(click pic to enlarge) The amazing Bugatti Model 100P from: BugattiAircraft.com
The truth is that I've been coming down with a bad case of Bugatti 100P fever ever since I first saw this wooden piece of aerodynamic design perfection several years back at the EAA Museum. I mean really, how do you see this stunning aircraft in person and not have it affect you? Even if you find the shapes to be a little too far over the edge for your taste, surely you'll still marvel at the fact that this thing was dreamed up and built way back in the late 1930's!
The airplane was the work of Ettore Bugatti (the car guy) and engineer Louis de Monge, and they had visions of the 100P as an air racer. There's actually a little mystery as to what all the motivations were for the airplane's design, but the unfortunate truth is that World War II came along before the airplane was flown, and as a result, one of the most fantastic aircraft to ever be built, never even flew.
(click pic to enlarge) from: BugattiAircraft.com
You may already know that two guys from Tulsa, Oklahoma (Scotty Wilson and Gregg Carlson) are actually building an accurate replica of the airplane. Not only is it thrilling that these guys are building this replica, but if things go like we think, the replica will finally give us a detailed idea of how well (or if at all) this airplane flies. I found the video below today on youtube... it's from a few years back, but is shows a Bugatti 100 RC model that looks very accurate in proportions, and it flies great! I'm betting the replica is gonna fly very well too. The model even has conter-rotating propellers just like the original airplane. You can see in the cutaway above that two Bugatti built engines are installed in-line behind the cockpit. Each engine drove a shaft that ran along the sides of the cockpit up to a gearbox in the nose. Pretty amazing stuff! The replica is likely to wind up with two BMW engines that will somewhat accurately reflect the original ones.
Here's a picture of the replica fuselage progress from earlier in 2010. I'm in the process of trying to get more details and info on the current status of the project, and hope to be able to bring lots more information in the next few months about both the original airplane and the replica. The last info on a anticipated first flight for the airplane that I saw said May, 2011. However, as with any mega-sized airplane project, don't be surprised if the guys aren't ready by then. However, they're making some very impressive progress... maybe they will make it! (UPDATE 8.13.10: after I put this post together, I learned that on August 6, 2010, Scotty Wilson did an EAA webinar covering the history of the airplane and shared many details on the replica project. You can view the Buagtti 100 webinar, however, it's almost 1 hour and 20 minutes long. I hope to take much of the most interesting info and condense it in a follow-up post soon)
You can get more info on the original Bugatti 100P by checking out the Bugatti Aircraft Association, the replica build project at CheckeredFlag.aero, and the original airplane on display at the EAA Museum.
Check out the awesome sound of the counter-rotating props and the overall great flying qualities of this Bugatti 100 RC model.