Airborne Awesomosity, Bizarre Powerplants, Uncategorized


Today’s entry in our freaky French flyers™ series is the wonderfully-named Aérocentre N.C. 3020 Belphégor. Of absolutely no import in the aviation world, we’re posting the Belphégor as an example of the spiral of shame into which a poorly-conceived program can easily spin.

Prophetically named (Belphégor is a demon who prods people into inventing things to make themselves rich and offers powers of inspiration and genius), the type was conceived in the mid-forties as an atmospheric research aircraft. The design was a large monoplane with a 73ft wingspan and space for a crew of five. The pilot sat in a raised bubble cockpit, while the rest were located beneath and looked out through windows located in the wing roots. The entire cabin was pressurized and built as a separate piece from the rest of the airframe; the rear section of the airframe was constructed of wood. 

The power plant was also a composite: two Daimler-Benz DB610 V12 engines were coupled together into one massive unit that produced 3,000HP. The propeller was as impressive as the wingspan, at 14ft in diameter. The service ceiling was meant to be 42,000ft, and the ill-fated craft had a projected maximum speed of 342mph. First flight took place in June, 1946 but the Belphégor only flew a couple of times before the project was cancelled.

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  • Mid-40s and using Daimler Benz power…was it started under the Vichy government?

    • Number_Six

      'neerd, this is a great question. There are a bunch of these French projects that I've been looking at where it says, "…developed in secret…" but I'm not sure what that means. There is a French-designed and built jet trainer I'll post in a few days that uses the motor from the 262 but the airframe was developed in secret and the powerplant installed in 1946. Definitely gonna research this one, it's very interesting!

      • It is! I know the Leduc 0.10 was developed in secret, which is why it took so long to develop. The French engineers and scientists were pursuing it for their own knowledge and out of their own need to do something great, but didn't want it falling into their Nazi overlord's hands.

  • TurboBrick

    Did someone see a captured He-177 and thought that engine configuration was actually a good idea?

    • Number_Six

      I saw a show where some WWII aircraft mechanics were trying to rebuild a BMW aircraft engine from WWII and they couldn't even replicate the metallurgy in order to replace certain parts. The complexity of German aircraft engines was bonkers (but at least they didn't cut out during inverted flight or negative g's!")

      But you have to admit: this is an incredible-looking aircraft – wouldn't it be great to pull up to the private airpark in one of these?

      • CaptianNemo2001

        Its all the over-engineered parts and all of the extreme tolerances on the parts… Which confuse me. We can machine something to 5,000ths and 10,000ths of an inch but can't recreate a new crankshaft for an Bf 109. At least Rolls Royce said they couldn't do it. With all of theses new 4 and 6 axis CNC machines and the ability to machine something with those machines at ridiculous levels of exactness you would think it could be done. Plus there is always casting. From loss wax to powered metal to printed metal parts ect. If we wanted to we could reverse engineer a Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major and incorporate all the more modern tricks of the trade. IE cooling, metallurgy, tolerances, improved oiling, fuel injection and over-top-power all with equal or better reliability.

  • Slow_Joe_Crow
  • Number_Six

    Airplane > truck on this site, mister!

    **edit: Holy shit, are those windows above the headlights??!!

    • Slow_Joe_Crow

      Yes, those are windows above the headlights, several trucks from the 60s had glass in either the front panel or the lower part of the doors to provide a view of the curb for parking. The Morris FG had a very extreme example
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      • Number_Six

        Dearthair and I have been trying to figure out a way to express ugly/great, like these trucks or the Lamborghini Espada. If it occurs to you, let us know!

        • Greagly!!

          • Number_Six

            I thought that greagly applied to kids after birthday cake or cats on catnip…

      • Vairship

        Note to self: when driving a Morris FG while wearing shorts, make sure to also wear underwear!

  • Victor

    That is an odd aircraft , even among a world of odd things.