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6 Of History's Worst Aircraft, And Why They Failed

Well, at least they tried!

1) Aerocar (1949)

The decades-old dream of a "flying car" has had plenty of attempts, including Moulton Taylor's famous "roadable aircraft." Six were built, although none could pass road-worthy automobile safety regulations. Adding required elements, like bumpers, created huge losses of aircraft performance.


2) Antonov A-40 Flying Tank (1942)

Designed to supply troops behind enemy lines with light tanks, the A-40 Flying Tank was designed with an attachable glider to be towed by a Russian TB-3 bomber. Its first and only test flight resulted in the tow-plane overheating due to the tank's weight and drag. The glider was jettisoned, and the pilot/drive, Sergei Anokin, made a safe landing in a nearby field. He drove the tank back to base after landing.


3) Bonney Gull (1928)

Even after years of successful fixed-wing aviation, American pilot and inventor Leonard Bonney believed that replicating the wings of birds was the secret to aerodynamics. The non-flapping gull-shaped wings first attempted flight on May 4th, 1928. This was the aircraft's first and last flight, as it crashed shortly after takeoff.


4) Convair R3Y Tradewind (1950)

In the 1950s, the US Navy set plans to produce a series of seaplane fighters, bombers, and transport aircraft. The tradewind was designed to hold 103 soldiers. It was fitted with four Allison T40 Turboprops, making it the first turboprop flying boat.


5) Goodyear Inflatoplane (1956)

Beyond their famous airships, Goodyear built aircraft under military contracts. One of them was dedicated to fly for the US Army as the "inflatoplane." Packed into a 44 cubic foot container, the aircraft could be inflated in 5 minutes. It flew successfully a number of times, but considering a well-aimed bullet could take down the aircraft, the project was abandoned.


6) PZL M-15 Belphegor (1973)

Designed to replace the Antonov AN-2 as a crop-sprayer, the Belphegor is one of the world's only jet biplanes. Its upper wing was equipped with high-lift devices, which were coupled with chemical sprayers and reservoirs. About 175 of the aircraft were built.


What other odd planes never made it to commercial success? Tell us in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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