Thursday, 13 January 2011

The Coléoptère annular wing vertical take off and landing "fighter"


A coleopter is a type of  vertical take off and landing design that utilises a ducted-fan as the primary fuselage of the entire aircraft and closely resembles a large barrel with a small cockpit area suspended above it. A coleopter is generally designed to take off and land on its tail. The term is an anglicisation of the French coléoptère (beetle). The first design of an aircraft clearly using the coleopter concept was developed during World War II. From 1944 onwards the Luftwaffe was suffering from almost continual daytime attacks on its airfields, and was finding it almost impossible to conduct large scale operations. One potential solution was to introduce some sort of VTOL interceptor that could be launched from any open location, and there were many proposals for such a system. Heinkel conducted a series of design studies as part of their Wespe and Lerche programs. The Wespe intended to use a Benz 2,000 hp turboprop engine, but these were not forthcoming and the Lerch used two Daimler-Benz DB 605 piston engines instead. Nothing ever came of either design.

The first French Coléoptère was an 'aircraft' like no other and typified the 1950's era of outrageous and outlandish French jet prototypes. Conceived by German engineer Helmut von Zborowski the prototype Coléoptère, the first 'practical' ducted-fan flying body, was developped by SNECMA. To demonstrate the feasibility of an aircraft launching vertically on the power of its jet-engine thrust SNECMA produced the 'ATAR Volant' which starred at the Paris Air Show. Author Jean-Christophe Carbonel's new work on the type relates the entire history of this programme which culminated in 1959 and the nine free flights of the C-450 Coléoptère utilising records and photos from the partcipants and the family of Zborowski. He explores the circular wing fighter concept, the C-400 ATAR Volant programme and the numerous civilian and military offshoots sketched out by the Bureau Technique Zborowski (BTZ).

Book contents as detailed by author J-C Carbonel on the 'secret projects' forum

- a brief history of annular wing before the Coléoptère


- history of the Zborowski design bureau detailing how Zborowski was recruited, what he did in France (missile, aircraft, submarine projects)

- prehistory of the Coléoptère with "alphabet" Coleoptere , 3-engined projects etc....

- history of the C400 ATAR Volant including early ATAR P2 projects (with side cockpit) , C401 and testing of C400 P3 on train

- history of C450 Coléoptère including accounts of all nine flights (illustrated with original period colour photographs of the machine before and after the crash)

- drawings from the C450 instruction manual and drawings from the transport/erector trailer instruction manual

- further developments of Coléoptère by SNECMA including Mach3 interceptor, ground-attack variants, satellite launcher and up to disc-shaped airliners

- books and toys related to the Coleoptere

- foreign projects with annular wings

- an index of all BTZ and SNECMA designs, built and unbuilt, from small missiles to a B47-class 4-engined annular wing bomber (all with full specs when available, original blueprints, photographs of desk models / windtunnel models / real machine)


1 comment:

  1. To look at that aircraft, I wonder if Gerry Anderson moonlighted for SNECMA...

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