The Convair Model 49 is unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It’s not a helicopter, nor is it a fighter jet – it’s a flying battleship.
At first glance, the Model 49 was half a helicopter, half a fighter jet, and half a battle tank.
Technically, it’s considered a shrouded-rotored vehicle with two co-axial mounted contra-rotating rotors powered by three 3,000 hp engines.
Because the cockpit and engines are separated, the whole aircraft can fly vertically like a helicopter taking off anywhere. It was then planned to be able to rotate horizontally, transitioning into a powerful jet plane.
Because of these interrelated systems of lift and thrust, power was substantial despite the small diameter of these rotors.
Flying Similar to a Helicopter
Convair believed that this jet could fly similarly to a helicopter, but more reliable since it would use the same principles as a plane for horizontal flight.
Moreover, its thick steel armor incasing would be able to withstand most light weapons – excluding missiles or larger caliber weapons.
This jet also had a wide array of weapon options that were proposed for installation on this vehicle. The standard setup comprises two side turrets, each equipped with either machine guns or 40 mm grenade launchers that either have 12,000 rounds or 500 grenades each.
The center turret also houses an XM 140 30-mm canon which had a thousand rounds of ammunition.
Why on Earth It was Never Built?
Upon showing the proposal to the selection committee, the design of the aircraft was so radical, that they were worried that maintenance issues or training pilots would be impossible.
Moreover, the shroud design would have made it slower than a helicopter during takeoff and landing. Not to mention, it would have burnt more fuel and would have been way too loud for covert operations.