Strange Vehicles > Transavia PL-12 Airtruk
The Transavia PL-12 Airtruk is an extremely odd-looking agricultural aircraft which was designed and built in Australia. The single-engine aircraft has a very short but deep fuselage and an unsual biplane wing layout.
The PL-12 Airtruk was of metal construction with some panels, namely the engine cowling, rear fuselage and top decking made from fiberglass. It was powered by a 300 horsepower Rolls Royce Continental IO-520-D engine, although later versions, renamed Skyfarmer, featured more powerful engines.
The Transavia PL-12 Airtruk first flew in 1965. It was inspired by the Bennett Airtruck, which was developed in New Zealand by Luigi Pellarini, Pellarini then adapted the design to create the PL-12.
The Transavia PL-12 Airtruk featured a large hopper for distributing fertilizer from the air, or spraying insecticide. It could also carry two passengers while in this configuration. Other versions of the aircraft were also built (PL-12U), including a cargo model and an air ambulance. Without the fertilizer hopper it could carry up to five passengers.
As the years progressed several updated versions of the Transavia PL-12 Airtruk were built. 1978 saw the introduction of the T-300 Skyfarmer, with the T300A Skyfarmer following three years later. The ultimate version was the T-400 Skyfarmer, which had a 400 hp engine and improved aerodynamics. This aircraft was manufactured until 1993.
Amazingly a military version of the Airtruk was also considered. This model, called the PL-12 MIL would have been armed and capable of light attack and counter-insurgency roles. It was never built.
A Transavia PL12 Airtruk was famously used in the 1985 movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.