Detail View: NASA Image eXchange Collection: X-2 on Transportation Dolly

X-2 on Transportation Dolly
This 1952 photograph shows the X-2 #2 aircraft mounted on a special transportation dolly at Edwards Air Force Base, California. The dolly was steerable and was used for transporting the X-2 around and for towing it off the lakebed at Edwards Air Force Base after a landing. This was the number 2 airplane (46-675), which was lost on May 12, 1953, on a captive flight over Lake Ontario when the airplane exploded during a liquid-oxygen topoff test, killing the pilot, Jean Ziegler, and EB-50A crewman Frank Wolko. Almost no debris was recovered from Lake Ontario, so no cause for the explosion could be determined. Later, however, investigations of similar explosions in the X-1 #3, X-1A, and X-1D traced the problem to Ulmer leather gaskets, which exuded tricresyl phosphate. This substance caused detonations in the supercold atmosphere of the airplanes' liquid oxygen tanks. As the X-2 #2 also had these gaskets, they were probably the cause of the explosion in that aircraft as well. The X-2 was a swept-wing, rocket-powered aircraft designed to fly faster than Mach 3 (three times the speed of sound). It was built for the U.S. Air Force by the Bell Aircraft Company, Buffalo, New York. The X-2 was flown to investigate the problems of aerodynamic heating as well as stability and control effectiveness at high altitudes and high speeds (in excess of Mach 3). Bell aircraft built two X-2 aircraft. These were constructed of K-monel (a copper and nickel alloy) for the fuselage and stainless steel for the swept wings and control surfaces. The aircraft had ejectable nose capsules instead of ejection seats because the development of ejection seats had not reached maturity at the time the X-2 was conceived. The X-2 ejection canopy was successfully tested using a German V-2 rocket. The X-2 used a skid-type landing gear to make room for more fuel. The airplane was air launched from a modified Boeing B-50 Superfortress Bomber. X-2 Number 1 made its first unpowered glide flight on Aug. 5, 1954, and made a total of 17 (4 glide and 13 powered) flights before it was lost Sept. 27, 1956. The pilot on Flight 17, Capt. Milburn Apt, had flown the aircraft to a record speed of Mach 3.2 (2,094 mph), thus becoming the first person to exceed Mach 3. During that last flight, inertial coupling occurred and the pilot was killed. The aircraft suffered little damage in the crash, resulting in proposals (never implemented) from the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory, Hampton, Virginia, to rebuild it for use in a hypersonic (Mach 5+) test program. In 1953, X-2 Number 2 was lost in an in-flight explosion while at the Bell Aircraft Company during captive flight trials and was jettisoned into Lake Ontario. The Air Force had previously flown the aircraft on three glide flights at Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1952. Although the NACA's High-Speed Flight Station, Edwards, California, (predecessor of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center) never actually flew the X-2 aircraft, the NACA
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center (NASA-DFRC) [ ]
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