Getting Around in the Atompunk Age


One of the futurism themes of the post-WWII era was transportation. This makes sense. Innovations in manufacturing and aircraft design,  the growth of large cities, and the need for improved highway systems and vehicles  all came together in a magic moment, in the Western world at least. Germany had its Autobahn, Britain the M- series of roads, and the US the Interstate system of super-highways. All of these promised a world of speed and possibilities.

Illustration by Arthur Radebaugh

The Bohn corporation only made alloys, but you’d never know it from their series of ads depicting exotic vehicles in the early years of the Atompunk age. None of which were ever built. But this twin-rotor helicopter has a distant military cousin, the Boeing Chinook.

A French company promised a future flying in doughnut-shaped coléoptère aircraft, which had the ability to take off and land on its tail so long runways were not needed. But the technology just wasn’t there yet, prompting problems with controlling the ungainly beast. There was also the problem of how to load passengers.

The Vanadium Corporation of America muscled into Bohn’s act, touting not only a Cadillac-like milk delivery truck, but also an underslung monorail.

These small monorail cars must have been inspired by Disneyland’s Peoplemover, long lost in the Steampunk revival of Futureworld. Slightly larger versions now shuttle passengers around airports.

How’s this for a wild ride? It’s hard to say if this two-story train and its rail is sailing off into the sky or tethered by those horseshow-shaped pylons to the earth. I say it’s sailing off, the horseshoes containing an antigravity function.

This institutional ad featured a real-life flying saucer car, like that seen on the cartoon show The Jetsons. Interestingly Mom is driving it with ease, a paper sack of groceries in the seat beside her as there’s no trunk. The Pointer dog apparently came along for the ride.

The US Airforce came out with a whole zoo of exotic jets during this time. This one is a follow-up to the A-12 / SR-71 Blackbird.

Not to be outdone, the US Navy came up with this long-necked ekranoplan design which ran on skis. Did it have its own nuclear reactor on board? Of course!


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