Christmas Bullet

1918

Back to the Virtual Aircraft Museum
  EXPERIMENTALVirtual Aircraft Museum / USA / Christmas  

Christmas Bullet

Doctor William Christmas believed that struts were unnecessary and that an aeroplane's wings should be free to flap like a bird's. Unfortunately, on the first flight of his 'Bullet' fighter, also known as the Christmas Strutless Biplane and by other names, the wings did exactly that and then came adrift. The pilot was killed instantly. A second Bullet did exactly the same thing a few months later. Christmas claimed all sorts of things, among them that he had 'hundreds' of aeronautical patents and that he was swamped by orders for Bullets from Europe and by million-dollar offers to rebuild Germany's air forces. None of them were true, but he did get the US Army to pay him handsomely for his wing design. Or so he said.

Jim Winchester "The World's Worst Aircraft", 2005

FACTS AND FIGURES

The first Bullet's engine was a Liberty Six, a cut-down version of the famous V-12 Liberty. The army were upset that Christmas flew the first Bullet and wrecked their expensive engine without notifying them.

There was no bracing at all between the upper and lower wings, although it was considered worthwhile to brace the tailplane.

The Bullet was one of the first aircraft with a veneer-clad fuselage, which had reduced skin drag compared to traditional fabric covering.

Christmas Bullet

Specification 
 CREW1
 ENGINE1 x 185hp Liberty Six piston engine
 DIMENSIONS
  Wingspan8.63 m28 ft 4 in
  Length6.40 m21 ft 0 in

Comments
Phil Copeland, e-mail, 25.11.2013 00:09

Dr. Christmas is well documented as well-known con man. The plane must have looked very "modern" to aviation "experts" at the time which is why he probably got funding for it. Just shows you politicians haven't changed much.

reply

jack sith, e-mail, 12.06.2011 12:20

friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque. Said it was "very fast" and armed with one .50 cal

reply

Noname, e-mail, 31.03.2020 10:24

A friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque

reply

john watson, e-mail, 26.05.2011 16:49

Many years ago I saw a picture o

reply

Klaatu, e-mail, 04.05.2011 21:00

Very probably the worst aircraft in history. The "flexible" wings lacked both internal or external bracing and were far to flimsy, while the tailplane was far to rigid. Two prototypes built and, not surprisingly, both suffered fatal crashes on their very first flights.

reply

mary, e-mail, 06.01.2010 16:32

Does anyone know where I can find Dr. Christmas' description of his flight in Virginia, 1908. I am also looking for a deposition made by Robert Ions about that same flight that took off from his farm in Fairfax Station, Virginia.

reply

leo rudnicki, e-mail, 25.04.2009 17:30

The sad part was that he found pilots to fly it. There was a myth /legend /rumor that a husband bought his wife a Corsair, so she could kill herself, and did. Dr. Death.

reply

Bob Green, e-mail, 01.10.2008 10:09

Jack, I'm afraid that Stefan is correct, your dad's friend could not have flown a Christmas Bullet. For one thing he lived to tell the tale, something that neither of the Bullet's two pilots did. Two take-off, no landings, two crashes and two dead pilots, not exactly "the worlds safest aircraft".
I wonder what aircraft it was that your fathers friend test flew. You say that its torque was so bad that he flew with full opposite rudder and stick - that suggests very strongly that it was a rotary engined aircraft. Did he say it was caled 'The Bullet'? The Morane-Saulnier Type N and the Bristol M1C were both called 'The Bullet', they were both rotary engined and they both had a single machine gun; and the Morane had extremely sensitive controls (see the entries on this site); but they were both shoulder-winged monoplanes, not biplanes.

reply

Stefan Vorkoetter, e-mail, 20.05.2008 23:33

Jack, it's not likely that your father's friend flew one of these during WWI. The only two ever built crashed fatally on their respective first flights.

reply

Jack Smith, e-mail, 19.04.2008 00:23

A friend of my father's test flew one of these during WWI. Said torque was so bad he flew it with rudder and stick in max position against the torque. Said it was "very fast" and armed with one .50 cal MG. My father's description of it that he got from his friend matches picture of plane very closely.

reply

Broccolibob, e-mail, 07.11.2007 04:16

This is by far THE worlds worst aircraft! I also read that "Dr." Christmas claimed it to be "the worlds safest and most reliable aircraft" during an airshow, while displaying the aircraft!

reply

Do you have any comments?

Name    E-mail


All the World's Rotorcraft

All rhe World's Rotorcraft AVIATION TOP 100 - www.avitop.com Avitop.com