The Remarkable Aerovan
You can still see it in the lines. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules, the most successful military transport in history, owes its success in many ways to two innovative brothers from Britain. The high tail, the low sill for loading and the high mid – mounted wing, as seen in all heavy transport aircraft, can all be traced directly back to Fred and George Miles and their odd-looking Aerovan.
First flown in January 1945 the Aerovan was almost comical in shape. It’s large bulbous fuselage, thin triple boom tail and tiny engines earned the nickname-‘flying tadpole.’ For all its unusual features the Aerovan was very efficient. Powered by just two 150hp engines the Aerovan was capable of lifting one ton of freight, or one family passenger car. It’s low sill and rear clamshell doors made for easy loading and unloading. Far easier than any other transport of the day. It was also constructed using non-strategic materials. Made mostly from plastic bonded plywood, the Aerovan was both light and strong.
As a low cost short range transport the Aerovan was a minor success. 52 would be built with a small number serving in the Israeli and New Zealand Air Forces. It’s real success, however, was the design influence it would have on today’s major heavy lift military transports. They may not look like a ‘flying tadpole’, but the C-130 Hercules, C-5 Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster all share the three common elements found in the odd looking Aerovan.
Join us for the unusual story of the Remarkable Aerovan.