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The Ugliest Aircraft in HistoryText by Divan MullerOver the past 118 years, many stunningly beautiful aircraft have been designed. The Spitfire with its elliptical wings, the delta-wing Vulcan, or French fighters, such as the Mirage 2000 and Rafale, immediately come to mind. Today, we will be looking at the other end of the spectrum. “Ah,” you may say. “As an aviation enthusiast, I am certain there is no such thing as an ugly aircraft!” That’s what I thought, until I discovered these aircraft…Antonov A-40, USSR, 1942 Does this gliding T27 tank count as an aircraft? Suffice to say it was a frightening concept. AD Scout, Britain, 1915 The Scout was designed to attack Zeppelin bombers. It was developed by the British Air Department. McDonnell XF-85, USA, 1948 The ‘Goblin’ was an experimental fighter, which would have been carried and launched by larger bombers. PZL Mielec, Poland, 1973 Nicknamed the ‘Noisy Demon’, this jet-powered agricultural aircraft was designed for large Soviet farms. Caproni Stipa, Italy, 1932 Also known as the ‘Flying Barrel’, this aircraft contributed to jet engine development. Bell X-14, USA, 1957 Constructed out of parts from a Beechcraft Bonanza and Beech Mentor, the X-14 was powered by two turbojet engines. It could take-off and land vertically and remained in service for more than twenty years. Ilyushin Il-40, USSR, 1953 It seems form follows function with the Il-40. When its guns were fired, gases entered its air intakes and caused engine flameouts. As a result, the air intakes were moved all the way to the front of the aircraft. Bennett PL-11 Airtruck, New Zealand, 1960 Designed to replace Tiger Moths as a crop-dusting platform, the Bennet Airtruck was constructed from surplus Harvard parts. Thankfully, only two examples were built. Curtis Goupil ‘Duck’ Replica, USA / France, 1916 This aircraft was first designed in the 1880s and was supposed to be powered by a steam engine. It did not fly, but in 1916, Curtis built a flying example with a piston engine, to strengthen the company’s case in a control surface lawsuit. Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-8 ‘Utka’, USSR, 1945 At the top, or perhaps the bottom, of our list, there is the MiG-8. This experimental aircraft was one of the first aircraft to use canards. As a research aircraft, it was quite useful to Soviet aircraft designers, but good looks were certainly not its forte.
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