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Grumman
X-29 experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing.

The Grumman X-29 was an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wing, canard control surfaces, and other novel aircraft technologies.

Grumman: X-29 Experimental

RoleExperimental aircraft
National originUnited States
ManufacturerGrumman
First flight14 December 1984
StatusRetired
Primary usersUnited States Air Force
NASA
Number built2

Grumman

Grumman X-29 experimental aircraft

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Grumman
X-29 experimental aircraft

The Grumman X-29 was an American experimental aircraft that tested a forward-swept wingcanard 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.

Design

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).[1] 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”.

Operators

Variants

Ag Cat
The basic model Ag Cat was certified with four different engines: the 220-225 hp (164-168 kW) Continental Motors radial engine, the 240 hp (179 kW) Gulf Coast W-670-240 radial engine, the 245 hp (183 kW) Jacobs L-4M or L-4MB radial engine and the 275-300 hp (205-224 kW) Jacobs R-755 radial engine. A total of 400 of this model were produced.[6]
Super Ag Cat A/450
The G-164A became the main model starting with serial number 401. This model featured a 450 hp (335 kW) Pratt & Whitney R-985 radial engine along with a higher gross weight, increased fuel capacity, larger diameter wheels and improved brakes.[6]
Super Ag Cat A/600
The A/600 incorporated the same improvements embodied in the A/400, but was powered by a Pratt & Whitney R-1340 radial engine of 600 hp (450 kW).

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Grumman X-29 (1984)

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).[7] On 13 December 1985, an X-29 became the first forward-swept wing aircraft to fly at supersonic speed in level flight.

 

Grumman X-29A at the National Museum of the United States Air Force

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. 

Specifications

Crew: 1

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)

Powerplant: 1 × General Electric F404-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engine, 16,000 lbf (71 kN) with afterburner

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)

Junkers Ju 287

Hansa Jet

OKB-1 EF 131

Related development

Aircraft of comparable role, configuration, and era

Sukhoi Su-47

Rockwell-MBB X-31

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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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