Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Chrysler and Curtiss-Wright Air-Cars of the late 1950s

The Chrysler Twin-Rotor, Ducted Fan Aerial Jeep

Curtiss-Wright Air Car

As early as 1955 Chrysler began thinking about the possibilities of developing air cars. Experiments began with ducted fans as a way to provide both lift and propulsion; on July 15, 1957 the Transportation and Engineering Command of the U.S. Army granted a research contract to Chrysler to study the technology.

At the beginning of 1959 Chrysler and designed and made a working model  of a "Flying Jeep" -- 23 feet long and 10 feet wide, employing a 250 hp engine that pushed two 8.5 foot fans. The vehicle had a top speed of about 25 mph.

Later in 1959 Curtiss-Wright announced an arcane "that rides on a cushion of low-pressure air and does not use conventional axles, brakes, clutches, transmissions, differentials or frame...."
Propulsion of this vehicle was accomplished by releasing air through louvers located in several areas on the outside of the vehicle. The air released was of low pressure (about .1 lb per square inch) and of low velocity. The device was capable of moving in any direction and of turning on its won axis. It was planned that this vehicle would be building at the firm's South Bend, Indiana facility.

The speed of this space age looking "thing" was projected to be about 50 mph, powered by two engines moving the 21 ft. long and 2800 pound vehicle. How did the ride feel? a Motor Trend reporter (p. 33, August, 1959) recounted:

"it is rather like being in one of those electrically-operated "band-em-up" crd that are a feature of carnivals and beach amusement zones. The noise is deafening as the present 65-hp aircraft engine is separated from the cockpit buy only the sheerest of aluminum paneling and sold struts."

1 comment:

  1. Chrysler; awesome car. Affordability is the cornerstone of everything at FR Conversions.