Bell X-1-2

The X-planes are a series of experimental United States aircraft and rockets, used to test and evaluate new technologies and aerodynamic concepts. They have an X designator, which indicates the research mission within the US system of aircraft designations.

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 in 1947 after it became 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.[citation needed] X-planes 8, 9, 11, 12, and 17 were actually missiles[4]:14,15,17,18,24 used to test new types of engines, and some other vehicles were un-manned (some were remotely flown, some were partially or fully autonomous).

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 US experimental aircraft have been designated as X-planes; some received US 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]


Template:Avilisthead |+ List of X-planes ! Type ! Manufacturer ! Agency ! Image ! Date ! Role ! Notes |- |X-1A |Bell |USAF, NACA |Bell X-1 46-062 (in flight) |1946 |High-speed and high-altitude flight |First aircraft to break the sound barrier in level flight.
Proved aerodynamic viability of thin wing sections.[4]:5–7 |- |X-1B
|Bell |USAF, NACA |Bell X-1A |1951 |High-speed and high-altitude flight | |- |X-1E |Bell |USAF, NACA |Joe Walker X-1E |1955 |High-speed and high-altitude flight | |- |X-2 |Bell |USAF |X-2 After Drop from B-50 Mothership - GPN-2000-000396 |1952 |High-speed and high-altitude flight |First aircraft to exceed Mach 3.[4]:8 |- |X-3
|Douglas |USAF, NACA |Douglas X-3 NASA E-17348 |1952 |Highly loaded trapezoidal wing |Titanium alloy construction; Underpowered, but provided insights into inertia coupling.[4]:9 |- |X-4
|Northrop |USAF, NACA |Northrop-X4-Bantam |1948 |Transonic tailless aircraft[4]:10 | |- |X-5 |Bell |USAF, NACA |Bell-X5-Multiple |1951 |variable geometry |First aircraft to fly with variable wing sweep.[4]:11 |- |X-6 |Convair |USAF, AEC |NB-36H producing contrails in flight |1957 |Nuclear Propulsion |Not built. The Convair NB-36H was a B-36 modified to carry a nuclear reactor and flew from 1955 to 1957.[4]:12[7] |- |X-7 |Lockheed |USAF, USA, USN |X-7 USAF |1951 |Ramjet engines.[4]:13 | |- |X-8
|Aerojet |NACA, USAF, USN |AerojetX8 |1949 |Upper air research[4]:14 |Later models used as sounding rockets. |- |X-9
|Bell |USAF |Bell X-9 trailer |1949 |Guidance and propulsion technology |Assisted development of GAM-63 Rascal missile.[4]:15 |- |X-10 |North American |USAF |North American X-10 runway |1953 |SM-64 Navajo missile testbed.[4]:16 | |- |X-11 |Convair |USAF |Convair XSM-65A launch |1957 |SM-65 Atlas missile testbed.[4]:17 | |- |X-12 |Convair |USAF |Convair XSM-65B launch |1957 |SM-65 Atlas missile testbed.[4][4]:18 |- |X-13
|Ryan |USAF, USN |Ryan X-13 |1955 |Vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) |tailsitting VTOL flight.[4]:19 |- |X-14 |Bell |USAF, NASA |Bell X-14 colour ground |1957 |VTOL |Vectored thrust configuration for VTOL flight.[4]:20 |- |X-15 |North American |USAF, NASA |X-15 in flight |1959 |Hypersonic, high-altitude flight |First manned hypersonic aircraft; capable of suborbital spaceflight.[4]:21–22 |- |X-15 A-2 |North American |USAF, NASA |X-15A2 NB-52B 3 |1954 |Hypersonic, high-altitude flight |Major Pete Knight flew the X-15 A-2 to a Mach 6.70, making it the fastest piloted flight of the X-plane program. |- |X-16 |Bell |USAF | |1954 |High-altitude reconnaissance[4]:23 |"X-16" designation used to hide true purpose.[8] Cancelled and never flew. |- |X-17 |Lockheed |USAF, USN |Lockheed X-17 horizontal |1956 |High Mach number reentry.[4]:24 | |- |X-18 |Hiller |USAF, USN |Hiller X-18 testplatformLarge |1959 |Vertical and/or short take-off and landing (V/STOL) |Evaluated the tiltwing concept for VTOL flight.[4]:25 |- |X-19 |Curtiss-Wright |Tri-service |Curtiss-Wright X-19 flying |1963 |Tandem tiltrotor VTOL[4]:26 |XC-143 designation proposed.[9] |- |X-20
|Boeing |USAF |NASA Color Dyna Soar | 1963 |Reusable spaceplane |Military missions.[4]:27 Cancelled and never built. |- |X-21A |Northrop |USAF |X21A |1963 |Boundary layer control[4]:28 | |- |X-22 |Bell |Tri-service |X-22a onground bw | 1966 |Quad ducted fan tiltrotor STOVL[4]:29 | |- |X-23
|Martin Marietta |USAF |X23 PRIME | 1966 |Maneuvering atmospheric reentry[4]:30 |Designation never officially assigned.[10] |- |X-24A |Martin Marietta |USAF, NASA |X24 | 1969 |Low-speed lifting body[4]:31 | |- |X-24B |Martin Marietta |USAF, NASA |X-24b-flying | 1973 |Low-speed lifting body[4]:32 | |- |X-25 |Bensen |USAF |X-25 | 1955 |Commercial light autogyro for downed pilots.[4]:33 | |- |X-26
|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[4]:34 | |- |X-27 |Lockheed |None |X-27 mockup |1971 |High-performance fighter[4]:35 |Cancelled and never flew. |- |X-28
Sea Skimmer
|Osprey |USN |X-28 on ground |1970 |Low-cost aerial policing seaplane[4]:36 | |- |X-29 |Grumman |DARPA, USAF, NASA |Grumman-X29-InFlight |1984 |Forward-swept wing[4]:37 | |- |X-30
|Rockwell |NASA, DARPA, USAF |X-30 NASP 2 |1993 |Single stage to orbit spaceplane[4]:38 |Cancelled and never built. |- |X-31 |Rockwell-MBB |DARPA, USAF, BdV |Rockwell-MBB X-31 landing |1990 |Thrust vectoring supermaneuverability[4]:39 | |- |X-32A |Boeing |USAF, USN, USMC, RAF | | 2000 |Joint Strike Fighter[4]:40–41 | |- |X-32B |Boeing |USAF, USN, RAF |USAF X32B 250 |2001 |Joint Strike Fighter[4]:40–41 | |- |X-33
Venture Star
|Lockheed Martin |NASA |X-33 Venture Star in Orbit | N/A |Half-scale reusable launch vehicle prototype.[4]:42 |Prototype never completed. |- |X-34 |Orbital Sciences |NASA |Orbital Sciences X34 | N/A |Reusable unmanned spaceplane.[4]:43 |Never flew. |- |X-35A |Lockheed Martin |USAF, USN, USMC, RAF |X-35 |2000 |Joint Strike Fighter[4]:44–45 | |- |X-35B |Lockheed Martin |USAF, USN, USMC, RAF | | 2001 |Joint Strike Fighter[4]:44–45 | |- |X-35C |Lockheed Martin |USAF, USN, USMC, RAF |Lockheed F-35 Joint Strike Fighter |2000 |Joint Strike Fighter[4]:44–45 | |- |X-36 |McDonnell Douglas |NASA |Boeing-X36-InFlight |1997 |28% scale tailless fighter[4]:46 | |- |X-37 |Boeing |USAF, NASA |Boeing X-37B inside payload fairing before launch |2010 |Reusable orbital spaceplane[4]:47 |Drop test performed in 2006. |- |X-38 |Scaled Composites |NASA |ISS Crew Return Vehicle |1998 |Lifting body Crew Return Vehicle[4]:48 |- |X-39 |Unknown |USAF |Classified | |Future Aircraft Technology Enhancements (FATE) program.[4]:49 |Designation never officially assigned.[10] |- |X-40A |Boeing |USAF, NASA |Boeing X40A |1998 |80% scale Space Maneuver Vehicle
X-37 prototype.[4]:50 | |- |X-41 |Unknown |USAF |Classified | |Maneuvering re-entry vehicle.[4]:51 | |- |X-42 |Unknown |USAF |Classified | |Expendable liquid propellant upper-stage rocket.[4]:52 | |- |X-43
|Micro Craft |NASA |X-43 NASA |2001 |hypersonic Scramjet[4]:53 | |- |X-44
|Lockheed Martin |USAF, NASA |X-44 Manta artistic impression |N/A |F-22-based Multi-Axis No-Tail Aircraft thrust vectoring[4]:54 |Cancelled, never flew. |- |X-45 |Boeing |DARPA, USAF |Boeing X-45A UCAV
Airshowfan-dot-com--by-Bernardo-Malfitano--Image2-of-X45C-mockup-at-Nellis-05 |2002 |Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV)[4]:55 | |- |X-46 |Boeing |DARPA, USN |X46 |N/A |Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV).[4]:56 |Naval use. Cancelled, never flew. |- |X-47A Pegasus
X-47B |Northrop Grumman |DARPA, USN |X-47A rollout |2003 |Unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV)[4]:57 |Naval use. |- |X-48 |Boeing |NASA |ED06-0198-62 |2007 |Blended Wing Body (BWB)[4]:58 | |- |X-49
|Piasecki |US Army |Piasecki X-49-3 |2007 |Compound helicopter
Vectored Thrust Ducted Propeller (VTDP) testbed.[11] | |- |X-50
|Boeing |DARPA | |2003 |Canard Rotor/Wing[4]:60 | |- |X-51
|Boeing |USAF |X51waverider |2010[12] |Hypersonic scramjet[13] | |- |X-52 | — | — | — | — | — | Number skipped to avoid confusion with Boeing B-52 Stratofortress.[10] |- |X-53 |Boeing |NASA, USAF |X-53 Active Aeroelastic Wing NASA test aircraft EC03-0039-1 |2002 |Active Aeroelastic Wing[14] | |- |X-54 |Gulfstream |NASA | |N/A |Supersonic transport[15] in development. | |- |X-55 |Lockheed Martin |USAF |Lockheed Martin X-55 ACCA 001 |2009 |Advanced Composite Cargo Aircraft (ACCA)[16] | |- |X-56 |Lockheed Martin |USAF/NASA |Lockheed Martin X-56A |2012 |Active flutter suppression and gust load alleviation |Part of the high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) reconnaissance aircraft program.[17] |}

See alsoEdit


  1. "X-Planes Experimental Aircraft". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2012-06-01. 
  2. Miller 2001, p. 209
  3. "First Generation X-1". NASA. Retrieved May 8, 2010. .
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 4.37 4.38 4.39 4.40 4.41 4.42 4.43 4.44 4.45 4.46 4.47 4.48 4.49 4.50 4.51 4.52 4.53 4.54 Jenkins, Landis and Miller 2003
  5. "A history of the Joint Strike Fighter Program". Martin-Baker. January 2010. .
  6. "D-558-I" NASA Dryden Fact Sheets. NASA. Accessed May 8, 2010.
  7. Miller, J. The X-Planes, Speciality Press, 1983.
  8. "X-16". Global security, accessed 11 May 2010.
  9. Baugher 2007
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Parsch 2009, "Missing Designations"
  11. Parsch 2009, "DOD 4120.15-L"
  12. "X-51 Waverider makes historic hypersonic flight". US Air Force Public Affairs. 26 May 2010. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  13. "X-51 Scramjet Engine Demonstrator - WaveRider" Accessed 2010-05-11.
  14. Jordan 2006
  15. 412015-L
  16. Kaufman 2009
  17. Norris 2012



External linksEdit


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