dryriver writes: The BBC reports: 'It's more than 110 years since mankind first took to the air in a powered aircraft. During that time, certain designs have become lauded for their far-sighted strengths – the Supermarine Spitfire; Douglas DC-3 Dakota; or the Anglo-French Concorde supersonic airliner, to name a few. But then there are planes like the Christmas Bullet. Designed by Dr William Whitney Christmas, who was described by one aviation historian as the "greatest charlatan to ever see his name associated with an airplane", this ”revolutionary” prototype biplane fighter had no struts supporting the wings; instead, they were supposed to flap like a bird’s. Both prototypes were destroyed during their first flights – basically, because Christmas's "breakthrough" design was so incapable of flight that the wings would twist off the airframe at the first opportunity. Just as many of the world's most enduring designs share certain characteristics, the history of aviation is littered with disappointing designs. Failures like Christmas's uniquely unflyable aircraft often overlooked some fairly simple rules: The Douglas TBD Devastator was a death-trap; it could only release its torpedo flying in a straight line whilst dawdling at 115mph – making it easy to shoot down. The short-lived Brewster Buffalo was shot down in droves when it encountered Japanese fighters in the early years of World War II, proving too slow and cumbersome. The Fairey Albacore was intended to become the Royal Navy’s standard torpedo bomber; it ended up being edged out by the plane it was supposed to replace. A flaw in the design of the De Havilland Comet’s cabin windows led to several crashes which ended the plane’s promising airline career. The Douglas DC-10 suffered several early crashes due to the flawed design of its cargo doors, which caused them to open mid-flight.'
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