The Airgeep was originally designed in 1957 for the US Army by Piasecki Aircraft (later acquired by Boeing) and designated the VZ-8 Airgeep. The Airgeep was mandated by the US military to be a VTOL (Vertical Take-Off and Landing) craft, with a top speed of about 70 miles per hour (it ended up with a top speed of 85 mph), able to operate a low altitude, and be able to deliver atomic weapons.The second iteration of the VZ-8 was called the VZ-8P (B) Airgeep II. It was bent in the middle to tilt the rotors and reduce drag, it made its first un-tethered flight in 1962. The VZ-8P (B) model added seating for 3 passengers, and ejection seats for pilot and co-pilot. In 1963 the US Army canceled the program, deciding that helicopters would be better suited to its needs.The VZ-8P (B) it had a ceiling near 3,000 feet (914 meters). In addition to flying its front undercarriage was powered so it could drive along the ground.The VZ-8P (B) used two 400-hp Turbomeca Artouste IIC turbo-shaft engines, linked together. If one were to fail, the other one could drive both rotors. Only one engine was linked to the undercarrage however. The engines drove two 8.16 feet (2.5 meter) rotors, with 300 kilowatts of power each.The VZ-8P (B) was rather small at 24.4 ft (6.8 m) long, 5.8 ft (1.8 m) tall, and 9.25 ft (2.8 m) wide. Its take-off weight was 3648.65 pounds (1655 kg), if empty only 2597.05 pounds (1178 kg). When flying the VZ-8P (B) had a range of 34.2 miles (55 kilometers).The VZ-8P (B) had the ability to mount a recoilless rifle, although 50 caliber machine gun would have probably been mounted as an alternative had it gone into production. I decided not to model a weapon as I could not find one suitable to the size of the model.According to US military reports, the VZ-8 was a very stable weapons platforms able to engage targets with weapons effectively. The slight bend in the VZ-8P (B) gave it visibility above cover, even while fully concealed, something helicopters cannot do.Tactically the Airgeep was designed to operate close to the ground, in between buildings, gullies, and other cover. This would also keep it out of radar detection. The Airgeep’s flying would have allowed it to cross all terrain, as well as avoid mines, fixed obstacles, and potentially ambushes. It would have operated much like its name, a air-capable Jeep.
Until next time,