Vincent Burnelli
Vincent Justus Burnelli (November 22, 1895 – June 22, 1964) was an American aeronautics engineer, instrumental in furthering the lifting body
Lifting body
A lifting body is a fixed-wing aircraft configuration in which the body itself produces lift. In contrast to a flying wing, which is a wing with minimal or no conventional fuselage, a lifting body can be thought of as a fuselage with little or no conventional wing...

 and flying wing
Flying wing
A flying wing is a tailless fixed-wing aircraft which has no definite fuselage, with most of the crew, payload and equipment being housed inside the main wing structure....


Early life

Burnelli was born in Temple, Texas
Temple, Texas
Temple is a city in Bell County, Texas, United States. Located near the county seat of Belton, Temple lies in the region referred to as Central Texas. Located off Interstate 35, Temple is 65 miles north of Austin and 34 miles south of Waco. In the 2010 Census, Temple's population was 66,102, an...

. With his friend, John Carisi, he designed his first airplane in 1915, at Maspeth, Queens
Maspeth, Queens
Maspeth is a small community in the borough of Queens in New York City. Neighborhoods sharing borders with Maspeth are Woodside and Sunnyside to the north, Long Island City to the northwest, Greenpoint to the west, East Williamsburg to the southwest, Fresh Pond and Ridgewood to the south, and...

, New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. The open biplane was first demonstrated at the old Hempstead Plains Aviation Field, later to become Roosevelt Field. A few years later, he designed a "night fighter
Night fighter
A night fighter is a fighter aircraft adapted for use at night or in other times of bad visibility...

" in the hopes that it would be used as a combat aircraft in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. His hopes were not realized, but he did sell the plane to the New York City Police Department
New York City Police Department
The New York City Police Department , established in 1845, is currently the largest municipal police force in the United States, with primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City...

, when plans were made to create an aerial police operation.

In 1919, Burnelli refined his ideas about aircraft design, after he had built what is believed to have been the world's first large commercial airliner in Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the...

, for the Lawson Airlines.

Flying wing/Lifting body

Burnelli was one of the first American designers to capitalize on the "flying wing" mystique. In the 1920s, he produced two biplane transports with large, airfoil-shaped fuselages that contributed a considerable portion of the airplane's lift. His goal was to develop a more efficient airplane that could carry a large payload. Although Burnelli referred to his lifting body transports as "flying wings", his production aircraft invariably retained some kind of a tail, frequently supported by upswept booms that extended rearward. More accurately, Burnelli had a "lifting body" design rather than a true "flying wing" where all major aeronautical components are housed within the wing.

Burnelli's first monoplane, the CB-16, appeared in 1928. This aircraft and subsequent Burnelli types produced into the 1940s had certain features in common:
  • The engines were close together and ahead of the cabin structure
  • The airfoil fuselage section, which provided 50 percent lift at cruising speed, housed the passenger cabin and the pilot's and mechanic's compartments.

More than 60 percent of the weight and strength of the aircraft structure surrounded and protected the passenger cabin section for maximum resistance to telescoping.

Burnelli maintained that his lifting design had unparalleled safety, economic and operational advantages over conventional transport designs. His design philosophy was supported by many prominent civil and military aviation experts well into the late 1940s, but he failed to gain the political and economic backing that would have ensured public acceptance of his unconventional designs. Through various partnerships, he worked for and created a diverse number of companies that would produce his designs, most of which saw the light as experimental or prototype aircraft. The elusive production contracts that he so wanted, continued to elude him. His last design, the CBY-3 Loadmaster, was manufactured by Canada Car and Foundry in Montreal. The sole prototype was extensively tested but failed to gain a production contract.

Later years

Moving to Southampton, New York
Southampton (village), New York
Southampton is a village in Suffolk County, New York, USA. The village is named after the Earl of Southampton. The Village of Southampton is in the southeast part of the county in the Town of Southampton...

, Burnelli remained tireless in his determination to promote his airfoil-shaped fuselage transport planes. In 1955, he adapted his final design, the Burnelli CBY-3
Burnelli CBY-3
-Bibliography:* Townend, David R. Clipped Wings – The History of Aborted Aircraft Projects. Markham, Ontario: AeroFile Publications, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9732020-4-5.-External links:* * *...

 Loadmaster, to carry an expedition of 20 passengers and 41 sled dogs, along with their equipment, to the North Pole, but the enterprise was canceled. Until his death in 1964 at the age of 69, Vincent Burnelli championed his "flying wing" designs.

The Loadmaster continued to fly regularly as a commercial airliner both in northern Canada and South America. Acquired with design rights by Airlifts, Inc. of Miami, Florida, it went to Venezuela and returned to Burnelli Avionics for refitting with Wright R-2600
Wright R-2600
|-See also:-Bibliography:* Jane's Fighting Aircraft of World War II. London. Studio Editions Ltd, 1998. ISBN 0-517-67964-7-External links:...

 engines. The CBY-3 finally ended its flying days at Baltimore's airport in Maryland. In 1964, the quintessential Burnelli "flying wing" air transport was retired to the New England Air Museum
New England Air Museum
The New England Air Museum is located at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, USA. The museum is housed in three large display buildings consisting of more than of exhibit space...

 in Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Windsor Locks, Connecticut
Windsor Locks is a town located in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. As of the 2000 census, its population was 12,043. It is the site of Bradley International Airport, which serves the Greater Hartford-Springfield region. It is also the site of the New England Air Museum...

, where it resides today.

Burnelli designs

  • Burnelli Continental KB-1 (1915)
  • Burnelli (Lawson Airlines)
  • Remington-Burnelli (airliner) SEE Burnelli, wide, airfoil-shaped fuselage w 2 Liberty 12 (400 hp) engines, 78' span;, 22.25' lg
  • Remington-Burnelli Co. RB-1(1921)
  • Remington-Burnelli Co. RB-2 Air freighter (1924)
  • Burnelli CB-16
    Burnelli CB-16
    -References:.*AAHS journal, Volume 42. American Aviation Historical Society. 1997.*...

     Chapman Airliner (1928)
  • Uppercu-Burnelli Corp. UB-20 (1929)
  • Uppercu-Burnelli Corp. GX-3
    Burnelli GX-3
    -References:*Levy, Howard and Richard Riding. "Burnelli's Lifting Fuselages". Aeroplane Monthly. April 1980, S. 173f....

  • Uppercu-Burnelli Aeromarine-Klemm Amphibian seaplane (1930)
  • Burnelli UB-14
    Burnelli UB-14
    |-See also:-External links:*...

  • Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft
    Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft
    Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft was a British aircraft manufacturer of the World War II era. They were primarily a repair and overhaul shop, but also a construction shop for other companies' designs, notably the Supermarine Seafire. The company also undertook contract work for the Air Ministry, Lord Rootes,...

     OA-1 Clyde Clipper (licence-built British version of the UB-14) (1939)
  • Burnelli XCG-16
    General Airborne Transport XCG-16
    - External links:* detailed article with photos and drawings, June 1945 Popular Science*******...

     cargo glider (1943)
  • Canada Car and Foundry Burnelli CBY-3
    Burnelli CBY-3
    -Bibliography:* Townend, David R. Clipped Wings – The History of Aborted Aircraft Projects. Markham, Ontario: AeroFile Publications, 2007. ISBN 978-0-9732020-4-5.-External links:* * *...

     Loadmaster (1945)

External links

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