Airmen of Vision design competition


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Mar 11, 2012
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During the late 1940s, a couple of American magazines hosted design competitions. Subscribers submitted their sketches and concepts for critique.
These three entries are typical.

The first is a conventional competition sailplane/glider with the gull wings that were fashionable during the 1930s and 1940s.

The second entry is a light twin with a V-tail that resembles the Super-V conversion of Beechcraft Bonanzas. Only a few dozen Bonanzas were converted by Fleet in Fort Erie, Ontario before Beechcraft introduced their Barn twin. Unfortunately this concept is woefully under-powered with only 90 horsepower per side. In comparison, the Bay Aero Super-V conversion had twice that horsepower and the later Beechcraft Baron has more than 300 horsepower per side.

The third concept resembles the 1970s vintage BD-5 kit-plane, also a single-seater. While the BD-5 prototype had a V-tail - which proved too small - so all production kits had conventional vertical fins and rudders with an all-flying, low-mounted horizontal stabilator. All the pushers designed by Jim Bede had narrow, full-depth aft fuselages. Sadly, Jim Bede was a far better engineer and salesman than he was a production manager. The Bede -5 prototype was delayed by a series of failed engines and drive shafts and Bede Corp. went bankrupt. Afterwards, a few BD-5s flew successfully with Honda or jet engines. Bede Micro-jets are insanely expensive, but popular with air show audiences.


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