Fighting and exchanging artillery shots on land is already hard enough: you have to be precise and careful; you also have to consider your position, your target’s position, the kind of weapon you exactly have, and all those other things. Air combat is even harder, from bombing enemy targets to protecting bases and assets to exchanging fire while mid-air. That’s why it’s no wonder that aircraft designers experimented and worked with different innovations to help the pilots better achieve whatever their tasks were, at the same time giving the nation better chances of winning at times of war. Part of innovation is the trial-and-error process, and sometimes, the results were the wackiest, unique-looking planes. Let’s check them out.

Vought V-173

Perhaps one of the cutest experimental fighters of World War II that was built in 1942, Vought was loving called “Flying Pancake,” and rightly so.

The Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” in-flight (Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons/Wikipedia)

V-13 had the usual “tail dagger” design of many aircraft built in WWII. It also featured dual rudders, which were usually seen on bombers and helicopters prior. Vought was the first fighter plane ever to use it. This paved the way for the use of dual rudders on the F-14, F-15, F-18, F-22, and the F-35— all of which served or are still serving in the US military as primary aircraft. V-173 was also one of those few fighter planes with two rotors. It never really went into full production, but it was flown around 190 times. Today, it could be seen at the Frontiers of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas.

North American F-82 Twin Mustang

F-82 Twin Mustang
68th Fighter-All Weather Squadron North American F-82G Twin Mustang 46-394 MIA Mar 14, 1951. (United States Air Force, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

This aircraft was the last American piston-engined fighter ever to be produced by the US Air Force; thus, it had its first take-off at the end of World War II because the war had already ended before the first production units were fully operational. Originally, this was created as a long-range escort fighter for the Boeing B-29 Superfortress. After the war, these planes were used by the Strategic Air Command as long-range escort fighters to replace the Northrop P-61 Black Widow as an all-weather day or night interceptor. F-82 Twin Mustangs also saw the Korean War, as they were among the first US Air Force aircraft to be flown over Korea. In fact, the first three North Korean aircraft that were destroyed by the American forces were by F-82s, flown by the 68th Fighter Squadron.