It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


We Almost Had Supercruise in 1954 and 'Area Rule"

page: 1

log in


posted on Aug, 9 2005 @ 01:52 AM
Came across this interesting tidbit while doing some research on winglets. The F11F Tiger which had been built for the Navy was almost able to super cruise in 1954. Richard T. Whitcomb, a NASA scientist came up with the concept of "Area Rule" (He also did the research that developed winglets that we see on planes today)

Whitcomb’s discovery was initially highly classified, but the aircraft industry was immediately notified and briefed on the results of wind-tunnel tests that verified his hypothesis. Whitcomb was subsequently awarded the coveted Collier Trophy for his discovery and the development of the area rule, and history has recorded numerous applications to military aircraft beginning with the U.S. Navy’s F11F Tiger, which almost flew faster than speed of sound without an afterburner in August 1954.

Area Rule guided fuselage design so as to reduce drag especialy in the transonic flight regime and can be seen on planes such as the F-105, F-106, F-4, B-58, and B-1. The research was also looked at for civilian applications, but the slow speed of the transports precluded any serious application of the theroy there. Some applications were put to use in the design of engine nacells and the like however.

Thus, to obtain the minimum shock wave drag, the overall distribution should be that of a smooth body with minimum drag. Whitcomb theorized that the most obvious way to achieve this distribution was to remove the equivalent wing cross-sectional area from that of the fuselage cross-sectional area in the region of the wing; thereby the abrupt bump was avoided in area distribution. This approach resulted in a pronounced “wasp-waist” or “Coke-bottle” fuselage shape. The cross-sectional areas of other aircraft components (nacelles, etc.) are also included for analysis of typical aircraft configurations, and the total area distribution is examined for compliance with the area rule.

[edit on 8/9/05 by FredT]

[edit on 8/9/05 by FredT]

posted on Aug, 9 2005 @ 08:02 AM

Originally posted by FredT
Came across this interesting tidbit while doing some research on winglets. The F11F Tiger which had been built for the Navy was almost able to super cruise in 1954.
[edit on 8/9/05 by FredT]

Good find Fred! The Artical also reminded me of reports of aircraft seen over the Nevada desert in the late 50's and early 60's. If they found the principle that makes supercruise possible in 1954, I would think someone would have been intrested in the theory behind it. Is it possible that super cruise has been in development in Black Projects for over a decade? Look how long they hid the steath planes from us!


posted on Aug, 9 2005 @ 12:07 PM
I think the first practical demonstration of the benefits of area rule in a combat aircraft was when Convair re-designed the F-102 with a 'coke bottle' fuselage and performance increased dramatically. All operational F-102's were of the 'area rule' type.

The first application of this in the UK was the Blackburn B.103, which became famous as the Hawker Siddely Buccaneer.

Regarding supercruise in the 1950's, the English Electric P.1 attained mach 1.5 on dry thrust and the Lightning, the operational version of the P.1, retained this capability.

English Electric P.1 (1954)

P-1A, 1958 - Just before name 'Lightning' was adopted

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 06:30 AM
hmm.. That book looks almost as old as those aircraft!!

Which one is it Waynos??

posted on Aug, 12 2005 @ 07:57 AM
The are from the Observers book of Aircraft (top one 1955 edition, lower one 1958 edition) which was an annual reference guide to aircraft published every year from 1952 to 1992 which detailed the newest aircraft, or latest versions of aircraft, each year. Before it went annual it was also published in 1943, 1945 and 1949. Of all of them the 1945 edition is the only one I do not have.

They are excellent sources of data and also provide a good snapshot of the aviation scene of the day and give you a feel of how things were when each volume was new.

posted on Aug, 31 2008 @ 11:30 PM
I read about this claim as well (

What we now call "super cruise" was apparently attained by the Tiger prototype: "On August 16, 1954, the Grumman F9F-9 Tiger "breezed" through the sound barrier in level flight without the use of the afterburner..."

Also, it is interesting to note, the re-designed F-102A broke the speed of sound on its initial climb. 25% increase in speed.

Good thing they listened to Whitcomb.

new topics

top topics

log in