Oklahoma Team Bringing Bugatti 100P Back To Life

Replica of would-be race plane planned to fly.

Bugatti 100P

Bugatti 100P

** Bugatti 100P**

Why would anyone attempt to build a full-scale, airworthy replica of an airplane that never flew and for which there are no known plans? For a team of designers in Oklahoma, it's all about recreating one of the most amazing airplanes ever conceived — the Bugatti 100P, a dream of Italian carmaker Ettore Bugatti, who was forced to hide away his creation in a barn in the French countryside at the start of World War II to keep the revolutionary design from falling into the hands of the Nazis.

Scottish engineer John Lawson and former USAF fighter pilot Scotty Wilson are behind the project, dubbed Le Reve Bleu (The Blue Dream), which seeks to recreate the one and only airplane Bugatti ever designed. Bugatti was building it in France for the express purpose of entering an air race of the day known as the Coupe Deutsch. When Germany invaded France in 1940, Bugatti hid the airplane for fear that the Nazis would use his cutting-edge design to build an unstoppable fighter.

The Bugatti 100P was said to be about 85 percent complete when Germany invaded France. It featured a forward-swept wing, two 8-cylinder 450 hp race engines behind the cockpit, twin coaxial propellers and automatic wing flaps that self-adjusted depending on airspeed. Its top speed was predicted to be 500 mph, which would have made it the fastest airplane in the world in 1940. Today the airplane is in the collection of the EAA AirVenture Museum in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

The team building the replica in Oklahoma hopes to complete its homage to the airplane this October and then fly it at airshows around the world. For more details of the project, visit bugatti100p.com.

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