In the late 1930’s the world famous racing and sports car designer Ettore Bugatti set out to design an air racer to compete in the Deutsch de la Meurthe Cup Race, using engines sold in his automotive line as a co-marketing exercise. His chief engineer was Louis de Monge, whom Bugatti was partnered with before. Employing the best aerodynamicists and aero engineers the futuristic Bugatti 100P was born.
The Model 100 had an unusual inboard mounted twin engine arrangement, driving forward mounted twin, contra-rotating propellers via a pair of driveshafts. The aircraft also featured a 120 degree V-tail arrangement and retractable landing gear. The construction was mostly of wood, with sandwiched layers of balsa and hardwoods, including tulipwood stringers covered with doped fabric.
The resulting aircraft looks futuristic today, even though the design is over 75 years old.
Only one prototype 100P was built and was completed to the stage that the engines were test run before the German army invaded France, causing Bugatti to conceal his work. By the end of the Second World War the development of the jet engine meant that the aircraft would never become competitive. The project was abandoned with the aircraft having never flown.
The Bugatti 100P survived the war intact but was largely forgotten, its anticipated performance surpassed by the combat-inspired technology of the Second World War. An American Bugatti enthusiast brought the aircraft to the United States in the late 1960s. He sold it to another enthusiast who marshaled the 100P through two restorations, finally donating the plane to the Experimental Aircraft Association, which displays the plane at its AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
A team of enthuisiasts lead by Scotty Wilson are recreating Bugatti’s plane, which they call “Le Rêve Bleu” (The Blue Dream) in order to showcase its unique 1930s design.
“Why would anyone undertake to build a replica of an airplane that never flew and for which there are no known plans and few relevant drawings? We could make a good argument for building a replica Bugatti 100P based solely upon its heritage. After all, Ettore Bugatti built only one airplane,” the team writes.
“The only way we can revisit the classic era of aviation and fly this airplane is to recreate the Bugatti 100P ourselves and share that experience with enthusiasts everywhere!”
The recreation of the plane is aerodynamically and dimensionally identical to the original prototype, with similar materials and elements of the original patents meant for the Bugatti 100P, as well as a gearbox specially designed by John Lawson.
Hercules propellers were approached by the 100P team to design and manufacture the two contra-rotating propellers for this absolutely unique aircraft which is expected to fly for the first time in the design’s history in 2015.
Follow the project on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheBugatti100pProject