Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1959 Curtiss Wright model 2500


above photo from http://stiffspeed.tumblr.com


photo from http://www.cardesign.ru/forum/diskussii/obschenie/1352

info from http://www.finkbuilt.com/blog/1960-hovercraft-lineup/
the 1959 Curtiss-Wright model 2500 “Bee”, (AKA “Air-Car”) prototype.

http://www.aerofiles.com/ 
Experimental 2p passenger air-cushion hover-car, built in test form (lower photo), anticipated market in ag application and as swamp buggy; 85hp Continental with 6′ two-blade prop (projected multi-blade props with two 180hp Lycomings) width: 8′0″ length: 28′0″. Michael Cutler et al. Total “flight” time in mid-July 1959 was about 25 hours, albeit only inches AGL; top speed: 35. Displayed at Fort Eustis Transportation Museum, Colonial Williamsburg VA.

C-W experimented in the field of hovercraft with high hopes that the new technology would save their moribund company, and these hopes caused them to issue news releases and drawings of the new product long before the engineering department was ready. I have seen footage of some of the test ‘flights.’ First, the cars looked nothing like the drawing — that sweetheart was a marketing department dream, not reality. What they actually tested was bigger than a Ford Excursion, but still only seated two. It was a big plenum chamber with controllable shutters all along the perimeter for thrust, braking, and control. What the footage shows, however, is that the car was just barely controllable, even over smooth pavement in good weather. The noise was truly awesome, as well. To complete the dismal picture, hover height was only inches, and there was no flexible skirt — it had less off-road capability than an average sedan of the period. It was a wonderful dream, but to have spent millions on it was typical of a management team that took Curtiss from the biggest in the industry to bankruptcy.”

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