|Burnelli's Lifting Fuselages
Aeroplane Monthly, March 1980 issue, starting at page 144
HOWARD LEVY and RICHARD RIDING describe the series of unusual lifting fuselage aeroplanes designed by Texan Vincent J. Burnelli.
Many aircraft designers have pursued radical ideas throughout their aeronautical careers. Men such as Professor G. T. R. Hill Dr. Alexander Lippisch, Horten and Kallinin, who experimented with tailless aircraft, were convinced that such a configuration represented the ultimate in flying safety and controllability.
Others believed that, for sheer aerodynamic efficiency, the flying wing was the only answer. They argued that, by leaving out everything but the wing, one could fly faster and further than conventional aircraft on comparable power.
One of the keenest supporters of this theory was Professor Hugo Junkers who, as early as 1909, envisaged large Hying wing aeroplanes capable of carrying hundreds of passengers over vast distances. In 1923 his ideas progressed as far as the drawing board, and plans were produced for a 262ft span flying wing capable of carrying 100 people. Yet despite the paper advantages, only Northrop was to put a flying wing into production with their YB 35 (see Aeroplane Monthly, January and February 1974.)
A designer who pursued yet another avenue of research was Vincent J. Burnelli. When he died on June 22, 1964, he had spent 50 of his 69 years designing and building aeroplanes. Although his formative years were occupied with light aeroplanes and even a helicopter, he is remembered for his unconventional lifting fuselage transport aeroplanes, a theme he was to develop from 1920 until his death.
These articles are concerned with these rather ugly but functional designs, and it is hoped that a separate appraisal of his earlier and equally interesting products will be published before too long. The basic theme behind Burnelli's lifting fuselage theory was that the fuselage, by way of its large surface area and aerofoil shape, could contribute as much as 50 per cent of the aeroplane's lift, thus giving all kinds of advantages over conventional aeroplanes, particularly with regard to safety and performance.