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 Douglas X-3 - 1950's Research Plane

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Kyushu J7W


Posts : 192
Join date : 2017-02-18
Location : East Coast USA

PostSubject: Douglas X-3 - 1950's Research Plane   Sun Feb 19 2017, 17:01

Under direction of the US Air Force's Air Research and Development Command, and sponsored jointly by the US Navy, USAF and NACA, Douglas designed and developed a high-speed research aircraft under the designation Douglas X-3, later named Stiletto after its lines. Intended primarily for research into the problems of high-altitude, high-speed flight and the effects of kinetic heating, the X-3 began its design life in 1946. The complexity of this program is indicated by the fact that more than three years elapsed before approval was given for construction of a mockup, in August 1948, and it was not until late June 1949 that Douglas received a contract for two flying prototypes and one static test airframe; however, only one prototype was built (49-2892).

The Kit: Revell's 1:65 X-3 Stiletto Also referred to a S scale. Something I had never heard of before but I learned it is linked to model railroading. I might have thought Lindberg who sold model railroad items would have issued such a scale but they actually issued a 1.48 of the X-3

Not a lot of parts and the scale at 1:65 seems a bit odd. The windows are a rather poor fit with a bit of flash. I glued them in and held them in place for a few minutes, but I bet they pop eventually. The kit comes with a mounting plinth.

This kit was one of those flea market buys from late last summer. The box was in pretty good shape and its a reissue. 1995 date, Decals look a bit brittle but that's to be expected I suppose.

I added a pic of the box sides as the reissue recreated everything. They always want to get your interest in other models. A little bit of everything offered on one side.

First flown on 20 October 1952 with Douglas test pilot Bill Bridgeman in the cockpit, the X-3 had a slender needle-nosed fuselage, a low-set cantilever monoplane wing of very short span, conventional tail unit, retractable tricycle landing gear and power provided by two Westinghouse J-34-WE-17 turbojets mounted side-by-side in the fuselage. The pilot was accommodated in a pressurized cabin, on a downward ejection seat that served also as an electric lift to provide access from the ground. Design of the X-3 was of unprecedented complexity because of the high-speed requirement, involving advanced aerodynamics and the use of new constructional methods and materials. They included, in particular, the development of fabrication and construction techniques involving the use of titanium. Additionally, the airframe had more than 850 pinhole orifices distributed over its surface to record pressures, 185 strain gauges to record air loads and stresses, and 150 temperature recording points. Testing proved disappointing, the aircraft being underpowered and able to achieve only 50 per cent of its design speed of Mach 2.2.

The clamps come in handy but at times the clothes pins work a bit better. I built a 1:48 WWII carrier tow tractor. At 1:64 I expected this tractor to be smaller or even perhaps equal as it is a two seater. Perhaps it more like a fork lift size in comparison. The carrier tow was a significantly down sized unit.

Fit on the kit is a bit poor and the front of the fuselage assembly is not as flush and streamlined as it should be . I started sanding it down then thought better of it. The decals on the tractor are old as they will be on the model. I figured try them out after my U2 experience with very old decals. Fortunately they are not brittle and after a long soaking and lifting with a new exacto blade they worked.

Type: high-altitude high-speed research aircraft
Power plant: two Westinghouse J-34-WE-17 turbojets, each developing 4,200 lb (18.68 kN) thrust with afterburners
Performance: maximum speed 706 mph (1136 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6095 m); absolute ceiling 38,000 ft (11580 m);
Endurance: 1 hour
Weights: empty 14,345 lb (6507 kg); maximum take-off 22,400 lb (10160 kg)
Dimensions: span 21 ft 8 in (6.91 m); length 66 ft 9 in (20.35 m); height 12 ft 6 in (3.81 m); wing area 166.5 sq ft (15.47)

Check out the pith helmets.

The X-3 had the most highly refined supersonic airframe of its day as well as other important advances including one of the first machined structures. It included the first use of titanium in major airframe components. Its long fuselage gave the Stiletto a high-fineness ratio and a low-aspect ratio (the ratio of the wing's span to its chord; in other words, it was short and stubby). Despite this refined configuration, the maximum speed it attained was Mach 1.21, which occurred during a dive. The general consensus was that the aircraft was sluggish and extremely underpowered by its Westinghouse J-34 power plants. The X-3 also demonstrated coupling instability during abrupt rolling maneuvers, which could cause it to go wildly out of control, as happened on a flight on Oct. 27, 1954, with National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) pilot Joe Walker at the controls. The principle contribution of the X-3 was its data on inertial coupling (roll divergence) - a tendency to diverge from the intended flight path. The aircraft also shed its small tires routinely, leading to a revision of the design criteria for tires used on high-speed aircraft. This aircraft flew 20 times between 1954 and 1956 at the NACA High-Speed Flight Station (predecessor of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California). Joe Walker was the pilot for all 20 of these missions.

With virtually no hope of improving performance, the USAF cancelled the program after only six flights and the aircraft was handed over to NACA. A plan to re-engine the X-3 with rocket motors was considered but eventually dropped.
However, the X-3 was not regarded as a failure, for it made important contributions to titanium technology, and features of its design were used later in Lockheed's F-104Starfighter and the SR-71 Blackbird. The X-3 was transferred to the U.S. Air Force Museum in 1956, where it resides today.
Took this pic on a trip a few years back.

Not one of my best builds but I admit I did not put the same effort into it as I did the U2 and the H=16 Flying Boat. The vertical stabilizer was painted and left bare in a few pics you find on line, same for the horizontal stabilizers in a few pics.

If you score a victory but lose your wingman, you lost the battle.
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