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Burnelli CB-16

Passenger Airliner Aircraft [ 1929 ]

Just one flyable prototype example of the revolutionary Burnelli CB-16 was completed in the late 1920s, bankrolled by Paul W. Chapman.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/09/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

Vincent Burnelli (1895-1964) was an aeronautics engineer whose career centered on advanced "lifting body" and "flying wing" designs as they relate to fixed-wing aircraft. In the latter part of the 1920s, during America's "Golden Age of Flight", he designed and developed the "Uppercu-Burnelli CB-300" - otherwise known as the "CB-16". This passenger-minded aircraft relied on a braced, high-wing monoplane arrangement with a wide-body fuselage and twin engines mounted at the fuselage's leading edge. The type was notable in that it was the first of its kind to feature a retractable wheeled undercarriage and could operate on a single engine in the event of an emergency.

Paul W. Chapman of Sky Lines, Incorporated financed the venture after approving of Burnelli's earlier work, particularly in the biplane-winged "RB-1" passenger hauler prototype of 1921 (only one was built). The newer aircraft featured metal construction and much of the successful qualities seen in the RB-1 were transferred into the CB-16. Power was supplied by 2 x Curtiss "Conqueror" V12 piston engines developing 500 horsepower each and used to drive twin-bladed propellers. The engines were slightly canted outward from centerline to counter the yaw effects of running on a single engine.

Up to twenty passengers could be seated in the voluminous cabin which came complete with galley (at starboard rear) and restroom (at port side rear). The cabin offered access through rounded, rectangular access doors and gave excellent viewing for the passengers through large window panes. Unfortunately for the operating crew of two (seated side-by-side), the pilots sat in open-air cockpits aft of the nose section.

The fuselage tapered towards the rear to which a unique tailplane arrangement was fitted. An upper and lower horizontal plane was utilized with twin rudder finds to provide amble controlling. Wire and structural bracing was used where needed. The undercarriage was wheeled and of the tail-dragger form with the main wheels retracting inwards towards centerline.

Dimensions of the aircraft included a running length of 47 feet and a width of 90 feet. Empty weight was 8,700lb against and MTOW of 11,700lb. Performance specs included a maximum speed of 145 miles-per-hour, a cruising speed close to 115 mph, a range out to 800 miles, and a service ceiling up to 16,500 feet. Rate-of-climb reached 940 feet-per-minute.

Only a single prototype of the CB-16 was ever completed and flown. The aircraft was tested at Newark, New Jersey for its time in history and, in January of 1929, completed a flight that lasted some forty minutes. After this, the specimen was moved to Curtiss Field at long Island, New York before settling at Bolling Field in Washington, D.C. All this led to nowhere, unfortunately, for the project was ended after a stall crash just after take-off in 1929. Neither of the crew was hurt in the accident.

Vincent Burnelli continued work into the 1940s as World War 2 took over the globe. His final notable entry became the one-off, lifting-body "CBY-3" transport/airliner design built by Canada Car & Foundry for Canada.©MilitaryFactory.com
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Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States

Development Ended.


Burnelli (Vincent Burnelli) - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States (cancelled)
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Commercial Aviation
Used in roles serving the commercial aviation market, ferrying both passengers and goods over range.
VIP Service
Used in the Very-Important-Person (VIP) passenger transport role, typically with above-average amenities and luxuries as standard.

47.1 ft
(14.35 m)
90.1 ft
(27.45 m)
Empty Wgt
8,818 lb
(4,000 kg)
11,707 lb
(5,310 kg)
Wgt Diff
+2,888 lb
(+1,310 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base Burnelli CB-16 production variant)
Installed: 2 x Curtiss "Conqueror" V12 piston engines developing 500 horsepower each driving twin-bladed propeller units.
Max Speed
146 mph
(235 kph | 127 kts)
16,404 ft
(5,000 m | 3 mi)
808 mi
(1,300 km | 2,408 nm)
940 ft/min
(287 m/min)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base Burnelli CB-16 production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
CB-11 - Base Series Designation; single, flyable example completed.
Uppercu-Burnelli CB-300 - Alternative designation.

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