Fighter Jets Breaking Sound Barrier - Planes of bullets, deadly accidents and Britain's secret project to break the sound barrier first. Days before Chuck Yeager's sonic boom in the Bell X-1, Britain's plan of arrogance had come to a very real collapse over the Atlantic. However, the disturbing story of Miles M.52 still has a place in history.
Aircraft artist and former aerodynamics researcher Rod Kirkby's idea of what a successful airplane in the Miles M.52 might look like if the project had come to fruition. In a nod to American pilot Chuck Yeager, and British test pilot Eric Brown, who may have beaten him at Mach 1, Kirkby captioned it "For Yeager, read Brown." Brown bought the original painting.
Fighter Jets Breaking Sound Barrier
On October 14, 1947, flying 45,000 feet above the Mojave Desert in California, Major Chuck Yeager of the United States Air Force broke the sound barrier.
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He was flying a Bell X-1, launched from a modified B-29 bomber at 26,000 feet, before sequentially opening the valves of the plane's four rockets. In the next few moments, the plane, named, like all of Yeager's craft, 'Glamorous Glennis' after his wife, reached Mach 1.05, or about 700 miles per hour. He was the first pilot to control a ship beyond the speed of sound. But he was not the first to try.
Six days earlier, a similar aircraft was launched from a de Havilland Mosquito 35,500 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, west of Land's End. This unmanned aircraft, the A.2, was actually a 30% scale model of the British prototype supersonic aircraft, the Miles M.52, and was intended as a proof of concept. Powered by a rocket engine from the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, it could theoretically travel between 800 mph and 1,000 mph, taking it well beyond the sound barrier.
It wasn't to be his lucky day: the A.2 "slowly rolled onto its back, and when the rocket engine should have fired 15 seconds after launch, it didn't." "Four and a half minutes later, the Meteor tracker reported an explosion and the A.2 disappeared into the cloud. Its trajectory, as determined by the radar, almost resembled the trajectory of a bomb!
The M.52 design featured short, straight wings and a bullet-shaped fuselage, features designed for high-speed aircraft, if less desirable for anything slower.
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The man who wrote these words was Don Brown, assistant to George Miles, technical director of Miles Aircraft Ltd in Reading, who in 1943 was given "the most important and most advanced research project ever attempted in the history of aviation. .the design and construction of what would become the world's first supersonic aircraft. '
As the project progressed in the final months of 1943, Miles was asked to build a single-engine aircraft capable of reaching 1,000 mph in level flight—twice the 500 mph top speed of the aircraft in use.
The result was the top secret Miles M.52. But was it a project that was doomed due to bad execution, or an impressive name before its short time before it proved itself?
The Miles M.52 was bullet-shaped with a pointed nose cone, cylindrical fuselage, blade-thin wings and powered by a Whittle jet engine designed for very high speed, because it "would be flying by early 1946". Dennis Bancroft, Miles' aerodynamicist who died in 2015, oversaw the design of this revolutionary aircraft and recalled: "The fuselage was based on the shape of bullets that were shot and tests showed that they travel at high speed" .
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1947: The Miles A.2, a 0.3 scale prototype of the full size M.52, is loaded onto a de Havilland Mosquito undercarriage, used as a lift aircraft. Soon after the launch, the model failed and fell into the "bomb lane". With the problem rocket ignition system solved, the last attempt in 1948 with the A.3 was successful, reaching 1,074 mph without a sign of instability, not only defending the M.52 design, but exceeding expectations.
The challenges included rethinking not only the technology of the wing, but also how to fit the pilot and reduce nose drag. Biconvex wings were eventually used and tested on the Miles Falcon training aircraft. These had "a much sharper edge and a lower thickness-to-thread ratio than ever before," Brown wrote in a memorandum on the project. "The finished wing led to the aircraft being known as the 'Gillette Falcon' after the popular razor of the time." Bancroft noted that engineers working on the wings were cut off from the leading edge.
Other obstacles were where to store the fuel and where to locate the engine. Finally, the fuel tank was folded into the engine behind the pilot in the middle of the fuselage, thus increasing the width of the aircraft, but avoiding problems with the center of gravity. "So it was decided that the pilot would put a small capsule in the nose, a capsule with a smaller diameter than the fuselage, thus allowing an angular air intake immediately behind the capsule. This capsule was very far, but it also had it for reception.
The width was so narrow that the driver was lying on the ground, "looking out the curved, sharp window at a flat angle" with his feet almost shoulder-width apart. None of this sat well with the plane's potential 160 mph speed, but as Brown wrote, "there's no other way."
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Perhaps most importantly, Miles' team had to develop a new way to maintain control as the aircraft reached high subsonic speeds. Significantly, the moving tail was built in the structure early, because at a speed close to the sound barrier, the altitude of the plane going backwards caused something known as "Mach Tuck": forcing the nose of the plane down, with potentially very dangerous consequences. . "The controls had to be electrically actuated and non-reversible, and a moving tailplane was required instead of a conventional plane and elevators with masts," Brown wrote. "These things are common today, but in 1943 they were not foreseen because the need was never thought of." In fact, all high-altitude aircraft now use the tail for full throttle, if they don't have delta wings.
View of cabin M.52. It consists of a capsule that can be removed by the driver inside.
"The width was so narrow that the pilot was lying on the ground, 'looking out the curved, sharp-angled window' with his feet almost at shoulder level."
Next, Frank Whittle, the inventor of the airplane engine, oversees the machinery that produces the airplane engine. Since its Power Jet W.2/700 engine was not enough, they developed the afterburner technology, in addition to the rear turbofan, to increase its thrust and make the M.52 break the sound barrier. The craft also included a part of the pilot's escape nose that he would not be able to "bail out" normally. Surprisingly, the only way to escape from Yeager's Bell X-1 was to leave the plane through the side hatch, and at the risk of having the wing split in two.
Jet Breaking Sound Barrier Stock Image. Image Of Plane
"The Whittle engine was amazing," says Rod Kirkby, a former Future Projects aerodynamic research engineer turned aeronautical artist, who regularly lectures on the M.52. "Its design, which was part of the 1943 project description, was a supercharged turbofan, which at high speed, became a jet engine, very similar to the [Lockheed] SR 71 Blackbird spy plane. A surprise in 1943."
By 1946 detailed work on the design of Britain's first superpowered aircraft was 90% done and the first prototype was more than half built, due to be flown in the early summer of 1946. aircraft available, Supermarine Spitfire (reaches Mach 0.86 in tests). Meanwhile, those sharp-edged wings also proved to be effective. The company was on track to make its first flight in the summer of 1946 with test pilot Eric 'Winkle' Brown listed on the job.
However, suddenly, the government canceled the project. "I was bouncing around like crazy," the test driver recalled. "We were 15 months ahead of the Americans." Don Brown was critical: "More than two years of concentrated and dedicated work by both parties was wasted, and more than £100,000 of taxpayers' money: and, with this wipeout, Great Britain lost the honor of being the first country to achieve supersonic flight.'
The fuselage of the M.52 model. Intended to take off and land due to the unavailability of large lake beds where landing was not a problem, the rocket would never fly, despite all the parts being available at the time of the mission's cancellation. The plane that did it - America's Bell X-1: preserved at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C (below).
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The hood of the X-1. Chuck Yeager, a formidable aviator, broke the sound barrier with only three of the four rockets he flew. While movement was obviously not a problem, stability at this speed was; ordered Miles
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