Tail-Prop Plane (Jan, 1949)

Tail-Prop Plane

A new style in tails has been shown recently to British fliers by Planet Aircraft, Ltd.

The plane, called the Satellite, has a tail prop, V-shaped stabilizers and an inverted fin. The engine, a Gipsy Queen, is mounted directly over the center of gravity and is linked to the prop by a magnesium shaft. A soundproof bulkhead separates the 5-passenger cabin from the engine compartment. Thus all prop and engine noise is directed backward and the cabin is virtually noiseless.

Construction is magnesium instead of aluminum; this metal reduces corrosion and fire hazard. Flaps give it a landing speed of 62 mph. Top speed is 208 mph— not bad for a lightplane!

  1. Robin says: January 6, 20119:27 am

    Forward thinking design, looks cool! But magnesium reducing fire hazard? …..

  2. Jayessell says: January 6, 201112:01 pm

    As seen on the predator drones.

  3. Andrew L. Ayers says: January 6, 201112:15 pm

    Robin – magnesium is actually pretty “non-flammable”; according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org…):

    “For a long time, Porsche used magnesium alloy for its engine blocks due to the weight advantage.”


    “Magnesium is flammable, burning at a temperature of approximately 3,100 °C (3,370 K; 5,610 °F), and the autoignition temperature of magnesium ribbon is approximately 630 °C (903 K; 1,166 °F) in air.”

    Not really anything to worry about under most circumstances…

  4. Kosher Ham says: January 6, 201112:27 pm

    I wonder if this is the plane that inspired Bill Lear to try to develop the Learfan.

  5. JMyint says: January 6, 201112:48 pm

    I have a magnesium griddle that I have use for cooking for over 30 years now. The thing is as light as a feather.

    It looks more like the plane that inspired the original BD-5.

  6. Toronto says: January 6, 20111:34 pm

    JM – That’s what I was thinking – the BD-5. A touch bigger, though.

  7. TimE says: January 6, 20112:15 pm

    A pretty airplane for sure, and it would look right at home among modern homebuilts but the Planet Satellite was structurally flawed. The cockpit was built up around a central keel box that housed the nose wheel when retracted, unfortunately this box would crack or collapse with the slightest bump. Landing, for example. Only one was ever built, it was used for testing and sales only and it didn’t last very long.

  8. Mcubstead says: January 6, 20113:54 pm

    TimE – Amazing for two points

    1. How could a company make that type of mistake in the first place, not to use flexible joint or a flexible member to distribute the shock force of a hard landing up to a spar in the roof line???
    2. Why did they not correct the flaw and keep going with it??

    Kosher Ham – I see one of those Lear’s you refer too ,fly’s in out of Hobby a couple of times a month, I think it real issue was Lears customers just wanted a jet.

  9. Jari says: January 6, 20114:02 pm

    Right now, I don’t have time to check, but does this have anything to do with Jim Bede’s designs?

  10. John Savard says: January 6, 20116:28 pm

    Magnesium is significantly lighter than aluminum, so it is favored for aircraft construction. However, my understanding is that usually magnesium alloys (usually involving aluminum as a major constituent) are used, not pure magnesium, because pure magnesium is inadvisable because of oxidation – both corrosion and fire.

  11. JMyint says: January 7, 201110:26 am

    Though Jim Bede’s proposed BD-7 aircraft is very externally similar to this plane. I would tend to thinks that similar lines of thought lend to similar results. www.bd5.com/bd01001.htm

  12. TimE says: January 7, 20116:38 pm

    Wikipedia can tell you all about it

    The structural issues from the keel were brought on in an attempt to simplify the structure and probably in hopes of revolutionizing aircraft production. To fix the problem would have required the ground up redesign of the whole airplane and likely would have been far too expensive.

    There was something else funny about the wing structure, I think each wing was meant to be made from one giant sheet of magnesium or something like that. No, not flat plates but a single sheet starting at the trailing edge, wrapping around the spar and leading edge and going right back to the trailing edge. It was to be all welded together too, IIRC.

    Nowadays it looks like it would be a good candidate for composite construction and a flat-six engine.

  13. Toronto says: January 7, 20119:13 pm

    I didn’t mention it earlier, but I find the choice of the Gypsy engine a bit odd. Sure, it was a proven design, but the whole reason for the inverted inline design in the first place was to raise the prop line of small aircraft, wasn’t it? Using it for an internal engine seems pointless: you get all this problems of an inverted dry sump enclosed air cooled engine with no real advantage that I can see.

  14. DouglasUrantia says: January 8, 20111:37 am


    Magnesium is frequently alloyed with aluminum, which makes aluminum easier to roll, extrude and weld. Magnesium-aluminum alloys are used where strong, lightweight materials are required, such as in airplanes, missiles and rockets. Cameras, horseshoes, baseball catchers’ masks and snowshoes are other items that are made from magnesium alloys.

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