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D-558 Skystreak Test Aircraft
Vintage Photo Rocket Plane Experimental Aircraft
D-558 Skystreak in flight.
The Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak is seen close-up in this 1949 photograph. The D-558-1 made its landing approach at about 210 knots and landed at 143 knots. Despite the (then) high landing speed, the pilots found the airplane's landing characteristics to be satisfactory. Conceived in 1945, the D558-1 Skystreak was designed for the U.S. Navy Bureau of Aeronautics, in conjunction with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). The Skystreaks were turojet powered aircraft that took off from the ground under their own power and had straight wings and tails. All three D-558-1 Skystreaks were powered by J35-A-11 turbojet engines producing 5,000 pounds of thrust. All the Skystreaks were initially painted scarlet, which lead to the nickname "crimson test tube." NACA later had the color of the Skystreaks changed to white to improve optical tracking and photography. The Skystreaks carried 634 pounds of instrumentation and were almost ideal first-generation, simple, transonic research airplanes. Much of the research performed by the D-558-1 Skystreaks was quickly overshadowed in the public mind by the X-1 rocketplane. However, the Skystreak performed an important role in aeronautical research by flying for extended periods of time at transonic speeds, which freed the X-1 to fly for limited periods at supersonic speeds.
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center