In 1957 Chrysler Defense Engineering began the development of an aerial jeep vehicle. Within security limitations, this paper discusses the progress made thus far on the project.
The aerial jeep is essentially a hovering and low speed vehicle. No means have been provided for propelling it on the ground. The role or mission of the vehicle with respect to helicopters and ground vehicles is explained. Its application initially will be military, but the implication for civilian use seems obvious.
While the Chrysler aerial jeep may outwardly resemble others currently under development, the similarity is only superficial. Two features make this vehicle unique in its class: the application of a rigid, fixed-pitch propeller and the use of simple vanes as a means of control.
Problems involved in the development of a workable vehicle configuration are described, together with research work for their solution. Lift and stability characteristics of a rigid propeller (as opposed to an articulated rotor) when operating in a duct are enumerated.
While the use of a rigid propeller and simple vanes for aerodynamic control imposed new problems with their attendant demands upon resources, this vehicle offers the prospect of greater simplicity and ruggedness than others in its class.
Vehicle design is supported by wind tunnel tests, full scale static testing, and analog computer simulations. The design of the research vehicle is described with particular emphasis on the ducted propeller, the engine and drive line, and the control system. Plans for completing fabrication of two aerial jeep vehicles are outlined together with the program for tie-down, hovering, and free-flight testing.
A special point is made that this vehicle is the research aircraft which will be used to explore the flight characteristics of the concept. The research aircraft will be capable of vertical take-off and forward flight at moderate speeds, but will not have the payload capacity required of the ultimate aerial jeep.