Apr 292014

The San Diego Air and Space Museum has posted a great many images to Flickr, including a fair amount of concept art. One piece (you can see the best-rez version HERE) depicts a Ryan Aeronautical concept for an air boat equipped with a Flex-Wing. Date would probably have been around 1962, plus or minus a few years. The exact role here is a bit obscure… why would the Army have boats like this? Perhaps a troops transport of some type, though a helicopter would probably be a better choice.


 Posted by at 12:47 pm
  • B-Sabre

    The point may not be how to make a Rogallo-wing aircraft land on the water, but how to get a small water-craft of some kind inland. Once you get to the waterway of your choice, you strike the wing and superstructure (or even discard it) and you have an airboat.

    • Anonymous

      Could be. It might’ve been towed into the region by a helicopter (numerous designs for such things, usually unmanned cargo delivery systems for troops in the field), using its onboard propulsion to land safely. The Rogallo wing does not seem to be easily folded into the upper surface of the boat, so maybe it was to be simply detached and left behind after landing.

      • B-Sabre

        Hah. Imagine that thing armed like your typical PBR (3x .50 cal machine guns, 2 7.62mm machine guns, 40 mm grenade launcher). Now imagine it doing a strafing run prior to landing…or if an enemy helicopter decided to tangle with it in flight.

        • Anonymous

          Don’t know what the topside looks like… it might be open. So if there are a bunch of soldiers in there and they all decide to lean over the sides and open up with their M-16s and M-60s and such…

  • kbob42

    This might be an artifact from when the Air Force was trying to take away even helicopters from the Army.

  • Michel Van

    there is Northrop TAB design mid 1960s for US army flying amphibious vehicle.
    for multi functional vehicle as Truck, Aircraft, Boat = TAB
    Northrop use fold wings
    it’s start as APRA Project AGILE
    issues under investigation was the problem of mobility and logistical supply
    to remote bases and outposts in inaccessible environments. like Vietnam

    TAB died quiet in 1966, Pentagon consider helicopter be a better choice.


    • B-Sabre

      Now that you mention it, there is a large side panel on the hull in the above drawing. Maybe it conceals a set of retractable wheels? This could have been a Ryan entry to Project AGILE.

  • allen

    I remember reading that in veitnam, there was a section of a river that was impassible by our brown water navy due to a large dam. eventually they used CH-47’s to move PBR’s from one side of the dam to the other, giving the bad guys quite a surprise, but if the helicopter were unavailable, you’d be stuck.

    a self-deploying PBR that could move from a coastal area to an inland lake or bypassing obstacles or shallow parts of a river by flying over them, would be a useful item to have. if you really got stuck (not enough water to get up to speed , ect) I wonder if that wing support structure (wing folded or disposed of) would make a handy pickup for a heavy lift helicopter.

  • Cambias

    I suspect the main justification for this was “Because it would be AWESOME!”

  • Bill Higgins

    The style of the art suggests it could be a still from the second* season of Jonny Quest!


  • Bill Higgins

    May spend some time rummaging in the San Diego Flickr account. I like this:
    apparently a nuclear-powered Herky Bird from 1959.

    • Anonymous

      Nope. That’s a nuclear testbed using the Douglas C-133, not the Lockheed C-130. It’s testing one of two turbojets used in the GE XMA-1 nuclear engine.

  • cosmiste

    US version of an ekranoplan ?

    • Anonymous

      No. Not even close. With the wing that far overhead, the ground effect will be nearly non existent.

  • RLBH

    I’ve no idea what it’s for, but now I’ve seen it I want one.
    It looks like the outriggers are retractable, and the air propeller isn’t a particularly good way of driving a boat, so I figure there must’ve been some intention that this thing would make multiple flights. What you do with the wing in between, though, I’ve no idea.