What is Project Ruptured Duck?
Project Ruptured Duck is a handcrafted one-off custom vehicle, designed and built by Brycen Smith. This idea to build an aircraft-themed car was born in 2007, then over time designed and built to have the look and feel of a B-25 Mitchell Bomber, inspired by the Doolittle Raider ‘Ruptured Duck’ bomber in WWII. Upon completion and the sale of the car, I will donate 45% of the proceeds to Home For Our Troops, a nonprofit organization that “builds mortgage-free, specially adapted homes nationwide for severely injured Veterans Post – 9/11, to enable them to rebuild their lives.” I will also donate 5% of the proceeds to the American Aeronautical Foundation (AAF) in Camarillo, California, which works “to help preserve the aviation legacy of our World War II Veterans and the aircraft they flew.” Read more about the history, design/build process, and ultimate goal of this unique project.
In 2008, the longtime dream to create my custom car began with the vision that was not only to build a vehicle that was WWII aircraft themed, but built like a WWII aircraft. With initial ideas formed and chassis fabrication began. 50+ hours later, I had the initial chassis design built. As is true for all things worth doing right, it required time for my vision and ideas to merge into the picture of what I wanted out of this build. Six years later, in 2014, after significant life changes such as marriage and changing jobs, the designs in my head were never more explicit about what I want to assemble. Based on sketches I had done, my friend, co-worker, and artist Matt Sutton of Sutton Designs rendered the "Ruptured Duck." The execution phase is now in full swing. I am constructing a car that will have unique and never-before-seen styling, mixed with technology and performance, to place it in a class of its own. Imagine what you would get if you combined the famous World War II B-25 Mitchell bomber, "The Ruptured Duck," with the performance and technology of a modern sports car. Then stir that in with some vintage 30's style -- this is The Ruptured Duck. This 100% hand-built aluminum body will incorporate the design and styling of the B-25 Mitchell bomber glass nose and windshield, with the three window 30s coupe rear roof and truck shapes. The car will feature a full belly pan, and B-25 bomber inspired wheels.
The “Ruptured Duck” #40-2261 B-25 Mitchell bomber was the #7 bomber to take-off from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Hornet and bombed Japan in response to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Flown by Pilot Lt. T.W. Lawson, Co-Pilot Lt. D. Davenport, Navigator Lt. C.L. McClure, Bombardier Lt. R.S. Clever, and Engineer Gunner Sgt. D.J. Thatcher off of the aircraft carrier on April 18th, 1942. The crew of the “Ruptured Duck’ succeeded in its mission to bomb Japan and then headed toward China to land in safety, but because of early mission launching, they ran out of fuel and had to abandon the plane, crashing into the China Sea. The “Ruptured Duck” was made famous mainly because of the book and movie 30 Seconds Over Tokyo, which was written by Pilot Lt. Ted W. Lawson. The back story of the name “Ruptured Duck” stems from the practice airfields where the bomber crews were learning how to take off of an aircraft carrier. One member of a flight crew thought that the bombers looked like injured birds skipping across the runway during practice take-offs, and the term “Ruptured Duck” came to mind. Based on the slang name for an honorable discharged veteran and pin given to those veterans called a “Ruptured Duck.” When they called Lawson’s plane this same name, it stuck. A fellow crew member painted the nose art onto the nose of the bomber. The unique history and importance behind the “Ruptured Duck” and its name are reasons why I chose the name for this build. I feel that this build is a perfect way to honor all of those who embarked on this dangerous and brave mission and every soldier who fought for our country then and now
The body of the Duck will be built out of aluminum with an overall shape resembling a fenderless 1930s car. What will set this car apart is that it will have heavy styling from the B-25 bomber, which will focus on the rounded glass nose and rounded front windshield. The nose of the B-25 has lines that allow it to flow into the main body of the car and easily make it a natural fit. The goal is to build it with most amount of bomber feel without taking the aircraft theme to such an industrial level. It will be easily recognizable for its bomber style and glass nose but it will built in a tasteful, sleek, and modern way. The nose of the car will allow easy transition into the full salt flat style belly pan underneath of the car and also keeps the body looking like the shape of the B-25. The windshield will be curved horizontally, with a smaller upper section following the main glass, which is a green tinted glass that allows visibility and sun shade just the way the B-25 did. The back window of the coupe will also feature curved glass and will flow with the shape of the roof to allow for maximum rear visibility. The rear section of the car will feature a vented trunk lid and air intakes in the belly pan to allow air to travel through to rear mounted radiator.
The chassis consists of 1 ½” x .120 wall round tubing which is fully TIG welded and will feature a custom designed independent front suspension built around Wilwood pro spindles. Stopping the car will be 14 inch Wilwood disc brakes with front 6 piston calipers and rear 4 piston calipers . Holding the car up will be cantilever mounted Ridetech coil-overs. The power will be sent to the 2015 Ford Mustang rear axle and Independent suspension. Setting all of this on the ground will be a custom built set of wheels by Hot Rods by Boyd that will closely resemble the landing gear of the B-25 bomber. They will be staggered, 19”x9” in front and 20’’x10.5” in rear and will be wrapped in Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires.
The drivetrain of choice for the Duck was chosen with a few things in mind. I wanted the car to have a unique engine yet I also wanted it to offer modern performance and reliability. For these reasons the engine is the new Ford 2.3L Ecoboost and Tremec Magnum 6 speed manual transmission. The engine will be a main focal point of the build because it will be 100% visible behind the glass nose of the Duck. The modern design and performance of this engine will take the performance of this lightweight, aluminum of the car to the next level while also bringing the wow factor to its looks.
As with the rest of the car, the interior will be extreme in its details but tasteful in its style. The interior upholstery will be handled by Cato's Custom Upholstery. The inside of a B-25 has a lot of unique design and styling that will carry over nicely in automotive form. Genuine B25 Mitchell bomber seats will upholstered to bring a more modern performance and comfort to the classic seat. Custom Dakota Digital gauges were made to bring modern read-outs while using custom made trim bezels will give the gauges that WWII B25 Bomber feel. Hand crafted interior panels such as the dash, console, headliner, and door panels will bring the interior to life and give the undeniable feeling that you are in the seat of a B-25. Incorporating military design into the interior while maintaining style, comfort, and modern amenities such as air conditioning, stereo, and keyless entry will also make the car’s interior unique