Jan 092012

In our latest article in a series on the Bell D188A/Model 2000 (a.k.a. XF-109 / XF3L) supersonic VTOL fighter of the late 1950s, we present a pair of Bell reports from early 1959—a Progress Report from January and a report on Experimental Model Programs dating from February 6.

In the abstract to the Progress Report, Bell notes that information had been received from General Electric on the advanced J85 engine, which it was investigating in all applicable areas of design and analysis.

Data from recent stability and control, jet impingement, and engine inlet model tests were being analyzed. Flutter testing of a 1/6-scale subsonic model was accomplished. The wing showed no evidence of instability up to the tunnel limit speed. For the design actuator stiffnesses, no flutter occurred on the vertical and horizontal tails.

Studies were continuing for the purpose of improving upon methods of fatigue analysis at elevated temperatures. All primary structure and systems, as represented by the Phase I drawings, had been analyzed.

An empty weight reduction of 54 pounds has been achieved during the reporting period.

The final Integrated Electronics Subcontractors Team Meeting for Phase I was held on January 22, 1959. The only outstanding requirements for the subcontractors were the delivery of final specifications and design reports by February 2, 1959.

The airplane mock-up was nearing completion, with only a few systems installations remaining to be accomplished.

In the second report, Bell summarized the status of the various aerodynamic and propulsion model test programs undertaken to optimize the configuration of the D188A/Model 2000. The report is accompanied by many photos of the scale test models, which provide an interesting visual record of how the design evolved as testing progressed.

To read the documents in depth, please click through the gallery above, which features numerous high resolution photos and illustrations of the aircraft and its development program.

All images from NARA Archives II, College Park, MD, RG 72

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