Yes it can, and surprisingly well. Conventional wings tend to be typically: 1. Large (lots of area) 2. Thin (thickness/chord < 15%) 3. High aspect ratio (span/chord > 6) A common example of a wingless airplane would be a lifting body. Benefits of wingless airplanes: 1. Compact (encloses volume efficiently) 2. Low drag at high speeds 3. Light (structurally efficient) Disadvantages of wingless airplanes: 1. Low lift-to-drag ratio 2. Low maximum lift coefficient The disadvantages of wingless airplanes vastly outweigh the benefits in most applications, within the present state of the art. It's sometimes claimed that wingless airplanes must fly at high speed or need lots of thrust. Well, there are wingless gliders that do just fine, and a low lift coefficient (by itself) does not mean an airplane must fly fast. Speed is also a function of wing loading. (Here we define "wing loading" as weight divided by lifting surface area.) Airships can generate lift by flying at a small angle of attack. On a large rigid airship, the lift can amount to thousands of pounds. This is convenient when the captain wants to avoid valving gas or releasing ballast. However, it increases fuel consumption. Vectoring thrust to partially replace or augment wing lift is inefficient. If an airplane's L/D is 10, for example, then for every newton of thrust, you will get 10 newtons of lift. So clearly better to let the wings do the lifting and the propulsion system concentrate on pulling.