The Grumman X-29 was an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies.
|National origin||United States|
|First flight||14 December 1984|
|Primary users||United States Air Force|
The Grumman X-29 was an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies. The X-29 was developed by Grumman, and the two built were flown by NASA and the United States Air Force. The aerodynamic instability of the X-29’s airframe required the use of computerized fly-by-wire control. Composite materials were used to control the aeroelastic divergent twisting experienced by forward-swept wings, and to reduce weight. The aircraft first flew in 1984, and two X-29s were flight tested through 1991.
Two X-29As were built by Grumman after the proposal had been chosen over a competing one involving a General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon. The X-29 design made use of the forward fuselage and nose landing gear from two existing F-5A Freedom Fighter airframes (63-8372 became 82-0003 and 65-10573 became 82-0049). The control surface actuators and main landing gear were from the F-16. The technological advancement that made the X-29 a plausible design was the use of carbon-fiber composites. The wings of the X-29, made partially of graphite epoxy, were swept forward at more than 33 degrees; forward-swept wings were first trialed 40 years earlier on the experimental Junkers Ju 287 and OKB-1 EF 131. The Grumman internal designation for the X-29 was “Grumman Model 712” or “G-712”.
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The first X-29 took its maiden flight on 14 December 1984 from Edwards AFB piloted by Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Chuck Sewell. The X-29 was the third forward-swept wing jet-powered aircraft design to fly; the other two were the German Junkers Ju 287 (1944) and the HFB-320 Hansa Jet (1964). On 13 December 1985, an X-29 became the first forward-swept wing aircraft to fly at supersonic speed in level flight.
The X-29 began a NASA test program four months after its first flight. The X-29 proved reliable, and by August 1986 was flying research missions of over three hours involving multiple flights.
Capacity: 4,000 lb (1,814 kg) payload
Length: 53 ft 11.25 in (16.4402 m)
Wingspan: 27 ft 2.5 in (8.293 m)
Height: 14 ft 3.5 in (4.356 m)
Empty weight: 13,800 lb (6,260 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 17,800 lb (8,074 kg)
Maximum speed: 956 kn (1,100 mph, 1,771 km/h) at 33,000 ft (10,058 m)
Maximum speed: Mach 1.8
Range: 350 nmi (400 mi, 650 km)
Service ceiling: 55,000 ft (17,000 m)
Seven U.S. Navy squadrons flew the F11F-1: VF-21 and VF-33 in the Atlantic Fleet and VA-156 (redesignated VF-111 in January 1959), VF-24 (redesignated VF-211 in March 1959), VF-51, VF-121, and VF-191 in the Pacific Fleet.
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