World's First Delta Wing Airplane Convair/Air Force XF-92A 2000-01-5515
The first flight of a delta wing aircraft took place in the United States at the Muroc AFB Flight Test Center on 18 September 1948. The aircraft, Convair No. 7002, Air Force S/N 46-682 and designated the XF-92A was piloted by Convair's Manager of Flight Research, E.D. “Sam” Shannon. The author witnessed this historic flight as a Flight Test Engineer on the project.
Studies and wind tunnel tests for a supersonic interceptor were conducted at the Vultee Division of Consolidated Vultee Aircraft Corporation (Convair) in 1945. These studies led to the selection of the 60° delta wing plan form. This paper reviews the major differences between the thin wing XF-92A and the thick wing DM-1 glider (never flown) designed by Alexander M. Lippisch in Germany at the close of World War II.
The XF-92A used a fully hydraulic irreversible control system for its elevons and rudder. The only airplanes up to this time with fully hydraulic controls were the Northrop XB-35 and the YB-49 flying wings. The flights of the XF-92A flown by Convair test pilots, Shannon and Bill Martin are compared to the flights flown by Air Force test pilots, Capt. Chuck Yeager and Col. Pete Everest.
The historic XF-92A has been fully restored by the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio. It will be on display for the world to see this one airplane that pioneered the development of the delta wing proving its worth as an efficient aerodynamic shape for transonic and supersonic flight.