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8 Of The Strangest Wings That Ever Flew

Yes, these wings actually flew.

1) AD-1

The AD-1's wing could be pivoted up to 60 degrees. The project researched the aerodynamic benefits of an oblique wing over a conventional one. And it was effective in cruise flight, you just didn't want to stall...

Wikipedia

2) Blohm & Voss BV 141

The BV 141 was a German WW2 reconnaissance aircraft with an asymmetric design. The cockpit was moved to the right wing to improve visibility for intel gathering.

3) F-14

This wasn't your average Tomcat flight, but the F-14 was actually tested in a fully asymmetric flight condition. And interestingly enough, it did just fine...

US Navy

4) F-104

It looks like the F-104's wings were clipped. But if you have enough thrust, you can make just about any wing fly.

NASA

5) X-29

The X-29 was a forward-swept wing testbed. While the forward swept concept has many advantages, one of the biggest problems is aeroelastic divergence, where the wing tips twist up at high angles of attack. To combat the problem, designers used carbon fiber composites in the wings.

NASA

6) Zerbe Multi-Plane

If 1 wing is good, 5 wings must be better, right?

7) XP-56 Black Bullet

In 1939, the Black Bullet was ahead of its time. With a wing shaped like a hawk, no horizontal tail, and only a small vertical stabilizer, the hope was that reduced aerodynamic drag would make the plane fast. Unfortunately, it wasn't. And, it was very hard to control.

8) F-16XL HSR

NASAs High-Speed Research goal was to achieve laminar flow over a wing at supersonic speeds. Because supersonic flight incurs so much drag, the more laminar (smooth) airflow you can get, the better. The modified wing had tiny holes drilled into the leading edge, and suction was applied to the holes, helping create more laminar airflow across the leading edge of the wing.

NASA

Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at colin@boldmethod.com.

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