many times.

This particular example, from the 'Aeroplanes' series of Cigarette Cards by Gallaher Ltd, shows the Cunliffe-Owen OA1. Cunliffe-Owen was founded in 1937 but their flying wing aircraft is actually a licence built American aircraft originally produced by Vincent Burnelli, who was one of the pioneers of flying wing designs, this particular design being a copy of the Burnelli UB-14, of which three were built by Burnelli.

This particular aircraft was powered by two Bristol Perseus radial engines, and the description from the back of the Cigarette Card says;

FLYING WING

The tendency in monoplane design of the last few years has been to increase the size and thickness of the wing relative to the fuselage, storing petrol, luggage, etc. inside the wings. The logical development of htis is the Flying Wing, which has no fuselage, the tail unit being carried on two booms. The machine shown here is the first product of Messrs. Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd., and accommodates fifteen passengers, the two engines being Bristol Perseus XIIC's, developing 900 h.p. each.

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The Cunliffe-Owen OA1 shown, G-AFMB, was the only one built, and became known as the 'Clyde Clipper'. The Second World War halted any further development and G-AFMB was pressed into Royal Air Force service, eventually serving in Africa with the Free French. Unfortunately, it appears the Clyde Clipper met its end as part of a bonfire to celebrate VJ Day in 1945.

For more pictures of the Cunliffe-Owen OA1, including the great advert used by the company, click here

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