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Cars and hovercraft are two fundamentally different types of vehicles. But this does not mean that there were no attempts to unite them. This is how the Terraplane BC7, a wheeled hovercraft, was born.

Terraplane BC7 was the final prototype in the development of the flexible-skirted hovercraft idea that began with the BC4 and BC6 prototypes. Compared to BC6, many aspects have been improved, in particular the ability to move on regular roads.

The BC6 used small wheels to stabilize the vehicle and another wheel at the front for steering, which was naturally not suitable for use on public roads. In addition, the need to constantly maintain the machine “in flight” would be economically impractical.

Terraplane BC7 solves these problems. In appearance, it is quite close to a classic truck: it has the usual load-bearing wheels, suspension and steering. Depending on the speed, load or terrain, the driver can use only wheel drive or connect a system of air cushions distributed over 10 cylindrical skirts.

When the vehicle is driven on a flat, hard surface, the skirts underneath the unit lift up, allowing the BC7 to behave like a classic truck. But as soon as the ground becomes loose or uneven, or the load being transported becomes very heavy, the air cushion provides support to the vehicle and partially or completely relieves the wheels. In this case, as on the Terraplane BC6, the wheels are used only for support and steering.

Interestingly, the wheels and propellers of the air cushion were driven by the same diesel engine.

Terraplane BC7 could move not only on land: the air cushion allows it to easily cross waterways, and the wheels, on the sides of which the blades were fixed, provided forward motion, like a paddle steamer. True, the speed was quite low.

One of the prototypes was sent to Canada, to Ottawa, where the Canadian army conducted numerous tests, but, unfortunately, it did not receive further development.

A little later, the SEDAM company, taking over the further development of Terraplane, built a smaller version of the BC7 – Terraplane T3S. It was almost an exact copy of the BC7, except that its dimensions were smaller.

You can also see what the BC7 was capable of in this short test video:

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