VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing): first prototypes

21 mayo 2007

Just after World War II, US Forces understood that their air bases and aircraft carriers had been too vulnerable during the war, and started to search a different solution. By 1947, US Navy was looking for ways to improve ship defense by equipping small carriers or even merchant ships with aircrafts that could operate from limited space. A few years later, in May 1951, Lockheed and Convair were awarded contracts in the attempt to design, construct, and test a new kind of aircraft: the first VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) prototypes.

1. XFY-1 Pogo

Although contract stipulations stated that each manufacturer had to develop 2 fighters, Lockheed and Convair were only able to construct one, with Lockheed producing the XFV, and Convair producing the XFY, nicknamed the "Pogo". The Pogo had delta wings and three-bladed contra-rotating propellers powered by a turboprop engine. As you can see in the video, it was a talsitter aircraft, intended to be capable of operating from small warships.

The first double transition to horizontal flight and back to a vertical landing was made on 2 November 1954. The Pogo was flown until November 1956 but, after some test flights, the engine and control systems were considered inadequate.

2. The Coléoptère

In 1952, the french company SNECMA, acquired the rights to the annular-wing concept of german engineer von Zborowski, and set about developing the unique design into a high performance compact combat aircraft. The C.450-01 Coléoptère was a step to the annular wing configuration. It first flew in May 1959, controlling vertical flight direction by using pneumatic deflection of the jet exhaust.

The single prototype crashed in July 1959, after a short but quite successful test program which was not proceeded with any further

3. Vertijet

In 1953 Ryan company was awarded an Air Force contract to develop an actual flying jet-powered VTOL aircraft, which was given the designation X-13. The Ryan X-13 Vertijet was 7.14 mand had a Rolls-Royce Avon turbojet. The nose of the aircraft had a hook on the underside and a short pole for gauging distance from the trailer. The hook was used to hang the Vertijet from the vertical trailer bed landing platform. After the aircraft was secured vertically, the trailer was lowered to horizontal and then used to transport the aircraft on the ground.

Two prototypes were built. On July 28-July 29, 1957, the X-13 was demonstrated in Washington, D.C. It crossed the Potomac River and landed at the Pentagon (Watch the video).

* Most of the images in this post have been taken from this fantastic french site. Absolutely amazing.

More info and sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9