One of the most advanced, cutting-edge aircrafts of the 20th century never even made it to the air.
The Bugatti Model 100P is an amazing piece of engineering by any measure. Nearly lost to history forever, the design had to be hidden from the Nazis lest the 900 HP aircraft fall into the wrong hangs and single-handedly change the tide in the air for the Axis. In 1938, legendary sports car manufacturer Ettore Bugatti enlisted engineer Louis de Monge to create a Bugatti racer for the skies.
The Model 100P’s design is strikingly modern in its appearance. Forward-swept wings, dual counter-rotating propellers, and V-tail with retractable landing gear, the Model 100P wouldn’t be out of sorts in a modern lineup of other single cockpit aircraft today. 25 feet long and boasting a 27-foot wingspan, the aircraft was projected to shatter airspeed records of the era and would have topped out around 500 MPH had it ever made it to the air.
The German invasion of France abruptly shattered Bugatti’s plans for the company’s aviation future and the only produced model survived in a French barn for nearly 30 years. The original is on display in the AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, but a group of enterprising aviation enthusiasts are currently creating an exact replica of the original Model 100P for active flight.
With no known plans intact, the Bugatti 100P Project is underway with fresh updates on a regular basis with plans to fly as soon as construction and testing are complete. Since the only model on display is too fragile to move or transport, this replica model may be the only chance much of the world will get to experience Bugatti’s vision for air racing.
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