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Flying Machines Eclectic

26 May 2018

These three aircraft (one a replica) are exhibited in The Museum of Army Flying which is located in the United Kingdom at Middle Wallop.

ML Aviation’s XK 776, a pioneering ultralight, in its folded state ready for towing behind a car—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

This novel aircraft was designed by Marcel Lobelle (chief designer of the Fairey Swordfish torpedo bomber) and meant for inexpensive private aviation. The goals were to have an aircraft which could be driven to a flying field then easily assembled making the XK 776 one of the first ultralights. The Walter Mikron air-cooled in-line 4 cylinder engine (65 hp but derated to 35 hp) could power the aircraft to a maximum speed of 62 mph for a duration of 2 hours at its cruise speed of 46 mph under the combination canvas and nylon wing. The all up weight limit was 1000 pounds which allowed for a pilot as well as a light passenger.

Replica Wessex Rotabuggy—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Replica Wessex Rotabuggy—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Raoul Hafner designed the Wessex Rotabuggy (above) and the Rotachute P5 (below) as expedients for airborne delivery without need for military glider or parachute. The Rotabuggy was a way to get a driver (though a pilot was included with the driver) and a Jeep to the landing zone and the self-piloted Rotachute P5 an option to deliver a soldier with his light machine gun and ammunition (300 rounds). Both of these aircraft are rotary kites as they are towed aloft while their rotors provide lift. The Rotabuggy (a Jeep with a temporary tail and rotor) was entirely unstable and the Rotachute simply impractical for any other than specialized use. The towing aircraft could easily haul a glider instead of either of these machines to much better effect.

In testing the Rotabuggy was flown between 80 and 150 mph in tow behind a Whitley bomber—which was likely an interesting ride for the Rotabuggy’s pilot. Surely a cockpit voice recording would have had much in the way of colourful (this is a British design) language.

The Rotachute had a maximum load of 240 pounds so the soldier/pilot could not have been of more than average build as the load also included a parachute, weapon and ammunition. Its minimum speed was 57 mph and maximum speed as less than strident 108 mph—too slow for the liking of any tow pilot in a hit zone.

Hafner Rotochute—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Hafner Rotochute plain and simple—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Hafner Rotochute rear aspect—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

Hafner Rotochute—Joseph May/Travel for Aircraft

2 Comments leave one →
  1. shortfinals permalink
    26 May 2018 20:50

    So glad you liked one of my ‘home’ aviation museums! (I used to live 35 miles away)
    Here is a small piece I wrote on the Hafner Rotachute

    • travelforaircraft permalink*
      27 May 2018 12:33

      Thank you Ross. I am almost not a menace when I drive in the UK am almost accustomed to the traffic circles.

      Your Rotachute post is so well done! You are a master of information.

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