Shaped like barrels, boats and even UFO discs, these five air vessels fly beyond the limits of traditional airplane design.

Bartini Beriev VVA-14

Beriev VVA-14 © Alex Beltyukov under Creative Commons license

No, you’re not looking at a spaceship from a Star Wars movie. The Bartini Beriev VVA-14 was a Soviet aircraft developed in the 1970s, originally designed to be able to take off from water as well as from land. Unfortunately, the VVA-14 never really got off the ground. Despite more than a hundred experimental flights, the project was abandoned in 1974.

Vought XF5U

Vought XF5U

Known as the “Flying Flapjack”, the Vought XF5U is undoubtedly one of the most unusual airplanes ever built. Its disc-shaped body evokes something closer to a UFO than an aircraft, and its composition is equally peculiar: the XF5U was completely made of metal. The only fully assembled plane had to be destroyed with a wrecking ball. That’s one heavy-duty pancake!

Stipa-Caproni 

Stipa-Caproni

Short and barrel-shaped, the Stipa-Caproni may not instantly inspire confidence. Nevertheless, those who have had the chance to fly it during tests all pointed out that it was extremely stable in flight – to the point where it was difficult to change course, however. Although the Italian Air Force dropped the plane project after only a few months of mitigated testing, the Stipa-Caproni’s innovative design marked a significant milestone in the development of jet aircrafts.

Dornier Do X

Dornier Do X © Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-10270 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA under Creative Commons license

At more than 40 metres in length, 10 metres in height and 28 tons in weight – without passengers – the Dornier Do X was a true behemoth. Called the “flying boat”, it was not only the world’s largest aircraft at the time, but also the first to carry over 160 people on a single flight. Designed in the late 1920s by German aircraft manufacturer Dornier, construction of the Do X required more than 240,000 working hours over a period of 570 days. At this speed, it’s no surprise that only three of them ever made it out of the factory.

Boeing 2707

Boeing 2707

With a cruising speed of almost three times the speed of sound, the Boeing 2707 was bound to be the fastest of all civil aircrafts, even beating the famous Concorde. Developed by the United States in the 1960s to compete with similar airplane models from France and the Soviet Union, the Boeing 2707 unfortunately never made it to production, despite more than 120 pre-orders made by 26 airlines – including Air Canada.

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