Top 8 Five-engined aircraft…yes, you read that correctly

Avro Vulcan | BAE Systems | United Kingdom
We will ignore engine testbeds, like the Vulcan Avro Vulcan B1 (XA894) fitted with an Olympus 320 engine for TSR-2. Unless we get stuck.

Five-engined aeroplanes are rare beasts, and as you will shortly find out, a generally cursed form of transport. Let us know three more in the comments below and we can expand this list into a top 10.

8. ShinMaywa US-2 (2003)

Probably the most handsome modern aeroplane is the unbearably exciting ShinMaywa US-2. This Japanese amphibious search & rescue aircraft is capable of VERY short take-off and landings. The secret behind these miraculously short landings is a 5th engine hidden in the dorsal faring. This small LHTEC CTS800 turboshaft engine provides blowing air to the flaps, elevators and the rudder.

7. FMA IA 36 Cóndor (1951)

Ok, this didn’t actually get to the prototype stage but we would be remiss to not share this incredible machine. Designed by Kurt Tank and powered by five Nenes fed by unusual annular intakes, this could have catapulted Argentina into the major league of advanced airline manufacturers. With a projected top speed of 590 mph and range of 3,100 miles it appeared to offer much. It was cancelled in 1958.

6. Caudron C.53 (1919)

Caudron C.43 L'Aéronautique January 1921.jpg

This rather handsome 8-passenger aircraft was a development of the three-engined C.39, its designer Paul Deville was clearly unaware of the curse that affects five-engined and only one was produced. Its five Le Rhône 9C 9-cylinder rotary engines combined to pump out 400HP.

5. Felixstowe Fury

Not the Felixstowe fury that occurs every Friday after pub kick-out, but the Felixstowe Fury seaplane of 1918. At its maiden flight, it was the largest seaplane and British aeroplane ever flown. The five Rolls-Royce Eagle VIII V-12 water-cooled piston engines, 334 hp (249 kW) combined to create less power than a single Spitfire Mk 24 engine. Still, different times. Only a single example of the ‘Porte Super-Baby‘ was ever made. DNA tests revealed it to be the great-grandfather of heavyweight boxer Tyson Fury.

4. Zeppelin-Staaken R.V (1918)

That strategic bombers existed in World War One with 42-metre wingspans is so weird my mind keeps blanking it out. The rather terrifying (to both opponents and crew) R.V had two engine pods, each with two engines paired, driving single propellers through clutches, gearboxes and shafts. So basically the conceptual grandad of the He 177. It also had a tractor propeller on the nose. Only one was built. It flew sixteen operational missions.

The German bombing in World War One, caused widespread terror across Britain. Though the airship raids are better known today, there was actually more raids by aeroplanes and they were responsible for the death of more British civilians. Airships made 51 bombing raids on Britain and killed 557 people. By 1917 it was apparent that airships were too vulnerable and aeroplanes took over. German aeroplanes carried out 52 raids, dropping 2,772 bombs for the loss of 62 aircraft, killing 857 people. The final and largest aeroplane raid took place on the night of 19 May 1918. A total of 38 Gotha G.Vs and three Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI Giants (a close relative of the R.V) were dispatched to attack London. A total of 49 people were killed and 177 injured that night.

3. Heinkel He 111Z Zwilling


The Messerschmitt Me 321 was a military transport glider with a wingspan as big as a B-52’s. The Germans had nothing powerful enough to tow it in to the sky so mated two He 111 together and added an extra engine. Twelve to fifteen were produced, making this the most prolific five-engined aircraft we can think of.

2. Richard-Penhoët 2

A rather unpowered twenty-passenger flying boat designed by one Lewis Quincé. Sadly, much like the owl and the pussycat, the ungrateful Richard-Penhoët 2 dined on Quincé, killing him during a test flight on the Loire estuary.

  1. Tupolev ANT-14 (1931)

“Writers build castles in the air, the reader lives inside, and the publisher inns the rent.”
― Maxim Gorky

Named for the writer Gorky, the Soviet propaganda squadron had as its flagship the enormous Tupolev ANT-14 ‘Pravda’. This vast machine was put to use publicising the achievements of the young Soviet Union. It was to transport inspiring figures like farmers who’d made their quotas and other heroes of the Revolution, as well as Moscow sightseers. It had a 40-metre wingspan and could carry up to 36 passengers, only one example was built. It enjoyed by far the longest service life of a five-engined type: It was flown for ten years during which it carried more than 40,000 passengers.

The very finest of Hush-Kit with bespoke illustrations and a generous portion of new material will be found in the gorgeous hefty coffee table book that is The Hush-Kit Book of Warplanes Vol 2. Pre-order your copy here.
ANT-14 Pravda

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