The Amazing Abrams Explorer. Cool Enough. Not Fast Enough.

by Daniel Russ on February 11, 2014

 

 

 

 

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The Abrams Explorer, born of a vision of Talbert Abrams, was a plane designed for cartography and photographic intelligence. It’s perfect testament to Form Follows Function. Aerial surveillance requires an unobstructed view of the terrain. So perfectly curved windows were crafted to sit in front of the sings and engines. Designers Kenneth Ronan and Edward Kunzl of Stinson Aircraft created this plane and the team tried to sell it to the United States Army Air Corps.

 

The Army showed interest. After all, land is held by infantry; therefore infantry needs good maps. By World War II there was still plenty of active terrain that had not been recorded well enough for operations that combat requires.

 

The plane itself flew over 250 miles an hour and climbed to 25000 feet on it maiden fight out of Marshall Field in 1937. Sealed camera chambers allowed operators to photograph in a pressurized work cabin. Essentially the plane performed perfectly.  What killed the Explorer was speed. Yes, the US military had need for photographic surveillance assets. So they opted to reconfigure faster fighter aircraft.

 

 

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