The ugliest aircraft in history (and its pictures)
The worse looking ones...
Airplanes are beautiful. They represent freedom, and the possibility of traveling far away from our problems. But sometimes, it is hard to see the beauty in some of them. Engineers need to make some decisions that make an airplane a real pain to the eyes, whether because of cost, the lack of certain resources, or the need of the type of work it will perform, some airplanes end up looking not so nice...
Let’s not be bad person and we will leave apart those made by homebuilder, which may be ugly sometimes (really ugly), but there is a lot of effort put in them.
If beauty is subjective, so is ugliness, so fell free to comment or suggest any airplane that is not in this list.
PL 12 Airtruck
Transavia PL-12 Airtruk
The Transavia PL-12 Airtruk is an Australian single-engine agricultural aircraft designed and built in the mid 60’s by the Transavia Corporation.
Why is it on this list? If the photos are not clear enough, let’s see it in detail.
The PL-12 is an all-metal construction shoulder-wing strut braced biplane, with the lower wing smaller than he upper one, with the cockpit mounted above the engine and very short pod fuselage with rear door.
The fuselage is made of fibreglass. It has a tricycle landing gear and has twin tail booms with two unconnected tails.
Among it's general characteristics we find:
- Crew: 1
- Wingspan: 11.98 m (39 ft 3½ in)
- Length: 6.35 m (20 ft 10 in)
- Height: 2.79 m (9 ft 2 in)
- Empty weight: 1,017 kg (2,242 lb)
- MTOW: 1,925 kg (4,244 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Textron Lycoming IO-540-K1A5 flat-six piston engine, 300 hp
- Never exceed speed: 274 km/h (148 knots, 170 mph)
- Maximum speed: 196 km/h (106 knots, 122 mph) at 915 m
- Cruise speed: 188 km/h (102 knots, 117 mph)
- Range: 1297 km (700 nm, 806 mi)
- Service ceiling: 6,890 m (22,600 ft)
De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou
The De Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou is a twin-engine tactical cargo plane developed and produced by De Havilland Canada with capacity to carry out short takeoffs and landing (STOL). The Caribou made its first flight in 1958 and there are still some flying in some secondary airline companies, after paying services in USA, Canada and Australia Armed Forces.
The pictures talk by themselves. As many other STOL aircraft, in order to gain this characteristic, some of its beauty must be left behind... very far behind.
CASA C-212 Aviocar is a light cargo plane and marine patrol, equipped with two turboprops, with STOL capacity, designed by CASA for civilian and military use. It has been made in Spain since the beginnings of the 1970’s. Initially it was commercialized under the name of Aviocar, but EADS CASA no longer uses that name to talk about to this airship.
Why is it ugly? It seems like the engineers forgot about the curves, and designed it only with straight lines. The addition of special equipment on the nose of the plane makes it even uglier.
- Crew: 2
- Capacity: 2.820 kg
- Length: 16,2 m (53 ft)
- Wingspan: 20,3 m (66,5 ft)
- Height: 6,6 m (21,7 ft)
- Wing Surface: 41 m²
- Empty Weight: 4.400 kg
- MTOW: 8.000 kg
- Plowerplant: 2× turboprop Garrett AiResearch TPE-331-10R-513C.
- Cruise Speed (Vc): 315 km/h, 170 knots
The Bristol Type 170 was designed originally by the Bristol Aeroplane Company as a rugged, heavy-duty transport to operate from unimproved airstrips. It was all-metal, twin-engine high-wing monoplane .
Why is it ugly?
It has a square-sectioned fuselage, specially designed to be clear of internal obstacles. It had a fixed landing gear, the main gear legs were supported by enormous vertical struts beneath the radial engines and horizontally from the lower edge of the fuselage. The cockpit was located over the forward fuselage. It had two large clamshell doors in the nose.
All of these characteristic made it a somewhat bulbous and cumbersome-looking plane.
Among its general characteristics we find:
- Crew: 2
- Length: 73 ft 4 in (22.4 m)
- Wingspan: 108 ft 0 in (32.92 m)
- Height: 25 ft 0 in (7.62 m)
- Empty weight: 29,950 lb (13,404 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Bristol Hercules 734 14-cylinder sleeve-valve radial piston engine, 1,980 hp
- Maximum speed: 225 mph (362 km/h)
- Range: 820 miles (1,320 km)
- Service ceiling: 24,500 ft (7,470 m)
Bristol Freighter taxiing
The soviets had to be in this list, after all, they can make excellent aircraft, but most of them aren’t pretty at all.
The Mielec M-15 was an agricultural aircraft, manufactured in Poland by PZL Mielec. The Mielec M-15 is probably the world's first and only jet agricultural aircraft.
It has the honour(?) of being the world's only jet biplane and the world's slowest jet.
Why is it ugly? The pictures should be enough:
The aircraft was a biplane, with the lower wing smaller than the upper one, with a jet engine over the crew cabin. The wings were connected with two thick columns which housed the chemical tanks. The trycicle undercarriage was fixed.
Among its general characteristics we find
- Crew: 1
- Length: 12.72 m (41 ft 8¾ in)
- Wingspan: 22.33 m (73 ft 3¾ in)
- Height: 5.34 m (17 ft 6½ in)
- Empty weight: 3,090 kg (6,812 lb)
- Max. takeoff weight: 5,650 kg (12,456 lb)
- Powerplant: 1 × Ivchenko-Progress AI-25 turbofan, 14.7 kN (3,306 lbf)
- Cruise speed: 140–165 km/h (76–89 knots, 87–103 mph)
- Range: 400 km (216 nmi, 248 mi)
The Fieseler Fi 156 Storch (`stork' in German) is considered one of the most important airplanes of World War II; it is the most recognized airplane of the company, due to its wide use during the conflict.
Why is it so ugly? Again: STOL.
It was an excellent STOL aircraft (short takeoff and landig) that made its first flight at the beginning of 1936. Structurally it was a monoplane of high-mounted wing, of mixed construction with conventional tail and fixed undercarriage with tail skid. It was propelled by a Argus Ace air cooled eight cylinders engine and its wide crystal cabin gave an excellent visibility to its three crewmembers.
It could take off from runways of grass of about 60 ms and land in the third part of that distance, that is to say, in only 20 M.s
Because of their excellent qualities, Fi 156 was used in many and famous operations, such as the rescue of Benito Mussolini of their prison in a mountain hotel in the Apennines, or the flight of the famous aviatrix Hanna Reitsch on the ruins of Berlin, to transfer to general Robert Ritter von Greim before Hitler who had named him their new Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe.
Among its main Characteristics, we find:
- Crew: 2
- Length: 9,9 m
- Wingspan: 14,25 m
- Height: 3,05 m
- Empty Weight: 930 kg
- MTOW: 1325 kg
- Powerplant: 1 Argus As 10C-3, 180 kW 240 cv,
- Maximum Speed: 175 km/h
- Range: 385 km
- Service Ceiling: 4600 m
Amazing take off, ugly plane.
Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter) or Beluga is a transport airplane, specialized in voluminous loads, designed by Airbus from the A300-600, with great modifications to be able to take loads of great size.
Due to its history and structures, Airbus has different centers of production distributed by all Europe, each one of which produces a part of the airplane, that it has to be transferred to be assembled to other parts in the final chain of assembly. Although the workload of each center varies according to the model, generally are distributed of the following form: the wings make in Great Britain, the horizontal stabilizer and the doors in Spain, the fuselage in Germany and the central section and the front part in France, which are assembled in Toulouse, Hamburg, Filton or Seville according to the model and version.
In the beginning the components were transported by train or boat, but the increase of the production did necessary to transport them by air. In order to solve these problems the Beluga was created.
There are other freighters that can transport much more heavy loads (like the Antonov An-225, Boeing B747 or the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy), but no other can transport as great and voluminous loads as the Beluga. The cargo compartment has a 7.4 ms diameter and 37.7 ms length.
The Beluga was developed from the twin-engine plane of wide fuselage Airbus A300. They kept the wings, engine, undercarriage and the inferior part of the fuselage. The superior part of the fuselage was replaced by a structure with form of horseshoe of 7.4 m of diameter. In order to allow the access to the load cabin, the pilot's cabin was moved to an inferior level, and a door of 17 m of height in the frontal part of the airplane was incorporated. In addition the structure of the tail was modified; it was extended has two additional vertical rudders, to improve the maneuverability and stability of the airplane.
The assembly of the airplane began in September of 1992, being the inaugural flight in September of 1994. Five Belugas were constructed. Its main task is to take the components of the Airbus airplanes from the production places to the final chains of assembly, but in addition they are available for special works, such as the transfer of components of the ISSl, works of art of great size, industrial machinery, or whole helicopters.