Oct 302011

Alexander Lippisch, arguably the inventor of the delta wing, spent most of his post-war years in the US working on advanced or just plain odd aircraft concepts. One concept that seemed to fascinate him was the “aerodyne,” where most of the fuselage served as a duct for the propulsion system, and through the use of louvers the thrust could be directed either aft for forward thrust or down for vertical thrust. The bulk of his aerodyne concepts were devoid of wings, relying instead on directed thrust for lift at low speed and fuselage lift at higher speeds. Wind tunnel tests proved that the concept was viable, if not entirely practical… and certainly not exactly the safest designs in the event of an engine-out situation.

While all of the aerodyne concepts were unusual, this one pretty much takes the cake: not only wingless, but the planform shows that it’s not only an elongated teardrop, but a teardrop with a great big hole in it. The vehicle was something of a twin-fuselage design, but one where the fuselages are curved and join together at nose and tail.

The design features conventional inlets alongside the nose, with a long “slot” along the fuselage. This slot served as the exhaust for the engine(s), using the Coanda effect to increase thrust at low speed. The twin fuselage layout would, at least theoretically, serve as a duct, with the Coanda effect increasing thrust a little more. It seems probable, though, that the added thrust would be more than offset by increased weight.

 Posted by at 8:03 am
  • Michael Holt

    Designed for flight on Venus: slightly lower gravity, much more dense atmosphere.

  • Nick P.

    An interesting concept, like a lot of things I have no idea how it would work in practice but there you go.

    It’s kind of funny but the place I first learned of the aerodyne concept was out of a comic book of all places. There’s this old science fiction comic series (and spinoff RPG I can’t get any of my friends to try…) called Albedo Anthropomorphics where aerodynes were used as the primary aerospace fighters and transport craft.

    Lil’ more info here: http://leadpeople.blogspot.com/2009/09/albedo-anthropomorphics-aerodynes.html

    To my eye in that setting they always seemed plausible enough and fairly well thought out. It certainly didn’t hurt that to my knowledge the creator of the comic use to be a technical illustrator for the Air Force so all of his vehicle and equipment drawings were superb and believable while his characters ranged from okay to hideous.

  • I also ran across an “aerodyne” in the science fiction novel MANNA by Lee Correy (G. Harry Stine). From the description in the novel, it appeared to be a glorified AVRO car. That is, a flying saucer shaped aircraft using the Coanda effect for lift (blowing the jet engine exhaust over the saucer’s curved upper surface).

    IIRC development on such aircraft was halted due to uncontrollable maneuvering instability inherent in the very design.

    • Nick P.

      I wonder if modern tricks like computer assisted stabilization such as they use on the F-117 might help with the instability problem.

  • Bruce

    I know that JLN labs in France had a working model of a flying saucer using the Coanda effect…..

  • Jeff Wright

    I wonder if this might lend itself to atomic power. Not quite PLUTO/SLAM (that would be for gas giants where you need to cover a lot of ‘ground’ quickly) but more like the general Atomic design for a Thorium airplane that was on the cover of Pop Mech some time ago. As above, it might be best for Venus though…

    What we can expect in our skies

  • Alexander Lippisch, arguably the inventor of the delta wing, spent most of his post-war years in the US working on advanced or just plain odd aircraft concepts.

    And playing his lute. And collecting butterflies.


    (Is that thing indeed a lute, or is it something else?)