The Aircruiser was commissioned in 1928, by Italian WW I ace, Caesare Sabelli, who wanted a plane that could fly non-stop from New York to Rome. Giuseppe Bellanca’s original design, the Model K , never made the flight, but the design survived. The distinctive “W” silhouette of the plane is derived from the aerodynamic lifting struts extending down from underneath the fuselage to stubby lower wings.
[ad#ad-1] 23 Bellanca Aircruisers were built in the early 1930s. Originally called the Airbus and designated the P-100, it could carry up to 14 passengers. In 1931, test pilot George Haldeman flew the P-100 a distance of 4400 miles in 35 hours. This was followed by the P-200 Airbus, with a larger, more reliable air-cooled engine. An amphibious version, the P-200-A, came with floats and operated as a ferry service in New York City, flying between Wall Street and the East River. Other versions included a P-200 Deluxe model, with custom interiors available and seating for 9, as well as the P-300 which was designed to carry 15 passengers. The final model, the Aircruiser, was the most efficient airplane of its day. With an air-cooled supercharged Wright Cyclone radial engine, rated at 715 hp. The Aircruiser could carry a 4,000 lb payload at a speed of 150 mph. In the Thirties, the competing Fokker and Ford Trimotors could not come close to this capacity, and they were both multi-engine airplanes.
Some Canadian mining companies used Aircruisers, known in Canada popularly as, “The Flying W,” both ferrying supplies and ore, for many years.
The last flying Aircruiser, CF-BTW, served into the 1970’s. It is now on display at the Blimp Hangar Museum NAS, in Tillamook, Oregon.
from April, 1935 Aero Digest: