Strange Looking Aircraft
Luigi Stipa, an aeronautical engineer, filled his lifetime dream when he petitioned the Italian Fascist government in the 1930’s to produce a prototype experimental aircraft in which the government approved and contracted the Caproni Company to construct the aircraft.
After a lot of brainstorming Luigi Stipa and Gianni Caproni came up with one of the smallest and strangest looking aircraft in the world and decided to call it “Stipa-Caproni”. The name derived by using the surname of the engineer (Stipa) and the name of the manufacturer (Caproni).
Stipa Caproni Maiden Flight
October 7, 1932, Caproni company pilot, Domenico Antonini took the Stipa Caproni that was built to fly at a maximum speed of 131km/h on its first test flight.
The hollow mid-wing monoplane of mostly wooden construction looked every bit like a flying barrel with the wings jutting out from the sides of the barrel. The aircraft had low, fixed, spatted main landing gear and a tailwheel, making it look as if it was squatting when on the ground.
The Stipa Caproni was powered by a 120-horsepower de Havilland Gipsy III mounted within the duct behind it, at the midpoint of the fuselage.
The fuselage on the aircraft was shaped like a barrel, in order to store both the propellers; As well as the engine inside the fuselage. The idea of this design was to mount both the propeller and the engine inside the fuselage and use it as a ducted fan. Stipa called the fuselage design an “intubated propeller.”
The design of the Stipa-Caproni was very similar to that of modern jet engines. Modern turbofan engine is thought by some aviation historians to be a descendant of the “intubed propeller” demonstrated in the Stipa-Caproni.
Stipa Caproni Technology Ahead of its Time
Although the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) was not interested in pursuing development of the Stipa Caproni, a number of ideas that were used to build the Stipa-Caproni have been applied in newer technology; its design was an important step for aerospace scholars in the development of jet propulsion.