S. Berliner, III's sbiii.com Aviation Page 5 keywords = aviation air plane rail road Cradle museum historical Berliner Joyce EEMCO ERCO Ercoupe Aircoupe Paul Mantz Cole Palen Rhinebeck aerodrome twin boom fuselage 38 81 82 111Z 189 Gigant SE-5

Updated:   08 Jun 2015; 16:50  ET
[Page created 09 Jul 2002; converted 20 Apr 2013

    original AT&T Worldnet Website begun 30 May 1996.]
URL:  http://sbiii.com/aviatn-5.html
[was at "home.att.net/~Berliner-Ultrasonics/aviatn-5.html"]

S. Berliner, III
Consultant in Ultrasonic Processing
"changing materials with high-intensity sound"

[consultation is on a fee basis]

Technical and Historical Writer, Oral Historian
Popularizer of Science and Technology
Rail, Auto, Air, Ordnance, and Model Enthusiast
Light-weight Linguist, Lay Minister, and Putative Philosopher

note - The vast bulk of my massive Web presence (over 485 pages) had been hosted by AT&T's WorldNet service since 30 May 1996; they dropped WorldNet effective 31 Mar 2010 and I have been scrambling to transfer everything.  Everything's saved but all the links have to be changed, mostly by hand.  See my sbiii.com Transfer Page for any updates on this tedious process.

S. Berliner, III's


Page 5

See also the Aviation Page, et seq.

World War I Eberhart SE-5E
(American-built Version of the Royal Aircraft Factory's SE-5a)
Image from USAF Museum Site.


For aviation matters in general, see the main Aviation page.

On the Aviation Humor Page:
    Good Chute!.
    Clutch-Starting a Jet!.
    Good Stretch!
    Kulula Airlines
  new.gif (20 Jul 2011)

Nota bene - I am a passenger; NOT a pilot!  Although I logged many hours in the Link trainer at NYC's late (and, by many, lamented) Museum of Science and Industry, I only had the command controls once, ca. 1980, in the right-hand seat of a Cessna 210, when our pilot seemed determined to B-25 the Empire State Building and I conned us away from that fate.

You might visit my other pages which are replete with aviation-related historical information, such as railroads, Emile Berliner and his son Henry A. Berliner*), Chrysler and SS and Jaguar, the ordnance page, and the Fairchild Aerial Survey page.


On the main Aviation page:
  George C. Dade
  V-1 Buzz Bombs
  TWIN-FUSELAGE AIRPLANES (moved to Aviation page 5 on 09 Jul 2002)
  All-Time Favo(u)rites - My Choices (moved to Aviation page 4 on 29 Mar 2002)
  Boeing 307 Stratoliner
  Strombecker Kits

On Aviation Continuation Page 1:
  Bell FM-1 Airacuda
  More on the Bell FM-1 Airacuda.
(both moved from the preceeding and succeeding pages 02 Jun 05)

On Aviation Continuation Page 2:
  Berliner and Aviation
  Bell P-59 Airacomet.
  Junkers Ju52/3m.

On Aviation Continuation Page 3:
  LTA - Lighter Than Air
  More Aviation Apocrypha.
{so far}, plus miscellany.
(moved from the main and second Aviation pages 27 Jan 00)
  Strombecker Kits
(moved from main Aviationpage 09 Mar 00)
  Long Island Chopper - H34 to fly again

On the preceding Aviation Continuation Page 4:
  All-Time Favo(u)rites - My Choices (moved here from main page 29 Mar 2002)
  Marine Air Terminal (La Guardia).
  Casey Jones' Academy of Aeronautics.
  Dinky Meccano Aircraft Models.
  Comet Authenticast 1:432 Aircraft Models.

BIG NEWS! - the full set of original Comet brass dies are for sale!

On this page 5:
    TWIN-FUSELAGE AIRPLANES (moved from the main Aviation page on 09 Jul 2002)

P-38 Lockheed Lightning
F-82 Twin Mustang
Twin Ercoupe
FW 189 Uhu
He 111Z "Zwilling"
    Me 321/323 "Gigant"
    American Airpower Museum

On the succeeding Aviation Continuation Page 6:

Twin Cub
Champlain Flying Club's 1946 Aeronca Champ.     Long Island Air Museums.
Cradle of Aviation Museum.
American Airpower Museum.
    Stout/Ford Trimotors (see also the Tri-motor Page).

On Aviation Continuation Page 7:
  new.gif (24 Dec 2012)
    Avianca Flight 52 (25 Jan 1990).   new.gif (24 Dec 2012)

Aviation Tri-motor Page).

See also the Aviation Humor page.

Nota bene - I am a passenger; NOT a pilot!  Although I logged many hours in the Link trainer at NYC's late (and, by many, lamented) Museum of Science and Industry, I only had the command controls once, ca. 1980, in the right-hand seat of a Cessna 210, when our pilot seemed determined to B-25 the Empire State Building and I conned us away from that fate.

You might visit my other pages which are replete with aviation-related historical information, such as railroads, Emile Berliner and his son Henry A. Berliner*, Chrysler and SS and Jaguar, the ordnance page, and the Fairchild Aerial Survey page.

TWIN-FUSELAGE HAZARDOUS DUTY! - Before we get into twin-fuselage airplanes, here's a photofake (left) so fabulous that I thought I'd post it; it was sent to me on 19 Jul 2003 as real, purportedly of a great white shark attacking a scuba diver and Royal Something helo off the South African coast (with a miraculously identical Golden Gate Bridge in the background!); now, thanks to the Berlinerwerke Photo Dept., we can now show you the REAL twin-fuselage occurrence (right):

Bad Day Bad Day II

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel that your head's gonna be bitten off?

[As explained on Urban Legends (a great site), the original "photo" is a composite of a U. S. Air Force HH-60G Pave Hawk helo and National Guard rescue diver on a training mission off San Francisco (surprise!) and a still of a great white by famed marine photographer Charles Maxwell, shot in False Bay (how appropriate can you get!) near Cape Town.  It's been circulating since August 2001!]


(moved from the main Aviation page on 09 Jul 2002)

There were those with one cockpit in a short, single central fuselage and two extended engine nacelles that reached back to a common horizontal tailplane (P-38 Lightning, P-61 Black Widow) and those more rare ducks with two regular fuselages, each with a separate cockpit, such as the P-82 and the Twin Ercoupe.  Focke-Wulf (one "f") also made one during WWII, which I found (the FW-189Uhu), and Heinkel built a twin He-111K tow plane to pull the Gigant glider.

However, before we get into the real thing, here's an early (1929) variant, a design study aircraft from Jack Northrop, leading to his N9MB, XB-35, and YB-49 Flying Wings; don't know if those sticks really qualify as twin fuselages:

Northrop X-216H Flying Wing
(image from Zagi's Flying Wing History)

Lockheed P-38 Lightning

Here, courtesy of the Confederate Air Force's Air Group One, is the classic WWII Lockheed P-38 Lightning (a P-38F) and two views of a flyable bird at the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas, from "Rob"'s fantastic WWII WarBirds site:


P-38 3/4L P-38 3/4R
(upper image from CAF; lower two images from Rob's WarBirds)

What others were there?

F-82 Twin Mustang

The "Confederate Air Force" in Harlingen, Texas, actually has a restorable EF-82B Twin Mustang:

Image from CAF EF-82B page.

[14 Feb 2000 - funny, looking at this photo after a long absence, it occurs to me that someone
not knowing of the F-82 would think this was some drunken (or drugged) artists idea of a joke!]

There is an F-82 out at the US Air Force Museum at WPAFB; I missed it when out there a few years ago!  She's an F-82B, see their F-82 Web page, with specs and great pictures; one of the best, of an XF-82, is reproduced here:

XF-82 from above
Photo courtesy of the US Air Force Museum

Long Island's daily NEWSDAY for 28 May 00, "Time Machine", p. G9, recalled the crash of an F-82 out of Mitchel Field into an unfinished house on Fulton Avenue near Duncan Road, a residential neighborhood of Hempstead near Hofstra University, on 04 May 1949; the plane burst into flames but neither the pilot, 2nd Lt. Andrew Wallace, nor his radar observer, 1st Lt. Bryan Jolley, were killed.  In fact, Wallace used a brick from the house to smash the right canopy and rescue Jolley.

Mitchel Field is named for NYC Mayor John Puroy Mitchel - one "l" (killed in WWI in aerial combat), NOT Gen. Billy Mitchell - two "l"s]; there are 1924 and 1931 aerial photos of Mitchel Field on both my L. I. Motor Parkway History Page 3 and LIRR/Central RR of LI Page.  The Cradle of Aviation Museum opened at Mitchel coincident with the Lindy 75th Anniversary.

Now, for some additional material, which is why I had to create yet another page (09 Jul 2002):


A book about the Ercoupe/Aircoupe*, with lots of pictures and some history, is in the works by Mark Franek (unfortunately, e-mail to him at dmfranek@bellatlantic.net bounced!

Mark needs any new information he can get; he'd especially like to get some information on the twin Ercoupe (two fuselages put together, with twin cockpits) that was used in airshows.

I told him it ran off with a Twin Mustang!

There is twin Ercoupe information awaiting his checking back with me!

Clearly, this is not the end of the Twin Ercoupe story, so I moved it here, where there is more room.

The twin Ercoupe was two fuselages put together, with twin cockpits for a total of four people.  The plane could be controlled from either cockpit {rather like the the P-82 Twin Mustang - SB,III}.  "It was used in airshows during the 1950's."  Mark says the August 1998 Flying has a picture of it near the back of the magazine.  It crashed after doing a show, when another plane (the original Sampson-Big Pitts) hit it while on final approach.  Both airplanes were destroyed {per Mark}.

* - see the story of the Ercoupe/Aircoupe, the brainchild of prolific inventor Emile Berliner's son, Henry.

However, Dave McKenzie, who tried unsuccessfully to reach Mark on 13 Feb 2003, sent the message along to me and I've reproduced it here (only slightly edited):

- - - · - - -

The "Twin 'Coupe" that you refer to was constructed by my late friend, (at least I've heard that he succumbed after suffering a fractured back in a fall at home in Grant, Alabama) Grady Thrasher for use in the, "Thrasher Brother's Air Show" in 1946.  It was used until Grady "retired" from air show flying and assumed the responsibility of, "Assistant Commandant of Fixed Wing Training" at Fort Rucker, Alabama about 1950.

He then sold the airplane to an Ercoupe dealer in Columbus, Georgia who scavenged it as a parts source for Ercoupe repairs which led to its demise.


I am privileged to have a copy of the videotape of an address that Grady made to the Annual Banquet of the Lockheed Executive Men's Club at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama during '88 or '89 which shows many views of the airplane during its construction and air show performances.  The tape was filmed by the records department at Lockheed, but; since the banquet occurred at a motel in a room next to their swimming pool the audio is of poor quality and much of the tape is of the projection screen (home movie variety) that Grady was projecting the home movies onto that dated from '46 thru '50.

There is an "Ercoupe Type Club" in existence that publishes a newsletter called "Coupe Capers" that I have submitted a short article about the "Twin-'Coupe" to, accompanyied by a photo of Grady flying the airplane in the opening act of the airshow which was, "The American Flag Parachute Jump".  I submitted the article through a friend that is a member of the "Type Club", therefore; I really have no idea whether they will ever publish it.

Even though I have never pursued the rumor, it is my understanding that Grady's brother, "Bud", who performed the parachute jumps in the airshows, still resides in Huntsville and was in the, "oil business".

Again, the "Twin-'Coupe" NEVER collided with Ben Huntley in "Sampson".

- - - · - - -

So much for that!  I asked for pictures and Dave was kind enough to send along a gigantic image which I reduced slightly (it was so big the screening dots showed), both as a thumbnail of the "big picture", and as a detail of the plane(s?), itself (themselves?).  The picture is from the collection of the late H. G. "Grady" Thrasher, who owned and flew the plane:

Twin Ercoupe
(thumbnail image - click on picture for MUCH larger image)

Twin Ercoupe Closeup
Detail of above image from the collection of H. G. "Grady" Thrasher
(image courtesy of D. E. McKenzie - all rights reserved)

Well, now, that is quite a conversion!  The spacing appears to have been determined by the spacing of the vertical stabilizers, with a common one in the middle of the center horizontal stabilizer (what an engineering challenge that center tail fin must have been); do the props REALLY clear?  Wonder how many main gears there were?

Dave says that this is a photo of Grady and Bud performing the "American Flag Parachute Jump" that was the opening act of the "Thrasher Brothers' Air Circus".  The photo is from a promotional postcard the Thrashers used.  There was a smoke generator on each engine, one producing white smoke and the other red, but on this black and white photo one can't determine which was which.

Grady Thrasher, III, son of the Grady involved here, confirmed 15 Jul 2003 that that "Richard ('Bud) Thrasher is indeed the parachutist in the photo" and that he (Bud) "is the only surviving Thrasher brother"; thus that's Bud in the chute, trailing an American flag, and one might presume that Grady did NOT chew his brother to shreds with the twin props, even though it sure looks like he was about to!

Thanks a bunch to Dave for sharing this incredible photo with us.  Wonder if we can get a copy of that videotape?

For a modeler, I asked Grady III about the color scheme of the twin Ercoupe and here's his reply:

"The left fuselage and wing was painted red with white stripes,
  and the right fuselage and wing was white with red stripes.
  The tail assembly matched the respective sides."

Can't ask for more authoritative information than that, eh?

Grady also volunteered this bit of Twin Ercoupe history:

"My father would pilot the craft from the left cockpit (which was the only one with controls).  We would often take family vacations in the plane when I was a child.  I'd ride in the left cockpit with my dad, and my mother and little sister would ride in the right.  There was no communication between the cockpits, so when the ladies needed a "rest stop", they would hold a sign against the cockpit side window and we'd find a handy landing strip (usually a small town airport with an unpaved runway) to set down, usually causing quite a stir among the locals."

Nothing to do with Twin-Ercoupes but here, courtesy of Grady Thrasher, III (19 Jul 2003), is his dad landing his clipped-wing Piper Cub (marked "Grady Thrasher Elberton Ga") on a '46 Ford Tudor coupé labelled "THRASHER BROS. AERIAL CIRCUS" and placarded "WORLD'S SMALLEST AIRPORT"!

46 G. Thrasher Cub-on-Ford
(thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image)
[photo courtesy of G. Thrasher, III - all rights reserved]

Grady says the runway the Ford is racing on isn't even paved; the picture was taken at Elberton in 1946 and reproductions of a painting of that photo are available from "Sporty's Pilot Shop" in Batavia, Ohio.  Dave McKenzie says the Ford was driven by another of Grady's brothers, Tunis Thrasher.

That "Type Club" is actually the Ercoupe Owners Club, which is keeping the marque alive.

Back on 01 Nov 2004, one Charlie Gay sent me this info. (which I'd misplaced) on the Twin Ercoupe - I present it as given (with minimal editing):

"Just a note about the Twin ercoupe.  I remember reading an article on it years ago.  The guy who did the conversion wrote the article.  Some things that stand out in my mind are:

The airplane flew very well.  It would do good hammerhead stalls by varying power on the engines, probably no rudder pedals!

During the first flight a skywriter saw it and dove down while in the middle of writing PEPSI to see if what he was seeing was real.

The aileron control was a little sluggish.  The last flight as a twin was made after he drilled out all the rivets on the aileron trailing edges, then riveted a four inch strip of aluminum in to make larger chord ailerons.  Right after liftoff on the first flight with this modification the ailerons fluttered very badly.  After that they seperated the airplanes and reattached all the parts.  They were sold as two flying airplanes.

The centersection was not modified.  An Ercoupe has a very large bolted fitting just outboard of the landing gear for attaching the outer wing panel.  By making two steel plates the centersections can be mated together.  This would also keep both wing tanks intact.  The fuel pump return has to feed into one wing tank and all three feed together to each engine.  I don't know how the aileron pushrods were connected.  The mixer in the fuselage gives differential throw to the ailerons; more up than down.  Also, the rudders have more throw out than in so that would cause trouble with a center rudder; it may have been fixed.

Just some things I remember reading."

A twin Ercoupe was just (2007) located in New Mexico!  Zane Adams spotted it "sitting in a field just off I-40 in Tucumcari, NM, near the airport.  It has the registration of N87078.  It seems to have been there for quite a long time."  Zane kindly shared this picture:

Twin Ercoupe Arizona
(click on thumbnailed picture for larger image)
[image courtesy of Z. Adams - all rights reserved]

The original Twin had registration NX93384 and was reportedly (above) separated and sold as two flying aircraft, so what have we here?  [And what have we to its left?]

FW 189

That Focke-Wulf (one "f") turned out to be their FW 189 Uhu (Owl), known as the "The Flying Eye", an elegant reconnaissance plane, apparently specially designed for aerial photography (see the detail shot of a camera being off-loaded from the rear viewing compartment):

FW 189 34 up

FW 189 45 park

FW 189 36 down

FW 189 v2 up

FW 189 56 3/4

FW 189 58 3/4

FW 189 v1s down 3/4 FW 189 46 camera

FW 189 50 down
(Images from Rob's WarBirds)

It seems to me now that I also vaguely recall an Arado with twin booms or twin fuselages (they also made an odd advanced trainer with two cockpits, one above and behind the the other, with both a tractor engine in the nose AND a pusher engine under the tail).

WRONG!  The pushme-pullyou plane was the Dornier Do-335 [the Pfeil (Arrow) - perhaps the most advanced prop plane of WWII], but what was the one wth the twin fuselage?  [See squadron13.com for a write-up with rare color pictures - my thanks to retired police officer Victor D. Hart for this Do-335 information].  The Pfeil had upper AND lower vertical stabilizers ("tail fins") so that the tail engine and prop might be said to be "between" the tails!

Holy smokes!  (Sufferin' Succotash?)  Rob's Warplanes has eight (8!) pages of Pfeil photos (144 of 'em - are they Pfeil file photos?  Say it pfast!).

YEE-HAH!  My 60-year memory served me well!  At least five Arados were twin-boomers!  Per Dan Johnson's Luft '46 site, the E.340 and E.500 were (and neither had a center horizontal tail plane, only small outboard ones), and the E.555-8, -9, and -10 were (and had just about every possible combination).

In addition to all these, it seems that Tony Fokker built a twin-fuselage plane as well; Gert Arkema wrote from the Netherlands of the Fokker G1 fighter designed in the early '30s and presented in Paris 1935.  Meijnheer Arkema notes that more twin-boomed craft were designed and that the FW 189 (above) looks a lot like the G1: see for yourself:

'35 Fokker G1
(thumbnail image - click on picture for larger image)
[photo courtesy of G. Arkema - all rights reserved]

Better looking than the Uhu (imho).

[For more on Twin Boom aircraft, see also Christophe Meunier's Twin Boom site.]

He-111Z "Zwilling"

I make mention above of the Heinkel He-111K twin; it was actually the He-111Z "Zwilling" ("Twin") and had an extra (fifth) engine tucked into the mid-span wing juncture:

He-111Z land

He-111Z under

He-111Z top
(Images from Rob's WarBirds)

This looks too silly to be real, but oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.  Now, what was the name of that 1940's comic book about a squadron that flew a 1¾ pair of planes that looked like the He 111Z but without the center three engines and which could detach for better maneuvering in combat (relax; it was only a comic!)?

These photographs were selected from many on "Rob"'s fantastic WWII WarBirds site.

- - - · - - -

Holy Moley!  "Too silly to be real", but true?  Leafing through a WWII warbirds book on 01 Sep 2008, I ran across the Blohm u. Voss BV 141, an asymmetrical beast with a full fuselage with engine and tail empennage on the left side and a short fuselage with cockpit and greenhouse on the right:


BV141-3 BV141-4 BV141-5

BV141-6 BV141-1

(Images from Igor A. Shestakov's great "http://www.geocities.com/asymmetrics"
ASYMMETRIC AIRCRAFT site.   rev.gif (08 Jun 2015)

[Unfortunately, Geocities bit the dust ca. 2009 but an archived version
is available at http://www.oocities.org/asymmetrics/wif.htm.]

That's exactly the plane I had in mind but had forgotten.  Well, would you believe that B&V built a BV 141z Zwilling, with paired, opposite-hand, planes with contra-rotating props, and that it could be split in flight, just like in the old comic strip, to form two fast fighters after the bombing mission?  Seeing is believing:

(02 Sep 2008 Berlinerwerke Image - all rights reserved)

[O. K.; if you buy that, look at my Berlinerwerke Apocrypha page, et seq. (RR, not aviation, but on a par.  For more of such on aircraft, see also Christophe Meunier's Twin Boom (What If) page.]

Me 321/323 "Gigant"

One of WWII's largest aircraft (and certainly the largest glider, dwarfing the British Hamilcar), the 55m (180' 5½") wingspan Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant transport glider was originally towed by three (3!) Messerschmitt Bf 110s, a photo of which operation I'd also seen and marvelled at); this scheme was so bloody dangerous it was quickly abandoned.  That monster glider had a nose cargo door opening 11' high!

I could not originally find Messerschmitt Me 321 Gigant transport glider photos but the Gigants were later powered with six (6) captured French engines as the Me 323 and the two versions were otherwise almost identical (as I recalled).  Actually, the glider had no landing gear; it took off on a detachable dolly and landed on skids.  The Me-323 had a row of five (5) large wheels on each side of the fuselage.  Both versions took off with early RATO bottles assisting.  I'd seen photos of the tow and it is simply staggering; I'm just thrilled to show it here, from the Warbirds Resource Group, two photos showing that insane triple Bf 110 rig and one on the ground on the dolly:

Me 321 901 109-t/off

Me 321 902 jett RATO

Me 321 078 dolly

In the middle photo, the RATO bottles and the dolly are being jettisoned by parachute.

Here is the Me 323 powered version:

Me 323 02 above

Me 323 8s land/TO

Me 323 d6s Stuka

Me 323 06 Marder II Me 323 07 Tracked Carrier
(Images from Rob's WarBirds)

For ordnance reference, those vehicles are a 10.8-ton Marder II SP AT (7.5cm PaK 40 gun on a PzKpfW II chassis, Sd Kfz 131) on the left and a tracked utility vehicle on a PzKpfW I chassis on the right.

These photographs were also selected from many on "Rob"'s fantastic WWII WarBirds site; I highly recommend it to you.

Twin Cub

Frank Roales, a R/C scale model builder who enjoys building and flying "odd" subjects, was researching the Twin Ercoupe for a possible next project and found my pages and contacted me on 16 Oct 2003.  One of Frank's "odd" subjects was the "Wagner Twin Cub", of which he built a ¼ scale (wingspan 126" or 10' 2") flying model which flew quite well (as, strangely enough, did the prototype).  So much material on this oddity turned up that it overloaded this page and had to be moved to a new Aviation Continuation Page 6.

As you are obviously air-minded (take that as you choose), you must see the Lion Air site!  I'd be Lion if I didn't warn you to keep your tongue in your cheek on this one!

On a more serious note, if you like aero engines, see Steve Vardy's Aero Engine Central.

Also, pilot Paul Freeman has an absolutely fascinating Abandoned & Little-Known Airfields site.

See also the main Aviation Page, et seq.:
frstpage.gif    prevpage.gif    nextpage.gif
of this series of Aviation pages.


  What happens to all this when I DIE or (heaven forfend!) lose interest?  See LEGACY.


See Copyright Notice on primary home page.

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