Chance Vought “Flying Flapjack”

5 01 2012

Sometimes you have to wonder, “what were they thinking?”

Such is the case when you first see the XF5U-1, aka V-173 or Flying Flapjack.


The Chance Vought Corporation was an aircraft manufacturer (now known as Vought Aircraft Industries) who became famous during WWII for their iconic carrier-based fighters, the F4U Corsair. Later, during the Cold War, they produced the F-8 Crusader and the derivative A-7 Corsair II jet fighters.

The flying pancake or “flapjack” as they used to be known, was a “discoidal” shaped wing – a round wing, essentially – that had small horizontal structures sticking out of the tail area, and twin rudders.  It had two engines with massive 16-foot diameter propellers.


It could fly as slowly as 40 MPH and as fast as – get this – 425 MPH. That would be quite a ride in that airframe, I’d wager.

The U.S. Navy ordered it built for testing purposes in 1942, based on designer Charles Zimmerman’s design. However it was not to make it into production due to the advent of and wide acceptance of modern axial flow jet engine technology.

A fun story I read related how one time, when they flew it down to New York for a Navy Day show, beachgoers on the Long Island Sound reported seeing a “flying saucer” nearby!