Even though I like Ray Pioch, his 1951 cutaway drawing of this fanciful atomic airplane really isn’t very good. It’s got the typical middle-of-magazine two-color scheme, and the perspectives within this so-called atomic airplane are all wrong.
That said, it was predicted that, by 1980, atomic-powered jets would already be in use. However, more realistically, it was said that the nuclear power plant would be so heavy (about 50 tons) that it would cost as much in terms of weight as a petroleum-fueled plane (power plant replacing fuel).
Another problem: a radioactive engine being dangerous to the flight crew, extensive and heavy shielding would have to be added.
And another problem: the nuclear reactor’s slow start-up time.
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Source: Popular Science October 1951