Nuclear technology was in its pioneering heydays in the late 1940s and 1950s, with idea after idea being pitched. Luckily, most of the crazy or unsafe ones weren't really tried out, given the disastrous potential of the atom. Many different ideas for nuclear powered vehicles were theorized, but ground vehicles and aircraft proved impractical, with only a few prototypes of the latter being tested before safety concerns shut them down. However, the Ford Nucleon was a design made to put this not in the hands of militaries, but in the common driver. The scale model concept car was built in 1958 in Michigan, and while it didn't actually have a functional reactor, it was designed to accept a uranium-fission reactor in the rear. Luckily, the technology wasn't around at the time to actually make a reactor small enough, because the thought of one of those being on an American highway scares the crap out of me.
|That's Ford Motor Company, folks: death on wheels.|
The Germans were known to have been the pioneers in jet-powered aircraft and rocketry for military purposes during World War II, even though they couldn't do so with any significant numbers due to the fact that they were losing when the technology matured. In fact, they were so desperate in 1945 that they designed the Bachem Ba 349: a rocket-powered suicidal death machine. Though it was classified as an interceptor (a fighter aircraft meant to catch and shoot down enemy bombers before they could reach their targets), it was essentially a manned surface to air missile. To save on limited resources, the pilots were supposed to be untrained (one source said that leaders were looking at the Hitler Youth, essentially the Third Reich's version of Boy Scouts), it was made from cheap materials (such as wood), and the rocket motor was reusable if it survived. It would launch vertically, intercept the enemy, fire its armament of unguided rockets, and then the pilot would eject himself and the engine. On March 1, the only manned test promptly killed Luftwaffe test pilot Lothar Sieber, probably due to a faulty cockpit design that broke his neck. The cheap canopy latch and headrest were corrected, but tests continued only on unmanned flights. Estimates on how many prototypes were made range from a dozen to 36, and only a few survive to this day.
|"Yeah, sure, let's put a 12-year old in this. Sounds good!"|
|"Majestic" is not a term that comes to mind here.|
|I nearly lost my mind staying in the Philadelphia International Airport once, on a standby ticket... but this guy takes the cake.|