One of the most unusual aircraft ever designed for the U.S. Navy was the Chance Vought V-173, also known as the Zimmerman "Flying Pancake". It was a prototype "proof of concept" aircraft that lacked wings, instead relying on its flat circular body to provide the lifting surface. This multi-million dollar project nearly became the first V/STOL (vertical takeoff and landing) fighter. The V-173 blueprints were shown to the Navy in 1939, with wind tunnel tests on full scale models being done in 1940-41. In January 1942 BuAer requested the proposal for two prototype airplanes of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135. This version had more powerful engines and was given the military designation XF5U-1. Flight testing of the V-173 went on through 1942 and 1943, resulting in reports of "flying saucers" from surprised Connecticut locals. Mock-ups of the XF5U-1 were done in the summer of 1943, but due to Vought's preoccupation with the Corsair and Kingfisher, the program proceeded slowly during the war. The arrival of the jet age saw the cancellation of the XF5U-1 contract by the Navy in March 1947, despite the fact that the aircraft was due to take its first test flight later that year. The XF5U-1 prototype was scrapped, though the V-173 prototype was saved and was given to the Smithsonian. To this day the V-173 / XF5U-1 project remains one of the more interesting anecdotes in aviation history.
Additional information on this aircraft
can be found at Wikipedia
(updated February 2009)
Type: experimental prototype (Fighter) Crew: 1, Pilot Armament: none Specifications: Length: 26' 8" Height: 12' 11" Width: 23' 4" Gross Weight: 2,258 lbs Propulsion: No. of Engines: 2 Powerplant: Continental A-80 Horsepower 80 hp each Prop diameter: 16' 6" Performance: Range: limited (20 gal. of fuel) Max Speed: 138 mph sea level Climb: to 5000 ft in 7 min
Type: Fighter Crew: 1, Pilot Armament: six .50 cal machine guns or four 20mm cannon or two 1000-lb. bombs Specifications: Length: 28' 7.5" Height: 14' 9" Width: 32' 6" Empty Weight: n/a Gross Weight: 14550 lbs Max Weight: n/a Propulsion: No. of Engines: 2 Powerplant: Pratt & Whitney R-2000-7 Horsepower 1600 hp each Prop diameter: 16' Performance: Range: 910 miles Max Speed: 504 mph at 20,000 ft. Climb: 3000 ft/min at sea level Ceiling: n/a
(go to Vought page)
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