Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Wing Tip Coupling
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During and after World War II, aircraft designers were faced with the problem of increasing the range of strategic bombers. Dr. Richard Vogt, a German immigrant to the United States, proposed that floating wing panels carrying fuel tanks could be attached to the wing tips of an airplane with hinges to extend its range. The floating wing panels would support their own weight, without increasing the load on the airplane’s wings. The Air Force initiated a project to simulate floating wing panels with a piloted light plane that coupled to a larger airplane in flight. Soon the scope of the project expanded to explore the possibility of towing fighters coupled to the wing tips of bombers.