Wright Flyer

Aircraft Profile
Orville Wright’s first flight on 17 December 1903
(photo, US National Archives)

Development

When Orville Wright first took the Flyer into the air on the morning of 17 December 1903, his short flight represented the culmination of a rigorous four year step-by-step test and development process undertaken with his brother, Wilbur.

The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright were small-town businessmen, running the local newspaper and also a successful bicycle manufacturing business in Dayton, Ohio. Having caught the huge bicycling boom of the 1890s, the brothers took a keen interest in all-things mechanical and were also keen followers of developments in automobiles and aeronautics. At this time the leading aviation pioneers were Otto Lilienthal in Germany and Octave Chanute in the USA. When the American publication ‘McClure’s Magazine’ published an illustrated account of Lilienthals achievements in its September 1894 issue, the interest of Wilbur Wright was aroused. He began to follow developments in aeronautics with increasing interest. However, on 9 August 1896 Lilienthal fell to his death when the glider he was flying stalled and abruptly sideslipped into the ground. Spurred into action by published accounts of the death, Wilbur and Orville began to read everything they could find on the subject of flight. They also began a letter correspondence with many of the pioneers of the time, in order to exchange more information.

As a result of the their initial research the Wrights realised that Lilienthal’s accident had resulted from inadequate control of his glider. Lilienthal had steered by shifting his body-mass, as with modern hang-gliders, and they realised that body-shifting couldn’t provide enough leverage to keep an aircraft under control at all times. At the time, it was popularly supposed that once an aircraft was in the air, it would have natural stability like a ship in water, making flat skidding turns while remaining wings level – whereas the bicycle-riding Wrights expected an aircraft to require numerous small control corrections to keep it straight and level. Like a bicycle, they foresaw that it would be necessary to bank into a turn. The solution to the control problem that Wilbur Wright came up with was wing warping. This involved twisting the wing so that it’s angle of incidence on one side was larger than on the other, thus generating unequal lift and hence rolling the aircraft.

In the summer of 1899 the Wrights built a biplane kite to test the concept. The truss-braced biplane layout was borrowed from Octave Chanute’s innovative 1896 glider, maximising wing area for minimum weight. The kite flew successfully and in the following year the brothers set about building a man-carrying kite-glider using the same configuration. After consultation with the US Weather Bureau, a site near Kitty Hawk in North Carolina was selected as having the steadiest and most reliable winds.

Flights testing of the 1900 glider began at Kitty Hawk in October, and proved highly encouraging. The glider featured a forward (canard) horizonal control surface, as the brothers wished to avoid a Lilienthal-style fatal plunge into the ground. Although lacking any vertical control surfaces the glider exhibited excellent pitch control and managed glides of up to 400 feet (123 m). Having completed the tests the glider was abandoned on the sand dunes. In 1901 the Wrights returned to Kitty Hawk with a new glider featuring a redesigned wing. With revised camber, increased wingspan and a wing area almost double that of the 1900 glider’s the new machine was expected to fly much further than it’s predecessors. In fact its performance was much worse.

After this unexpected setback the Wrights went back to basics. After designing and building a wind tunnel to test numerous wing configurations they found that the theoretical lift data published so far by other researchers was actually incorrect. Using their new found empirical knowledge, the Wrights built a new machine, the 1902 glider. The glider featured as wing with an aspect ratio almost twice that of their previous machines. Test flying commenced on 19 September 1902 and quickly proved the increased performance of the new machine. Glides of more than 500 ft (152 m) were achievable. However, the machine had a notable tendency to enter a gentle spiral dive when making turns and to counter this the fixed vertical fin was modified into a movable rudder connected to the wing warping mechanism. Controllability was much improved and the brothers made hundreds of flights, some reaching 622 ft (190 m). After completing fight testing, the Wrights filed a patent to protect their design rights.

Thoughts now turned to a powered version of the glider, but first they needed a a powerful lightweight engine. Automobile engines of the time were much too heavy, and having found that no lightweight engines where available commercially, they set about designing one. The design featured a four-cylinder water-cooled petrol engine, and was hand-made by Charles Taylor, a skilled mechanic and employee of the Wright Brothers. Machining of parts began in December 1902 and testing of the engine commenced in February 1903. At the same time the Wrights worked on developing a practical propeller. After many tests and modifications they evolved a blade shape which proved to be much more efficient than any contemporary design.

The 1903 Wright Flyer was a scaled up version of the 1902 glider. Structurally it consisted of a rigid truss-braced rectangular box section which made up the wing centre section. Attached at each end were the outer wing sections, which were rigidly jointed only at the leading edge (which functioned as the forward spar) to permit wing warping. The ribs were held in position by pockets in the wing covering material and only losely connected to the rear spar. A biplane canard horizontal stabiliser was mounted on rigid booms projecting forward from the wing, while a movable biplane rudder was mounted vertically behind the wing. Support frames between the forward stabiliser and the wing acted as landing skids. The engine as mounted on the wing centre section to the right of the centreline, and drove two contra-rotating propellers via a chain drive. The pilot lay prone on the wing on the opposite side of the centreline to the engine. Although not fully appreciated at the time, the extreme aft position of the centre of gravity of the Flyer gave very little natural stability and made it very tricky to fly.

The Flyer was built during the summer of 1903 and departed by rail for Kitty Hawk in late September. Ground runs of the assembled Flyer proved that the hollow propeller shafts initially fitted were too weak. New stronger shafts were installed on 12 December. On 14 December Wilbur Wright took the Flyer for a short hop of about 60 ft (18.3 m). The flight ended with a heavy landing and the next two days were taken up with repairs to the landing skids.

On the morning of 17 December 1903 the Wrights were ready for another attempt at powered flight. The Flyer was designed to take-off from a little trolley which ran along a 60 ft (18.3 m) long monorail assembled in sections, and a suitable stretch of level ground was selected for the launch site, facing into a steady 21 mph (34 km/h) wind. With Wilbur having flown on the 14th, it was Orville’s turn to attempt a flight. His first flight lasted 12 seconds and reached about 100 feet (30 m). Three more flights followed, with the brothers taking it in turns. The last flight reached 852 ft (260 m) in 59 seconds. The flights were witnessed by members of the Kill Devil Hill Life Saving Station, one of whom took the famous action photograph that ushered in the new age of aviation.

The Flyer had been badly damaged by a gust of wind after the fourth flight of the day, but the brothers had the wreck transported back to Dayton for storage. In 1904 the they built a new aircraft (Flyer II) which retained the same layout but differed in many details from the 1903 prototype. Flight tests from Huffman Prairie, east of Dayton, showed the new version exhibited the same pitch instability as its predecessor. However the brothers were becoming to adept at controlling the machine and they made 80 short flight, including two which exceeded 5 minutes duration. Ballast was added to the canard, which moved the centre of gravity forward and improved controllability. On 20 September they made the first circling flight by an aircraft in history. Further experimentation showed that reducing the anhedral (downward) angle of the wings significantly improved stability.

In 1905 the Wrights built a new Flyer (Flyer III), using the engine and propeller from the 1904 machine. Now regarded as the first ‘practical’ aircraft, it featured zero anhedral wings, upright seating for the pilot and a passenger, and an improved control system in which the rudder was disconnected from the wing warping system so that it could be controlled independently. On 5 October 1905 Wilbur flew 24 miles (38.6 km) in 38 mins and 4 secs, circling the field at least 30 times in front of witnesses.

After the successful flights of 1905 the brothers did not fly again until 1908, as they set about patenting their inventions. Between 1907 and 1910 the Wrights made seven examples of the Model A – a production aeroplane. Four more were licence-built in France.

In August 1908 Wilbur demonstrated a US-built Model A to French audiences at a racecourse near Le Mans. French pioneers who watched the flights were astounded at the controllability and manoeuvrability which the machine clearly exhibited. Between August and December Wilbur made more than 100 flights, including six of more than 1 hours duration. He won numerous endurance and altitude records and prizes. The flight demonstrations set a new benchmark for the Europeans, who were galvanized into improving their designs until they could emulate and then exceed the standards they had witnessed – progress thereafter quickly gathered pace throughout Europe.

Meanwhile in the USA, Orville demonstrated a Model A to the US Army at Fort Myer. From 3 September he made 10 flights, but on 17 September he crashed after the starboard propeller blade broke. His passenger, Lt Thomas Selfridge was fatally injured and Orville suffered a broken hip. Military trials were postponed until the following year, when a replacement aircraft would be available. The 1909 Signal Corps Flyer successfully completed the Army’s acceptance trials and in July became the world’s first military aeroplane accepted into military service.

Despite these undoubted successes, by the start of 1910 competitors at home, such as Glenn Curtiss, and in Europe were pressing ahead with advanced new designs which threatened to progressively render the Wrights designs obsolete. Minor redesigns such as the Wright Model B and Model C failed to capture significant interest and the Wright Company thereafter lost it’s way. Wilbur Wright died of typhoid on 30 May 1912 and in October 1915 Orville sold his interest in the Wright Company and took up a career largely outside of aviation.

While many claims have been put forward as to who made the first powered flight, none – except for the Wright Brothers – has met the three clear criteria by which such an accomplishment must be judged: the flight must be ‘Powered, Sustained and Controlled’. Furthermore, the Wrights succeeded in their attempt through a thorough understanding of the problems involved, combined with well-judged technical solutions and, (as is now increasingly appreciated by the pilots of replica Flyers), a not inconsiderable skill in piloting.

Looking up at the 1903 Flyer. (The metal frame
on the landing skids is not part of the aircraft)
View of the pilot and engine locations
on the 1903 Flyer

Variants

Requirement Specification: not applicable
Manufacturers Designation: see below

Development History:
Kite Experimental 5ft (1.5 m) span kite to test wing warping idea. 1899
Wright Glider No.1 First experimental biplane kite-glider. 17 ft (5.18 m) wingspan. No vertical tail surfaces. 1900
Wright Glider No.2 New canard biplane glider design with 22 ft (6.7 m) span low aspect ratio wings. 1901
Wright Glider No.3 New canard biplane glider design with much higher aspect ratio wings of 32 ft 1 in (9.8 m) span. Single vertical fin. 1902
Wright Flyer Initial powered aircraft design, with 12 hp (9 kW) Wright engine. 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m) wing span. 1903
Wright Flyer II Development of Flyer with modified wing and engine tuned to give 15 hp (11 kW). Not considered successful. 1904
Wright Flyer III First really practical and controllable model, using the propellers and engine from Flyer II. Much longer fuselage and no wing anhedral. 1905
Wright Model A Production version designed as a two seater for pilot training and demonstration flights.
Wright Signal Corps Flyer World’s first military aircraft. Delivered to US Army Signal Corps. 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m) wingspan, 28 hp (20.9 kW) Wright engine. 1910
A good view of the canard elevators This view shows the anhedral (downward
slope) of the wings

History

Key Dates:
1896    Death of Lilienthal triggers serious interest in flight by the Wright brothers
30 May 1899    Wilbur Wright writes to the Smithsonian Institution requesting information on flying machines
July 1899    Wilbur Wright conceives of using wing warping to control aircraft roll
summer 1899    Small biplane kite built to test wing warping theory
mid August 1900    Construction of first man-carrying glider commenced
early October 1900    Flight testing of 1900 glider commences at Kitty Hawk
July 1901    Flight testing of much larger 1901 glider carried out – very poor results
19 September 1902    Start of flight testing of 1902 glider, fitted with much higher aspect ratio wings and fixed vertical tail
December 1902    Construction of Wright-designed petrol engine commenced
summer 1903    Wright Flyer constructed
5 November 1903    Assembly of Flyer at Kitty Hawk finished
12 December 1903    Strengthened propeller shafts installed in Flyer
12 December 1903    Wilbur makes a short hop of 60 ft (80 m) in the Flyer
17 December 1903    Wright Flyer makes four flights, the last covering 852 ft (259.7 m)
May-December 1904    Flight testing of Flyer II at Huffman Prairie
20 September 1904    Flyer II makes first controlled circling flight by an aircraft
5 October 1905    Flyer III made a flight of 38 min 4 sec over a distance of 24 miles (38.6 km)
January 1906    Description of Wright brothers patent published in French aviation magazine – largely ignored
1906-1907    Wrights build three examples of two-seater Model A and several improved engines
July 1907    One Model A shipped to France in anticipation of planned demonstration flights
December 1907    US Army issues specification for a military aeroplane
14 May 1908    World’s first passenger flight made during ‘refresher’ flying practice with Flyer III
8 August 1908    First demonstration flight of Model A in France, by Wilbur
3 September 1908    Orville starts US Army acceptance trials at Fort Myer in Model A ‘Military Flyer’
9 September 1908    Orville sets endurance record of 1 hr 2 min
17 September 1908    First fatal air crash: Passenger Lt Thomas Selfridge is fatally injured in a crash of the Military Flyer flown by Orville. Trials postponed
21 September 1908    Wilbur sets endurance record of 1hr 31 min in Model A in France
18 December 1908    Wilbur sets altitude record of 360 ft (110 m)
31 December 1908    Wilbur sets new endurance record of 2hr 30 min in France
1909    Wrights give further demonstrations in Italy (April), USA (May) and Germany (September-October)
22 November 1909    Wright Company established
July 1909    Signal Corps Flyer accepted by US Army. World’s first military aircraft accepted into service
Orville flying a Model A at Fort Myer in
September 1908 (photo, US National Archives)

Operators

Military Operators

France – Army (2+ Model A)
USA – USASC (1 Model A)

Government Agencies

None

Civilian Operators

France – various (4 Model A)
UK – various (6 Short-Wright Flyer)
USA – Wright Company (Flyer I, Flyer II, Flyer III, Model A)

Specifications

Wright Flyer (1903)
Crew: Pilot
Dimensions: Length 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m); Height 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m); Wing Span 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m); Wing Area 510.0 sq ft (47.38 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horizontal inline Wright of 12 hp (8.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 605 lb (274 kg); Normal Take-off 745 lb (338 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 30 mph (48 kph) at sea level
Wright Flyer II (1904)
Crew: Pilot
Dimensions: Length 21 ft 1 in (6.43 m); Height 9 ft 0 in (2.74 m); Wing Span 40 ft 4 in (12.29 m); Wing Area 510.0 sq ft (47.38 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horizontal inline Wright of 15 hp (11.2 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 760 lb (345 kg); Normal Take-off 900 lb (408 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 30 mph (48 kph) at sea level
Wright Flyer III (1905)
Crew: Pilot (later plus passenger)
Dimensions: Length 28 ft 0 in (8.53 m); Height 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m); Wing Span 40 ft 6 in (12.34 m); Wing Area 503.0 sq ft (46.73 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder horzontal inline Wright of 20 hp (14.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped ? lb (? kg); Normal Take-off (pilot only) 855 lb (388 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 35 mph (56 kph) at sea level
Wright Signal Corps Flyer (1909)
Crew: Pilot and passenger
Dimensions: Length 28 ft 11 in (8.81 m); Height 8 ft 0 in (2.44 m); Wing Span 36 ft 6 in (11.13 m); Wing Area 415.0 sq ft (38.55 sq m)
Engine(s): One water-cooled, 4 cylinder vertical inline Wright of 28 hp (20.9 kW).
Weights: Empty Equipped 735 lb (333 kg); Normal Take-off 1,200 lb (544 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed 44 mph (71 kph) at sea level

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Orville & Wilbur Wright
Design Office: Dayton, Ohio, USA.

Manufacture

Wright Brothers
(Dayton, Ohio, USA.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
glider 1 1 Dayton, OH August 1900
glider 2 1 Dayton, OH May-June 1901
glider 3 1 Dayton, OH summer 1902
Flyer I 1 Dayton, OH summer 1903
Flyer II 1 Dayton, OH spring 1904
Flyer III 1 Dayton, OH summer 1905
Model A 7 Dayton, OH spring 1907-1911
Total: 10+3    

The following companies were authorised to licence-build the Model A:

Chantiers de France
(Dunkerque, France.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Model A 2? Dunkerque, France 1908-1909
Total: 2?    
Astra, Societé de Constructions Aeronautiques
(Billancourt, Paris, France.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Astra-Wright Type A 2? Billancourt, France 1908-1909
Total: 2?    

Engines were built by Bariquand & Marre of Paris and Léon Bollée of Le Mans.

Flugmaschine Wright GmbH
(Berlin, Germany.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Type A 22+ Berlin, Germany 1909-1910
Total: 22+    

The source of the engines for the German aircraft is not known.

Short Brothers
(Battersea, London & Leysdown, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, UK.)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Short-Wright Flyer 4 Leysdown, UK March 1909-July 1909
Short-Wright Flyer** 2 Leysdown, UK July 1909-February 1910
Total: 6    

** = modified design. (Short-built examples used French engines).

Total Produced: 39+ a/c (Variants I to Model A) + 3 gliders.

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘The Wright Brothers Legacy: Orville and Wilbur Wright and Their Aeroplanes’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Walt Burton & Owen Findsen
Published by Harry N Abrams Inc, July 2003 ISBN: 0810942674
* In-depth photographic portrait of the Wright brothers and their aircraft.

‘On Great White Wings: The Wright Brothers and the Race for Flight’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Fred EC Culick, F Culick & Peter Christopher
Published by Hyperion Books, Oct 2001 ISBN: 0786866861
* Well illustrated account of the Wright brothers.

‘Visions of a Flying Machine’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Peter L Jakob
Published by Airlife Publications, Sept 1990 ISBN: 1853101486
* Describes the evolution of the Wright Flyer in detail.

‘The Bishop’s Boys: A Life of Wilbur and Orville Wright’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Tom D Crouch
Published by WW Norton, March 1990 ISBN: 0393026604
* Highly respected biography of the two brothers.

‘The Wright Brothers: A Brief Account of Their Work 1899-1911’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Charles H Gibb-Smith & John A Bagley (ed)
Published by The Stationary Office Books, April 1987 ISBN: 0112904416
* Excellent introduction to the Wright Brothers activities.

‘Pioneer Aircraft: Early Aviation before 1914’ [Order this book from USA][Order this book from Amazon UK]
by Philip Jarrett (ed)
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 2002 ISBN: 0 85177 869 0
* Excellent general history of the early years of flight.

Magazines

To be added.

Links

1905 Wright Flyer III
(Background history of the Flyer III and where to find it)

EAA’s Countdown to Kitty Hawk
(Full details of the centenary celebrations, original photos, building the Flyer reproduction)

AIAA Wright Flyer Project
(Researching, building, and flying a modern representation of the 1903 Wright Flyer)

Wright Brothers Aeroplane Company
(Virtual museum of pioneer aviation, lots of good links and info, souvenir shop)

U.S. Centennial of Flight Home Page
(Images, timeline, essays, links etc.)

The Wright Experience
(Reports on building and testing full scale replicas of Wright aircraft and engines)

Wright Flyer Online
(NASA Quest page archiving the testing of the AIAAs Flyer model, useful links)

Wright Brothers Photographs 1900-1911
(Jpegs of the original glass plate negatives held by the Library of Congress)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Avro 707

Aircraft Profile
Avro 707A WD280 over Port Phillip Bay,
near Point Cook, in 1956. (photo, via John Hopton)

Development

In the late 1940s, the high speed characteristics of delta-shaped (i.e. triangular planform) wings were relatively well understood theoretically, but little was known about their behaviour at low speeds, where various aerodynamic factors made analysis very difficult. Before an aircraft could be built which took advantage of the potential high performance a delta-wing offered, there was an obvious need for a research aircraft which could provide scientists and engineers with practical information on the handling characteristics of this untried wing planform. This research aircraft was the Avro 707, the first British aircraft with a delta-wing.

The origins of the Avro 707 are intertwined with those of the Avro Vulcan. In 1947 the Avro design team were busy working on determining the optimum configuration for the Type 698 jet bomber, which eventually became the Vulcan. The layout eventually decided upon was that of a delta-shaped wing, with no tailplane. This configuration had many performance advantages, but had never been flown on a British aircraft before. Discussions between Avro and the procurement authority (the Ministry of Supply) ensued on the best approach to minimise the risks associated with such an untried aerodynamic approach. It was agreed that a number of flying scale models of the delta wing would provide advance information for the Type 698 final design and give confidence in the overall design philosophy. The models proposed comprised two one-third scale aircraft for low speed research, designated Avro Type 707, and two half-scale aircraft for high speed high altitude research, designated Avro Type 710. After some vacillation, the Type 710 design was dropped and replaced by a single one-third scale aircraft under the designation Type 707A.

The first Type 707 aircraft (serial VX784) as a relatively simple design using many components from existing aircraft types and construction proceeded quite rapidly. It featured a rather unusual bifurcated dorsal air intake behind the cockpit for the Rolls-Royce Derwent engine, a clear-view canopy taken from a Gloster Meteor and a sharply tapered nose cone. The short stubby-looking aircraft made its maiden flight on 4 September 1949 at Boscombe Down, and sufficient flight hours were built up to allow a static appearance at the 1949 SBAC show at Farnborough two days later. Tragically, test pilot Eric Esler lost control of the aircraft at low speed on 31st September and fatally crashed near Blackbushe. The probable cause was a sudden control circuit failure causing the air brakes to be locked open and thus provoking a stall.

The loss of the first prototype resulted in work on the second Type 707 aircraft being suspended for a time, but was then restarted with increased urgency. A number of modifications were introduced to save time and simplify the construction. The long pointed nose section intended for the Type 707A was grafted onto the fuselage, resulting in the new aircraft being 12 ft (3.66 m) longer than the original. Other changes included a different degree of wing leading edge sweep, modified elevators and air brakes. A Gloster Meteor cockpit canopy, Avro Athena main undercarriage and a lengthened Hawker P.1052 nose leg were incorporated in the design. Redesignated Type 707B (serial VX790), the maiden flight took place at Boscombe Down on 5 September 1950.

Flight testing of the 707B from Dunsfold soon justified Avro’s faith in the delta wing and its relatively docile handling characteristics. In February 1951, the ‘inverted-w’ bifurcated dorsal air intake had been replaced by more efficient and more elegant single intake with a NACA venturi inlet, and by August 1951 an ejection seat had been installed and a revised cockpit canopy fitted. Primarily designed for flight testing in the 80-350 knots speed range, the aircraft nevertheless quickly ran into problems with canopy turbulence causing starvation of the dorsal engine intake and it was resolved to abandon this feature on the forthcoming Type 707A. The contribution of the Type 707B to the Type 698 programme was rather limited because a good deal of time was spent on modifications which were relevant only to the 707B itself – principally attempts to cure pitch instability. It did however assist in defining the relatively high ground-incidence angle which a delta wing required for take-off. On 21 September 1951 VX790 was damaged in a landing accident and returned to Woodford for repair. Upon returning to Boscombe Down it took up general research duties with the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) and Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS), until badly damaged in another landing accident at Farnborough on 25 September 1956 in the hands of an ETPS student. The aircraft was judged to be not worth repairing and subsequently used for spares for the remaining 707A and 707C aircraft. It was dumped at RAE Bedford in 1960.

The third aircraft in the series was the Type 707A (serial WD280), which first flew at Boscombe Down on 14 June 1951, after being transported down from Woodford like the previous aircraft. This aircraft was designed to fly at high subsonic Mach numbers and differed from the 707B in having a scaled-down Type 698 wing, complete with wing root engine intakes, cropped wing tips and hydraulically powered flying control surfaces. The absence of a dorsal air intake allowed an elegant extended dorsal fin to be fitted. For high altitude work the cockpit was partially pressurised. Unfortunately, a lot of flight time was spend in eliminating some of the problems with the new flying control system, and the eventual contribution to the Type 698 programme amounted to very little. In 1954 WD280 was fitted with a modified wing with a kinked leading edge, and after successful testing this later became the Vulcan ‘Phase Two’ wing modification. In 1956 WD280 was assigned to the Australian Aeronautical Research Council (AARC) and shipped on HMAS Melbouurne to Australia, where low speed flight trials were conducted from RAAF Laverton. On 10 February 1967, WD280 was struck off charge and sold to a local resident, who kept it in his back garden. In 1999 the aircraft was brought by the RAAF Museum and moved to Point Cook, where it is now on display.

On 13 November 1951, three additional aircraft were ordered under Issue 2 of Specification E.10/49. These comprised a second Type 707A (serial WZ736) and the first two of four planned side-by-side conversion trainers designated 707C (serialled WZ739 and WZ744). The 707Cs were intend to familiarise pilots with the characteristics of delta-winged aircraft, but the early Vulcans proved easy to fly and WZ739 was later cancelled. The two remaining aircraft were assembled at Avro’s repair and overhaul works at Bracebridge Heath, just south of Lincoln. WZ736 was first flown from nearby RAF Waddington on 20 February 1953 and WZ744 followed on 1 July 1953. Both aircraft were flown to Woodford and remained there for production acceptance testing before being handed over to the Royal Aircraft Establishment (RAE) at Farnborough and Bedford. Neither aircraft was directly involved in the Vulcan development programme and spent their time involved in general research – WZ736 was involved in auto-throttle development trials until withdrawn in 1964, and WZ744 flew nearly 200 hours in the development of fly-by-wire electrically signalled hydraulic flying controls before being retired in January 1967. The two aircraft now survive in aircraft museums: WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry, and WZ744 at the RAF Museum, Cosford.

For various reasons, the early Avro 707s took too long to reach the flight test stage, and consequently their direct contribution to the Type 698 Vulcan programme was comparatively small. However, the Avro 707 family of research aircraft gave British aircraft designers early confidence in the general handling characteristics of the delta-wing, which lead to its adoption on other aircraft types (several of which where cancelled in 1957), and some of the systems tested found a direct application on other military aircraft programmes.

Avro 707B VX790 with later NACA dorsal intake
and modified canopy. (photo, BAE SYSTEMS)
Two-seater Avro 707C WZ744 was finished in silver overall. (photo, Keith McKenzie)

Variants

Requirement Specification: E.15/48 (707/707B) and E.10/49 (707A/707C)
Manufacturers Designation: Avro Type 707

Development History:
Avro 707 One aircraft (VX784) with Derwent 5 engine, ‘saddle’ type dorsal engine air intake behind the cockpit. Unpainted finish.
Avro 707A Two aircraft with Derwent 8 engine, modified wing section, wing root engine air intakes, control surfaces extensively modified. First aircraft (WD280) finished in pink initially, then repainted bright red – later silver. Second aircraft (WZ736) finished in orange overall.
Avro 707B One aircraft (VX790) to replace the original Avro 707. Longer more-pointed fuselage, Derwent 5 engine and dorsal engine air intake. Painted bright blue overall.
Avro 707C Side-by-side dual-control trainer version of 707A with widened forward fuselage. Derwent 8 engine, wing root engine intakes. One aircraft (WZ744) completed, finished in silver. One other aircraft (WZ739) cancelled.
Avro 724? Proposed version of Type 707 with six RB.108 lift engines in the fuselage for V/STOL jet research, to specification ER.143. Contract won by the Shorts SC.1.
Avro 710 Proposed high-speed high-altitude (Mach 0.95 and 60,000 ft/18,290 m) delta-wing research aircraft. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Avon engines. Design abandoned and replaced by Type 707A.

History

Key Dates:
3 November 1948    Requirement Specification E.15/48 formally issued
22 June 1948    2 Type 707 and 2 Type 710 aircraft ordered
September 1948    Type 707 design finalised
6 May 1949    One Avro 707A ordered to specification E.10/49 to replace Type 710
4 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
30 September 1949    Avro 707 VX784 crashes near Blackbushe
6 September 1950    Avro 707B VX790 maiden flight at Boscombe Down
14 June 1951    First Avro 707A WD280 maiden flight
21 September 1951    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident
13 November 1951    One additional Avro 707A and first 2 of 4 planned Avro 707C ordered to E.10/49 Issue 2
11 January 1952    Order for Avro 707C WZ739 cancelled
May 1952    Avro 707B VX790 returned to Boscombe Down after repair
20 February 1953    Second Avro 707A WZ736 maiden flight
1 July 1953    Avro 707C WZ744 maiden flight
March 1954    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with powered flying controls and wing fences
March 1955    Avro 707A WD280 fitted with new kinked wing leading edge
6 March 1956    Avro 707A WD280 transferred to RAAF ownership and flown to Renfrew for shipment
8 May 1956    Avro 707A WD280 taken on charge by AARC in Australia
25 September 1956    Avro 707B VX790 damaged in landing accident at Farnborough
8 November 1957    Avro 707B VX790 struck off charge, to be reduced to spares
1960    Remains of Avro 707B VX790 dumped at Thurleigh
12 November 1964    Avro 707A WD280 flight testing completed in Australia
19 May 1962    Avro 707A WZ736 struck of charge at Farnborough, after use as spares source at Bedford for WZ744
1 February 1967    Avro 707C WZ744 retired from service and transferred to MoD(Air) for use as museum exhibit
10 February 1967    Avro 707A WD280 struck off charge and sold to private owner
April 1999    Avro 707A WD280 arrives at RAAF Museum
The second Avro 707A, WZ736, received an
orange finish. In front is a Vulcan wind tunnel
model. (photo, Phillip Evans)

Operators

Military Operators

None  

Government Agencies

UK – RAE Farnborough (Type 707B/707A/707C)
Australia – RAAF ARDU (Type 707A)

Civilian Operators

Avro (Type 707/707B/707A for development testing)

Specifications

Avro 707
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 30 ft 6 in (9.29 m); Height ? ft ? in (? m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 8,600 lb (3,901 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1,633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Limiting Mach number Mach 0.95 in a very shallow dive; Maximum speed 415 knots; Stalling speed “about 85 kts”; Optimum climb speed 270 knots at sea level, reducing by 10 knots every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707B
Role: Research Aircraft
Crew: 1
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 9 in (3.58 m); Wing Span 33 ft 0 in (10.06 m); Wing Area ? sq ft (? sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 5 turbojet of 3,500 lb (1,588 kg) st.
Weights: Empty ? lb (? kgs); Loaded 9,500 lb (4,309 kg)
Performance: Maximum level speed Mach 0.8 (400 knots); Minimum speed permitted in flight 100 kts; Optimum climb speed 280 knots at sea level, reducing by 25 kts every 10,000 ft (3,048 m). Service ceiling and Range not known.
Avro 707C
Role: Two-seat Trainer and Research Aircraft
Crew: 2
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 4 in (12.90 m); Height 11 ft 7 in (3.53 m); Wing Span 34 ft 2 in (10.41 m); Wing Area 420.0 sq ft (39.02 sq m)
Engine(s): One Rolls-Royce Derwent 8 turbojet of 3,600 lb (1633 kg) st.
Weights: Empty 7,873 lb (3,571 kgs); Loaded 9,826 lb (4,457 kg)
Performance: No data published.
Avro 707A, WD280, at RAAF Laverton on 16 September 1956. The Vulcan-style airbrakes are seen extended above the wing. (photo, via John Hopton) Another view of WD280, on 3 October 1958, clearly showing the kinked wing leading edge fitted to this aircraft. (photo, via John Hopton)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: S. D. Davies
Design Office: A.V. Roe & Co Ltd, Chadderton, Manchester.

Manufacture

A.V. Roe & Co Ltd (From 1963 Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd)
(Woodford Airfield, Manchester, UK)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
Avro 707 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1949
Avro 707B 1 Woodford June 1948-Sept 1950
Avro 707A 1 Woodford May 1949-June 1951
Avro 707A 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-Feb 1953
Avro 707C 1 Bracebridge Heath, Lincs. Nov 1951-July 1953

Total Produced: 5 a/c

Production List

To be added.

More Information

Books

‘Avro Aircraft Since 1908’ [Order this book from Amazon UK]
by A J Jackson
Published by Putnam Aeronautical Books, 1990 ISBN: 0 85177 834 8
* Detailed company history with a 4-page chapter on the Type 707 family.

‘British Research And Development Aircraft’
by Ray Sturtivant
Published by Haynes/Foulis, 1990 ISBN: 0 85429 697 2
* Includes 4 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Combat Aircraft Prototypes Since 1945’
by Robert Jackson
Published by Airlife, 1985 ISBN: 0 906393 46 9
* Includes 3 pages on the Type 707 family.

‘Wings Of Fame Volume 3’
Published by Aerospace Publishing, 1996 ISBN: 1 874023 70 0 (pb)/1 874023 76 X (hb)
* Includes some details of Type 707 use, within article on Avro Vulcan.

Magazines

‘FlyPast’ (Key Publishing) September 1999

‘Aeropane Monthly’ (IPC Magazines) February 1994

‘Roundel’ (BARG) July 1989

Links

Avro 707 WZ736
* Set of 12 colour photos of WZ736 in the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry

Avro 707A, WD280 – Research Aircraft
* Detailed coverage of Avro 707A flight testing in Australia

Avro 707A WD280
* Brief details of WD280 at the RAAF Museum

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.

Thanks to Glyn Owen, Mike Draper, Phil Butler and John Hopton for their help with this page.

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle

Aircraft Profile
T-50 first prototype 001 at the formal rollout.
(photo, Lockheed Martin)

Development

Although increasingly well known for it’s ships, cars and consumer electronics goods, South Korea also possesses a thriving aerospace industry. An industry which cut its teeth on component manufacture and licenced production has now produced its second Korean-designed aircraft, the T-50 Golden Eagle. That this aircraft should be a supersonic combat aircraft demonstrates the breadth of South Korea’s capability and the extent of its ambition.

Korean Air Lines (KAL) was the first company in South Korea to be involved in aerospace, establishing facilities in 1979 to carry out depot level maintenance of USAF aircraft based in South Korea and the Pacific. Daewoo, Hyundai and Samsung established similar capabilities soon afterwards. In 1981, KAL was contracted to assemble the Northrop F-5E Tiger IIs ordered by the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF). Korean industry subsequently won contracts to produce a wide range of components and sub-assemblies for Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier and Lockheed Martin – amongst others – and won praise for the high quality of workmanship evident in the delivered items. In 1988, development of South Korea’s first locally-designed aircraft, the Daewoo KT-1 Woong-Bee was initiated. This PC-9 look-alike turboprop trainer first flew in 1991 and entered service with the RoKAF in 2000. In the meantime, Samsung was awarded prime contractor status in the Korean Fighter Programme, under which 108 F-16s were licenced-built for the RoKAF. The contract specified extensive technology transfer to Korean industry, resulting in the last 72 aircraft being wholly built in South Korea.

In 1992, initial design studies were launched by South Korea’s Defence Development Agency and Samsung into the development of an indigenous jet trainer/light attack aircraft to replace the T-38, Hawk and F-5 in RoKAF service. The designation KTX-2 (Korean Trainer, Experimental 2) was assigned to the project. Substantial input into the design was made by General Dynamics (later taken over by Lockheed Martin) under the offset agreement negotiated for the F-16 contract.

In mid 1995 the basic external layout was agreed, but the project stalled at the end of the year as the gathering Asian Financial Crisis mean that available government funding could not now cover the remainder of the project – a foreign partner was essential to carry on. Several major aerospace companies showed interest, but none proved willing to invest their own money. Eventually, Lockheed Martin took the decision to upgrade its existing involvement from that of design consultant to full partner. On 3 July 1997, the South Korean government approved continuation of the project. Later in July, Lockheed Martin signed a formal agreement with Samsung under which it took responsibility for the Fly-By-Wire flight control system, avionics integration, wing design and supply of the APG-167 radar.

In October 1997, the contract to build and test six prototypes was received – including two static test airframes. Detailed design was now able to proceed rapidly and in August 1999 the external shape of the KTX-2 was frozen, allowing manufacturing drawings to start being released.

As part of the country’s economic reforms, Korean Aerospace Industries Ltd (KAI) was formed in October 1999 from the amalgamation of the aerospace divisions of Samsung, Daewoo and Hyundai. The other major South Korean aerospace manufacturer, Korean Air Lines remained outside of the main industry grouping.

In February 2000 it was announced that the KTX-2 had been renamed the T-50/A-50 Golden Eagle. The T-50 Golden Eagle designation being applied to an Advanced Jet Training variant, and A-50 Golden Eagle to an armed Light Attack/Fighter Lead In Trainer variant. Final assembly of the first T-50 prototype began on 15 January 2001, and it was formally rolled out on 31 October 2001. The maiden flight was achieved on 20 August 2002, with flight testing continuing until mid 2005.

The Golden Eagle bears a close resemblance to the F-16 – not really surprising when you consider its origins and the intended role of training RoKAF pilots to fly the F-16 – although it is actually about 80% the size of an F-16. Several design features are shared with its bigger brother, the most noticeable of which is the blended mid-set wing, complete with leading edge root extensions (LERX) and rear ‘shelf’ fairings ending in F-16-style split airbrakes. Sweepback is only applied to the wing leading edge, and missile launch rails are located at the wing tips. In a departure from F-16 influence, the engine air intakes are located at the fuselage sides, just below the wing LERX in a similar manner to those on the F/A-18.

The two crew sit in a tandem stepped cockpit equipped with two large Multi-Function Displays (MFDs), a modern wide-angle Head-Up Display (HUD) and full hands on throttle and stick (HOTAS) controls. The Lead In Fighter Trainer and Attack variants will be equipped with a Lockheed Martin APG-167 radar in the nose and a M61 20 mm cannon in the port wing root. The incorporation of many of the latest-technology but ‘off the shelf’ components and systems within the design is intended to deliver a capable but efficient, reliable and easy to maintain aircraft.

The Golden Eagle already has a production order for 50 T-50 trainers and 44 A-50 Fighter Lead In trainers from the RoKAF. Further domestic orders may follow, to allow replacement of the F-5 and F-4 in RoKAF service. The type also has obvious export potential – particularly among the ever growing number of F-16 operators. It’s manoeuvrability and advanced systems are designed to prepare future pilots to fly the next generation fighters such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault Rafale and Lockheed Martin F-35, while its combat capability allows dual-role adaptability. Potential rivals, such as the EADS Mako and Aermacchi M-346 have yet to secure any orders, while the class-leading but slow-selling BAE SYSTEMS Hawk may have reached the limit of its development potential. With the marketing clout of Lockheed Martin behind it, the future of the Golden Eagle is sure to be bright.

Front view of T-50 001 with
‘Golden Eagle’ name still concealed
Impression of the T-50 in rollout colours
(All photos Lockheed Martin)

Variants

Requirement Specification: ?
Manufacturers Designation: ?

Development History:
KTX-2 Initial project designation.
T-50A Initial designation for unarmed Advanced Jet Trainer version.
T-50B Initial designation for Fighter Lead In Trainer version, with APG-67 radar and M61 internal gun. Later incorporated into A-50 version.
T-50 Golden Eagle Official designation for unarmed Advanced Jet Trainer version. Also known as T-50 AJT.
A-50 Golden Eagle Official RoKAF designation for armed version with APG-67 radar and M61 internal gun. Also known as T-50 LIFT. Fighter Lead In Trainer/Light Attack variant.
This impression clearly shows the air intakes This view shows T-50s resemblance to the F-16
(All photos Lockheed Martin)

History

Key Dates:
1992    Initial design studies for KTX-2 launched.
July 1994    Overall design layout finalised.
mid 1995    Preliminary design completed.
July 1996    Lockheed Martin chosen as foreign partner.
3 July 1997    Production programme approved by South Korean government.
17 July 1997    Lockheed Martin formally signs production agreement with Samsung.
24 October 1997    Contract to build six prototypes received.
10 November 1997    US Congress approves technology export licence.
12-16 July 1999    Preliminary design review conducted.
August 1999    Overall design frozen.
October 1999    KAI formed from the aerospace divisions of three Korean companies.
February 2000    KTX-2 renamed T-50/A-50 Golden Eagle.
31 July – 4 August 2000    Critical design review conducted.
15 January 2001    Final assembly of first prototype begun.
31 October 2001    Official roll out of first prototype**
20 August 2002    Maiden flight of first T-50 prototype.
8 November 2002    Maiden flight of second T-50 prototype.
19 February 2003    T-50 prototype exceeds Mach 1 for the first time.
29 August 2003    Maiden flight of first T-50 LIFT (A-50) prototype.
4 September 2003    Maiden flight of second T-50 LIFT (A-50) prototype.
late 2003    Start of series production.
mid 2005    End of flight test programme.
October 2005    First production T-50 rolled out.
2010    Last production A-50 for RoKAF delivered.

** Air International quotes 28 September 2001 as the rollout date, but this was only the anticipated rollout date in January 2001. Lockheed Martin press releases quote the October date.

Operators

Military Operators

South Korea – Air Force (94 T-50 & A-50 planned)

Government Agencies

South Korea – T-50 Combined Test Force (2 T-50 & 2 A-50 planned)

Civilian Operators

None  
T-50 001 being rolled out T-50 001 after the official naming ceremony
(All photos Lockheed Martin)

Specifications

KAI T-50 Golden Eagle
Crew: Two
Dimensions: Length 42 ft 7 in (12.98 m); Height 15 ft 8.25 in (4.78 m); Wing Span 30 ft 1 in (9.17 m); Wing Area TBA sq ft (TBA sq m)
Engines: One General Electric F404-GE-402 turbofan rated at 11,925 lb st dry (53.07 kN) and 17,775 lb st (79.1 kN) with reheat
Weights: Empty Equipped 14,200 lb (6,441 kg); Maximum Take-off 26,400 lb (11,975 kg)
Armament: (A-50 only) 20-mm M61A1 Vulcan cannon in port LERX with 208 rounds, wingtip launch rails for AIM-9 Sidewinder or similar missiles, four underwing hardpoints and one under-fuselage centre-line pylon.
Performance: Maximum level speed ‘clean’ Mach 1.4; Maximum rate of climb at sea level 27,000 ft/min (8225 m/min); Service ceiling 48,000 ft (14,630 m); Range with full fuel 1,000 nm (1,150 mls, 1,850 km)

Production

Design Centre

Head of Design Team: Not known
Design Office: KAI, Sachon, South Korea.

Manufacture

Korean Aerospace Industries
(KAI, Sachon, South Korea)
Version Quantity Assembly Location Time Period
T-50/A-50 prototypes 6* Sachon 2001-2003
T-50 50 Sachon late 2003-?
A-50 44 Sachon ?-2010
Total: 100    

* two T-50, two A-50 and two static test airframes.
Subcontractors: Wings (Lockheed Martin), Aft Fuselage (Korean Air Lines).

Total Produced: 100 a/c (planned)

Production List

To be added.

The first T-50 LIFT, with gun and radar fitted The second T-50 LIFT wears grey camouflage
(All photos Lockheed Martin)

More Information

Books

None yet published.

Magazines

Air International February 2002
Flight International various issues

Links

Korean Aerospace Industries
(Official KAI website)

Shop

Flight Simulator Models:
To be added.

Scale Models:
To be added.

Scale Drawings:
To be added.

Videos:

To be added.