The Strangest Airplanes To Have Ever Been Built

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Martin XB-51

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The Glen L. Martin produced the XB-51 for the United States Army Air Force. They designed this three jet engine aircraft for low-level bombing and close tactical support. The XB-51 possessed a length of 85 feet, a wingspan of 53 feet, and an overall weight of 59,467 lb when fully loaded.

The XB-51’s wing and body shape afforded the aircraft the nickname the Flying Cigar. A name almost as compelling the Vought V-173’s Flying Pancake.

A crew of two controlled the Flying Cigar, a driver and a radio operator. The aircraft flew in 1949. The Flying Cigar performed great at low-levels, but its endurance and poor tight turns proved its undoing.

In 1952, the Air Force ended the XB-51 project. The aircraft didn’t officially retire until 1956. Pilots crashed the only two Flying Cigars built. No museum duty for the XB-51, an aircraft greatest honour in retirement.

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