MY FAVOURITE AEROPLANE IN 200 WORDS #37 Capelis XC-12 by Nick Pardo


It seems unsporting to mock anything Greek at the moment. But, this is about a Greek-American ‘achievement’.. and I’m half-Greek, so I guess it’s OK.

The Capelis XC-12 of 1933 was described in a 1973 letter to Air Enthusiast from John H.Murphy thus “The airplane was designed by Greeks, built by Greeks, and the venture was promoted by a Greek- and every Greek restaurateur on the West Coast stuck a few bucks in.. it succeeded in breaking just about every law of common sense, the Aeronautics Bureau of the Department of Commerce, and those of nature, including gravity” self-tapping screws were used, which shook themselves loose during flight “And its performance? Lousy- depending on how many screws were loose”.


But it had unexpected glory.. as a film star! It featured in the following films: Five Came Back (1939) Flying Tigers (1942), flown by John Wayne, Invisible Agent (1942), Night Plane from Chungking (1943), Action in Arabia (1944) and Dick Tracy’s Dilemma 1947 (models of it featured in even more films).


If the Capelis XC-12 teaches us anything- it’s that success sometimes come in unexpected ways. Alternatively, it may teach us that when designing an aeroplane, it’s probably best to use an experienced team of aeronautical engineers.


Nick Pardo

Film aficionado and reluctant Capricorn, he strongly recommend you check out this blog

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