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Heritage Series: The Flying Shogun

The Flying Shogun at Fairford Air Tattoo

What do you put on your roof rack? Bicycles? Furniture? Perhaps even a roof box for a holiday? Well 21 years ago in the spring of 1997 we mounted a small aeroplane onto our Mitsubishi Shogun!

Not a model or a toy, but a twin-engine light aircraft, complete with pilot was mounted to the top of a Mitsubishi Shogun LWB. When the Shogun reached a speed of 70mph the aeroplane and the Shogun parted company and the plane lifted off and into the sky. Up, up and away!

Out of this creation the ‘Mitsubishi Flying Shogun Display Team’ was born and toured air shows and events across the UK throughout 1997 including the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford.

Not surprisingly, a special one of a kind roof rack was manufactured (more accurately described as a launch platform) to accommodate the plane although the Shogun itself didn’t require any modification at all. The platform impressively bolted straight onto its standard roof rack mounting points.

Mitsubishi Flying Shogun Display TeamAeroplane takes off at Fairford Air Tattoo from Mitsubishi Shogun

As you would imagine the aerodynamic qualities of the plane, platform and car had to be carefully tested, with the angling effect of the aeroplane wings and the platform requiring slight adjustment for the system to work perfectly.

As you would imagine, getting airborne required very careful and precise coordination between the driver and pilot so a radio link between the two was used to maintain constant contact to ensure a safe and perfect take off.

The plane itself was a Cri-Cri which at the time was the world’s smallest twin-engine aircraft. Its two, single cylinder engines each with 18 horsepower was capable of a very impressive 170mph! 

The Mitsubishi Shogun chosen as the mobile launching pad was a long wheelbase 3.5L V6 petrol with 192bhp and a top speed of 112mph. However the Shogun’s smooth ride and electronically-adjustable suspension proved invaluable on various runway surfaces.

Despite all its success, this particular bespoke roof rack accessory was not offered commercially to Shogun customers! It remains a truly unique part of our history, and just another example of the versatility of the legendary Mitsubishi Shogun.

As they say….Don’t Try This at Home!

Ramblings from Brian - Press Officer

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