The Birth of the Delta Wing
The development of the delta
wing planform was a significant aerodynamic innovation in the advancement
into supersonic flight. The concept was known since before World War II
but propulsion had not been available for the higher speeds in which the
delta wing's advantage lay. When World War II ended, the Allies acquired
considerable German aerodynamic data on swept wings, some delta wing and
supersonic aerodynamics, and data on jet and ramjet engines. This data
spurred considerable interest on the part of the military, and many design
studies and advanced aircraft competitions were initiated soon after the
war ended aimed at exploring these new technologies. One of these Air
Force procurements, a transonic interceptor, was won by Consolidated
Vultee - the XP-92.Their proposed aircraft was conceived as a radical and
imaginative leap of technology utilizing an advanced ramjet propulsion
concept and a planform that evolved to a delta wing configuration. This
aircraft program fell short and was ultimately cancelled because of
immature technology and cost, however, an aerodynamic demonstrator
aircraft was continued becoming the genesis of scores of delta wing
aircraft. The world's first delta wing aircraft, the XF-92A, took to the
air on 18 September 1948.
This article documents the innovations and
difficulties encountered in Consolidated Vultee's XP-92 development . . . . .
Full scale mockup built for USAF inspection
Stinson: Pioneering Aviatrix
Dressed in boyish clothing, the 22-year-old aviator Katherine Stinson
wore a bulky, red sweater and a brown choke collar around her neck. On her
head she donned her trademark blue-and-white checkered tweed cap with an
inverted brim worn backwards. Dark knickerbockers fastened with buckled
beige leather and a leather waist jacket completed her outfit for
protection against the cold. Spectators watched as she meticulously
inspected her Wright B airplane, climbed onto the hard seat, strapped
herself in, revved the motor and pulled back on the stick. Raising her
right hand above her curls, the mechanics understood the gesture and
released their hold. The plane moved over the earth on thin bicycle wheels
for 100 yards, before she pulled it into the sky and circled the field.
Waving to the spectators, she looped the loop and climbed to 1,000 feet.
Suddenly, she slowed her engine to half speed, performed a flawless spiral
and sailed to the ground for a perfect landing. The people shouted and
stomped their approval. They waved as she jumped from her plane, removed
her cap with a sweeping bow, shook her curls, and smiled gleefully.
Katherine Stinson had wowed the crowds again.
This particular flight occurred in 1913, but it might as well have been
anytime during 1912 to 1919, the span of Katherine Stinson's influential
aviation career. It was during this era that Katherine Stinson became a
household name. Anyone could tell you about "The Flying School
girl." She set new horizons for women at a time when they were barely
driving cars, let alone flying airplanes.
Katherine Stinson was a pioneer in aviation,
unafraid to fly to fulfill her dreams. A daring aviator, she achieved
recognition as the "first" to accomplish many aviation feats.
She was the first woman to fly at night, to loop the loop, and the first
person to sky write. Additionally, she set endurance and distance records
and brought the spectacle of air travel to both Japan and China.
Furthermore, she was the first woman in the United States, as well as the
first person in Western Canada, to officially deliver airmail. Stinson
proved by example that flying was not limited by gender. She represented
the feminist position by her daring actions rather than her words. At a
time when women were not allowed to vote, Stinson
. . . . . .
Candid of Katherine Stinson
Flying Aircraft Carriers of the USAF: Project FICON,
Section 2: Thunderstreak
In early 1951, the Republic RF-84F Thunderflash
was selected to be the parasite component of the FICON composite aircraft
system. The Air Force wanted to conduct flight tests of a swept wing
variant of the F-84 parasite as soon as possible, but it would be three
years before Republic would produce the first Thunderflashes. The
F-84F Thunderstreak was not in production yet, either.
Prototype YF-84F Thunderstreak.
An Air Force team inspected the
FICON mockup in May 1951 and recommended that the swept wing YF84F
prototype, 49-2430 should be utilized for the FICON test program. The Air
Research and Development Command (ARDC) directed the Air Materiel Command
(AMC) to modify the YF-84F to the parasite configuration for interim FICON
In 1949, Republic Aviation Corporation in
Farmingdale, New York began development of a swept wing version of the
F-84 to improve the high-speed performance of the fighter. To expedite the
flight tests of the swept wing configuration, Republic installed swept
wings and tail surfaces on a standard F-84E airframe. The extensively
modified swept wing variant of the F-84 was designated YF-96A. It was
named Thunderstreak in recognition of its increased top speed.
Originally ordered as the last airframe of the
first batch of F-84Es, 49-2430 served as the prototype of the swept wing Thunderstreak.
Republic used company funds to pay for its modifications.
The wings and tail of the YF-96A were swept back
by 38.5 degrees. Although the span of the swept wing Thunderstreak was
reduced from 36 feet 5 inches to 33 feet 7 inches, the area of its wing
was increased from 260 square feet to 325 square feet.
Republic converted the airplane from straight
wing to swept wing in 167 days. Company engineers estimated that the
production model of the F-96A would use 55% of the tooling used to build
The YF-96A was equipped with a 5,200-pound static
thrust Allison XJ35-A-25 engine. Its empty weight was 12,150 pounds. It
weighed 23,350 pounds fully loaded.
The pilot's windshield initially had a V-shape,
much like early models of the F-86 Sabre. By early 1951, a flat
armored glass panel similar to that on other models of the F-84 replaced
the V-shaped windshield.
Initial taxi tests of the YF-96A were performed
at the Republic plant in Farmingdale, New York- on May 4, 1950. It was
disassembled for shipment to Edwards Air Force Base in a Boeing C-97 Stratofreighter
and a Fairchild C-82A Packet.
Oscar P. "Bud" Hass, Republic
Aviation's Director of Flight, made the one-hour long first flight in the Thunderstreak
at the Edwards AFB on June 3, 1950. Hass flew the YF-96A nineteen
times and completed its Phase I operational suitability testing in
The low-altitude performance of the YF-96A was
significantly improved over the straight wing Thunderjet. Its top
speed was increased to 693 miles per hour, about 80 miles per . . . . .
Major Clyde Good climbing out of the YRF-84F cockpit and working his
way along catwalk of GRB-36F.
Buy A Thunderbolt!
Although the nicknaming of aircraft goes back to the dawn of flying,
military pilots have since brought the practice to a fine art in every war
involving airpower. In World War II unofficial names were extremely
popular adornments on airplanes but 'official' names were far less common.
As the war progressed, aircraft began to be 'bought' by public
contribution and the name of the donor(s) recorded on the fuselage. With
several combat types, particularly fighters such as the Spitfire
and P-47 Thunderbolt, this individualizing became widespread. In
England public money was collected and processed through schemes such as
the Spitfire Fund. Other aircraft types were paid for and suitably
inscribed but the famous Supermarine fighter was by far the most numerous
in this respect.
In the United States similar drives to raise
funds for war materiel were launched by the sale of government-issued war
bonds. Some elements of the aircraft industry responded enthusiastically
to the scheme, including Lockheed which built Hudsons and Venturas
with fuselage inscriptions noting details of financial contributions by
the workforce. In terms of fighters, Republic Aviation of Farmingdale
seems to have led the field with presentation aircraft.
Soon after Pearl Harbor, company employees on
Long Island clubbed together to pay for the seventh P-47B off the
production line and present it to the government without charge. This
aircraft (s/n 41-5901) named 'Lucky Seven! Gift of the Republic Aviation
Employees' was the first of several dozen Thunderbolts donated by
company employees purchasing bonds. Other P-47s were paid for by
individuals, schools and business groups, as well as donations made by
American counties and states.
The total number of P-47s purchased under these
schemes is uncertain although photographic evidence proves that there were
at least 65 examples. But without any kind of Republic and/or Army Air
Forces listing-of presentation aircraft, it is hard to put a definite
figure on the number of P-47s 'personalized' in this fashion. It is
assumed however that someone, somewhere maintained a record of who made
the purchase and perhaps, which unit or war theatre the aircraft in
question were assigned to. On the other hand, the recipient unit may have
been an entirely random selection.
A few examples of the 'War Bond Planes' that saw
front line combat service are listed below. Republic stenciled the
. . . . . .
P-47D-5 "Spirit of Atlantic City"
The Red Rippers: 1927 - 2002
In 1927, during the Golden Age of Naval Aviation, Navy pilots
added to the luster of their service with a number of record breaking
flights. Lt. George R. Henderson of Fighting Three's Striking Eagles
reached 22,178 feet in a float-equipped Vought O2U Corsair for a
new altitude record for C-class seaplanes on 14 April. More headlines were
made by Lt. C.C. Champion's climb to 38,149 feet in a Wright Apache experimental
fighter on 25 July. In mid-August Lts. B. J. Connell and H. C. Rodd set
new distance and time of flight records in a PN-10 patrol plane equipped
with twin Packard engines by flying their plane over 1,500 miles during a
period of 20 hours 45 minutes and 40 seconds.
These records pointed to the increasingly
important role of aviation in the Navy, a role emphasized by the decision
to convert two World War I designed battle cruisers to aircraft carriers, USS
Lexington (CV-2) and USS Saratoga (CV-3). By late
1927 construction of the huge new ships had been completed.
To provide their air complements, the Navy
ordered the formation of a number of new squadrons, among them Fighting
Squadron Five. This unit was to be the forerunner of Fighter Squadron
Eleven, the Red Rippers. LCdr. Issac Schlossbach placed his new unit,
VF-5, in commission at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads on 1 February 1927.
Fitted at the outset with the very maneuverable Curtiss F6C-3 Hawk biplane,
its aviators and enlisted technicians prepared for service aboard Lexington.
Their airplanes were capable of a speed of 134 knots (154 mph) at sea
level and had a standard armament of two .30 caliber machine guns and a
small bomb load.
The insignia Schlossbach's men adopted, the Red
Ripper, was a combination of heraldry and boisterous Naval Aviation humor.
Topping the badge was a fierce boar's head, reputedly taken from the label
on a bottle of imported Gordon's gin. This was imposed upon a scroll as a
squadron scribe explained:
The scroll effect under
the head is a string of link sausage, a good line of bologna which
all members of the squadron were to be adept at 'shooting.' The balls
on the shield might be called balls of fire: actually, they were supposed
to typify good strong masculinity. The bolt of lightning was the bar
. . . . . .
Martin XPBM-1 Mariner prototype
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