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D-558-1 Skystreak Douglas
D-558-1 Skystreak
High-Speed Research Aircraft

DESCRIPTION:
Commisioned by the US Navy Bureau of Aeronautics and NACA, the Douglas D-558-1 was a high-speed jet-powered research aircraft. The D-558-1 Skytreak was designed to investigate the aerodynamic effects of flight at transonic speeds ranging from Mach 0.75 to 0.85. To keep the design as simple as possible, the configuration featured a straight wing and tail attached to a slender fuselage of circular cross-section.

A unique aspect of the design was its ejection system. The entire nose section of the Skystreak was designed to detach in an emergency, and once it had slowed sufficiently, the pilot could bail-out in the conventional way. Unlike many other early research aircraft, such as the X-1, the D-558-1 was able to takeoff from the ground under its own power, supplied by a single Allison turbojet. The Skystreak was also heavily instrumented for its role as a transonic research jet. Probes recording pressure at 400 points along the airframe as well as strain guages placed throughout the wing and tail provided data invaluable to the development of future transonic aircraft.

Although the Navy originally ordered six of the aircraft, only three were finally built. The first aircraft set a world speed record of 640.663 mph (1,031.04 km/h) on 20 August 1947, and raised this record to 650.796 mph (1,047.35 km/h) just five days later. This aircraft also managed to exceed Mach 1 on 29 September 1948, albeit in a 35 dive. An additional three examples were also planned, but the rapid pace of research into high-speed flight during the late 1940s soon made the design obsolete. Instead, attention shifted to the much more advanced and capable D-558-2 Skyrocket.

Last modified 27 September 2009

HISTORY:
First Flight 14 April 1947

CREW: one: pilot

ESTIMATED COST:

unknown

AIRFOIL SECTIONS:
Wing Root NACA 65-110
Wing Tip

NACA 65-110

DIMENSIONS:
Length 38.71 ft (10.88 m)
Wingspan 25.00 ft (7.62 m)
Height 12.15 ft (3.70 m)
Wing Area 150.7 ft (14.0 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

WEIGHTS:
Empty unknown
Normal Takeoff 9,750 lb (4,420 kg)
Max Takeoff 10,105 lb (4,585 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: unknown
external: unknown
Max Payload

unknown

PROPULSION:
Powerplant one Allison J35-A-11 turbojet
Thrust 5,000 lb (22.24 kN)

PERFORMANCE:
Max Level Speed at altitude: Mach 0.99
at sea level: 650 mph (1,050 km/h), Mach 0.85
Initial Climb Rate unknown
Service Ceiling unknown
Range unknown
g-Limits unknown

KNOWN VARIANTS:
D-558-1 #1 First example built and flown, used only by the US Navy
D-558-1 #2 Second example that completed 19 flights before a fatal crash caused by an engine compressor failure
D-558-1 #3 Final aircraft built that made 78 flights for NACA before being retired on 10 June 1953
D-558-1 #4, #5, #6 Additional aircraft originally ordered but later cancelled in favor of the D-558-2

KNOWN OPERATORS:

United States (US Navy)
United States (NACA)

3-VIEW SCHEMATIC:

D-558-1 Skystreak


SOURCES:





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