Toward Mach 2: The Douglas D-558 Skyrocket Program
NASA History Series, J.D. Hunley (Editor), 1999
The Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak and D-558-2 Skyrocket were, with the Bell XS-1, the earliest transonic research aircraft built in the USA to gather data at speeds of about 750 mph. At this time, aerodynamicists lacked accurate wind-tunnel data for the speed range Mach 0.8 to 1.2. People in the NACA, the Army Airforces, and the Navy agreed on the need for a strong research airplane.
Flight research took place at the Muroc Army Air Field (later called Edwards AFB) in California. The number 1 Skyrocket first flew on 4 February 1948, and the D-558-2 number 2 became the first aircraft to reach Mach 2.
The program enabled the U.S. aeronautical community to solve many of the problems that occur in the transonic speed range (about 0.8 to 1.2 times the speed of sound), such as pitch-up, buffeting, and other instabilities. This enabled reliable and routine flight of such aircraft as the century series of fighters (F-100, F-102, F-104, etc) as well as all commercial transport aircraft from the mid-1950s to the present.
On the 50th anniversary of the Skyrocket's first flight in February 1948, four D-558 pilots met at a NASA Dryden Research Center symposia, and shared many insightful comments and anecdotes that deserve a wider audience.
This is an important chronicle in the history of aviation, with significant new information that will be of particular interest to scholars and others interested in these early rocket planes. Features extensive dialogue and talks by D-558 test pilots Stanley P. Butchart, Robert A. Champine, A. Scott Crossfield, and John Griffith.
Includes many historic photos of D-558 pilots and aircraft, first-hand narratives of flying the X-1 and the Skyrockets, with dozens of fascinating anecdotes never before published. The pilots themselves describe how it feels in the seat, behind the stick, when crises occur at Mach 1 and above.
The book shows and explains the seven different wing configurations tested, and gives detailed tables of drops. There's also information about where each surviving aircraft is displayed.
The Appendix has 3-view drawings of both the D-558-1 Skystreak and the D-558-2 Skyrocket, and includes a thick collection of specially-scanned progress reports, flight test reports, and other documents (highly classified until recently) that encompass much of the development and test program. You'll even see copies of test performance data oscillograms. There are many construction and in-flight photos, and cutaway engineering drawings.
A wonderful "read," and an excellent reference resource for the experimental pilot and amateur rocket scientist. Printed directly from a NASA digital document file, with a high-resolution laser printer on high-quality, bright-white, acid-free paper and quality bound for years of reference use. 172 pages, large and easy-to-read 11" x 8-1/2" size. $24.95
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