The Flying Ford Flathead…

The Flying Ford Flathead…

You probably know that Ford had an aircraft history starting in the early 1920s with Model T-powered Sky Flivvers, cheap and cheerful like the cars. Bigger success came later in the decade with the sturdy and reliable Ford Trimotor, essentially the first commercial airliner, made in conjunction with FMC’s acquired Stout Metal Airplane Company. However, by 1933 bigger passenger aircraft companies like Douglas and Boeing were coming into play with far more advanced planes, the Great Depression was in full swing, and Henry was loosing interest in flying all together. In their waining days, Stout had one last, radical trick up it’s aircraft sleeve with an experimental flyer called the ’15 P’. The swoopy aluminum teardrop design had no tail, and was essentially a flying wing aircraft.

It was an answer to a challenge put forth by the Aeronautics Branch of the Department of Commerce to develop an $800 airplane that the common man could afford, fly, and maintain. To keep the cost down, the 15P was equipped fairly stock, single carb 221 c.i. Ford Flathead V-8, so that parts could be purchased at any Ford car dealer. However, this motor was of an all aluminum construction, and was rated at 115 hp, as opposed to 75 for the car engine… I’m not sure where that extra horsepower would have come from, but I like it. The rest of the details are pretty scarce- She had a 34 foot wingspan, a mere 14 feet long, and only weighed 1600 pounds. The top speed was listed at 120 mph with a maximum range of 500. Unfortunately, the 15 P’s tailless design was a little too radical and proved hard to control. After sustaining damage during a test flight landing, she was grounded and Ford Motor Company ceased their aircraft operations, closing the Stout Metal Airplane Division permanently in 1936.

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