In 1959, the U.S. Army, through its Trans-portation Research and Engineering Command, initiated the development of three types of VTOL research aircraft in a programme aimed at producing a flying jeep. Fundamentally a cross between an Army jeep and a reconnaissance helicopter, this type was intended ultimately to operate at speeds of about 50 mph a few feet above the ground, carrying a payload of about 1000 lb. Contracts were placed with the Chrysler Corporation, Acrophysics Development Corporation and Piasecki Aircraft Corporation.
The Chrysler VZ-6, like the Piasecki flying jeep, was of the ducted-fan type, using two fans in tandem with the pilot and engine in between. Work on this configuration had been going on at the Chrysler Defense Engineering Company since 1955 and a unique feature of the design was the use of rigid fixed-pitch three-blade rotors or fans.
Since the fans could not therefore contribute to control of the aircraft, Chrysler developed a system of control vanes. Pitch control came from lateral vanes across the duct intakes and yaw and roll control came from longitudinal vanes in the duct exit. The engine was located in the center of the rectangular-shaped vehicle, next to the off-set pilot's position. Rubber skirts around the outside of the vehicle's bottom edge helped sustain the fan-generated lift.
A 373 kW (500 hp) Lycoming engine powered the VZ-6, which weighed about 2,300 lb. fully loaded and was 23 ft. long. The diameter of the ducted fans was 8 ft. 6 in.
During 1959, the VZ-6 (58-5506) made some tethered hovering flights. On the first attempt at a free flight it got out of control and overturned. The prototype was not repaired and the second example (serial 58-5507) which had been ordered (58-5507) was not completed. Both prototypes were disposed of in 1960.
Engine: 1 x Lycoming piston, 370kW
Rotor diameter: 2.6m
Take-off weight: 1080kg