Strange Aircraft: PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor

PZL Mielec M-15 Belphegor

The PZL Milec M-15 was a strange agricultural aircraft developed in the USSR. The aircraft was designed and built in Poland for Soviet agricultural use. Mainly crop spraying and dusting over the vast expansive farms of the USSR.

The aircraft was designed in the early 1970s as a replacement for the Antonov An-2 – a large single-engine biplane which first took to the air in 1947. The M-15 brief called for a modern and efficient aircraft which must be jet-powered. The two chief designers of the aircraft at PZL were Kazimierz Gocyła and Riamir Izmailov.

They came up with a biplane configuration for the M-15, and in doing so inadvertently designed the only jet-powered biplane ever built. In 1972 the first prototype took to the skies. It was built using many components from the AN-2, including the forward section and the wings. It was powered by a single Ivchenko-Progress AI-25 turbofan engine mounted above the fuselage.
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1923 Persu Streamliner

1923 Persu Streamliner

In the early part of the 20th Century, automotive designers were just starting to understand the benefits of aerodynamic bodywork, although at the time it was called ‘streamlining’. Streamlining was still a pretty new idea, most manufacturers still made their cars in the shape of  a box, with a vertical front grille and windshield and quite literally no attempt was made to manage or control the flow of air around the vehicle.

Aurel Persu was one of the first men to understand the importance of aerodynamics. Born in Romania in 1890, he was a graduate of the Royal Technical College of Charlottenburg in Berlin. Persu was inspired by the simple raindrop, and wanted to create a vehicle which had a similarly low drag coefficient. His masterpiece was the Persu Streamliner, a teardrop shaped vehicle with aerodynamic bodywork and wheels which were set within the body – as opposed to sticking out, like on most other vehicles of the time.
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AeroGallo – a real flying cock

Aerogallo rooster airplane from Italy

The AeroGallo is a one-of-a-kind, two-person light aircraft which was built in Italy. Translated from Italian, its name means quite literally ‘Flying Cock’. It was designed and built by self-taught aircraft builder Ottone Baggio in his workshop shed. The inspiration for the aircraft had come from many years before when Ottone visited a farm machinery fair and saw a simple hang glider there called the Rogallo – from there he formed the idea into the AeroGallo.

The amazing paintwork of the AeroGallo, which is almost as impressive as the aircraft itself, done by Ottone’s friend Giuliano Basso. He was inspired by the 20th century artist Antonio Ligabue, and in particular his painting entitled “Lotta dei galli” (The Cock Fight). Ligabue’s works used strong bold colors with thick defining lines. Giuliano spent weeks playing with different colors and techniques to get the right ‘look’ for the aircraft. One of his biggest problems was getting the texture of the feathers to match, as he had to paint the aircraft while it was still in pieces.

Once the aircraft was finally finished and painted, it was taken to Cassola airfield for taxing tests and high-speed ground runs. Unfortunately things didn’t go very well. Test pilots reported that the unusual engine position meant the center of gravity was hard to find, and it felt unbalanced. In addition, during a high-speed taxi run, a misaligned tailwheel caused the aircraft to suddenly turn 180 degrees causing it to tip up and dig one of its wings into the earth damaging the tip.
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Polaris Slingshot 3-Wheeler

Polaris Slingshot

There are a number of so-called ‘reverse trikes’ or 3-wheelers on the market, including the classically styled Morgan Three Wheeler, the sports car-like Grinnall Scorpion III, F1 car-like Scorpion Prodigy P6, the more motorcycle-like T-REX and the electric-powered Epic EV Torq. At the same time there are also a few yet-to-be-realised projects from major manufacturers, like the Volkswagen GX3 and the Peugeot 20Cup.

And now there’s the Polaris Slingshot. Polaris are better known for their range of quads, snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, as well as their Victory and Indian line of motorcycles. But now, not content with offering vehicles with two wheels, vehicles with four wheels, and vehicles with tracks, they’re splitting the difference and offering a 3-wheeler too.
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Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car

Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car from Star Wars

What do you get if you cross one of the most evil empires the universe has ever seen, with a fictional character from Star Wars? The answer is this; the Hot Wheels Darth Vader Car.  I kid of course, Mattel isn’t all that bad, it’s been a full seven years since they accidentally tried to poison children with outsourced Chinese-made toys coated in paint which contained 180 times the acceptable limit of lead.

The timing of the release of the Darth Vader Car, along with more Hot Wheels Star Wars vehicles and playsets isn’t just random either. They arrive ahead of the new Star Wars movie which is due out in 2015. But what makes the Darth Vader car the stand-out vehicle of the bunch is the fact that as well as the 1:64 scale model – which comes with its own lightsaber-inspired collectors care and commemorative box – Hot Wheels actually built a full-size fully functional version of the car.
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Strand Craft V8 Wet Rod luxury PWC

Strand Craft V8 Wet Rod luxury PWC

Thinking about it now, it seems odd it’s taken this long for someone to come up with the idea of a luxury, high-class jetski or personal water craft. Generally speaking, if you’re in the market for a PWC, you have the choice between the more difficult to ride but sportier single-person standy-uppy style, or the more common design with anywhere between one to three seats. Generally speaking they’re covered with garish graphics and look like sportsbikes of the water. Nobody, until now, has offered a classy-looking jetski.

The Strand Craft V8 Wet Rod is a 16-feet (4.8 metre) long vessel capable of carrying up to three people. As the name suggests it’s powered by a 5.7 litre V8 engine producing 300 horsepower which is connected to a water jet drive. Top speed of the vehicle is a claimed 65 mph.
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Zombie-proof Maybach Exelero concept

Zombie-proof Maybach Exelero concept

Daimler may have killed off the Maybach brand last year, but this particular Maybach – based on the Maybach Exelero prototype from 2005 – looks like it’s ready to take the fight to the undead.

Created by the Jordanian designer Khaled Alkayed, the Mad Max-worthy Maybach Exelero concept features a range of enhancements which turn it from a 700 horsepower V12-powered luxury coupe, into a battle-ready, gun-toting, armor-plated sinister death machine.
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ISX Enterprise – what a real warp-drive spacecraft might look like

ISX Enterprise warp-drive spacecraft

Even if you hate Star Trek, you still know the flagship spacecraft of the Federation is the Enterprise, you also probably know it can travel at warp-speed. That’s faster than light in case you’re wondering. What you might not know, is that despite its sci-fi storyline, much of the technology used in the show was based, albeit very loosely, on scientific hypothesis, theory and fact.

Using the best available information from NASA, and adding a healthy dose of artistic license, designer Mark Rademaker has created a series of images showing what the very first warp-capable spacecraft built by humans might look like. He’s called it the ISX Enterprise.

Believe it or not there are in fact some very clever people working at NASA right now on trying to figure out, in theory, how you could build a warp drive. Just to be clear, we’re a long, long way away from something actually being built. But Dr Harold White of NASA’s Johnson Space Center has been working hard to prove that it could one day be possible. His research is based on an earlier theory put forward by Miguel Alcubierre in 1994.
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Twin-engined Jet Luge

Jet Luge

A guy in Australia called Daz Fellows, or Daz the Cowboy as he’s better known, is in the stages of putting the finishing touches to a jet powered street luge he hopes will propel him into the record books.

His creation, which has been several years in the making and relied upon help and sponsorship from numerous specialist companies is pretty amazing. It’s based around a carbon fiber chassis with two jet turbine engines with afterburners fitted. The Jet Luge measures just a fraction under 10 ft (3 metres) in length and just 2 ft (0.6 metres) wide. In total the vehicle weighs just 72 lbs (33 kg).
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Hot Tub Boat – sitting in a boat full of water is now good

Hot Tub Boat

Hot Tub Boats, based in Seattle, Washington are in the business of building boats that are purposely designed to keep their occupants soaking wet. For any other boat company this would be a disastrous proposition, but when you’re offering a boat / hot tub combo it somehow works.

The vessel is not just a simple dingy filled with some warm water though. It’s a custom-built design with luxury appointments and plenty of hidden gadgets. The 15-foot (2.4 metre) Hot Tub Boat features a built-in diesel boiler with thermostat control which can get the water up to a very toasty 104F (40C). Propelling the craft is a quiet 24-volt motor offering a top speed of 4 knots. The boat is controlled via a small joystick located on the deck on the right hand side. The batteries provide up to 10 hours of cruising time before requiring a recharge.
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