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The absolute first

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posted on Nov, 26 2005 @ 06:56 AM
On many threads on ATS we often see claims that something was the first at this or that, when in many cases it might just be the first in that country or the first the poster is aware of.

What I aim to do with this thread then is create a definitive list of aircraft that were the very first to do something and then if anyone can substantiate a claim for an earlier example of the same technology we will eventually get to the point where we can trace the real beginnings of stuff.

Naturally I will make a start, but if anyone can pre-date my offerings feel free to say so, as always

For example, the first fly by wire aircraft is nearly always accredited as being the experimental NASA F-8 Crusader of 1972. It is a little known fact that the first aircraft ever to fly by electronically signalled powered controls without any mechanical back up (hence fly by wire) was the Bristol Brabazon airliner of 1949!

Likewise the first jet powered aeroplane to fly is accredited as being the Heinkel He 178 of 1939. This is only true inasmuch as the He 178 was the first aeroplane to be powered by a turbojet engine, and then you have to consider the first turbofan, first pulse jet and every other form of jet propulsion. However the first aeroplane to fly by the power of jet thrust – however produced- as opposed to a propeller was the frail Coanda biplane of 1911 which used a powerplant that later came to be known as a ducted fan driven by a piston engine.

The first flying wing argument has raged for a long time between fans of Jack Northrop and fans of the Horten brothers, what both sides of this argument overlook is the fact that tailless flying wings were being built and successfully flown as far back as 1910 by J.W.Dunne in England, they were even flown by the US Navy before WW1.

It is always said that the first jet transport was the DH Comet and the first US jet transport was the Boeing 367-80, whereas both these aircraft were beaten into the sky by the Vickers Nene-Viking and Chase YC-123B respectively.

How many more planes we think of as being the first weren’t really at all?

Fly By Wire

Flying Wing

Jet Propelled

Jet Transport

US Jet Transport

[edit on 26-11-2005 by waynos]

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 03:19 AM
How about Wright Brothers? Contrary to popular belief the were not the pioneers of powered flight that history portrays. They were beaten to it by well over a year by a New Zealander by the name of Richard Pearse. (There are too many bys in that sentence, I know. Bye bye.)
For more info:

[edit on 27-11-2005 by SurfDiveSail]

[edit on 27-11-2005 by SurfDiveSail]

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 04:04 AM
Thats great stuff, thanks, Id never heard of him before

Another first of note is the first aeroplane to use air to air radar detection, this was the Bristol Blenheim 1F night fighter of the RAF in 1940.

Can anyone post the definitive first air launching of an A2A missile (first trial AND first operational use are both worth knowing.

I feel almost certain that it is either US or German, but I don't know for sure, who does?

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 04:15 AM
It looks like it was the Rurhstahl X-4 A2A missile. First test firing from an FW-190 in 1944.

The missile was designed to be fired against B-17 bombers from fighter aircraft, primarily by the Me 262 jet. The X-4 was guided by two main wires wound on bobbins attached to the wing tips of two of its four swept wings and controlled by a "joystick" in the launching aircraft. The wires could extend up to 3.4 miles. The missile used a Kranich proximity acoustic fuze tuned to the B-17 engine's frequency. The drone of the B-17's engines would cause the fuze to detonate the 44 lb. warhead within about 23 feet of the aircraft. The X-4 was first test fired from a Focke-Wulf Fw-190 aircraft in August 1944

Spioke too soon. The X-4 was actually the last of the German A2A missiles. Not sure about the actual firing of the others, but here they are.

The first one was the Hs 298, which never reach an acceptable level. They also tried the Hs 293H, another product by Henschel, deriving from the successful anti-shipping missiles. None were used in operations. The fate of the X 4 was not better, but, although it was the last to appeare, it was the best one, and only the destruction of its engine factory in early 1945 prevented its operational introduction (at a time when it was too late anyway)

RZ 65
Hs 293H
Hs 298
W.Gr. 21
X 4

It looks like the X-4 was the last of them to be developed but it was the most successful of them all. Several hundred were test fired, but they were never used operationally.

That's the earliest I can find.

[edit on 11/27/2005 by Zaphod58]

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 05:19 AM
Thanks, thats great stuff, I never knew if the Germans actually fired any or if the US picked it up after the war and fired one first.

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 05:29 AM
It looks like the first OPERATIONAL A2A was the AIM-4 Falcon of the United States.

During World War Two the Germans invented the first Air to Air missile, the wire guided X-4, which had a range of 3.5km, but it did not reach service due to the constant bombing of German factories. The first operational Air to Air missile was Hughes' AIM-4 Falcon missile of the United States. The missile did not have much change on Air to Air combat. Although the range between the two aircraft increased because of the AIM-4 it still was inside visual range.

The Falcon was the first operational guided air-to-air missile of the U.S. Air Force. Development started in 1946, when Hughes was awarded a contract to study a subsonic short-range air-to-air missile under project MX-798. The requirement was soon changed to a supersonic missile, to be launched from bombers for self-defense, and development continued under project MX-904 in 1947. At this time, the missile designator AAM-A-2 was also assigned. The first experimental XAAM-A-2 missiles were tested in 1949, and in 1950, the missile's platform was changed from bombers to fighters. Now named Falcon, the AAM-A-2 was to become a missile for use by fighter interceptors (F-89, F-102) against relatively slow flying bombers. In 1951, the USAF began to assign aircraft type designations to its guided missiles, and interceptor missiles were designated as "Fighters". The Falcon became the F-98. Testing of XF-98 and YF-98 prototypes continued, and the first production-representative F-98 was built in 1954. In 1955, the USAF stopped using aircraft designations for missiles, and the Falcon was again redesignated. The XF-98, YF-98, and F-98 became the XGAR-1, YGAR-1, and GAR-1, respectively.

Here it says the first operational of the US, but in other places, it shows it as the first operational missile.

The AIM-4 Falcon was the world's first operational air-to-air guided missile. It was developed by Hughes Aircraft Corporation as part of a USAAF program, "Project Dragonfly," which began in 1947. The dual goals of the project were to develop a viable fire-control radar system for interceptor aircraft and to create the radar-guided missile to arm those aircraft. The air-to-air missile was originally designated the XF-98 Falcon, since it was considered to be an experimental unmanned fighter-interceptor, but that designation was changed in 1950 to "Guided Aircraft Rocket," or GAR-1. It was first test fired and put into production in 1954, and became operational in 1955. Over 60,200 Falcon missiles of various versions were built over the years, with 48,000 of them being delivered to the U.S. Air Force.

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 06:44 AM
You have voted Zaphod58 for the Way Above Top Secret award. You have two more votes this month.

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 06:50 AM
Ok what's next? lol. It's the weekend and I have extra time on my hands. The wife is out, and having problems getting online anyway, so bring em on. lol

btw, thanks for the vote Waynos.

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 07:13 AM
OK here's one thats been puzzling me, did Chuck Yeager get beaten through the sound barrier by a standard USAF F-86 on a test flight? I have seen this story reported but have not yet seen it proven or disproven.

Note to others - don't bother with all that stuff about P-38's or Me 262's/163's etc diving through the sound barrier, I've heard it all before and am thoroughly unconvinced

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 07:26 AM
Here's some pretting interesting info on supersonic flight.

The concept of wings with subsonic sweep came to Jones in January 1945, and he eagerly discussed it with Air Force and NACA colleagues during the next few weeks. Finally, he was confident enough to make a formal statement to the NACA chieftains. On 5 March 1945, he wrote to the NACA's director of research, George W. Lewis. "I have recently made a theoretical analysis which indicates that a V-shaped wing traveling point foremost would be less affected by compressibility than other planforms," he explained. "In fact, if the angle of the V is kept small relative to the Mach angle, the lift and center of pressure remain the same at speeds both above and below the speed of sound."

So much for theory. Only testing would provide the data to make or break Jones's theory. Langley personnel went to work, fabricating two small models to see what would happen. Technicians mounted the first model on the wing of a P-51 Mustang. The plane's pilot took off and climbed to a safe altitude before nosing over into a high-speed dive towards the ground. In this attitude, the accelerated flow of air over the Mustang's wing was supersonic, and the instrumented model on the plane's wing began to generate useful data. For wind tunnel tests, the second model was truly a diminutive article, crafted of sheet steel by Jones and two other engineers. Langley's supersonic tunnel had a 9-inch throat, so the model had a 1.5-inch wingspan, in the shape of a delta. The promising test results, issued 11 May 1945, were released before Allied investigators in Europe had the opportunity to interview German aerodynamicists on delta shapes and swept wing developments.

The F86 Sabre was the first swept-wing jet fighter to fly with the United States Air Force. It had very good performance for the time, going supersonic in a shallow dive just a few weeks AFTER Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier, flying the rocket propelled X1. Sabres were pitted against MiG15s during the Korean war; the MiG could outclimb the Sabre, but the Sabre was faster in a dive and had better horizontal maneuverability. Overall, some people consider the MiG slightly superior to the Sabre, but because of better pilot training the Americans achieved a better than 8-to-1 kill ratio against the communist pilots. Ironically, both aircraft were powered by the same jet engine, the British designed Nene.

However, it appears that yes it DID beat Yeager into supersonic flight.

The airspeed indicator wound up to about 405 mph, and seemed to get stuck there. Yet, there was no doubt that the XP-86 was still accelerating. Everything felt normal, until passing below 30,000 feet where a tendency to roll needed some minor correction. George pushed the nose over a bit more. Then, suddenly, the airspeed indicator jumped beyond 470 mph and continued to go up. Passing 25,000 feet, Welch eased back on the stick and pulled back the throttle. Once again, there was a bit of wing roll and the airspeed indicator jumped back from 520 to 450 mph (520 mph indicated translates to 720 mph true at this altitude, uncorrected).

Prior to heading back to North American to brief the engineers, George telephoned Millie Palmer. Excitedly, Millie related that a terribly loud ba-boom had nearly blown her out of bed. The time was noted and it corresponded to George’s dive. “Pancho”, Millie related, “is really pissed. You know how she feels about Yeager.” Apparently, Pancho claimed the boom was a result of mining operations going on 30 miles away to the north. Of course, no one had previously heard any mining explosions, nor could that account for rattling windows only on the east facing side of the Fly Inn. Welch chuckled and swore Millie to secrecy.

After briefing the engineering team at North American, Welch tracked down Ed Horkey. There were some “funny” instrument readings during the dive, and George was looking for some answers.

Horkey guessed that Welch had run into a previously unknown Mach effect. Indeed he had. What Welch had observed was a phenomenon that would later be called, “Mach jump”. Today, “Mach jump” is generally considered solid evidence of speeds in excess of Mach 1. Of course, on October 1, 1947, no had ever seen it before.

It appears that the F-86 prototype DID break the sound barrier, however due to the politics involved it was covered up, until Chuck Yeager and the X-1 "officially" broke the sound barrier in October of 1947. I don't think we'll get much more proof than what I've found here. OFFICIALLY, it went supersonic AFTER the X-1 did, however based on what they found during test flights, I would have to say that it ACTUALLY went supersonic before the X-1 did. They were aware of the fact that the F-86 was potentially capable of supersonic flight, however were told not to do anything to prove that, until AFTER Chuck Yeager and the X-1 officially broke the sound barrier. They were informed by Stuart Symington, who was Secretary of the Air Force. He didn't want any thunder stolen from their pet project, the X-1. Larry Bell, of Bell Aircraft had apparently learned that the XP-86 could potentially break the sound barrier, and complained to the President that North American was trying to upstage their test flights. Politics does it again.

[edit on 11/27/2005 by Zaphod58]

[edit on 11/27/2005 by Zaphod58]

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 07:33 AM
what about the Miles M.52? i have heard that it was the first aircraft to break the sound barrier designed in 1942 and the bell XS-1 was just a copy and rocket powered unlike the british aircraft which used a W2/700 afterburning jet engine.

And i have heard of Spitfires breaking the soundbarrier in steep dives

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 07:38 AM
Miles M.52

In 1944 design work was considered 90% complete, and Miles was told to go ahead with the construction of three prototype M.52's. Later that year the Air Ministry signed an agreement with the United States to exchange high-speed research and data. The Bell Aircraft company was given all of the drawings and research on the M.52, but the US reneged on the agreement and no data was forthcoming in return. Unbeknownst to Miles, Bell had already started construction of a rocket powered supersonic design of their own, but were battling the problem of control. The Miles all-moving tail proved to be the solution to their problems.

At the close of World War II, the first of the three M.52's was more than 50% completed, with test flights only a few months away. However in February 1946 the new Labour government introduced a dramatic budget cut, and the Director of Scientific Research, Sir Ben Lockspeiser, canceled the project. The decision to cancel resulted from the fact that many captured German high-speed aircraft designs had featured swept-wings, and the government believed that attempting to break the sound barrier in a straight-wing aircraft such as the M.52 would be suicidal.

The M.52 WAS indeed a supersonic testbed, however it was never completed or flown. The X-1 used the tailplane from the M.52 based on the test data. An all moving tail is critical for keeping control at supersonic speeds.

[edit on 11/27/2005 by Zaphod58]

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 08:00 AM
zaphod, you have uncovered trhe same story I was referring to but from a completely different source, thats very interesting
In the account I read also summarised that so much had been invested in the X-1 programme there was no way its thunder was going to be stolen.

The Miles M.52 never actually flew, it was the first big blunder of many over here in the UK, it was started in 1942 and was supposed to be a fighter with a max speed of 1,000mph (the very first such spec ever issued I wonder?) However once the war ended the Govt ordered it cancelled as an 'unnecessary expense' and it is reported that back at Miles Aircraft Ltd grown men wept.

Unlike the X-1 it featured an afterburning turbojet and retractable undercarriage so was more advanced than it in overall concept. However the X-1 was NOT a copy of the M.52, it was just a case of different designers coming up with similar answers to the same problem. Its only bearing on the X-1 was that when the M.52 data was given to them in 1945 the Bell X-1 team adopted Miles' unique 'all flying' tail arrangement for the X-1 and it quickly became a standard feature of fast jets.

The Spitfire did not exceed mach 1 in a dive, nor did any other propeller driven aircraft. The highest speed ever recorded for a prop driven aeroplane was mach 0.92 by Sqn Ldr Martindale in a Spitfire XII in 1946.

quote from this thread

Originally posted by waynos

In RAE trials during 1943-46 various fighters were dived at full power from 40,000ft in what the test pilots desctibed as 'an attempt to break the world air speed record vertically downwards'

As part of these trials, once the terminal velocity was reached the guns were fired, and I quote, 'to see if the wings came off'. Nice work if you can get it!

It is recorded that in these trials the highest mach number ever recorded on a piston engined aircraft in flight was obtained when Sqn Leader A Martindale, in 1946, dived Spitfire XI 'EN409' to a speed of mach 0.92. However the photo below shows both what that speed did to the Spitfire and what a skillful pilot Sqn Ldr Martindale was! The propeller was ripped clean off and the fron end looks like its been repeatedly bashed with a lump hammer. And yet it appears to have landed perfectly.

The account goes on to note that several other types were tested in this way, including the P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang and none of them were able to reach the speed of the Spitfire because their high speed drag increased more rapidly. The major reason was in RJ Mitchells choice of a thin wing tapering to 9% thickness chord ratio, this was thinner than all other wings (even the P-51!) and against all aerodynamic advice of the time.

They alsdo found that NACA work oN laminar flow (NACA pioneered this work, not the RAE) was basically sound but that the promised advantages were not being obtained in practice. This was traced to surface roughness of the wing finish leading to skin friction which was cancelling out the benefits of laminar flow. This led to a change in the way the P-51 wing was manufactured and to the design of a laminar flow wing for the Spitfire, which led to the Spiteful.

posted on Nov, 27 2005 @ 08:06 AM
I don't think we'll ever be able to CONCLUSIVELY prove that the XP-86 went supersonic before the X-1. However the evidence is there, saying that it DID. Too much was riding on the X-1 for the Air Force, with them being brand new and all. It would have been a major embarassment to sink all that money into the X-1 program, and then have it be upstaged by a totally unknown prototype on an early flight. There's an awful lot of evidence point to exactly that happening though.

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 12:48 AM
I BELIEVE I found an answer for you Waynos. There's no way to know CONCLUSIVELY, because there was nothing measuring the speed of the XP-86 until AFTER the X-1 flight. However, all the evidence points to the XP-86 being the first to go past Mach 1, twice before Yeager and the X-1. The second time, literally minutes before the X-1 did.

Shortly before the X-1's famous flight, North American test pilot George Welch had been conducting high-speed dives of the XP-86. During these flights, he had noticed odd behavior of the aircraft's speed indicator which jumped erratically as he approached Mach 1. Later on, this phenomenon would come to be known as "Mach jump" and is indicative of encountering shock waves at transonic speeds near the speed of sound. Witnesses on the ground had also reported hearing the tell-tale "BA-BOOM" sound, which is indicative of the sonic boom created by a supersonic vehicle.

Welch flew two of these possible supersonic flights before the X-1 officially broke the sound barrier, one on 1 October 1947 and the other on 14 October, mere minutes before Yeager achieved Mach 1.06. Unfortunately for Welch, his aircraft was not equipped with instrumentation to determine conclusively just how fast he had gone. It was not until 13 November that ground stations were used to measure the speed of the XP-86 in a dive, during which the aircraft was clocked at Mach 1.02 and 1.04 on two separate attempts. Since the dive angles during the measured attempts had been the same as those on his earlier flights and the aircraft had not undergone any modifications, it is quite possible that George Welch was not only the first to fly supersonically in a jet-powered plane, but the first to break the sound barrier as well.

It WAS the first non-rocket powered plane to break the sound barrier, either way, however I would say that there's not much doubt that it DID break the sound barrier before the X-1.

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 01:19 AM
Totally off topic, but interesting nonetheless.

Class Record Setter Speed Date Set
Insect Australian Dragonfly 36 mph
(58 km/h) n/a
Bird (level flight) Red-Breasted Merganser 80 mph
(129 km/h) n/a
Bird (dive) Peregrine Falcon 217 mph
(349 km/h)
in a 45° dive n/a
Autogyro WA-116F 120.5 mph
(193.76 km/h) 18 September 1986
Rotorcraft Westland Lynx 249.10 mph
(400.55 km/h) 11 August 1986
Biplane Fiat CR42B 323 mph
(520 km/h) 1941
Piston-Powered Seaplane Macchi MC72 440.68 mph
(709.21 km/h) 23 October 1934
Piston-Powered Aircraft Grumman F8F Bearcat 528.33 mph
(849.55 km/h) 21 August 1989
Turboprop-Powered Aircraft Tupolev Tu-114 545.07 mph
(876.47 km/h) 9 April 1960
Jet-Powered Flying Boat Beriev M-10 566.69 mph
(911.24 km/h) 7 August 1961
Jet-Powered Aircraft Lockheed SR-71A 2,193.16 mph
(3,326.60 km/h)
Mach 3.3 28 July 1976
Rocket-Powered Aircraft North American X-15A-2 4,520 mph
(7,274 km/h)
Mach 6.72 3 October 1967
Winged Vehicle Space Shuttle Columbia
on re-entry ~ 17,000 mph
(27,340 km/h)
Mach 25 14 April 1981
Manned Vehicle Apollo 10 capsule
on re-entry ~ 24,790 mph
(39,885 km/h)
Mach 36 26 May 1969
Interplanetary Vehicle Voyager I ~ 38,600 mph
(62,070 km/h) launched
5 September 1977
Manmade Object Helios 2 ~ 150,000 mph
(241,350 km/h) 17 April 1976

posted on Nov, 28 2005 @ 11:50 PM
What's next? I'm having fun doing the research for this thread, I need more.

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 04:04 AM
First aircraft to break 1000mph?

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 04:11 AM
The Bell X-1. The fastest recorded flight of the original X-1 was Mach 1.45, which converts to approximately 1100 mph at standard altitude/pressure levels.

XS-1 #76 March 26, 1948 Chuck Yeager 46-062 USAF 22 1.45 12,239 Reached Mach 1.45 in a dive. Highest speed achieved in original XS-1.

posted on Nov, 29 2005 @ 05:08 AM
What about the Fairey Delta 2? Was that the first past 1000mph in level flight?

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