X-4 Bantam: NASA's Futuristic Jet Designed To Discover Transonic Speeds

The X-4 Bantam was developed by Northrop within the late Nineteen Forties for the Nationwide Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the predecessor to NASA, to discover transonic flight. The swept-wing X-4 was a “semi-tailless” design devoid of a horizontal stabilizer. Conventional tail-mounted elevators have been changed by what Northrop known as “elevons” on the wings, whereas the wing flaps doubled as pace brakes. With the X-4, NACA hoped to check whether or not a semi-tailless design is likely to be the key to secure, secure, high-speed flight.

Cosmetically, the X-4 was uncommon however not distinctive. The technically progressive however completely deadly rocket-powered Messerschmitt Me 163 lacked a horizontal stabilizer, as did the DeHaviland DH 108 “Swallow,” an experimental British jet. Just like the X-4, the DH 108 was designed to discover speeds approaching Mach 1, however tragically, in 1946, the second DH 108 prototype was destroyed on a take a look at flight after structural failure at Mach 0.9 –- simply shy of the dreaded “sound barrier.”

The sound barrier was lastly damaged in 1947, and a 12 months later, on December fifteenth, 1948, the X-4 flew for the primary time. In response to take a look at pilot Scott Crossfield, NACA hoped that the X-4 would supply some solutions about why the DH 108 had crashed, however the first prototype was considered so harmful by pilots (together with the legendary Chuck Yeager, who first broke the sound barrier) that it was rapidly grounded. The second prototype proved extra dependable and was efficiently test-flown from 1950 to 1953 at what’s now Edwards Air Drive Base in California.