Most military aircraft have a sleek, menacing, and purposeful appearance. Usually, despite their lethal nature, they “look good”. Not so the Curtiss-Wright VZ-7. It looks more like somone’s first attempt at metal work, and it most certainly doesn’t look capable of flight. But it could fly, and it did fly.
The Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 was a VTOL aircraft designed to act as a “flying jeep”. Two prototypes were constructed and delivered to the US Army in 1958.
It was a rather rickety affair. It consisted of a central fuselage which housed the 430 horsepower Turbomeca Artouste IIB turboshaft engine. At the front was a single seat for the pilot. Four propellers, two either side of the fuselage provided lift and thrust for the aircraft. Originally the propellers each had their own small shroud, but these were later removed.
Amazingly, despite its complicated appearance it was reported that the VZ-7 was easy to fly. The aircraft was controlled by changing the thrust of each individual propellor. It was fairly cumbersome however and only achieved a top speed of 32 mph (51 km/h). Its service ceiling of just 60 metres (200 ft) meant it would have an easy target for any enemy soldiers.
Despite performing reasonably well during its flight tests the Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 was not able to meet the Army’s standards, and after two years both prototypes were returned to the manufacturer and the project was cancelled.
One Curtiss-Wright VZ-7 still exists today and is in storage at the United States Army Aviation Museum aircraft collection at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
See also: Chrysler VZ-6