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BellX-1

Bell X-1-2

The X-planes are a series of experimental United States airplanes and helicopters (and some rockets) used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts. Most of the X-planes have been operated by the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) or, later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), often in conjunction with the United States Air Force. The majority of X-Plane testing has occurred at Edwards Air Force Base.[1]

Some of the X-planes have been well publicized, while others, such as the X-16, have been developed in secrecy.[2] The first, the Bell X-1, became well known after it became, in 1947, the first aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.[3] Later X-planes supported important research in a multitude of aerodynamic and technical fields, but only the North American X-15 rocket plane of the early 1960s achieved comparable fame to that of the X-1. X-planes 7 through 12 were actually missiles[4] (used to test new types of engines), and some other vehicles were un-piloted (some were remotely flown, some were full-on drones).

Most X-planes are not expected to go into full-scale production; one exception was the Lockheed Martin X-35, which competed against the Boeing X-32 during the Joint Strike Fighter Program, and has entered production as the F-35.[5]

Not all U.S. experimental aircraft have been designated as X-planes; some received U.S. Navy designations before 1962,[6] while others have been known only by manufacturers' designations,[N 1] non-'X'-series designations,[N 2] or classified codenames.[N 3]

Name Manufacturer
Agency
Image Maiden flight Purpose and Notes
X-1 Bell Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Bell X-1 color January 19, 1946 High-speed and high-altitude testing.
First aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.
Proved aerodynamic viability of thin wing sections.[7]
X-2
"Starbuster"
Bell Aircraft
USAF
X-2 After Drop from B-50 Mothership - GPN-2000-000396 June 27, 1952 High-speed and high-altitude testing.
First aircraft to exceed Mach 3.[8]
X-3
Stiletto
Douglas Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Douglas X-3 NASA E-17348 October 27, 1952 Titanium alloy construction; low aspect ratio wings.
Planned to test long-duration high-speed flight.
Incapable of reaching design speed, but provided insights into inertia coupling.[9]
X-4
Bantam
Northrop
USAF, NACA
Northrop-X4-Bantam December 15, 1948 Evaluated handling characteristics of tailless aircraft in the transonic speed region.[10]
X-5 Bell Aircraft
USAF, NACA
Bell-X5-Multiple June 20, 1951 First aircraft to fly with variable geometry wings.[11]
X-6 Convair
USAF, AEC
NB-36H producing contrails in flight Not flown Modified Convair B-36 for study of Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion; not built.
NB-36H testbed tested reactor.[12]
X-7
"Flying Stove Pipe"
Lockheed
Tri-service
X-7 USAF April 1951 High-speed testbed for ramjet engines.[13]
X-8
Aerobee
Aerojet
NACA, USAF, USN
AerojetX8 Upper air research vehicle and sounding rocket.[14]
X-9
Shrike
Bell Aircraft
USAF
Bell X-9 trailer April 1949 Guidance and propulsion technology testbed.
Assisted development of GAM-63 Rascal missile.[15]
X-10 North American Aviation
USAF
North American X-10 runway October 13, 1953 Testbed for SM-64 Navajo missile.[16]
X-11 Convair
USAF
Convair XSM-65A launch June 11, 1957 Testbed for SM-65 Atlas missile.[17]
X-12 Convair
USAF
Convair XSM-65B launch July, 1958 Advanced testbed for SM-65 Atlas missile.[18]
X-13
Vertijet
Ryan Aeronautical
USAF, USN
Ryan X-13 December 10, 1955 Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) testbed.
Evaluated tailsitting configuration for VTOL flight.[19]
X-14 Bell Aircraft
USAF, NASA
Bell X-14 colour ground February 19, 1957 VTOL testbed.
Examined the vectored thrust configuration for VTOL flight.[20]
X-15 North American Aviation
USAF, NASA
X-15 in flight June 8, 1959 Hypersonic (Mach 6.7), high-altitude (350,000 feet (110,000 m)) testing.
First manned hypersonic aircraft; capable of suborbital spaceflight.[21]
X-16 Bell Aircraft
USAF
Never flew High-altitude reconnaissance aircraft project.[22]
"X-16" designation used as cover story.[23]
X-17 Lockheed
USAF, USN
Lockheed X-17 horizontal April 1956 Tested the effects of high Mach number reentry.[24]
X-18 Hiller Aircraft
USAF, USN
Hiller X-18 testplatformLarge November 24, 1959 VTOL/Short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) testbed.
Evaluated the tiltwing concept for VTOL flight.[25]
X-19 Curtiss-Wright
Tri-service
Curtiss-Wright X-19 flying November 1963 Tandem tiltrotor VTOL transport testbed.[26]
XC-143 designation proposed.[27]
X-20
Dyna-Soar
Boeing
USAF
NASA Color Dyna Soar Never built Reusable spaceplane for military missions.[28]
X-21 Northrop
USAF
X21A April 18, 1963 Boundary layer control testbed.[29]
X-22 Bell Aircraft
Tri-service
X-22a onground bw March 17, 1966 Quad ducted fan tiltrotor STOVL testbed.[30]
X-23
PRIME
Martin Marietta
USAF
X23 PRIME December 21, 1966 Maneuvering atmospheric reentry effects testbed.[31]
Note: Designation never officially assigned.[32]
X-24 Martin Marietta
USAF, NASA
X24
X24B
August 1, 1973 Low-speed lifting body handling testbed.
Lifting body aerodynamic shape trials.[33]
X-25 Benson
USAF
X-25 December 6, 1955 Light autogyro for emergency use by downed pilots.[34]
X-26
Frigate
Schweizer
DARPA, US Army, USN
X-26 sailplane
QT-2PCs in STAAF, RVN Hanger c1968
1967
Training glider for yaw-roll coupling
Quiet observation aircraft testbed.[35]
X-27 Lockheed X-27 mockup Never flew High performance fighter prototype.[36]
X-28
Sea Skimmer
Osprey Aircraft
USN
X-28 on ground August 12, 1970 Inexpensive aerial policing seaplane testbed.[37]
X-29 Grumman
DARPA, USAF, NASA
Grumman-X29-InFlight 1984 Forward-swept wing testbed.[38]
X-30
NASP
Rockwell
NASA, DARPA, USAF
X-30 NASP 2 Never built Single stage to orbit spaceplane prototype.[39]
X-31 Rockwell
DARPA, USAF, BdV
Rockwell-MBB X-31 landing 1990 Thrust vectoring supermaneuverability testbed.
ESTOL testbed.[40]
X-32 Boeing
USAF, USN, RAF
USAF X32B 250 September 2000 Joint Strike Fighter prototype.[41]
X-33
Venture Star
Lockheed Martin
NASA
X-33 Venture Star in Orbit Prototype never completed Half-scale reusable launch vehicle prototype.[42]
X-34 Orbital Sciences
NASA
Orbital Sciences X34 Never flew Reusable unmanned spaceplane testbed.[43]
X-35 Lockheed Martin
USAF, USN, RAF
X-35 2000 Joint Strike Fighter prototype.[44]
X-36 McDonnell Douglas/Boeing
NASA
Boeing-X36-InFlight May 17, 1997 28% scale tailless fighter testbed.[45]
X-37 Boeing
USAF, NASA
Boeing X-37B inside payload fairing before launch April 7, 2006 (drop test)
April 22, 2010 (orbital flight)
Reusable orbital spaceplane.[46]
X-38 Scaled Composites
NASA
ISS Crew Return Vehicle 1999 Lifting body Crew Return Vehicle demonstrator.[47]
X-39 Unknown
USAF
Classified Unknown Future Aircraft Technology Enhancements (FATE) program.[48]
Note: Designation never officially assigned.[32]
X-40 Boeing
USAF, NASA
Boeing X40A August 11, 1998 80% scale Space Maneuver Vehicle testbed.
X-37 prototype.[49]
X-41 Unknown
USAF
Classified Unknown Maneuvering re-entry vehicle.[50]
X-42 Unknown
USAF
Classified Unknown Expendable liquid propellant upper stage rocket.[51]
X-43
Hyper-X
Micro Craft
NASA
X-43 NASA June 2, 2001 Scramjet hypersonic testbed.[52]
X-44
MANTA
Lockheed Martin
USAF, NASA
Cancelled F-22-based Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft thrust vectoring testbed.[53]
X-45 Boeing
DARPA, USAF
Boeing X-45A UCAV
Airshowfan-dot-com--by-Bernardo-Malfitano--Image2-of-X45C-mockup-at-Nellis-05
May 22, 2002 Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) demonstrator.[54]
X-46 Boeing
DARPA, USN
X46 Cancelled Naval UCAV demonstrator.[55]
X-47A Pegasus
X-47B
Northrop Grumman
DARPA, USN
X-47A rollout February 23, 2003 Naval UCAV demonstrator.[56]
X-48 Boeing
NASA
ED06-0198-62 July 20, 2007 Blended Wing Body (BWB) testbed.[57]
X-49
Speedhawk
Piasecki Aircraft
US Army
Piasecki X-49-3 July 29, 2007 Compound helicopter
Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) testbed.[58]
X-50
Dragonfly
Boeing
DARPA
100px 24 November 2003 Canard Rotor/Wing testbed.[59]
X-51
Waverider
Boeing
USAF
X51waverider 26 May 2010[60] Hypersonic scramjet demonstrator.[61]
X-52 Number skipped to avoid confusion with B-52.[32]
X-53 Boeing Phantom Works
NASA, USAF
X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing NASA test aircraft EC03-0039-1 November 2002 Active Aeroelastic Wing testbed.[62]
X-54 Gulfstream Aerospace
NASA
Future Supersonic transport testbed.[58]
X-55 Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
USAF
Lockheed Martin X-55 ACCA 001 June 2, 2009 Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA).
Molded composite fuselage and empennage testbed.[63]
X-56 Lockheed Martin Skunk Works
USAF/NASA
Lockheed Martin X-56A 2012 Active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation technology for potential use in future high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) reconnaissance aircraft.[64]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

Notes
  1. For example, the Piasecki PA-97
  2. For example, the NASA AD-1 and Bell XV-15
  3. For example, the Northrop Tacit Blue
Citations
  1. "X-Planes Experimental Aircraft". Federation of American Scientists. http://www.fas.org/programs/ssp/man/uswpns/air/xplanes/xplanes.html. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  2. Miller 2001, p. 209
  3. "First Generation X-1". NASA Dryden Fact Sheets. NASA. Accessed May 8, 2010.
  4. Miller 2001
  5. A history of the Joint Strike Fighter Program, Martin-Baker. Retrieved January 2010
  6. "D-558-I" NASA Dryden Fact Sheets. NASA. Accessed May 8, 2010.
  7. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 5–7.
  8. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 8.
  9. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 9.
  10. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 10.
  11. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 11.
  12. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 12.
  13. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 13.
  14. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 14.
  15. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 15.
  16. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 16.
  17. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 17.
  18. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 18.
  19. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 19.
  20. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 20.
  21. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 21–22.
  22. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 23.
  23. "X-16". globalsecurity.org, accessed 11 May 2010.
  24. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 24.
  25. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 25.
  26. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 26.
  27. Baugher 2007
  28. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 27.
  29. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 28.
  30. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 29.
  31. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 30.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Parsch 2009, "Missing Designations"
  33. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 31–32.
  34. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 33.
  35. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 34.
  36. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 35.
  37. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 36.
  38. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 37.
  39. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 38.
  40. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 39.
  41. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, pp. 40–41.
  42. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 42.
  43. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 43.
  44. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 44–45.
  45. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 46.
  46. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 47.
  47. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 48.
  48. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 49.
  49. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 50.
  50. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 51.
  51. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 52.
  52. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 53.
  53. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 54.
  54. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 55.
  55. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 56.
  56. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 57.
  57. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 58.
  58. 58.0 58.1 Parsch 2009, "DOD 4120.15-L"
  59. Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003, p. 60.
  60. "X-51 Waverider makes historic hypersonic flight". US AIr Force Public Affairs. 26 May 2010. http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123206525. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  61. "X-51 Scramjet Engine Demonstrator - WaveRider" globalsecurity.org. Accessed 2010-05-11.
  62. Jordan 2006
  63. Kaufman 2009
  64. Norris 2012
Bibliography
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External linksEdit

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