It might come as some surprise that Chrysler briefly flirted with the world of prototype military aircraft. But in 1959 they did just that. The Chrysler VZ-6 “Flying Jeep” was a proposal for a light aerial utility vehicle which it was hoped could perform some of the functions of the trusty Jeep, while at the same time having the advantage of being able to fly over obstacles or difficult terrain.
The project was initated in 1956 when the US Army put out a brief calling for such a vehicle. Out of the many design proposals the army recieved, three were accepted for further development, the Chrysler VZ-6 being one of them. Two prototypes of the VZ-6 were ordered for testing in 1958.
The Chrysler VZ-6 featured two downward-facing propellers, one in front of, and one behind the pilot. The Pilot was offset to the left of the aircraft and next to him was the single 500-horsepower engine. Rubber skirts around the outside of the vehicle’s bottom edge helped increase the propeller-generated lift. Forward propulsion resulted from lowering the VZ-6’s nose and using duct-mounted vanes to deflect some of the airflow to the rear. The VZ-6 was never meant to fly at the sort of altitudes of conventional aircraft, in fact its cruising altitude was somewhere between 1.5 and 4 metres (5 – 13 feet).
The Chrysler VZ-6 flew for the first time in 1959. The initial results weren’t promising. At 1,089 kgs (2,400 lbs) it was clearly too heavy and underpowered. It also displayed lateral stability problems. In fact during its first non-tethered flight one of the prototypes flipped over completely and was damaged beyond repair. Thankfully the pilot managed to escape without serious injury.
However that incident spelled the end for the Chrysler VZ-6 Flying Jeep program. In 1960 both prototypes were scrapped.
See also: Curtiss-Wright VZ-7