The Avrocar prototype on a test flight; photo via Wikipedia.
The Avrocar, the USAF’s experimental “flying pancake” aircraft, is a pretty familiar image these days. Shaped like an upturned saucer wrapped around an enormous fan, this was only intended to be a proof-of-concept design built in readiness for a full scale attack aircraft capable of an estimated Mach 3.5 at an altitude of 30,000m – “Project 1794”, or “Weapon System 606a”. Sadly the Avrocar never even reached its own targets of 300mph and a service ceiling of 3000m; the best it managed was 35mph at a height of only 1m.
But more than what it was, I love this image from the company’s promotional literature of what it could be: flying jeeps armed with rocket launchers that look suspiciously like cigarette holders.
Just the thing for golden-age Doctor Who or James Bond games: squadrons of Avrocars backed up by mighty supersonic disks capable of outflying conventional aircraft.