Firstly and lastly.
The Transformer from Textron Systems photographed by the author in
our title illustration is no joke, nor is it a 007-mobile designed by Q
for chasing Dr. No. The Transformer was developed under a Darpa
programme, for which Textron has completed the first of three phases.
Textron System officials described the 'Air Hummer' as a
slowed-rotor compound system, where the blades are heavily weighted at
the lips and, after vertical take-off and transition to forward flight
at around 150 ft when lift is generated by the wings, the rotor mast tilts forward to allow the rotor to fold back to reduce drag. Due to
obvious weight constrictions the vehicle can only be armoured to survive
5.56-mm rounds. The Transformer will have turbine power for lift and
flight and electric drive on the tyres. Textron Systems is currently
awaiting the contract for Phase 2.