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The Futuristic French Plane Designed To Fly Without Wing
Some simple requirements for flight are wings and a long enough runway to generate lift, though experiments with Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) aircrafts, or tail-sitters, have tried to negate these needs. According to Mustard, these VTOLs would almost do away with runaways entirely since the aircraft could take off from virtually anywhere if proven successful.
French aircraft engine builder SNECMA (Société Nationale d'Études et Construction de Moteurs d’Aviation, now Safran Aircraft Engines) took it further and designed a tail-sitter without wings. Its C.450 Coléoptère (the French word for “beetle”) was powered by an axial-flow turbojet engine and had a 10.5-foot diameter ring-shaped “wing” that encircled the bottom half of the plane.
The aircraft featured many innovations, such as the four small fins strategically placed around the “wing” that would act as rudders to provide directional control while in flight. However, the project was scrapped when SNECMA’s Coléoptère was destroyed while testing the plane’s ability to transition from vertical take-off into horizontal flight mode on July 25, 1959.