In my opinion, one of the most beautiful aircraft ever built is this incredibly complex French racer. As I don't know the entire story behind its construction and how it got from France to Connecticut to Wisconsin, I won't go into that. Instead, just a few facts about the plane. It has a monocoque wood structure, with tulip wood facings over a balsa core. It has two independent drive systems - 2 modified Bugatti Type 50B straight-8 DOHC auto racing engines (no longer in the plane), 2 driveshafts running to a common gearbox, and 2 contra-rotating propellers. The magnesium-block engines were mounted in tandem behind the cockpit, staggered to allow the driveshafts to run down the sides of the cockpit. The intakes in the leading edges of the tail surfaces are for the engines' cooling air. The wing flaps are a masterpiece of complexity - independently controlled flaps on the top and bottom of each wing which could each go up or down.
This plane never actually flew, even though it was essentially complete when World War II broke out. The French managed to keep it well-hidden so it never fell into German hands during the war. It was shipped to the US in the sixties and the engines were removed. The EAA acquired the airframe in July 1996 and promptly placed it on display, the first time the plane was seen by the public in its nearly 60 years of existence.
The above images borrowed from The Bugatti Revue, which has a great article about this plane. During the next year, the plane was restored in time for the 1997 EAA Oshkosh Fly-In, after which it was hoisted up over the museum's Fergus Plaza for permanent display. During the April 1997 model show, the barriers in the restoration shop were moved back to allow the modelers to gather for a presentation, which gave everyone good access to get close to the Bugatti. I took advantage of this by getting plenty of photos of the disassembled plane.
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Last modified 06 October 2007 by RCB