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Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the blast-from-the-past dept.
concertina226 writes "A team of engineers is working together to recreate the Bugatti Veyron (or Bugatti 100P), an art deco-era fighter plane designed for World War II that would have broken the air speed record in 1940 — only the plane was never flown. Featuring forward pitched wings, a zero-drag cooling system and automated flight control assistance, plane was capable of reaching an air speed of 500mph, which would have made it the fastest and most advanced plane of its time."
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Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain

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  • Engines (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shortscruffydave (638529) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:51AM (#46388129)
    If the main thing about this aircraft is it's high speed, it seems odd to me that the replica is going to be powered by engines which will only allow it to reach a fraction of the quoted max speed
  • Two things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Overzeetop (214511) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:53AM (#46388137) Journal

    I get the computer controlled part, since forward swept wings are inherently unstable, but not how such control was going to be accomplished in 1939. Also, this 500mph historical plane, with modern fabrication and knowledge, is going to be limited to 200mph because they could only manage to fit 400HP of engine in it. And yet the original was supposed to fly 2.5 times as fast with only 2.25x the horsepower? Drag doesn't scale that way.

  • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:54AM (#46388141)
    I'm curious - what exactly does "computer-directed flight control" mean for a plane from 1939?
  • Oh my (Score:5, Insightful)

    by muecksteiner (102093) on Monday March 03, 2014 @11:57AM (#46388159)

    Even by Slashdot standards, this is one of the dumbest headlines, ever.

    Bugatti was no Nazi. He lived and worked in pre-war France, and was not a Nazi supporter at all. The reason the thing did not fly back then was because Bugatti, who had build the plane in France prior to it being invaded by Nazi Germany, successfully hid it from the invaders so they would not get their hands on it. Or rather, the technology used in it: in any case, the plane in the form it was built was never, ever, a "Nazi plane". Nor would it have been useful at all as a warplane: this thing, amazing as it is, is a pure racer, with zero capabilities for being armed. Nor would it probably have been much good in a dogfight, either: that crate was built to be fast, with everything else being a secondary consideration.

    This headline is pure drivel, and really should be corrected ASAP.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:38PM (#46388451)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dornier_Do_335 [wikipedia.org] could potentially beat the shit out of RAF .. and so could ME 262 . Just consider the allies lucky .. they were not built in large numbers ...

    They also lacked range. By the time they flew to London, they only had enough fuel to stay for a matter of minutes before returning to base. The RAF Spitfires were flying from local airfields, so could spend much more time in the fight. The really decisive fighter of WWII was the American P51 Mustang, not because it was the fastest, or most maneuverable, but because it could carry large external fuel tanks, greatly extending its range. It could accompany bombers from England to Berlin, or from the Marianas to Tokyo. It is not the best fighter than wins, but the best fighter that actually shows up for the fight.

  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:38PM (#46388453)
    The Germans lost the battle for many reasons. They were losing aircraft fast, not just in combat but due to maintenance needed. Planes have to be pulled out of the line and refurbished every so often. They can't fight forever. Unknown to the Germans, the British were far out producing them in fighter aircraft. Almost double the production. The problem the British faced was a lack of pilots to man those aircraft, and a degradation of the support infrastructure. Same as pilots, the ground crew, maintenance and airfield engineers were wearing out. But, so were the German ones. It turned into a battle of attrition. The Germans were deeper to begin with, but the British were losing less over time. The Germans eventually broke first. Their change in tactics was to cover the wearing out of their air force.
  • by WarSpiteX (98591) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:41PM (#46388473) Homepage

    My God, Slashdot has gone to shit over the years. That kind of unresearched clickbait nonsense would not have made a post 10 years ago.

    The aircraft in the picture is:

    1. Too small.
    2. Unarmed.
    3. Unarmored.

    Let's explain:

    Once you add armament and armor, the Bugatti would be a LOT slower. Probably slower than the Bf-109 that set the 469mph record.

    To compensate, you'd need a bigger engine. The 109, which was a small fighter to begin with (half the size of a P-51 and a third the size of a P-47), was already running a big engine for its size and barely had enough room to upgrade to the DB605 during the middle of the war. This Bugatti is tiny. It's powered by two 4.9L engines that produce 450hp each. In 1940, the 109 had the DB601 with a displacement of 34L and produced ~1200hp. By 1945, the DB605 was up to 37L and produced about 1800hp.

    The Bugatti wouldn't be big enough to run an engine that big, and while I'm sure one of you is going to ask "but it doesn't need to"... yes it does. If it's to carry enough fuel, armaments, and ammunition, it needs to have an engine that can propel it forward at combat speeds with all that extra weight, and an airframe that can hold all that. You don't get a lunar lander to the moon in Kerbal Space Program with a pair of solid fuel boosters, and you don't get an armed and armored fighter to loiter over Britain for an hour with two 4.9L engines. Not happening. Physics disagrees.

    Incidentally, the 109's already small size was one of the major problems for the Germans during the Battle of Britain. It didn't have the fuel capacity to stay over London for anything more than 15-20 minutes and still be able to return to France.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Insightful)

    by imikem (767509) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:55PM (#46388591) Homepage

    And the P-51 also happened to have plenty of fight in it, aside from the range. Superb aircraft.

  • by tunabomber (259585) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:55PM (#46388601) Homepage

    ...but the Nazis could have found it since they were occupying France at the time.
    In order to find the parts of a cutting-edge racing plane, you just have to THINK like the parts of a cutting-edge racing plane.

    All joking aside, I saw this plane at the EAA museum in Oshkosh a number of years ago and despite whatever complaints people may have about its utility as a combat plane, if nothing else it is an incredibly beautiful machine. It looks like something out of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, except more curvaceous and birdlike.

  • Re:Engines (Score:4, Insightful)

    by overshoot (39700) on Monday March 03, 2014 @12:56PM (#46388609)

    There may also be other problems that would surface (which is possibly why they don't want to go over 200 mph with the replica) such as it may suffer from flutter at high speeds; flutter will destroy an airframe in seconds.

    With the engines that far back, I suspect that the "computer control" was a hydraulic system to counter PIO (at the time designers were still willing to flirt with small amounts of instability.) At higher speeds that planform sure looks to me like the center of lift would move forward and, expert pilot or no, hasta la vista.

  • Re:Engines (Score:2, Insightful)

    by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:00PM (#46388653) Homepage Journal

    High horse power piston engines useable for this kind of plane are not build anymore.
    Like ... 50 years or so.
    If you wanted some 500hp plus engines you have to reinvent / redevelop / reengineer them.

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