Model Airplane News|
BELL D-188A /EWR VJ-101
Model Airplane News Cover Art for April, 1961
by Jo Kotula
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This cover is about a Mach 2-capable vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) tiltjet fighter: It suggests two stories - one that never got out of the mockup stage and a virtually identical aircraft that actually got built. The subject of the cover is the eight engined Bell D-188A (XF-109/XF3L), that never proceeded past the mock-up stage. By contrast, The EWR VJ 101 was an experimental German VTOL jet fighter that flew and made it into test trials. As you compare the cover art with the photos, you'll be surprised at the similarities.BELL D-188A
The Bell D-188A (XF-109/XF3L) was a proposed eight-engine Mach 2-capable (VTOL) tiltjet fighter that would have been one of the most unorthodox aircraft to fly, and certainly the most unusual in the USAF inventory.
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In 1955, Bell Aircraft was requested by both the USAF and the USN to develop a VTOL supersonic, all-weather fighter-bomber and defence interceptor. The project was highly ambitious and was designed to fulfill a multitude of roles for two different services. Based on the poor record of other Air Force/Navy aircraft projects, the aircraft started out with two strikes against it. The aircraft offered in two different versions – the D-188 for the US Navy and the D-188A for the USAF. Bell had – rather optimistically – called the Navy version the XF3L-1 and the Air Force version the XF-109, although neither of these was official. We note that the MAN cover art uses the "F-109" designation, although the USAF never assigned such a number. In 1959, the Navy lost interest in the project. In 1961, just after the cover appeared, the USAF canceled the program and no examples were built.WR VJ-101
The EWR VJ 101 was an experimental German jet fighter VTOL tiltjet aircraft. (VJ stood for "Versuchsjaeger" or "Experimental Fighter"). It was designed as a sucessor to the F-104G Starfighter, but was cancelled in 1968 after a five-year test program.
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Heinkel and Messerschmitt had developed designs to meet the requirements of VTOL flight and by 1959, the two companies, along with Bölkow, had created a joint venture company called EWR, to build the VJ 101 C. The new proposal merged the characteristics of earlier designs into a sleek, streamlined platform. The VJ 101 was similar in appearance to the Bell XF-109, both with rotating engines in nacelles at the wingtips. In addition to the wingtip engines, two further lift jets were installed in the fuselage to supplement the main engines in hovering flight.
Two prototypes were built: X-1 and X-2. In April 1963, the X-1 made its first hovering flight. The first transition from hovering flight to horizontal flight took place in September of 1963. The VJ 101C X-1 flew 40 aerodynamic flights, 24 hover flights and 14 full transitions. During these tests the sound barrier was broken, for the first time by a vertical take-off aircraft. In 1964, a defect in the autopilot caused a crash. In July of 1964 the VJ 101 C flew at Mach 1.04 without use of an afterburner. The project was cancelled in 1968. The proposed VJ 101 D Mach 2 interceptor was never built. Prototype X- 2 is displayed in the Deutsches Museum in Munich.
There is no video of the Bell D188A; Here is a video of the EWR VJ-101 being tested:
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