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Five Weird Airplanes That Were Surprisingly Popular

Sometimes an oddball design fulfills the needs of customers who are more interested in utility than beauty.

There are usually good reasons for design weirdness, but they are usually hard to see through the unexpected angles and appendages. The odd approaches to configuration that you’ll see here don’t usually reflect the designer’s aesthetic sensibilities but, rather, the design performance or mission goals that wound up driving the design decisions. These decisions, like the giant balloon-like forward fuselage of the Airbus Beluga, are for a specific reason, and the same is true for every one of the planes in our lineup here. One thing most of these planes have in common is the commitment by the designer or the manufacturer to the unusual aspect of the design, and while some of the creators celebrated the design as much as the performance improvements or mission capabilities they bring, most wind up getting smitten by the resultant beauty and/or oddness of the plane. 

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