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Test Aircraft "X-Planes" RSS

Test Aircraft "X-Planes"
Images in: /Aviation/Test Aircraft "X-Planes"

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North American Aviation X-15 cockpit North American Aviation X-15 cockpit
 This photo shows the X-15 cockpit and was unique for many reasons, including the fact that it had two types of controls for the pilot.  For flight in the dense air of the usable atmosphere, the X-15 used conventional aerodynamic controls such as rudder surfaces on the vertical stabilizers to control yaw and movable horizontal stabilizers to control pitch when moving in synchronization or roll when moved differentially.  For flight in the thin air outside of the appreciable Earth's atmosphere, the X-15 used a reaction control system. Hydrogen peroxide thrust rockets located on the nose of the aircraft provided pitch and yaw control. Those on the wing provided roll control. The conventional aerodynamic controls used a stick, located in the middle of the floor, and pedals. The reaction control system used a side arm controller, seen in this photo on the left.
 
 
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North American Aviation XB-70A parked on a ramp at Edwards AFB North American Aviation XB-70A parked on a ramp at Edwards AFB
North American Aviation XB-70A parked on a ramp at Edwards Air Force Base in 1967. Originally designed as a Mach 3 bomber, the XB-70A never went into production and instead was used for flight research involving the Air Force and NASA's Flight Research Center (FRC), which was a predecessor of today's NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. The aircraft's shadow indicates its unusual planform. This featured two canards behind the cockpit, followed by a large, triangular delta wing. The outboard portions of the wing were hinged so they could be folded down for improved high-speed stability. The XB-70 was the world's largest experimental aircraft. It was capable of flight at speeds of three times the speed of sound (roughly 2,000 miles per hour) at altitudes of 70,000 feet. It was used to collect in-flight information for use in the design of future supersonic aircraft, military and civilian.
 
 
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North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie cockpit North American Aviation XB-70A Valkyrie cockpit
 XB-70 cockpit, which shows the complexity of this mid-1960s research aircraft. On the left and right sides of the picture are the pilot's and co-pilot's control yokes. Forward of these, on the cockpit floor, are the rudder pedals with the NAA (North American Aviation) trademark. Between them is the center console. Visible are the six throttles for the XB-70's jet engines. Above this is the center instrument panel. The bottom panel has the wing tip fold, landing gear, and flap controls, as well as the hydraulic pressure gages.  In the center are three rows of engine gages. The top row are tachometers, the second are exhaust temperature gages, and the bottom row are exhaust nozzle position indicators. Above these are the engine fire and engine brake switches.  The instrument panels for the pilot (left) and co-pilot (right) differ somewhat. Both crewmen have an airspeed/Mach indicator, and altitude/vertical velocity indicator, an artificial horizon, and a heading indicator/compass directly in front of them. The pilot's flight instruments, from top to bottom, are total heat gage and crew warning lights; stand-by flight instruments (side-slip, artificial horizon, and altitude); the engine vibration indicators; cabin altitude, ammonia, and water quantity gages, the electronic compartment air temperature gage, and the liquid oxygen quantity gage. At the bottom are the switches for the flight displays and environmental controls. On the co-pilot's panel, the top three rows are for the engine inlet controls. Below this is the fuel tank sequence indicator, which shows the amount of fuel in each tank. The bottom row consists of the fuel pump switches, which were used to shift fuel to maintain the proper center of gravity. Just to the right are the indicators for the total fuel (top) and the individual tanks (bottom). Visible on the right edge of the photo are the refueling valves, while above these are switches for the flight data recording instruments.
 
 
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North American X-15 during high speed flight North American X-15 during high speed flight
X-15 #2 (56-6671) launches away from the B-52 mothership with its rocket engine ignited. The white patches near the middle of the ship are frost from the liquid oxygen used in the propulsion system, although very cold liquid nitrogen was also used to cool the payload bay, cockpit, windshields and nose.
 
 
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North American X-15 rolled out, 1958 North American X-15 rolled out, 1958
The X-15-1(56-6670) rocket powered research aircraft as it was rolled out in 1958. At this time, the XLR-99 rocket engine was not ready, so to make the low-speed flights (below Mach 3), the X-15 team fitted a pair of XLR-11engines into the modified rear fuselage. These were basically the same engines used in the X-1 aircraft.
 
 
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North American X-15 with external fuel tanks North American X-15 with external fuel tanks
The second X-15 rocket plane (56-6671) is shown with two external fuel tanks which were added during its conversion to the X-15A-2 configuration in the mid-1960's. After receiving an ablative coating to protect the craft from the high temperatures associated with high-Mach-number supersonic flight, the X-15A-2 was then covered with a white sealant coat. NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards AFB, 1965.
 
 
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Northrop Aircraft XB-35 cockpit Northrop Aircraft XB-35 cockpit
Northrop Aircraft XB-35 flying wing radical new bomber cockpit.
 
 
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Northrop Aviation YB-35 airframes in production line Northrop Aviation YB-35 airframes in production line
 The U.S. government purchased 15 B-35s, two experimental planes and 13 service test versions. An order for 200 production models was canceled. In this photo, probably taken late in 1948, several YB-35 airframes are in the process of being converted to jet power.
 
 
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Northrop X-4 Bantam in N.A.C.A. hangar, Edwards AFB Northrop X-4 Bantam in N.A.C.A. hangar, Edwards AFB
X-4's design allowed it to be broken in two, aft of the engines, for servicing and instrumentation work. The X-4 Bantam, a single-place, low swept-wing, semi-tailless aircraft was designed and built by Northrop Aircraft, Inc. It had no horizontal tail surfaces and its mission was to obtain in-flight data on the stability and control of semi-tailless aircraft at high subsonic speeds.
 
 
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Northrop X-4 Bantam on runway, Edwards AFB Northrop X-4 Bantam on runway, Edwards AFB
In this 1950 view of the left side of the NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station's X-4 research aircraft, the low swept wing and horizontal taillest design are seen. The X-4 Bantam, a single-place, low swept-wing, semi-tailless aircraft, was designed and built by Northrop Aircraft, Inc. It had no horizontal tail surfaces and its mission was to obtain in-flight data on the stability and control of semi-tailless aircraft at high subsonic speeds.
 
 
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Northrop X-4 Bantam research aircraft Northrop X-4 Bantam research aircraft
NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station's X-4 research aircraft, the low swept wing and horizontal taillest design are seen. The X-4 Bantam, a single-place, low swept-wing, semi-tailless aircraft, was designed and built by Northrop Aircraft, Inc. It had no horizontal tail surfaces and its mission was to obtain in-flight data on the stability and control of semi-tailless aircraft at high subsonic speeds, Edwards AFB.
 
 
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Northrop X-4 during test flight Northrop X-4 during test flight
NACA High-Speed Flight Research Station X-4 research aircraft is seen in this 1950s in-flight close-up photograph. The two large "X"s seen connected by a line painted on the aircraft were used as an aid in optical tracking. The X-4 Bantam, a single-place, low swept-wing, semi-tailless aircraft, was designed and built by Northrop Aircraft, Inc. It had no horizontal tail surfaces and its mission was to obtain in-flight data on the stability and control of semi-tailless aircraft at high subsonic speeds.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing
Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing passes overhead showing the heavy exhaust stains on its underside during test flight over "Muroc Air Field", now Edwards AFB.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing cockpit Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing cockpit
Northrop Aircraft Company XB-35 Flying Wing bomber, with radical new bomber cockpit area at "Muroc Army Air Field," now Edwards AFB.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on its maiden flight Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on its maiden flight
 The Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on its maiden flight, headed to Muroc Army Air Field (now Edwards AFB) on 25 June, 1946, escorted by a company P-61 Black Widow. Shortly after this photograph was taken, the P-61 experienced a severe engine fire and crashed, Its crew parachuted to safety.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing, maiden flight Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing, maiden flight
 Another view of the first Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on its maiden flight, taken from a P-61 chase plane. This view clearly shows its very high thrust line of 30 degrees, the XB-35 Flying Wing bomber lifted from the runway at Northrop Aircraft Company and made its maiden flight to Edwards AFB then "Muroc Army Air Field" June 25, 1946.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 nose gear  Northrop XB-35 nose gear
Nose gear of the Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing, note the enclosed co-pilot's window above the strut, to the right of the centerline. Muroc Army Air Field.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 on runway before its maiden flight Northrop XB-35 on runway before its maiden flight
Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing on runway before its maiden flight from Northrop Field to Muroc Army Air Field now Edwards AFB on June 25, 1946.
 
 
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Northrop XB-35 on takeoff Northrop XB-35 on takeoff
 Taken from the escorting P-61, the XB-35's eight contra-rotating propellers are seen to advantage. Four Pratt & Whitney R-4360 Wasp Major engines each drove a pair of four-bladed propellers rotating in opposite directions by means of an extension shaft and specialized gear box. Unfortunately, chronic problems with the propeller governors and the complicated gear boxes doomed the innovative bomber to early extinction.  The basic concept was sound, however, and its 172-foot wingspan, sweepback angle, and total wing surface area were virtually identical to the B-2 which appeared decades later.
 
 
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Pilot Colonel Michael Love with Martin X-24B Pilot Colonel Michael Love with Martin X-24B
 Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Michael V. Love in front of the X-24B lifting-body research vehicle at Edwards Air Force Base in 1973. Love was assigned as a project pilot on the joint NASA-USAF X-24B Lifting Body flight test program at the NASA Flight Research Center.  Love flew it to a speed of Mach 1.76 on October 25, 1974, a record for the X-24B. Love attended the USAF Test Pilot School and remained as an instructor there from 1969 through 1971. He was a test pilot at Edwards when assigned to fly to the X-24B. Love was a combat veteran of Vietnam and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross with two Oak Leaf clusters. Love perished while attempting an emergency landing in an RF-4C on March 1, 1976.
 
 
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S.A.C. B-47 bombers on tarmac S.A.C. B-47 bombers on tarmac
S.A.C. B-47 bombers on tarmac ready for takeoff during the "Cold War" years.
 
 
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SAC B-47 bomber in flight SAC B-47 bomber in flight
S.A.C. "Strategic Air Command" Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber in flight.
 
 
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Side view Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing Side view Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing
Side view of the Northrop XB-35 Flying Wing ready for takeoff during early test flight, clearly showing the slots in the leading edge, note the bystanders watching from the other side of the fence.
 
 
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Side view of X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed, Edwards AFB Side view of X-24A Lifting Body on lakebed, Edwards AFB
This side-rear view of the X-24A Lifting Body on the lakebed by the NASA Flight Research Center shows its control surfaces used for subsonic flight. The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Technician beside the X-24A in wind tunnel testing Technician beside the X-24A in wind tunnel testing
This photo shows a technician dwarfed beside the X-24A in a full-scale wind tunnel. The X-24A is tan in this photo because it is covered with a simulated ablative coating, which was being investigated as a possible method of protecting vehicles from the heat of high-speed flight. The X-24A was flown 28 times in the program that, like the HL-10, validated the concept that a Space Shuttle vehicle could be landed unpowered. The fastest speed achieved by the X-24A was 1,036 miles per hour (mph--Mach 1.6). Its maximum altitude was 71,400 feet. It was powered by an XLR-11 rocket engine with a maximum theoretical vacuum thrust of 8,480 pounds.
 
 
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Technicians servicing the Bell Aircraft X-1 prior to flight Technicians servicing the Bell Aircraft X-1 prior to flight
 Technicians servicing the Bell Aircraft  X-1 in preparation for a flight. On October 14, 1947, with USAF Captain Charles "Chuck" Yeager as pilot, the X-1-1 flew faster than the speed of sound for what is accepted as the first supersonic flight by a piloted aircraft. Captain Yeager ignited the four-chambered XLR-11 rocket engines after being air-launched from under the bomb bay of a JTB-29A (#45-21800) at 21,000 feet.
 
 
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Technicians servicing the Bell X-1 in preparation for a flight Technicians servicing the Bell X-1 in preparation for a flight
Technicians servicing the Bell X-1 in preparation for a flight. The X-1 is mated with the Boeing B-29. The hooks and strap that holds the X-1 in place under the B-29 can be seen just above the hand of the technician with the hose. The strap continues under the belly of the X-1 and holds the aircraft to the mothership until the word comes to "launch", and then the shackles are released.
 
 
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Test aircraft X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10 Test aircraft X-24A, M2-F3 & HL-10
 The wingless, lifting body aircraft sitting on Rogers Dry Lake at what is now NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, from left to right are the X-24A, M2-F3 and the HL-10. The lifting body aircraft studied the feasibility of maneuvering and landing an aerodynamic craft designed for reentry from space. These lifting bodies were air launched by a B-52 mother ship, then flew powered by their own rocket engines before making an unpowered approach and landing. They helped validate the concept that a space shuttle could make accurate landings without power.  The X-24A flew from April 17, 1969 to June 4, 1971. The M2-F3 flew from June 2, 1970 until December 20, 1972. The HL-10 flew from December 22, 1966 until July 17, 1970, and logged the highest and fastest records in the lifting body program.
 
 
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Test pilot Cecil Powell with X-24 after flight Test pilot Cecil Powell with X-24 after flight
 Air Force test pilot Major Cecil Powell stands in front of the X-24A on the lakebed near the NASA Flight Research Center, Edwards, California, after a 1971 research flight.  The X-24 was one of a group of lifting bodies flown by the NASA Flight Research Center (now Dryden Flight Research Center), Edwards, California, in a joint program with the U.S. Air Force at Edwards Air Force Base from 1963 to 1975. The lifting bodies were used to demonstrate the ability of pilots to maneuver and safely land wingless vehicles designed to fly back to Earth from space and be landed like an airplane at a predetermined site.
 
 
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Test pilot Joe Walker getting out of X-1A Test pilot Joe Walker getting out of X-1A
 NACA test pilot Joseph Walker "Cowboy Joe" and his Bell X-1A Aircraft, a happy Joe was photographed in 1955 at Edwards, California.  The X-1A was flown six times by Bell Aircraft Company pilot Jean "Skip" Ziegler in 1953. Air Force test pilots Major Charles "Chuck" Yeager and Major Arthur "Kit" Murray made 18 flights between November 21, 1953 and August 26, 1954. The X-1A was then turned over to the NACA. Joe Walker piloted the first NACA flight on July 20, 1955.  Walker attemped a second flight on August 8, 1955, but an explosion damaged the aircraft just before launch. Walker, unhurt, climbed back into the JTB-29A mothership, and the X-1A was jettisoned over the Edwards AFB bombing range.
 
 
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