“Flying Pancake” – Vought V-173

Flying Pancake, V-173

Flying Pancake, V-173

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” was an American experimental test aircraft designed by Charles H. Zimmerman and was built as part of the Vought XF5U “Flying Flapjack” World War II United States Navy fighter aircraft program.

Both the V-173 and the XF5U featured a rather unorthodox “all-wing” design consisting of flat, somewhat disk-shaped bodies (hence the name) serving as the lifting surface. Two piston engines buried in the body drove propellers located on the leading edge at the wing tips.

The original prototype, designated the V-173, was built of wood and canvas and featured a regular, fully symmetrical aerofoil section. Designed as a “proof-of-concept” prototype, the initial configuration V-173 was built as a lightweight test model powered by two 80 hp Continental A-80 engines turning F4U Corsair propellers.

These were later replaced by a pair of specially modified 16 ft 6 in three-bladed units. A tall, fixed main undercarriage combined with a small tailwheel gave the aircraft a 22° “nose-high” angle.

Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942
Ground testing of the V-173, c. 1942

The disc wing design featured a low aspect ratio that overcame the built-in disadvantages of induced drag created at the wingtips with the large propellers actively cancelling the drag-causing tip vortices.

The propellers were arranged to rotate in the opposite direction to the tip vortices, allowing the aircraft to fly with a much smaller wing area. The small wing provided high maneuverability with greater structural strength.

In January 1942, the Bureau of Aeronautics requested a proposal for two prototype aircraft of an experimental version of the V-173, known as the VS-135.

The development version, the Vought XF5U-1, was a larger aircraft with all-metal construction and was almost five times heavier than the first prototype.

1428_25
Diagram of the complicated powertrain

The first flight of the V-173 was on 23 November 1942 with Vought Chief Test Pilot Boone Guyton at the controls. The aircraft’s most significant problem concerned its complicated gearbox that routed power from the engines to its two long propeller shafts.

The gearbox produced unacceptable amounts of vibration in ground testing, delaying the aircraft’s first test flight for months.

Vought V-173

Vought V-173

Charles Lindbergh piloted the V-173 during this time and found that it was surprisingly easy to handle and exhibited impressive low-speed capabilities.

On one occasion, the V-173 was forced to make an emergency landing on a beach. As the pilot made his final approach, he noticed two bathers directly in his path. The pilot locked the aircraft’s brakes on landing, causing it to flip over onto its back.

Maiden Flight for the V-173

Maiden Flight for the V-173

Remarkably, the airframe proved so strong that neither the plane nor the pilot sustained any significant damage.

The developmental V-173 made its last flight 31 March 1947. In 131.8 hours of flying over 190 flights, Zimmerman’s theory of a near-vertical takeoff and landing-capable fighter had been proven.

The V-173 is now part of the Smithsonian collection at the Paul E. Garber Preservation, Restoration, and Storage Facility in Silver Hill, Maryland.

V-173 on display

V-173 on display

It was restored at the Vought Aircraft plant in Grand Prairie, Texas, as of April 2012 it is on loan to the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.

This 3-minute video shows the model and actual plane flying.

 

Article is from War History online.

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Military Humor –

funny-speed-enforcement1

Speed limit enforced by aircraft.

Watch out for speed traps !!

Watch out for speed traps !!

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes –

Lee Alexander – Ashton, ID; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 11th Airborne Division

Atereiti Blair – NZ; NZ Air Force, WWII, nurse

Rufus Britt – Gassville, AR; US Navy, WWII, electrician, USS O’Toole

John Cotton – Broad Channel, NY; US Navy, WWII

Richard Ennis – WA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, POW

Roland Hayes Jr. – Shelbourne, NH; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO

Nelon “Tex” LaCount – Syracuse, NY; USMC, WWII, PTO / Korea, Sgt.

Georges Loinger (108) – Strasbourg, FRA; French Army, POW (escaped), French Resistance

Victor Mellen – W. Pelham, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 1st Lt., navigator

Stephen O’Brien – Dubuque, IA; US Army, WWII & Korea

Doris (Gradwell) Plagenhoef – Scarbourgh, ME; US Army WAC, WWII, PTO, nurse

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 3, 2019, in Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 176 Comments.

  1. Thanks for your like of my post, ” Israel 4 – The Preparation Of Moses – A Peek Into The End Times;” I really appreciate your kindness.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Flying Pancake?

    Fascinating.

    Almost similar in shape to a flying saucer UFO.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Your contribution on WordPress, and the online community as a whole, gives great substance. Thank you for your blessed articles! ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is amazing how all the strangest things can actually fly 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like a flying pancake.Haha to crazy for words

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a wonderful creative idea!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve always been intrigued by this aircraft and the other experimental planes developed in the US during the war – including the tailplane-forward Curtiss XP-55 ‘Ascender’, which has to be one of the few aircraft names built around a (lame) pun! When we imagine ‘futuristic aircraft’ of the 1940s, the tendency is always to imagine ‘Luftwaffe 1946’ but the reality was that US and British aircraft designers also had the imagination and support to pursue some really innovative ideas.

    What’s more, the US had the industrial base to bring the best ones to life as mainstream aircraft – I’m thinking particularly of the B-29, which was an amazing aircraft for the day in every way, and originally conceived in 1940 for trans-Atlantic bombing missions in case Britain fell. There was so much about them that was new and experimental – and yet they were brought into service in major numbers, in just a few years. It was a capability Germany totally failed to achieve in the reverse, despite multiple attempts to develop an ‘Amerika bomber’.

    I could go on…(I think I can feel a blog post coming on here – I did one on Germany’s failed wonder weapons, I need to do one on the successful Allied ones…). That earlier post is here, if you feel like checking it out… https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/the-stupidity-of-nazi-super-science-and-hurrah-for-british-boffins/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for bringing your aviation expertise to this post, Matthew, I know you’re good (heck I’ve read some of your books!!). I remember that article of yours and wonder – what in your opinion is the main reason that Germany did not follow through on so many of their ideas?

      Like

  8. It certainly had an unusual shape. I wonder if these were spinoffs of flying saucers…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. And I thought you were cooking breakfast…lol! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I would love to see that pancake! It feels like something out of a 50s scifi movie. 👽

    Liked by 1 person

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