America’s Top 10 UGLIEST Aircraft

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The United States is one of the most prolific producers of planes in the world. Over the years, it has given us some of the most iconic planes. But for every stunning aircraft produced in the US, there were at least three abominations lurking in the shadows.

Let’s take a look at the ten ugliest planes from the United States. 

10. Zerbe Air Sedan

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Designed in 1918 by Professor James Zerbe, this quadruplane was one of the country’s earliest attempts at dedicated passenger transport. 

Its maiden flight was in 1921 powered by a 110 horsepower rotary engine lifting above the skies of Arkansas. The plane flew for an altitude of 40 feet before crashing to the ground. 

9. Benelli UB14

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This plane was one of the many attempts to produce a lifting body airliner – a design concept that has been quite the popular niche in the interwar period. 

It had its maiden flight in 1934. Unfortunately, there were issues with financial backing. In the end, three of these interesting aircraft were built.

8. Vought V-173

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This weaponized pancake was the work of engineer Charles H Zimmerman. He believed that the circular design would enhance lift, stability, and maneuverability. However, testing was marred by serious stability and mechanical problems. 

7. McDonald XF-85 Goblin

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This isn’t your typical plane – it’s barely bigger than a car, had stubby wings, and looked like it was perpetually angry. It was supposed to be used as a parasite fighter, meant to carried aloft and give air defense for the lumbering B-36. At that time, escort fighters had no way to match the long range of those strategic bombers. 

Unfortunately, the scheme proved to be difficult to execute. Upon testing, the wash from the engines caused several mishaps. 

6. Vought F6U Pirate

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Despite its cool name, the plane looked very cartoonish and was designed for the Navy in the 1940s. Sadly, when it finally took to the skies, it turned out to be disappointing and dangerous. 

It was slow, underpowered, unstable, and had a nasty habit of bursting into flames mid-flight. 

5. Boeing YC-14

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Developed as a potential replacement for the C-130 Hercules as a short military take-off transport, this plane looked like a poorly assembled Airfix kit. While the design was initially a success, changing mission requirements led to the cancellation of the program. 

4. Grumman OV-1 Mohawk

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Characterized with a pitchfork tail and blocky wings, the plane looked to have been designed purely on the grounds of terrifying the enemy with its appalling looks. 

But it somehow wasn’t the case – designed as a light attack and observation aircraft, it proved to be a highly reliable, versatile, rugged platform. It even saw service in Operation Dessert Storm, and in the eyes of many, the beloved ugly duckling of the Army Air Force. It was retired by the Army in 1996. 

3. Lockheed XFV

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In the late 1940s, the US Navy fell in love with the idea of a vertical takeoff convoy protection aircraft. This obsession led to several interesting designs with the Lockheed XFV being the ugliest of the bunch.

Unsurprisingly, the project didn’t last very long. Not only did the intended engine not appear, but it soon became obvious that landing this thing on a cargo ship in the middle of the ocean was almost impossible

2. Great Lakes XSG-1

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The plane was designed to be a naval scout and it turned out to be an abysmal failure. It was slow, underpowered, extremely unstable, and water handling trials resulted in so much water coming in that the rear gunner almost drowned. Only one prototype was built. 

1. Boeing X-32

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This aircraft was developed for the Joint Strike Competition, but a series of misfortunes on its vertical takeoff system tipped the scale against it. Boeing lost out to Lockheed. 

Despite its failure, it was still considered by Boeing as an investment that allowed them to develop different technologies. But of course, its biggest legacy might have been the crude and humorous jokes that came from its looks – it could have entered service as the F-32 Gobbler or the F-32 Underbite!

What do you think? Do you consider these planes as ugly? Let us know in the comments!