Christmas Bullet
1918
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Christmas Bullet

Doctor William Christmas believed that struts were unnecessary and that an aeroplane's wings should be free to flap like a bird's. Unfortunately, on the first flight of his 'Bullet' fighter, also known as the Christmas Strutless Biplane and by other names, the wings did exactly that and then came adrift. The pilot was killed instantly. A second Bullet did exactly the same thing a few months later. Christmas claimed all sorts of things, among them that he had 'hundreds' of aeronautical patents and that he was swamped by orders for Bullets from Europe and by million-dollar offers to rebuild Germany's air forces. None of them were true, but he did get the US Army to pay him handsomely for his wing design. Or so he said.

Jim Winchester "The World's Worst Aircraft", 2005

Christmas Bullet


Specification 
 CREW1
 ENGINE1 x 185hp Liberty Six piston engine
 DIMENSIONS
    Wingspan8.63 m28 ft 4 in
    Length6.40 m21 ft 0 in

Comments
Phil Copeland, 25.11.2013

Dr. Christmas is well documented as well-known con man. The plane must have looked very "modern" to aviation "experts" at the time which is why he probably got funding for it. Just shows you politicians haven't changed much.

jack sith, 12.06.2011

friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque. Said it was "very fast" and armed with one .50 cal

, 12.06.2011

A friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque

john watson, 26.05.2011

Many years ago I saw a picture o

Klaatu, 04.05.2011

Very probably the worst aircraft in history. The "flexible" wings lacked both internal or external bracing and were far to flimsy, while the tailplane was far to rigid. Two prototypes built and, not surprisingly, both suffered fatal crashes on their very first flights.

mary, 06.01.2010

Does anyone know where I can find Dr. Christmas' description of his flight in Virginia, 1908. I am also looking for a deposition made by Robert Ions about that same flight that took off from his farm in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

leo rudnicki, 25.04.2009

The sad part was that he found pilots to fly it. There was a myth/legend/rumor that a husband bought his wife a Corsair, so she could kill herself, and did. Dr. Death.

Bob Green, 01.10.2008

Jack, I'm afraid that Stefan is correct, your dad's friend could not have flown a Christmas Bullet. For one thing he lived to tell the tale, something that neither of the Bullet's two pilots did. Two take-off, no landings, two crashes and two dead pilots, not exactly "the worlds safest aircraft".
I wonder what aircraft it was that your fathers friend test flew. You say that its torque was so bad that he flew with full opposite rudder and stick - that suggests very strongly that it was a rotary engined aircraft. Did he say it was caled 'The Bullet'? The Morane-Saulnier Type N and the Bristol M1C were both called 'The Bullet', they were both rotary engined and they both had a single machine gun; and the Morane had extremely sensitive controls (see the entries on this site); but they were both shoulder-winged monoplanes, not biplanes.

Stefan Vorkoetter, 20.05.2008

Jack, it's not likely that your father's friend flew one of these during WWI. The only two ever built crashed fatally on their respective first flights.

Jack Smith, 19.04.2008

A friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque. Said it was "very fast" and armed with one .50 cal MG. My father's description of it that he got from his friend matches picture of plane very closely.

Broccolibob, 07.11.2007

This is by far THE worlds worst aircraft! I also read that "Dr." Christmas claimed it to be "the worlds safest and most reliable aircraft" during an airshow, while displaying the aircraft!

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FACTS AND FIGURES

The first Bullet's engine was a Liberty Six, a cut-down version of the famous V-12 Liberty. The army were upset that Christmas flew the first Bullet and wrecked their expensive engine without notifying them.

There was no bracing at all between the upper and lower wings, although it was considered worthwhile to brace the tailplane.

The Bullet was one of the first aircraft with a veneer-clad fuselage, which had reduced skin drag compared to traditional fabric covering.



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