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Comparison of Miles M.52 and Bell X-1

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posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 12:10 PM
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The Miles M.52 is an aircraft that you may or may not have heard of but it was Britains entry in the race for supersonic flight, it never crossed the finishing line but there are some similarites and some direct links to the aircraft that did, the Bell X-1.

It would be wrong to say that the X-1 ripped off the M.52, as there can be no doubt that the X-1 was underway before Bell even knew the M.52 existed as it wasn't revealed by the air ministry until after it had already been cancelled. Despite this the overall shape of the two aircraft are remarkably similar. Both types feature (literally) bullet shaped fuselage's which were the result of entirely separate research on both sides of the Atlantic, they also featured mid mounted unswept wings of extremely thin section and totally blended cockpit canopies, again separately arrived at by each design team.

The differences between them were that the X-1 was an air launched rocket powered type whilst the M.52 was to have been powered by the worlds first afterburning jet engine which was fed by an annular intake that went right around the fuselage aft of the cockpit. Although it was designed to be capable of taking off under its own power for general flight testing it is likely that the test runs for the attempt on the sound barrier would have been carried out with the M.52 being launched from a converted Lincloln or Windsor bomber, the only British aircraft capable of the task.

Another difference was in the tail design. The X-1 featured a conventional tailplane mounted part way up the vertical fin while the M.52 had a revoltionary 'all flying tail' with the tailplanes mounted directly on the fuselage. This arrangement had been test flown on a converted Miles Falcon trainer. The British Government cancelled the M.52 in 1945 with the prototype at an advanced stage of construction and only then was the project, which had been begun in 1943, revealed publicly with the astonishing explanation that "The discovery of German research into swept wings leads us to believe that the unswept M.52 will not work and that in any case man will not fly supersonically for at least ten years, if at all".

Naturally, Miles Aircraft were furious and vehemently disagreed but the deed was done. High level contact was then made with the US ( in order to revive the project with US backing) at which point it was discovered that Bell were already working on a supersonic programme of their own, exchange visits were quickly organised and the level to which both types were alike astonished both companies and convinced the already confident Bell team that they were on the right lines, taking as evidence the fact that an entirely separate design team working in the same area (an area that was completely unknown) was coming up with the same answers that they were.

The one area where the British team brought something entirely new to the X-1 was when the problems of high speed control were discussed and Bell saw immediately that the all flying tail of the M'52 was the answer. This was incorporated into the X-1 without changing the position or shape of the tail and wind tunnel tests proved it to be the only workable solution. As a result it has been almost universally applied to supersonic aircraft ever since. Also Bell decided to stick with rocket power as using the jet engine would require a redesign to incorporate air intakes that would delay the programme for no real benefit and the rest is history.

The stupidity of the decision to cancel the M.52 was shown when more than a decade later Cranwell college, working from the original programme, proved that the M.52 would have worked perfectly although it would have topped out with the W.2-700 (reheat) at 800mph when its design speed was 1,000mph later engines would have allowed this speed to surpassed comfortably with the existing aerodynamics and structure.

Having passed up this perfectly workable research aircraft Britain was forced to muddle along with unmanned rocket models (which all failed) and the converted Vampire that was the DH 108 which although successful in flying supersonically was about two years later (and after the X-1) and also crashed, killing Geoffrey De Havilland Jnr who was flying it . Ironically the cause of this crash was traced to wing flutter caused by the long SWEPT wing of the 108!

[edit on 28-7-2004 by waynos]




posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 12:51 PM
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Waynos, do you have a pic for this plane?



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 01:01 PM
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Here ya go...

Miles M.52





Bell X1




posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 03:58 PM
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Waynos if you want anyone to read what you wrote you better make some paragraphs
Also the only thing that looks kind the same is the wings everything else is different.



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 04:37 PM
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I agree, about the paragraphs.


The similariies were not of the cosmetic kind but rather that the whole design philosophy was the same with the same layout, power to weight ratio, aerodynamics, design objectives etc etc. sure the aircraft are easy to tell apart but compare them and something like the DH 108 or P-80 or other jets of the same vintage and you can see how close they were for two entirely separate programmes trying to solve the mystery of supersonic flight.



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 04:43 PM
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The Brits were the first with the full flying tail, i knew about that, i saw a documentry on the race for the sound barrier and the Miles aircraft was definately mentioned. Criminal for them to axe it the way they did. Too bad Chuck Yeager doesn't know much history other than his own involvement, he claimed nobody else knew about slab stabilizers and supersonic speed for 10 years after they did it.



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 04:48 PM
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Has anyone seen a program on this presented by Jeremy Clarkson?

I remember seeing it on the BBC a few years ago. I think it was called either 'Speed' or 'Extreme Machines'.

It said on there about the story of how the Americans said to the British government, 'Tell us all you know and we'll tell you all we know'. Then the British told them loads and the Americans never replied.



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 05:00 PM
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Yes, though I saw it on Channel 4's 'Speed Machines' . As we had opted out of the race though it hardly mattered.

The very same thing happened (and I've posted this before) when Boeing visited De Havilland in the late fifties after the Comet crash investigations were complete and as part of the visit they were shown everything about the new R-R Tay powered DH 121 airliner, at the time the DH 121 was a bigger aircraft than the one that was built as the Trident for BEA and when the Boeing 727 was revealed a few years later it was an exact clone of this original DH 121.

Unfortunately BEA felt that De Havillands aircraft was too big and DH were forced to scale it down and re-engine it with Spey's, in those days for the British aircraft industry no 'home' orders inevitably meant no orders at all and DH had no choice but full marks to Boeing for recognizing the correctness of the original project. Don't even get me started on the VC-7! Bloody hypocritical lying BOAC!



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 08:34 PM
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It said on there about the story of how the Americans said to the British government, 'Tell us all you know and we'll tell you all we know'. Then the British told them loads and the Americans never replied.


You have got to love Uncle Sam

Plus it would have helped if the designers back that knew that making the wings swept you eliminate a lot of resistance cuz in a straight wing there are builds up on the front but in a swept wing it slides down



[edit on 29-7-2004 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jul, 28 2004 @ 09:29 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23


You have got to love Uncle Sam

Plus it would have helped if the designers back that knew rhat making the wings swept you eliminate a lot of resistance cuz in a straight wing are builds up on the front but in a swept wing it slides down


ohh yeah we really love how u steal and cheat ur way to our tech. real honourable thing to do.



posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 01:41 AM
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Devil calm down its a joke plus you have got to give US some credit we have made a lot of good tech by ourselves plus if we take the tech form other countries its a good thing cuz look at it this way. This country has really good plans about something but they don't have the money to build it along comes the US we take the plans and put them to use so we actually do the world a favor by having the money to actually build the tech.


[edit on 29-7-2004 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 01:48 AM
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Well, some technical similarities would exist, since neither the US nor Britain had good swept wing technology and hadn't yet absorbed German tech. Also both countries knew that the 30-cal bullet shape was a good supersonic shape. (So did Germany, look at the shape of the V-2 - just like a mauser round.)



posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 11:34 AM
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But the really ironic thing (in relation to aour cancelling the M.52 ) was that it didn't need swept wings at all. Indeed, swept wings bring with them their own problems that were unknown at the time and caused the DH 108 to disintegrate, so the straight wing of the M.52 or X-1 was actually the right one to go with at the time.



posted on Jul, 29 2004 @ 11:52 AM
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Yeah, flutter testing is important for all aircraft, no matter what speed.



posted on Aug, 8 2008 @ 02:10 PM
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reply to post by waynos
 



posted on Aug, 9 2008 @ 09:50 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
Plus it would have helped if the designers back that knew that making the wings swept you eliminate a lot of resistance cuz in a straight wing there are builds up on the front but in a swept wing it slides down



Making a razor sharp LE and having a very thin thickness:chord for the wing gets around the high speed aerodynamic issue.

But you've structural problems to fix in getting that, and also low speed aerodynamic problems.



posted on Sep, 18 2008 @ 01:34 AM
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reply to post by kilcoo316
 


My father was on the design team for the Miles M52's wing. He had training in both structural engineering (bridges) , and supersonic airflow (internals of steam turbines used in powerplants).

The M52's wing was built as a series of cells, each of which had its own vibration frequency. It was grossly over-engineered (we know that in hindsight) from a structural viewpoint, and in combination with the notched ogive would have had no significant flutter at any speed less than that required to soften stainless steel.

Zoe E Brain



posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 02:54 PM
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that speech is a load of rubbish. it is well documented in the uk that the m.52's technology was blatently stolen with dirty tac-tics from the us, and that america was nowhere near to completing a operational supersonic aircraft.

is it truly, TRULY coinsidence that they look the same?

.........................


if you still can not decide, then ask yourself why does the us still find it impossible to create supersonic flight........



posted on Jan, 19 2009 @ 03:22 PM
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This would not surprise me in the least. As an American, you Brits never cease to amaze me with your remarkable innovations. I further note that the US has been greatly benefited by your technology sharing.

I only hope that the sharing cuts both ways. In fact, even the landmark shape of the US MB Tank is enabled and in fact required by British Chobham armor.

I watch for technological advances primarily in the defense field, and I must say, you Brits are brilliant stinkers! Some very clever surprises for your enemies.

I think as long as we continue to help one another, we'll be just fine.



posted on Jan, 22 2009 @ 06:00 AM
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Having just watched the documentary "Planes that never flew" here in the uK on Discovery channel, the story of the Saunders-Roe SR-177, dual jet/rocket plane from the mid-50's really surprised me...

A Brit designed plane using pretty much all home brew tech, beaten by Lockheeds F104 by way or bribery and NATO state corruption, when the F104 was far, far outclassed, but to secure US jobs, world standing, etc, the UK plane, like the Miles jet ten years before it and the TSR2 after it, was 'shelved'...

A sad era in cross-atlantic relations....



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