The Bugatti Veyron Of The Sky

image012One of the nice things about being the father of a young boy is that you are constantly amazed at the amount of crap and knowledge he brings to your attention everyday.

For instance, while he keeps thinking he sees Ferrari’s all over the streets of Toronto, he can quite quickly and accurately tell me what every car is in a trailer for the movie Need For Speed.

Plus, while his insistence that he saw a McLaren on the streets near my home met with complete scoffing and insistence that it wasn’t possible, I stood jaw-dropped corrected when I saw one quickly approach in my driver’s side mirror… and nearly fainted when I noticed that the owner was driving almost to the same street where I live.

I don’t live in a super-rich neighborhood… my dad bought the house in 1973 for $40,000… and while it would be sold for $700,000 now and then immediately torn down and rebuilt into a monster home for $1.6-million, it’s still a middle class Toronto neighborhood. Yeah… good luck buying a house if you’re an average Joe in Toronto.

But back to my son… his favorite car, by far, is the Bugatti Veyron – and why not… the world’s fastest car – at least it seems that way in my video games…

Designed by the Bugatti car manufacturer… the company has been around for 105 years (1909)… and has always been the type of manufacturer that made a special, powerful car.

Now imagine if the car manufacturer designed and built an aircraft?


Well… Bugatti did… and they did so just before the onset of WWII… a super-plane that, if it fell into the wrong hands, could have affected the outcome of the war.

That’s right… achtung, baby!

The Bugatti Model 100P was designed by automotive legend Ettore Bugatti, and is a 900-horsepower monster capable of 500 miles per hour… which is more than impressive considering that the air-speed record in 1939 was 469-mph (miles per hour), and attained by the Nazi German masterpiece of engineering, der Messerschmitt.  But something happened on the way to achieving that air-speed record.

The plane was considered to be so technologically advanced, the Bugatti feared had the Nazi Germans ever got their hands on it, it could have single-handedly dominated the skies of WWII. And there was that possibility.

Here’s the background:

With German aggression becoming… well, aggressive in the 1930s, it seemed obvious to most that Europe would soon be lunged into another war to rival the Great War (later known as World War I).

Bugatti, at the time a noted automobile manufacturer seemed to believe that if any airplane manufacture built a craft around his powerful car engines, that it would outperform anything else then in the air.

Why would he think that?

Well, in the mid-1930s, Bugatti had discussed with engineer Louis de Monge the possibility of designing a record-setting speed and altitude airplane around Bugatti’s engines. de Monge, after looking at the engines, thought it might be possible.

Louis de Monge of Belgium was a well-known aeronautical engineer whose creative designs brought much him attention but little commercial success. I know the feeling.

Bugatti and de Monge had become acquainted with one another in the 1920s when de Monge used Bugatti engines to power his Model 7.5 flying-wing.

Armed with heady praise, Bugatti persuaded the French government that his airplane – a prototype, of course – would be the basis of a mass-produced defense fighter that could be built at Bugatti’s Molsheim and Paris factories. It would also bring in some much needed coin to his car company that was having financial difficulties.


So… in 1938, Bugatti and chief engineer de Monge set about designing and building an airplane.

And not just any airplane, but a screamingly fast racer capable of beating his counterparts in Deutchland’s most prestigious air race: the Coupe Deutsch. And they almost did too.

The Model 100P that Bugatti devised was the Lockheed SR-71 of its day (my favorite airplane!)—an aircraft packed with technology ludicrously advanced beyond the existing state of the art.

The Model 100P was 25-feet long and had a 27-foot wingspan. Its fuselage and forward-swept wings were formed from multi-layer wood laminate—a sandwiching of lightweight balsa with hardwoods… this multi-layering, though widely used today, was not something that anyone was doing back in the 1930s.

As you can see from the images scattered all over this article, the Model 100P was incredibly streamlined, thanks to a revolutionary inline engine design—wherein the 100P’s pair of 4.9L, 450HP, eight-cylinder race car engines were placed behind the cockpit, driving a of counter-rotating props on the nose.

Other Unique features on the Model 100P include:

  • Forward swept wings.
  • “Y” shaped empennage.
  • The aeroplane was equipped with ground  adjustable propellers. Propellers with in-flight  adjustable pitch were being developed.
  • Automatic wing-flaps, that changed the wing profile for extra lift or less drag. Adjustment automatic according to airspeed, throttle etc. This system was also capable of acting as an air-brake, or be used during dives. The same system also automatically lowered and raised the retractable landing gear.
  • Special cooling system with radiators in the fuselage, air entering at the leading edge of the stabilizers. The air flowed through the fuselage to the front, exiting at the trailing edge of the wing.

The plane utilized a 102° V-tail, a zero-drag cooling system that ejected air from the trailing edges of the wings, and a “computer”-directed flight controls that automatically changed the wing profile to produce extra lift or reduce drag and acting as an air-brake when pulling out of dives. The same system controlled the automatic landing gear.

It was during his development of the plane, that Bugatti was contacted by the French government, who had heard of his progress on his super-plane, and tried to purchase some of his technology to create a then next-gen light-weight fighter plane.

Although Bugatti said thanks but no thanks, we need not think that that was the reason Nazi Germany was able to easily take France during the war a couple of years later… in truth, there wouldn’t have been enough time to create these planes… and even if there had been enough time to create a few, you can bet your bottom deutschmark that when the Germans did take over France in 1940, this technology would have been sitting in some government filing cabinet just waiting for the German war machine to begin cranking out hundreds of Nazi Bugatti Model 100P‘s.

As mentioned, the world air-speed record was 469-mph set by a German Messerschmitt – marvelous aircraft, and Bugatti hoped to break that record with his plane during the 1940 Coupe Deutsch aviation event.

But, Bugatti’s hopes to fly the Model 100P  at the Coupe Deutsch event were scuttled when they missed the deadline for the event in late summer of 1939 because of some manufacturing problems.

I suppose it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, because in September of 1939 World War II broke out, led by Germany’s invasion of Poland… and there would be no Coupe Deutsch event in 1940.

While missing the deadline was a disappointment to Bugatti, we can look back with hindsight and say that this delay might have changed the outcome of World War II.

Bugatti had become a French citizen after WWI, and perhaps because of the war, hated the Germans.

So… when Germany began its invasion of France in 1940, in order to stop those hated Germans from getting their mitts on his airplane, Bugatti took the nearly-completed aircraft apart and hid it in a barn on some property he owned in the French countryside outside Paris.

It stayed hidden throughout the WWII. At the war’s end, it was rediscovered and sold and auctioned off many times, eventually ending up at the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) Airventure Museum, at the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

They restored it and even have it on display right now.

But it has never flown.

Which brings us back to now…

For the past five years, aviation enthusiasts have been building a full-scale replica—capable of flight—Model 100P… the 1940 Bugatti Veyron of the skies with a 2014 gearbox.

According to ex-RAF engineer John Lawson, who built the replica’s gearbox with his Le Reve Bleu team, to Metro UK: “The Bugatti 100P was 85 percent complete when the Germans invaded. If it had flown in 1940 then, it would have been a revolution. It was an incredible airplane and Louis de Monge, who worked on it with Ettore Bugatti, was a brilliant engineer.

“The plane was designed to fly very fast but the gearbox wouldn’t have much longevity,” states Lawson. “I reverse-engineered it from plans and pictures and designed one which runs perfectly.”

The Le Reve Bleu (The Blue Dream) plans on completing the aircraft by the Autumn of 2014.

About mreman47

Andrew was born in London, UK, raised in Toronto, Canada, and cavorted in Ohtawara, Japan for three years. He is married, has a son and a cat. He has over 35,000 comic books and a plethora of pioneer aviation-related tobacco and sports cards and likes to build LEGO dioramas. He has written and been an editor for various industrial magazines, has scripted comic books, ghost-written blogs for business sectors galore, and hates writing in the 3rd person. He also hates having to write this crap that no one will ever read. He works on his Pioneers Of Aviation - a cool blog on early fliers - even though it takes him so much time to do. He also wants to do more writing - for money, though. Help him out so he can stop talking in the 3rd person.
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2 Responses to The Bugatti Veyron Of The Sky

  1. Uncle Jed @ 70 Cambridge Av 131 M4K2L5 says:

    I was worried about you


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