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- Type: SPH
- Class: aircraft
- Part Count: 279
- Pure Stock
In 1948, Douglas presented the Navy-funded D-558-II to NACA at Muroc Airfield (Edwards AFB). The plane was designed with a swept wing, and was intended to reach speeds up to Mach 1.25. Needless to say, it exceeded expectations. 313 flights were made among the 3 Skyrockets built—123 in #1, 103 in #2, and 87 in #3.
Built in the SPH in KSP version 1.2.2.
The D-558-II was the second stage of what was originally planned to be a 3-stage program, the third being the
Skyflash. Flights were made to collect data on pressure distribution, structural loads, and structural heating at transonic speeds. Later flights examined ‘high-speed instability,’ specifically the tendency for transonic aircraft to pitch up without pilot input. By extending the effective wing chord with slats, this pitch-up was stopped.
P2B used is a modified B-29, originally from Munbro Kerman.
After Chuck Yeager broke Mach 1 in the Bell X-1, there was no initial publicity for this event, except that which spread around Edwards AFB and Happy Bottom Ranch. Soon after, a competitor to both Yeager’s speed record and skill as a pilot arrived: A. Scott Crossfield. A civilian engineer with a masters in Aeronautics, 29 at time of arrival, he flew the X-1, X-4, X-5, X-15, XF-92, D-558-I, and of course the D-558-II. His skill as a pilot and background as an engineer made him an excellent test pilot, logging many more hours than most if not all test pilots then active at Edwards. Naturally, a competitive atmosphere developed around Crossfield and Yeager, both pilots talking to the Navy and Air Force, respectively, looking to reach the next Mach number, speed record, etc. For Crossfield, his choice of aircraft for reaching Mach 2 was the Douglas Skyrocket—it was a swept-winged mixed power rocket plane, relying on a single J-34 for the initial stage, then transitioning to power under a Reaction Motors, Inc. LR-11 four-chamber Oxy-Alcohol rocket engine. In November 1953, Crossfield won the battle for Mach 2 when he reached Mach 2.005, 682.3m/s, 1291mph in the Skyrocket. For the successful flight, there was no jet engine propulsion in the D-558-II, only the sealed system of the LR-11. All four chambers were fired upon release from the mothership Boeing P2B/B-29, and he piloted the plane to 72,000ft. Upon reaching said altitude, he put the plane in a steep dive. The plane remained stable and reached Mach 2, even though it was not designed for that speed. Crossfield, then 32, was celebrated in the press and media following his flight.
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