The Magnus effect is the observed effect in which a spinning ball (or cylinder) curves away from its principal flight path. It is important in many ball sports. It affects spinning missiles, and has some engineering uses, for instance in the design of rotor ships and Flettner aeroplanes.
Flettner’s spinning bodies were vertical cylinders; the basic idea was to use the Magnus effect. The idea worked, but the propulsion force generated was less than the motor would have generated if it had been connected to a standard marine propeller.