View Full Version : First bubble canopy?QW

07-05-2008, 05:41 AM
What was the first plane to have a bubble canopy (by first flight)?

I've seen claims for the P-38 (first flight Jan 1939) but the Whirlwind flew in October 1938.

Is there anything earlier?

07-05-2008, 07:12 AM
You would probably have to distinguish between "greenhouse" types with cockpit framing, and true one-piece bubble canopies. There are earlier planes than Whirlwind or P-38 with the former, and I thought the Miles canopy was first for the latter.

07-05-2008, 11:07 AM
DIdnt the He100 have a bubble canopy? Or at least close to a bubble?

07-05-2008, 11:16 AM


07-05-2008, 03:53 PM
The Curtiss XP-31 Swift.

First flight Oct, 1931.

Built as competitor for P-26



The first enclosed canopy Pursuit plane.

07-05-2008, 03:55 PM
Nice one Stalker. I think for every truly beautiful aircraft, there must be a truly goofy one to keep the universe in balance.

07-05-2008, 04:08 PM
That's a Miles craft isn't it? I can't find which of my books has the information about to dig up more. Might be in one I've lent out.

07-05-2008, 04:11 PM
The Curtiss XP-31 Swift.

Nice plane. I am not sure what the rules are for classifying something as a bubble, though, even though I posed the question. Maybe the supplemental question needs to be which was the first enclosed canopy fighter (of any nation), with the Curtiss being a strong contender (the first I-16s had enclosed canopies, but from memory that's 1932?)

07-05-2008, 04:27 PM
That is indeed a Miles aircraft. The Miles M-20, designed in 1940 as a stopgap should the Supermarine and Hawker works be over run in an invasion. It was built of wood and designed to be easy to manufacture.

It was powered by a Merlin XX and had a speed between the Hurri and the Spitfire, not bad considering it's fixed undercarriage. With the defeat of the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain the need for such a plane evaporated, and the design was abandoned.

07-05-2008, 04:40 PM
looked like a pretty nice idea to me. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

07-05-2008, 07:07 PM

In the rush to diefy everything German, many forget that the Allies had some very clever designers, and if push came to shove we simply would have pulled our other hand from behind our back and carried on.

07-05-2008, 08:00 PM
allied designers imo were limited in what technology they could explore in war time. Many were really excellent IMO..

07-06-2008, 05:09 AM
Wasn't the M-20s first flight in summer 1940 - i.e. not the first bubble canopy?

07-06-2008, 05:19 AM
On the History channel site there is this

"dates back to the UK Westland Whirlwind twin-engine fighter flown on 10-11-1938. This clear view, all around vision canopy set the pattern that was later adopted by many nations. The aft sliding portion contained several braces.

The US version, made of Plexiglas, as fitted to the P-51 and P-47, was an object of beauty offering superb visibility (unobstructed in all directions) and great strenght, combined with ease of use.

The Lockheed XP-80A flown on 6-10-1944, introduced the bubble canopy to turbojet aircraft, now with the added advance of cockpit pressurization. Its canopy was similar to that on the P-51 and P-47, and was to be a US feature that other countries did not emulate for many years. The UK Gloster Meteor F.8, a contemporary of the 1948 flown F-80C, still did not feature a clear view canopy metal covered the aft (dreaded six-o'clock) position. The Mig-15 of Korean War vintage had a pressurized cockpit covered by a bubble canopy with longitudinal and lateral bracing, unlike the clear view canopy of the F-86 Sabre."


we are talking none braced items such as the one shown previously, I suppose the Malcom hood was the forefunner of it all and a lot came as a natural succession to that..... Some bubble canopies such as fitted to the Wellington Bomber were though for neccessity rather than vision purpose.

The one Elaurens posts is not a bubble, it's a high back plane....... you could say one of the first if you allow framing was the Gloster Gladiator... As it is placed on top of a low backed fuselage.


07-06-2008, 05:49 AM
Isnt the hood on the Typhoon from 1941/42 a true bubble?


07-06-2008, 06:07 AM
Yep, it's a true bubble.
Same with the Miles a/c.

The others shown here are no true bubble-designs. They're allround-view, but not "bubbletops".

07-06-2008, 06:08 AM
Not a true 'Bubble' but this was about the best for a pre 1940 aircraft - unless of course someone can prove otherwise... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif


07-06-2008, 08:11 AM
Originally posted by Xiolablu3:
Isnt the hood on the Typhoon from 1941/42 a true bubble?


Nice pic, the bubble canopy must have been a great improvement for the pilot. All Typhoons are beautiful, but this one http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/heart.gif will be my ride in BoB:


This aircraft just rock.

07-06-2008, 12:19 PM
The UK Gloster Meteor F.8, a contemporary of the 1948 flown F-80C, still did not feature a clear view canopy metal covered the aft (dreaded six-o'clock) position.

Where on earth did the History Channel get that idea? DG206 (first Meteor prototype) had a transparent (but braced) rear canopy, as did prodution F.1, F.3, F.8 etc. DG.204 (another prototype) is the only one I've seen a picture with a metal rear canopy, and perhaps thid was used as the F.8 prototype, hence the History Channel's confusion?

It's a mystery why Gloster didn't use a bubble, though - it was part of the Hawker group which was using them.

On the X.31 - it isn't really a bubble or greenhouse as it has a bit of a turtledeck, but at least the rear decking looks to be below pilot eye level so you'd be able to see at least level and high 5 and 7 but not low 5 and 7 as in a bubble or greenhouse without any turtledeck.

Does the Whirly even count as a full bubble given some framing? Maybe it's a badly framed question without a definition!

07-06-2008, 02:16 PM
Hi all,

An outsider from 1935!


Best Regards,

07-06-2008, 04:21 PM
Another...not a true bubble...but then again there are a few that were't really 'bubbles'.


..and what about the Zero?

And this one..


07-06-2008, 04:58 PM
The first aircraft I can recall which had a clear hood, definitely not a bubble, was the original 1917 production version of the S.E.5 which had a nearly complete celluloid cover over the pilot. The WWI pilots, including Albert Ball, hated it and removed it ASAP.


07-06-2008, 05:17 PM
Some of you's bozo's would keep a councillor busy for years coming to terms with your Whirly-denial.

Reach out and feel the love. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

07-06-2008, 06:02 PM

07-06-2008, 07:06 PM
Ok, to recap claimants so far

We have various categories:

1. Multiply framed greenhouse (e.g A6M)
2a. Minimally framed greenhouse (i.e. central section moves) with some turtledeck below eye level (Curtiss X-31, 1931)
2b as above, no turtledeck at all. (Wellesley, Ki-27, both 1935)
3. Framed teardrop (entire rear moves, but has a frame) (Whirlwind, 1938)
4. unframed teardrop (Miles M-20, 1940)