Airborne Awesomosity

The First Of The Deltas: XF-92

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Convair XF-92A


Aircraft development during the 50’s was fast and furious. Technology was changing and evolving at a breakneck pace. During the 40s the future still looked like straight wings. The Germans taught the world that the delta wing would allow them to get past the sound barrier and to move towards the future.



During the late fifties two developments in aerodynamics would change the aviation world. The first was the move to the delta wing platform and the second was the aero rule also known as the coke bottle shape. Both would allow aircraft to fly higher and faster.  You may know the F-102 Delta Dagger as the primary example of these but the shape would be exported around the world. The French would adopt it for their very successful Mirage series and the British would reassert their design dominance with the V series of bombers.


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Sure The Proportions Are Odd But It Worked


General characteristics

Crew: 1
Length: 42 ft 6 in (12.99 m)
Wingspan: 31 ft 4 in (9.55 m)
Height: 17 ft 9 in (5.37 m)
Wing area: 425 ft² (39.5 m²)
Empty weight: 9,078 lb (4,118 kg)
Loaded weight: 14,608 lb (6,626 kg)
Powerplant: 1 × Allison J33-A-29 turbojet, 7,500 lbf (33.4 kN)

Maximum speed: 718 mph (624 knots, 1,160 km/h)
Service ceiling: 50,750 ft (15,450 m)
Rate of climb: 8,135 ft/min (41.3 m/s)
Wing loading: 34 lb/ft² (168 kg/m²)
Thrust/weight: 0.51

Let’s take a step back and look at where it all began with the XF-92. In a time before computer aided design you needed to flight test your ideas in wind tunnels and in full size examples.  The XF-92 taught us many lessons about the delta. It showed its performance advantage but also showed a large downside in the form of a very high landing speed. The pilots complained about its handling and high landing speeds. It shoudl have become a side note to history but it would go on to show the shape of the future.


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